I grew up in a family who lives abroad more than in India. Thus, for me, traveling is something I have grown up loving and doing extensively since childhood. Every holiday and vacation has had me reach out for my passport and even before I finished my graduation, my one passport was stamped and over.
Post marriage, I found a companion to travel with. We both love traveling and enjoy discovering new places to explore and visit every year. Luckily, we are both of the opinion that a month-long holiday outside India is worth the wait than weekend getaways nearby. We save up, fixate on a place/continent, plan and book. This has been our favorite pastime and that hasn’t changed even after our daughter was born.
Here are a few tips on how we travel with our daughter, who is now 8 years old:
- My first trip with my daughter was a solo one when she was just six months old. It was a learning experience for sure. I made sure to travel only with the necessities and at that age, it meant a lot of milk powders and emergency medicines. Do not stuff your bags carrying diapers and clothes as wherever you travel, you can easily get both.
- While staying in hotels and waking up to a continental breakfast is fun, when traveling with kids, I had a better experience at home stays and airbnb’s. Most of these homes have a kitchenette and a microwave which will save you a lot of trouble when you want to warm up some food or milk or make a quick snack for your fussy kid. Since kids also change their clothes more often in the day (read: get dirty), the washer and dryer will save you a lot of laundry money. Most importantly, most homestay owners and locals are super helpful and can prove a great lending hand (in most cases, at least) when you are having ‘one of those days.’
- When traveling on a long flight, it helps to make your kid a bag of her own with snacks, coloring sets and crayons, activity books and books to read. While most airlines come with a TV, too much screen time is never good and these books and activity sheets prove a good distraction on any and all long journeys. You can also download podcasts and music and give them headphones to enjoy some stories or music.
- On every destination we plan, we make it a point to sit together as a family and chalk out places of interest and must-see list and do list in all of the places we are visiting. It is important to treat our kids as equal and give credence to their interests and preferences without enforcing ours on them all the time.
- Introduce them to the food options before you travel. Let your children be mentally ready for the different cuisines, tastes and culinary choices that they will have to eat from on a holiday. On our last trip to the US, I made her eat burgers from McD’s and Burger King, and try a Subway sandwich for us to have some options when we travel. Similarly, before we traveled to the Middle East, she tried the shawarma, falafel wraps and hummus/pita which I was sure we would get everywhere.
What I have learnt over the years of traveling with my daughter is kids are extremely flexible and resilient, they deal with weather change, change in lifestyle and food habits and travel much better than we do.
Traveling is also the best way to bond with children and make everlasting memories with them.
Life is too short and our world is getting even smaller, let’s learn to explore the planet we live in together, experience new things and grow stronger and united as a family and as global citizens.