Okay, time for a list. I love lists. I love making them, I love striking things off them with a vengeance, and when it’s all done, I love tearing the piece of paper to shreds and flinging it in the air. The OPU is not amused, as he will be the one picking up the pieces and depositing them in the dustbin, even hypothetically. Thankfully, Re likes order too. At least you can leave some things to genetics.
This list is about travel. Now, travelling with a baby is a huge concern for most mommies, chiefly what to pack, what to feed, what to look for in a resort, how to handle travel dramas. Here are my two-bits, although this is not a comprehensive list, so do not print it out and stick it on your wall as a check-list.
- Babies are their banshee-best at 30000 feet, but you have to figure that out yourself. Hell, I would bawl too if I could. I am skinnier and smaller than most people I know, but every time I take a flight, I feel like the word is closing in on me. Now added to the already existing claustrophobia, the too much skin contact with other passengers, the jostling and the queues and those damn airbuses which don’t make any sense, I have a child on my lap. I vow each time that next time, it will be the train, but the OPU is too high maintenance. So we fly again!
- Somehow, any toy at your disposal in-flight is not the one they want. For me, pretending the laminated diagram chart for safety measures is an Eric Carle book sometimes works. These days, the tiny bottles they serve water/lemonade in is also a distraction (assuming they can’t prise them open). If nothing works, the OPU and I blow into the air sickness bags and pop them. This can be a nuisance to the other passengers, but it somehow distracts the baby. Nursing is also a good distraction, if you are up to it, but somehow, they don’t want to nurse at the recommended nursing time, which is take-off and landing. Also, there is no such thing as discreet, because all shawls and ponchos and stoles will be yanked open, and your girls (that’s what I call them) will be on full display.
- Packing. Now I would recommend packing everything in triplicate. I don’t mean to shock, but sometimes, honeymooners seem to walk out with your bag (which just happens to be the same color and size as theirs), and it can be nerve racking tracking it back. This happened to us. So I would just suggest packing at least extra sets of baby clothes, food, feeding utensils, underwear, diapers/nappies and a sheet or some such into every bag that you check in. Just in case.
- If the baby is into solids, pack enough grains/porridge/seasoning/veggies /some fruit/ knives/spoons, so you are not running around looking for a market to buy essentials the minute you arrive. Carrots, potatoes, onions, peas, beans stay well for a week at least, and are not messy to pack. All grains/cereals can be packed in zip-lock bags and checked in.
- It’s easy to say ‘we’ll order room service’, but in sleepy towns like Goa, room service is still brushing their teeth by the time the baby has his second meal of the day. So make sure you are self-reliant at least as far as the baby’s breakfast and one meal goes. Restaurant food may not always be an option, and you don’t want to spend precious hours supervising someone make a porridge or a khichdi or sautéeing vegetables, do you? Although the staff at Montego Bay, where we stayed in Goa was happy to make mashed potatoes and sautéed veggies for the baby. Which brings me to:
- A mini electric rice-cooker. Panasonic or any other model. It’s a real saviour, compact, efficient and can cook just about anything in minutes. Buy one today, and it will be a faithful travel companion at least for the next three years. It’s one-pot cooking, so you can throw in anything and everything, add enough water, seasoning, and it cooks in minutes. I even made a pulao, a pasta, a dal, sautéed vegetables in it. Must have.
- The resort. Pick one that has been researched by you. In the sense that it should have a gradual, undulating landscape and enough room for the baby to wander/crawl about without hazard, and friendly staff that will look out for you and not just appear shadily for tips from nowhere when you are leaving. Montego Bay fit the bill perfectly. Baby-friendly and fun.
- Hammocks can be fun, although they are harder to negotiate than they appear to be. I rolled off one twice, with the baby, but he thought it was a game, so all was well. A mini pool is nice, it gives you and the baby something to do, which you wouldn’t do otherwise. Make sure you have an air pump for any floats, paddle pools that you might carry. Do not forget the baby’s swimsuit and sunblock!
- What to order. In case you are eating out a lot (we did at least one new restaurant a day), the trick is to order dishes which have interesting sides, so you don’t have to order baby food separately. This is easier with continental food. So, a grilled meat or chicken dish will come with mashed or roasted potatoes, carrots or grilled vegetables. Perfect finger food for the baby. Pastas worked well for me, as Re loves them, any shape or size. And bread and dips are great too.
- And lastly, if you can arrange a baby sitter or have a nanny, use this time to have special dates with the OPU (much needed on a holiday, to bring that romance back).
- If I have forgotten something vital, don’t blame me. It’s Christmas!
Have fun, and happy travelling, you all!