For the whole month of May, I invited travel bloggers from around the world to share on their travel experiences with their mums. As this last guest post for Mothers’ Day campaign, instead of sharing on travel experience with mum, I have Deborah from Ardent Traveler to take a different angle. She will be sharing on her experience being a travelling mum with her adorable son in tow.
1) How has being a mum change your travelling style?
Children will turn your world upside down! I say this in a good way though. I have been stretched, tried and tested in more ways than one, that includes my love for travel. With a baby or toddler in tow, my travel schedule is now pretty open for changes.
I have to be prepared for the unexpected and just enjoy the experience of being in a different destination with my wee one instead of ticking off a list of to do’s. I’ve intentionally included a lot more child-friendly places to my list, for example visits to the aquarium and the zoo.
Accommodation wise, backpacker hostels are out of the question unless they have a private room (gone are the dormitory days). And I’ve evolved from quiet traveler, to a chatty one as I’m constantly explaining sights, sounds, people and experiences to my son!
2) What are the challenges you face travelling with a toddler and how you manage to overcome them?
Packing light – I have always packed light for my travels and having a child means extra stuff. Being a first time parent, we looked at our peers who also have children and how they packed for their holidays. There was always the mandatory stroller, car seat (even) and a large baby bag. I knew there was no way I was going to lug all this luggage around for our holidays. So we started striking off from the checklist and thought of substitutes. We replaced the stroller with a baby carrier, replaced some diapers with washable types and eliminated the sterilizer and used hot water instead. In the end, we were left with pure essentials.
Managing expectations & reactions – Baby and toddler tantrums can easily drive you up the wall. So as parents, it is managing how you react to situations like melt downs and tantrums that will make a big difference in how you view travel. If we allow stress and our children’s behaviour to stop us from seeing the world, then we’re on the losing end, not our children.
Going to places that are not children friendly – For example, not all places have baby changing rooms or nursing rooms, not all restaurants have baby chairs, certainly not roadside stalls. I am always prepared to rough it out. I remember nursing my baby in a toilet of a moving train or changing diapers in dusty storeroom. Just be prepared to rough it out and improvise and don’t completely eliminate certain places just because they are not children-friendly at first sight.
3) What kind of activities do you engage in while travelling with kids where you normally will not do when travelling without your toddler
Visits to play areas (eg. playgrounds, sand pits) for sure! I have no reason to go without a child. Otherwise, zoos and aquariums are pretty much an attraction for any age group.
4) What are the kind of activities do you and your toddler both enjoy?
This is perhaps dependant on the age group. My 2-year old son now absolutely adores animals. So visits to the zoo is highly entertaining. He sees his toys in real life and is able to relate to something that he has at home (eg. toy animals).
But what I most enjoy is conversing with my son, although he doesn’t respond to everything I say, I know he’s absorbing information through experiences – the sights and sounds. At the end of every travel day, we recollect what the day has been like. It helps him register those memories and make sense of it.
Me: “We went to the zoo and saw some elephants, didn’t we?”
Seth: “Elephant… push wood… water… show” (Translate: The elephant pushed the log into the water at an elephant show).
5) What was the most memorable moment during one of those travels?
Hiking and camping in New Zealand. I carried Seth (then 8 months old) in a carrier and hiked 30 kilometres to our campsite. Upon arriving at the campsite, we realized there were no showers, only toilets. We cooked our dinner and boiled water for milk over a little Bunsen burner, ate from mess cans, walked the beach till late and hung out with other campers. We were the only ones with a baby and Seth enjoyed the attention. He slept soundly that night despite freezing cold temperatures. I woke up in the middle of the night and was worried sick that he would be stiff cold, but he was warm as a dumpling, wrapped up in our sleeping bag. We stayed the night in our tent under a star studded sky.
6) How do you hope to inspire your son and do you think he has taken on any of your travelling traits?
It is too early to tell. Time will tell but we will continue to travel as a family and hopefully the travel bug and the incessant curiosity to see the world will infect him. I know that travel is the best type of education and that is what we hope to do every time we pack our bags for yet another adventure.
7) Where is the next destination you intend to bring your son and why?
Oh gosh! I’m squealing with excitement as I spill the beans. We are taking him on his longest railway adventure starting from Beijing and ending in Moscow. We are doing the Trans-Mongolian trail and will be passing through three countries including Mongolia. It will be quite a squeeze (literally) as we would be sharing berth bunk beds in the train and I am already thinking of ways to entertain him while we chuck away. Follow me on my adventure at Ardent Traveler as we head off in July!
Deborah is behind the Ardent Traveler website, a travel site focused on sustainable travel, unique accommodations, personalities while on the road and traveling with a toddler. Deb writing has appeared in Travel & Leisure, Asian Geographic, The Star, Wild Asia, Greenty, Asia Rooms and Live & Inspire. Follow her adventures with her toddler in tow at www.ardenttraveler.com
Thank you Deb and this is a wrap for Mothers’ Day campaign on Pam goes travelling. Are you going travelling with your mum or kids soon?