Remember those days when you went for vacations and packed with you the books you wanted to read or planned family time when you could enjoy fun rides or just talk in leisure?
Just one sentence in the article and I can sense most of the moms already sighing! Travelling with a baby of course doesn’t remain the same. Many of us don’t like a babysitter traveling with us, either for financial reasons or because we don’t want an outsider peek in when we have switched on the vacation mode. What it boils down to eventually, is that moms end up playing the role of nannies and remain cranky, stressed and over-worked, all through the time. This brings me to my next topic — travelling with babies.
Let’s explore if there’s a way to make it simple and easy. Given below are 11 pointers that we commonly overlook. I am avoiding the usual stuff that all of us do and are careful about anyway.
Pack well in advance to avoid the last minute rush. That way you have enough time to think and pack everything that will be necessary. You don’t panic later for leaving behind stuff that you absolutely need, and run topsy turvy in the supposedly fun destination, trying to source it from somewhere.
Carry some of the kid’s favourite toys that can engage her. If they find those, they are less fussy about the new place. Their fuss often results from their insecurity or fright for having thrown into a new ambiance. If you give them the dresses or the toys that they identify with, they are better sorted.
Stick to the same routine as she follows at home. Wake her up, feed her, bath her all at the same time and in the same way as you usually do. Carry their soap, so they can identify the smell and feel it around them. If she is used to sponging at bed-time, give it to her at the new destination too, of course if the climate permits.
Know well about the new destination so that you can plan your recreations with the baby in mind. Most of us pre-book our hotels. It makes sense to talk to the hotel in advance and take down details about the nearest paediatrician, hospital and medical stores in case of emergencies. Also research about the place, its climate, food and culture so that you know what will or will not suit your baby.
Stick to the same routine as the baby follows at home. Wake her up, feed her, bathe her all at the same time and in the same way as you usually do. Carry their soap, so they can identify the smell and feel it around them. If she is used to sponging at bed-time, give it to her at the new destination too, of course if the climate permits.
A friend of mine booked a plush hotel in Goa for the New Year. They promised an open air DJ on the New Year’s Eve. They thought that they’ll put the baby to sleep, leave him with the grand-parents and hit the dance floor. To their horror, once the DJ started in the evening their baby got very scared, that sound being a shock to his system. So when the world was dancing away, they were sitting depressed, trying to put the baby to sleep.
In my case, I had been to a five star hotel in Goa when my baby was two years old. Because of his frequent stomach issues, I carried with me the usual rice-pulses-veggies and a small pressure cooker! I thought Goa would be too full of spicy sea food. Also I wasn’t sure whether they would wash the stuff properly before cooking. When I prepared the ingredients, poured mineral water from top, shut the cooker close, carried it to the restaurant – much to the amusement of onlookers, and dished out instructions to the chef, the white man calmly asked me, “Ma’m, did you put salt in this?” And whoa! I had forgotten to carry salt! I stood shocked. The chef reassured that I may leave this to them. At lunch what they served was smelling of the divine ghee and they packed in lots of green vegetables. My child gobbled it up greedily, proclaiming quite openly that he loved the taste. And I sat there like a fool.
First time mothering and first time traveling, when they come together, is quite a bully.
Talking about paediatrician, visit the one to whom you take your baby regularly and tell him about your travel plans. He will give you invaluable advice. Also, take from him a list of medicines that you must carry with you.
Carry with yourself some newspapers and disposable bags that might be required to temporarily dump wet or dirty linen, or other stuff that needs to be discarded. Also don’t forget to carry mosquito repellents, sanitizer and wet tissues.
Create your own compartments in the bag so that you know what is kept where and don’t have to pull out everything which searching one small item. Best if relatable stuff are packed together. Clothes, socks and diapers come together; so does bottles and baby food.
Involve the babies in as many activities as you can. Let them enjoy with you. I remember a Portuguese couple who ventured into the sea with their two years old baby tied in a front carrier wrapped around the body. We Indians are too scared to expose the baby to a lot of things; maybe we should learn from them how to chill out. Also, let them mingle to the people there. Keep a watch that they are not fed anything by a stranger, but allow their innocence to feel the love of others who are not friends or family.
If you are taking a flight, listen carefully to the instructions that the air hostess has to pass for the parents travelling with toddlers. Feeding water or milk to the child during take-off or landing is a must, lest their ears get choked due to pressure fluctuations. If you have travelled to another corner of the world, then the baby needs time as much as you do, to adjust with the new clock.
Carry soft and easy clothes. With a baby it tow, it will be difficult if you are too elaborately clothed. Even avoid very tight clothes as they don’t allow you to stretch and bend freely. Ensure that you are carrying yourself light at every moment of your vacation. That not only gives you comfort, but also prevents wastage of energy in managing those.
In the new place, find a friendly aide if possible. It can be someone from the hotel stuff or a co-traveller. In case you are along and need some helping hand for the baby, you can always call out for them instead of looking around absolutely confused.