How this couple travelled 15 countries with a toddler
Mumbai-based couple Rashmi Pandit and Chalukya Mohanraj, realised their dream of travelling the world as soon as they became parents. Take a leaf from their adventures to plan one of yours too.
If you thought becoming a parent means having to sacrifice your dreams, think again! Because Mumbai-based software engineers, Rashmi Pandit and husband Chalukya Mohanraj, realised their dream of traveling the world as soon as they became parents, and they visited 15 countries in just nine months!
Their journey really began from June 2014, when the couple was blessed with a baby girl and within a month Mohanraj was offered an onsite opportunity. Pandit also quit working after seven years, to enjoy motherhood.
“This opportunity meant that we could now expand our passion for travelling to Europe. I must mention here, our darling daughter is a luck charm for us. We landed in Switzerland on December 31, 2014, and slowly started exploring places in Switzerland and planned our first international trip to Italy in April,” quips Pandit, speaking exclusively with theIndusparent.
She adds that while the couple was informed that the onsite opportunity was only for four months, it got extended in parts. “We now made a list of European Schengen countries and as and when we got an update on the extension we booked our flights. Meanwhile, our parents too visited us and joined us on few trips. And we ended up travelling to 15 countries by Dec 31, 2015,” says Pandit.
Since Mohanraj’s work location was Switzerland, which was a central location for the many countries they visited, and the couple began with nearby countries. Pandit says, “Our parents’ wish was to visit Paris and Rome, hence, we added them later to our list and visited them with our parents. The UK trip needed a separate visa and more time to cover the places, hence we decided to plan the UK trip for Christmas holidays. Deciding on places was also dependent on how many national holidays we had combined with weekends hence we have saved our leaves too.”
Places visited with the toddler
The couple travelled to 15 countries including Belgium (Brussels, Ghent, Bruges), Czech Republic (Prague), France (Paris, Normandy, Mont Saint Michel, Bayeux and D-Day Sites, Etretat), Germany (Neuschwanstein Castle, Cologne), Greece (Athens, Santorini), Italy (Florence, Venice, Pisa, Milan, Rome, Cinque Terre), Netherlands (Amsterdam, Waterland, Zaanse Scan), Portugal (Lisbon, Sintra), Spain (Barcelona), Switzerland (Interlaken, Geneva, Bern, Lucern, Titlis, Zermatt, Bernese Oberland, Rhine Falls, Montreux, Gstaad), England (London, Bristol, Salisbury, Wiltshire (Stonehenge), Windsor Castle), Wales (Cardiff), Scotland (Edinburgh, Inverness, Scottish Highlands), Northern Ireland (Belfast, Antrim) and the Vatican City.
Continue reading to know the things they kept in mind while travelling with a toddler.
Things to keep in mind while travelling with a toddler
It was obvious for the entire family to worry about the newborn, but the couple managed everything with a whole lot of planning.
“Obviously, we were all worried about our travel to Switzerland since our baby was only six months and was going to spend her first winter in the snow. Initially, we started with indoor locations, which would not include too much exposure to cold weather or snow. Once we were confident, we started exploring Switzerland and planned our first international trip to Italy,” says Pandit.
The couple adds that although their planning was almost impeccable, travelling with a toddler is not as easy as it initially seemed. Pandit shared some constraints:
- Late night parties, pubs or even a night sight seeing tour was ruled out since we had to be back home to cater to baby food, sleep and most importantly rest.
- We were denied entry to few rides and mountain heights in Switzerland since we were travelling with a six-month-old baby.
- We had to sometimes cut short our trip if the weather turned out to be too windy or hot or rainy for the comfort of the baby.
“But we do not regret any of these things because what we achieved is far more than our loss and our experience so far has been fantastic. We had a very cooperative baby too!” says Pandit.
Challenges of travelling with a toddler
As far as financing the trip was concerned, the couple used up their savings. “We had to do a lot of homework and research on places of visit. Stay options centrally located and reasonably cost.
We used public transports and explored on foot as much as possible because we believe that is how you can best learn about the city,” recommends Pandit.
She adds that with a little patience and preplanning, travelling with a toddler is not entirely impossible. However, one must be prepared for certain challenges.
Pandit lists the following challenges:
- Our first challenge was to acquaint our baby with the weather. Once in Switzerland, our first task was to meet a paediatrician and discuss the medications and vaccinations.
- Our other big challenge was to the actual travel with the baby. “We carried the food items for our baby wherever we went. Our start time and end time of sightseeing for a day were fixed. It would start with our baby’s morning feed time and we would be strictly back home at her evening feed time. For day time, we would carry ragi or rice porridge, lots of fruits purees and milk. We would take breaks to feed the baby, for her walks and to make her sleep,” she says.
Continue reading to know how they identified kid-friendly places.
How do you identify kid-friendly places?
The couple says that Europe can be quite easy, especially if one is travelling with a baby. Pandit lists the following reasons:
- Good public transport with buses and trains that have reserved spaces for strollers, some even have belts to hold the stroller.
- Almost all the attractions we visited were equipped with clean washrooms with baby changing rooms.
- Hiking and trekking spots are made easy to travel with paved paths for strollers.
- All cities have apartments with well-equipped kitchens to aid cooking baby food.
Tips to travel with baby
The couple takes a leaf out of their own experience and list the following tips for travelling with a baby:
- We always carried two extra sets of clothes for the baby and carried light jackets and sweaters, irrespective of weather because we never know how the weather might change. And of course, heavy snowsuits and jackets if its winter! Once we are indoor we ensured that our baby was in comfortable clothes and shoes.
- We carried lots of diapers and body wipes just in case we need them more than usual. We carried all the basic medications, as advised by the doctor.
- We always carried extra food items like fruit puree and an extra bottle of milk. We also carried homemade ragi or rice porridge and warmed it in any of the restaurants we stop by to have our lunch.
- Be it a day trip or night stay we ensure that our baby has her morning and evening feeding schedule at home or room. In Europe tap water is very much safe to drink but we would carry bottled water for the baby for drinking purpose.
- It is difficult to make toddlers sit in a single place for long hours hence, we travelled in trains and avoided bus so that we could take a walk just in case our baby is bored. We avoided long journeys and night journeys with the baby considering her sleep, rest and food schedules.
- We always carried her favourite stuffed toy along with few others just in case she is missing them away from home. We also have her favourite rhymes and dance videos downloaded for her entertainment during journeys.
- Ever since her birth, we have been very strict about our baby’s sleep and feeding schedule, which we have been able to follow successfully even after our baby turned a year. Following strict schedule helped us a lot during our trips and journeys as proper food and sleep avoids kids from being cranky. Along with sleep and food, rest is also very crucial for the baby.
She also suggests the following ways in which interested fellow travelling parents can plan a trip with toddlers:
- Travelling with kids need lots of preplanning and patience, so do a complete research and make a list of places to be visited in the city.
- Do your homework on the public transport, tickets and passes available and if any two attractions can be clubbed together and visited on foot.
She adds that they booked all the entrance tickets for attractions, museums, in advance to avoid waiting in queues, saves time and most of the time disappointments.
“Every city has something for kids we try our best to include such places on our list like parks, fun, animals and water fountains among other attractions. We always book apartments with well-equipped kitchens to help us cook baby foods,” she says.
The couple says that travelling with a toddler can be made easy with these few tips and has already charted their next stop in India. “Exploring North East India remains in our wishlist,” sums Pandit.
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