Are you a new parent and love to travel? Have you being delaying that trip endlessly fearing adverse consequences? Are you going insane with anxiety with the thought of a holiday with baby? If you just answered three yes’s then I just might have the perfect solution for you. However, if you answered no, then read on anyways. I promise you it will be worth your time.
My wife and I had been longing for a break for a while now. We had our daughter last year and apart from a few road trips, we really hadn’t travelled much for a good part of the year. Primarily, we were too scared to travel with an infant. I mean what if she falls ill or has a case of the loosies. Getting a doctor’s appointment near one’s home in today’s time is an achievement. How would we manage that in a different state altogether?
But surely, we couldn’t push a trip any further. So we came up with a few ideas as to making sure that we kept the risk at a minimum. Now honestly there isn’t a sure shot way to plan a trip with an infant. In fact, the application of the ideas that I am about to share are highly subjective. But these are the things that worked for us. And I am pretty sure that some of them will work for you as well.
1. Do a few dry runs: Rather than planning a trip to a distant domestic or international destination, try some nearby destinations first to holiday with baby. Not only will you understand your little one’s comfort level with traveling, but you will also know your endurance limit. We started with a few rounds to the nearby mall, then a few hotels within Delhi and went a couple of times all the way up to Agra and Jaipur before we decided to board a flight to Goa. The more you understand your baby, the better your chances at a peaceful journey.
2. Go for a stroller: And that too an umbrella stroller. This type of stroller is highly compact and is allowed on all flights. It’s the perfect way to navigate with your baby at the airport and get taken away from you only at the very door of the airplane. I would recommend going for a stroller which has a sitting and a lying down position, so that your baby can take a nap when he/she feels like. It will also come in very handy when you’re travelling around at your destination. The compact stroller can fit in cabs and public transport with ease.
3. What to look out for in the umbrella stroller: Go for a stroller that has some activity toys to keep the baby engaged. Trust me; a small turn wheel toy attached to my stroller has bought me enough time to go through a better part of a novel. In case you’re liking a particular stroller but it does not have any toys, no sweat. Use a ribbon and hang a few toys to keep the child busy. And these strollers needn’t be very expensive. I bought mine from the cycle market near Jhandewalan for a mere 1200 bucks. I would recommend you check out the place once before you place an order online.
4. Use ribbons: children love playing and often drop their toys on the floor. This is fine at home but it is very disturbing to see your child pick up a toy from the airport floor and place it in her mouth. A simple ribbon string can solve this problem. I tied a ribbon around my daughter’s favourite toys and placed it around her neck. These day you can get the brightest and prettiest of ribbons at your local stationary shop. NOTE: be very careful and attentive when you place the ribbon around your child’s neck. If you feel the child might strangle himself/herself, I’d suggest you avoid the ribbon clean the toy with some wet cloth.
5. Flight timings: rather than sticking to the general rule, pick a flight time that suits your baby’s sleeping pattern. The more the child sleeps during the journey, the less stressful the child would feel. Chewing on anything during take-off and landing seems to work. I gave my daughter cucumber slices to chew on. If you don’t want to make a mess of things, you can use a baby feeder like the one shown below.
6. Try for a third seat: if possible arrange a separate seat for your child. Some airlines allow purchasing a third seat at a marginal cost. I was able to arrange a separate seat for my daughter for mere Rs 480. Now she did travel mostly in either my lap or Purva’s, but it gave us that extra bit of space that we needed to make her milk or just look for stuff in her bag. This also gives you the comfort of getting an aisle seat.
7. Avoid the baby carrier: If you’re like me and have a bit of a pouch, then absolutely avoid the baby carrier. Your baby will never be comfortable with the lack of space and the discomfort will only aggravate him/her further. Besides, the weather also becomes a deciding factor when it comes to the carrier. If it’s too hot and humid, then this is a definite no-no.
8. Research about the airport: Most airports have infant care rooms. These rooms are quite helpful especially when you need to feed your child or change his/her diapers. It would be great help if you can find out in advance about the facilities available at the airport you are visiting. Trust me, finding such rooms takes a load of a new parent’s head.
9. Pack in the right attitude: When I was researching for our vacation, I read that if you’re with a baby, you would hardly have to que up anywhere at the airport. But trust me that’s not the case. Whether security or boarding gate, we did not get any special que or treatment from anyone. The only thing that can work in your favour is a winning attitude. Be happy and inquisitive. Most people would cooperate once they realize that you are travelling with a child. But don’t expect anything with asking for it.
Someone once said that after having a child, vacation feels like work and work feels like a vacation! But our take on this is slightly different. Surely, travelling with a child is very difficult and has its fair bit of challenges, but we feel these challenges are a right of passage through which the parent child bond only grows stronger. And nothing can beat the joy that thought brings to ones mind.