“Anaaya started standing when we were in Goa in September 2015. She started walking & running in Jan 2016 when we took our trip to South East Asia. She started talking nonstop in Sri Lanka in December 2016.”
Little Anaaya is just 2.5-year-old and has already travelled probably more than you have! Her parents Urvashi and Jiten Bhatia are full of travel tales with her from all over the world with each trip lasting minimum for a week and going up to a month. But how do they manage to travel for such long stretches with a kid? While all seems effortless in pictures, there are various ups and downs. We spoke to them about their experiences and asked them to share useful tips and suggestions for travelling with baby.
BSD: When did you take first trip with your daughter & where was it?
A : Our first trip with Anaaya was to Goa. It was a month long vacation in September 2015 when she was 8 months old.
Since it was our first trip with her and she was too young at that time, we didn’t want a hectic travelling but wanted to take a break and relax and travel at our own pace. Since it is tough to stay at a hotel for a month considering the cost of stay and food and other factors like hygiene, laundry, safety, the play space for baby etc, we chose an independent fully furnished 1BHK apartment through Airbnb. This gave us the freedom to make our own food and to do our laundry and it was cost effective and a home away from home with perks for Anaaya, it was huge so she got a lot of space to play around and she loved the swimming pool. It was well connected with the market so we had grocery shops, restaurants, medical stores nearby and beach in a vicinity of a kilometre. We hired a self driven car/bike and were travelling only on weekends.
Other trips that we have taken with our baby so far:
- South East Asia in January 2016 for over a month. (We travelled to Bangkok, Pattaya, Phuket, Krabi, Koh Samui, Langkawi, Malaysia and Singapore)
- Little break to Solan in July 2016 for a week
- Goa in September 2016 for 20 days
- Tamil Nadu & Sri Lanka in December 2016 for 20 days
BSD: Sounds fun! But what are the challenges you face…
- Eating outside at some places was difficult as we are vegetarians (with an exception of eggs thankfully) besides our kid is a fussy eater.
- We prefer our own apartment as it is easier to cook for the baby but some places don’t have that concept yet though some hotels & B&B owners were kind to let us into their kitchen or provide us electric kettles/other items that we needed for the baby.
- Finding fresh milk or Formula milk for baby was tough and sometimes left our baby colicky as we didn’t get the same brand that we use. (Although packaged plain/flavoured milk is available)
- Food items were expensive and sometimes we didn’t get the exact stuff we were looking for.
- We travelled from one place to other without booking (although majority of the times we pre-book)and sometimes at odd hours that left us tired and with crow feet and Anaaya was as fresh as ever as she had the privilege to sleep in laps wherever and whenever she wanted.
- Sometimes finding public vehicle was tough and we wasted lot of time. Some places may not be connected via metro or buses that means a lot of walking with toddler. Hiring own vehicle is always a boon and best if it’s a car (if the budget allows).
- There was miscommunication between our host and us because of time difference, so consider that.
- Travelling during afternoon/hot day were tough, so make sure baby is hydrated and covered.
BSD: How has she changed the way you and Jiten travelled before?
A: Anaaya loves travelling as much as we do. She loves going to different places. Our travel more or less has been the same with some exceptions like we have to pack for three, we have to be extra cautious with what we are feeding her, we have to keep an eye on her all the time, we have to avoid some places that may not be suited for a baby or for us because one may not be able to carry a stroller or baby carrier like we skipped mountain hiking so we couldn’t visit some temples, waterfalls or certain shows with high volume level or different lighting that may irritate your baby’s senses or when we visited the amusement park we had to take turns to manage her while the other could take the ride. Long hours of travel may also leave the baby tired so it is important to take regular breaks.
BSD: How often do you guys travel?
A: We take three vacations in a year on an average with the days varying from 7 days to a month.
BSD: How do you manage to take such long trips especially with a kid?
A: The nature of Jiten’s work allows us to take such long breaks; he can work on a go if he has a laptop, a cell phone and is well connected with the internet. He is an HR Consultant and presently I am a stay at home mom (Prior to that I worked with Jiten) and Anaaya had not started her play school until recently so things worked in our favour, so we took a break whenever we wanted.
