One emotion that is prominent in a new parent besides happiness is confusion. They are confused about everything right from what to feed, how much to feed, what to dress, what not to dress…Ah! The list is endless. To add to the woes is the question of whether or not to travel with an infant baby.
When Athin, my son took birth last year and we like a typical fauji couple had to relocate (lovingly known as Army posting), I started to have sleepless nights. Even the thought of travelling with an infant was nerve wrecking. Today on his first birthday, I decided to assess our travel quotient and it turns out that Athin is a born traveller and has “Chakkar ghinni” (itching to travel) in his feet. Athin travelled approximately 6000 Kilometres, crossed 4 states, lived in 8 cities, used all modes of transport (flight, train and road drive) and went to geographically diverse places from Bikaner(desert) to Uttarkashi (hills), and all this within his first year of life. Woah! Quite a journey!
The good thing is that both of us enjoyed all the trips. Yes, this article is about busting travel myths which every new mother has.
When is the right time to travel with my infant?
Actually there is no right or wrong time to travel with your infant. Athin’s first trip was when he was 15 days old. We took a flight from Delhi to Lucknow. Indian airlines said they accept a 15 days old baby on their flight. So, we said fine, let’s go on the 15th day. It was a safe and smooth trip.
How to prepare for a flight travel?
- Speak to the airlines and tell them you are travelling with an infant. They have a special seat for the same. On the flight connect with the Air hostess and they will provide you with bassinet and pillows. In fact, in our case Indian Airlines staff was quite cooperative and shifted a co-passenger to provide comfort to the nursing mother.
- Nurse your infant especially during takeoff and landing. This helps with the ear vibration and soothes the baby.
- Choose flight timing wisely. It should be in accordance to your baby’s sleep time. Thus 3/4th of the travel time goes hassle free.
How do I pack when travelling with a baby?
Good packing skill is the key to a hassle free journey with an infant. Take your time to think through what to carry and most importantly where to keep what. Like wipes, milk, diaper, a rattle should be handy while one extra dress (just in case it gets soiled) should be easily accessible.
How much distance should one ideally travel in a day?
I would strongly recommend go slow and take breaks. From my experience I found syncing travel with my baby’s sleep time works best. I would feed the baby and then start my road drive. Within half an hour Athin would fall asleep thereafter I ensured that there is no disturbance and we cover as much distance as possible. I would have a fair idea of how much he sleeps during that time of the day (kids usually sleep longer while travelling). Once he is awake I would take a break, play with him, feed him and then restart the journey.
Plan meticulously. Prepare for the worst scenario and hope for the best.
Which is better mode of travel – flight or train?
We had a big debate on this issue. Everyone had a different opinion and a horror story to share. One person said his baby developed an ear infection on his first flight journey while someone said that train is the most unhygienic place and infants are susceptible to infection owing to low immunity so it is best to avoid trains. Some said road drive is better but then others said infants get cranky in a car.
I would say that each mode has its challenges. We travelled in all three modes and found that each has its own advantages and disadvantages. You are the best judge. So you have to assess your situation and decide. Like it was extremely cold and foggy in Delhi so we choose to travel by flight and Delhi to Lucknow is just one hour flight. However, while travelling from Rishikesh to Uttarkashi there was no other option but car drive on the hills.
When we had to travel from Bikaner to Delhi we choose a day train because there are no flights on this route and with trains you have comfortable seats to lie down. Train is much easier when it comes to nursing the baby and it has lot of space to move around too.
Well, don’t follow anyone and don’t listen to any horror stories. Choose wisely and stay careful. Most importantly enjoy your trip.
Some of you reading this blog must be thinking that I am crazy to have travelled so much but the truth is this is regular for an Army personnel’s family. Most of the journey undertaken was not out of choice but necessity. And, I know there are lot of mothers who have to travel. In that case I would say it is best not to panic and spoil the journey. Enjoy the journey and remember to trust your infant and your instinct. Think positively and you will have a memorable trip.
Well, today Athin turns one year old. He is a born traveller and I am proud of the fact that in none of these crazy trips did anything go wrong though there were a few hiccups.
And all those new parents there don’t stop living just because you had a baby. Babies are quite adaptive. They learn and adjust faster than you imagine.
This blog was also published in my personal website, Travel By Karma.