Less than eight months old, and she had already been on two road trips and eight flights. Kyra is certainly one of the most travelled infants! Making ‘travelling with a baby’ sound effortless, her parents Bushra Bhushan and Kartik Malhotra are true travel enthusiasts. Even as they pack their bags for the next trip, BlueSkyDreamers (BSD) caught up with them for the second interview in the series ‘For the Love of Travel’. Read about their exciting journeys before Kyra, and practical tips for travelling with a baby.
BSD: Let’s begin with your story. How did you and Kartik meet? Was travel always a common interest or did one pass on the travel itch to another?
We met at work – CNBC TV18 in 2006. Travel was my way to enjoy life and it gave me a sense of success. Kartik enjoyed shoots that were the mainstay of TV production and that involved a lot of travel too. I passed on the holiday ‘itch’ to Kartik, I think. (chuckles)
BSD: How often do you both travel?
We do two long holidays in a year: one trip abroad every second year. There was more gap this time due to maternity reasons but we will be back on track by summer 2016 with Kyra turning 1 in early 2016. But a short trip every two months happens for sure. This may have become three months since Kyra was born, but she is already well travelled. She has been on two road trips and 8 flights before she turned 8 months!
BSD: What is your holiday style: Adventure, leisurely & relaxed, or ‘see-all-the-popular-sights’ etc?
We have graduated from ‘see-all-the-popular-sights’ to a more leisurely & relaxed style now with our baby on board.
BSD: What part of travel defines the experience for you? Like for Abhinav and me, it’s the food. We try to get to know a place through its cuisine and eating styles of the locals. What about you?
For us it’s sightseeing, architecture and capturing these on our lens. Shopping for souvenirs excites both of us. Food is important, but we don’t experiment too much. In Rome, we got ourselves a pepperoni pizza with a decanter of homemade red wine in a local ristorante while in Paris we stuck to McDonalds. In the US, we have tried Chipotle and bagels but our preference tilts in favour of more known brands. We have burnt our tongues at Bangkok with spicy red curry once. It was fire!
During our honeymoon in Europe, we decided to do a backpack trip in the peak of winters. The idea was to pack in as much sightseeing in as many cities as possible in the week-long trip. So it was Rome, Venice, Milan& Paris – all the tourist boxes checked – in 10 days flat…and that included train delays and floods in Venice!
BSD: Do both of you have common travel styles or are there differences in wanting to do different things?
I enjoy doing touristy things while Kartik likes it more relaxed now. We try to balance both… Well, who doesn’t enjoy just relaxing by the pool with a drink! So since Kartik has taken to holidaying for me, I have taken to relaxing with him…err..for him!
BSD: Travelling frequently as a couple has its pros and cons. Do you agree?
Hmmm! No cons we can think of. Except for the hole it burns in the pocket. So planning well ahead of the holiday is a must for us “cattle-class” travellers.
BSD: Do you both also take individual trips (not for work) with friends/family?
I have done short trips with friends/colleagues and family when Kartik has not been able to take leaves. I went to New York to spend some quality time with my sister when she was pregnant; Varanasi was a birthday gift to my mum; Amritsar-Ranthombore-Jaipur circuit was an all-girls trip with friends; Allahabad sangam during the mahakumbh with my folks have been a few trips without hubby.
BSD: Tell us about our favourite journeys together. Share some memorable anecdotes…
- Venice-Paris-Milan-Rome: a dream honeymoon!
- Gopalpur by Sea, Odisha in October 2014.
Kartik had just completed his executive MBA from IIM Lucknow and I wanted to surprise him with a holiday. I spoke to his boss and colleagues, coordinated his leave and booked our travels. I woke up Kartik at 5 am – bags packed and a taxi waiting – to get ready to leave. It wasn’t until we were ready to board to aircraft that Kartik knew where we were headed.
On reaching Gopalpur, not far from Bhubneshwar, the ‘resort’ we lived in was nothing like we had ever seen before. A 7-star suite with a private lawn leading to an unpolluted beach and the majestic Bay of Bengal was simply awe-inspiring.
BSD: Wow! That’s outstanding. Any bad trips where things went wrong and how did you both deal with it?
Venice saw floods after decades during our short stay there. But it failed to wash away our enthusiasm. As soon as the water started to descend we wore plastic boots (read, big plastic bags tied to our feet) to venture out and romance the bridges. This has been a frame-able memory!
BSD: …Sounds fun retrospectively! As the first couple interviewed for the series wrote: “There are no bad trips only good memories”.
Which is one destination that really awed both of you?
We have loved all our holiday destinations. But the neighbouring Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan left us in complete awe.
It’s said Bhutan is gifted with nature but I feel Mother Nature is in love with that Royal Kingdom. Their skies are more blue, leaves are more green, the river along the capital city of Thimpu roars louder and their fruits are sweeter. The way the nation has preserved every bit of it is commendable. From the unique runway at the Paro airport to the palaces of Punakha – it took our breath away.
BSD: How has little Kyra changed the way you travel?
We don’t compromise on luxury and don’t make very hectic plans.
BSD: How difficult is it to travel with a baby?
Not difficult at all if you are well planned. A holiday is now a holiday because we have Kyra holidaying with us.
BSD: Some advice for couples travelling with a baby…
- Preferably keep the duration of the journey as short as possible.
- Don’t be shy of breastfeeding in public (if your baby is below one/6 months) Carry a maternity cover and comfort your baby wherever needed. It will save you of a lot of bottle, hot water hassle and above all keep your baby happy!
- Baby carrier and strollers always come in handy.
- Travel light so that your hands are free for the baby and baby stuff.
- If you are doing a road trip, plan your travel according to the baby’s sleep cycle and we do believe that baby is most comfortable (and obviously safe) in a car seat.
Who is the holiday planner between you two? Bushra
Luxury or budget travel, which one do you prefer?: We fix a budget and work around it to get luxury. But ever since Kyra came into our lives, we don’t compromise on luxury.
Dream Destination both of you want to visit: Drive through the scenic contours of Europe without any timelines is one for sure.
When and where was your last trip? Where is the next one?
Last one was last month (October 2015) – a road drip to Mandawa in Rajasthan with family. We’ll be spending out anniversary weekend in Agra (21st Nov). Upcoming trips: month end we’ll take a trip to the City of Nawabs- Lucknow (Kyra’s Nani house and Kartik’s Biryani house!). Summer 2016 in the USA. These are planned and there will a few trips in between for sure.