BSD: Which are the best kid-friendly places you’ve come across?
A: Kids love to visit all places but parents should be extra cautious all the time so they are never left unattended. Some kids act fussy when are at crowded places or places with loud speakers or high lighting may irritate them.
As for Anaaya, she loved the beaches since she could play in water and mud, she loved the amusement parks as there were kid friendly rides, malls/shopping complex because she could stroll, could pick up stuff and throw here and there additionally she could pick up her favourite chocolates, ice creams, cookies ☺ , open spaces/ parks as she could run here and there. Animal park/zoo as she loves animals.
BSD: What are the things a couple must keep in mind before planning a holiday with a kid?
Stay – Choose the stay wisely. Hotel /Bed & Breakfast / Independent or shared Apartment/ Home stays; many options are available. There are pros & cons. Decide according to your budget and convenience.
Eating – Outside food/ water may not suit your kid and there may not be a scope for experimenting. Also you don’t want to end up with a cranky, colicky or hungry kid. You can carry some ready to eat snacks that are healthy like energy bars, corn flakes/rice puff namkeen, home-made ladoo, easy to make home-made porridge with semolina, wheat, rice, pulses (lot of recipes are available on internet) or buy formula milk, ready-made cerelac from market. Fruits, Yogurt are always at rescue. Always give the baby purified water & if not available make sure to boil the water.
Baby Supplies – You will need a lot of clothes for the baby so either wash regularly or carry extra supply. Always carry a first aid kit with all necessary medicines that suit your baby, sanitizers or paper soap, mosquito repellent. Some babies are motion sick so take extra care (Mountains, ferry’s, ships all contribute to it) You can carry a few toys to keep your baby occupied. Baby Stroller/baby carrier is must as babies can’t walk for long. Carry some disposable bags to bin used diapers or keep used baby clothes
Travel Mode – Choose a mode which is most convenient and try not having to book at the last minute. Plan the itinerary. Avoid travelling at odd hours; it may leave you exhausted with baby, because your baby will get enough time to sleep but you may not.
Most importantly take good care of yourself and your eating because you have toddler dependent on you all the time.
BSD: Share memories of the best trip with her so far.
A: Every trip with her has been good full of ups & downs. But some left milestone moments for us that we will cherish throughout our lives like she started standing when we were in Goa in September 2015. She started walking & running in Jan 2016 when we took our trip to South East Asia. She started talking big time in Sri Lanka in December 2016!
BSD: Why do you think it’s important to travel often?
“We have not been sent to earth just to earn money & pay bills. It is important to take a break every once in a while in order to freshen yourself up.”
Besides travelling teaches you a lot. You learn how to adjust and understand that you may always not get what you plan for. We have had our share of ups and downs – from fights to make-ups, from room goof-ups to eating blunders, walking barefoot to our apartment for 3 kms on an odd rainy night as there was shortage of taxis, empty petrol tank on midway with no petrol station nearby, we have faced it all . It teaches one to live with patience.
BSD: Anything else you guys would like to add about travelling with toddlers…
A: Travelling with a baby is definitely not easy but you can make it a little convenient by planning in advance.
- Plan the itinerary properly, although it may not go as planned, so fret not.
- Try to do all the bookings in advance, for stay, travel tickets, Tickets for amusement parks, shows etc to avoid last minute hassle.
- Try completing all formalities related to visa etc online so you don’t have to stand in queues for visa on arrival etc (Although you are given a preference at most places)
- Make a travel kit for the Baby with all essentials like extra clothing, diapers, medicines, snacks, water, wipes, sanitizer, disposable bags, mosquito repellent etc.
- Don’t forget a Baby Stroller or Baby Carrier.
- Take turns to manage the baby and always be near to them.
- Sometimes public restroom may be a concern although we have not faced this trouble as yet because we used diapers for Anaaya until now so it can lead to infections if the restroom is not clean, so be careful
- This is something that we still are learning, try to pack as light as possible.