Aug 19, 2014

A week in Paris - Some tips for travelling with a baby

We're back from a week's trip to Paris with almost 10 month old Adu. And boy, are we glad he's inherited our travel genes! Being avid travelers as a couple, we're now so so grateful that our little one enjoys traveling too. It was a no-hassle, simple trip to just one place - Paris, for a week, with a lot of buffer to rest, with no hard and fast tick list and that helped us have a relaxed trip in spite of a 10 month old.

We covered the important places like Louvre, Eiffel tower, a day's hop on hop off and so on, but kept the rest of the trip to just walk around the city, and explore things at our own pace. Little Adu enjoyed his time in his stroller, babbling away happily, singing long notes, waving at strangers, giggling, and falling asleep when tired! And we walked around the city, a few kilometres everyday, exploring the city, clicking pictures, tasting amazing French food, and taking in every bit leisurely. Unlike our earlier trips, we'd wake up late and start from the apartment in the late morning, after Adu had his share of rest, pack food for Adu from home, venture out till evening when we ourselves would get tired.

Some of the preparation that helped us ease travel with the kiddo:

  • Pack light. Consider your baby also as a piece of luggage - a big and cranky one at that! Even when you're taking his stroller, your hands will be busy pushing the stroller. Also, you never know when the kid insists on being carried in arms rather than in stroller. So pack very light for yourselves, but make sure you carry the baby's most essential items.
  • Don't have a hectic schedule when traveling with a baby. You'll need a lot of buffer including resting times, unexpected delays, time to prepare the baby's stuff before every outing, more sleep time than usual owing to the added tire traveling with the baby and so on. Keep the plan relaxed. 
  • Be flexible. It is more important to enjoy the trip than to tick off places. There is no point in visiting every place on the tourists' guide when everyone including the baby is getting dead tired. Also, everything might not go just as per you plan. For example, you might plan to visit a place that requires you to set off early in the morning, but your kiddo might have given you a bad night, meaning all of you needing more sleep time in the morning to be fresh. So just push the early morning plan to a better day and do something else that is light instead.
  • Carry enough supplies of your baby's favorite food. Even if your baby is willing to try different stuff, it is better to carry his favorite foods. We had carried some fruit smoothies he's used to, his usual cereal, and some dosa flour. 
  • Book a place with a small kitchenette. Or carry your own little one burner stove and a pan. This really helps to dish out something fresh at least for the baby. In our case, we carried Adu's favorite dosa flour (not batter) (a mix of wheat flour, rice flour and a bit of methi powder) that we'd mix with water and make a tiny dosa for him that he'd be happy to eat after a tiring day out.
  • Keep a couple of his favorite toys. And we'd give him one when he's bored sitting in his stroller for quite some time. It would delight him to get his favorite toy suddenly and that would keep him busy for some time. And with small kids, a lot of other 'junk' things can be used to keep them engaged for long periods of time. Like Adu loves to look at and play with maps and brochures after we're done with, lids of throwaway containers without any sharp edges keep him busy for some time, he like studying tickets, receipts and such. Just make sure nothing you give the baby is harmful.
  • Reserve time to just spend with the little one everyday. That may be playing a silly game, singing rhymes, giggling with him, or just cuddling with him.
  • Make things interesting for the baby. Your baby will definitely not appreciate being on top of Eiffel tower or looking at Mona Lisa! What he instead enjoys is playing a peek a boo with you, giggling at the monkey faces you make, clapping hands with him for a rhyme and so on. So make sure you do it with him often, to keep him happy. Don't worry if the people around think you are a bigger monkey! They mostly will not and even if they do, that's ok.
  • Carry the essentials always. Always when heading out, make sure your baby bag has refills of food, water, nappies, tissues, bib, a snack and so on. Having a bit more is better than running out of something midway with a crying baby.  
  • Keep Emergency Numbers handy. That includes the local doctors, baby's doctor back home in case there is a need, you don't have to panic searching for numbers.

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