In his short life, Kian has been born in a country that is not native to either of his parents and has already visited three others. By his first birthday, he would have been to two more, making it a grand total of five. Not bad for a little fellow who just made an appearance into this world not so long ago, eh? There are many people who in their entire lifetime will not visit that many countries (either due to circumstances or out of choice), and this guy could already boast about taking a 10-hour flight to another continent!
When I first went to college in Indiana in the US, I met a fellow student from New York who said to me, “New York is the world. We never really need to go anywhere else ‘coz we have it all here.” Clearly, he had not been very far, and he didn’t care to go very far either. It showed because when he met me, he said he had to look up on a map as to where I came from, (I always thought that it was hard not to know about a land of 1.3 billion people, but hey, ignorance is bliss, right?)
Ok, so how does this relate to Kian then? Well, I have been fortunate enough to travel and see the world (in no small part thanks to my parents and family) and I have to admit, it broadened my horizons, understanding and vision. It gave me a sense of tolerance and acceptance too. It made me inquisitive, made me curious and made me want to see more. Unlike my friend from NY, I knew the world was a bigger place and there was a lot more to see. And so, I wanted my children to grow up more like me and less like my friend from the US; with a similar desire to learn and explore, and more importantly with a similar degree of tolerance.
You may also like: How travelling gives you an opportunity to bond with your baby
One thing that travel has taught me is adaptability. It taught me about adjusting to new cultures, behaviours, lifestyles and most importantly adapting to different kinds of foods. And then came the change. Just when I thought I had mastered the art of travel, we travelled to France in November. It was a completely new experience for us because that was our first trip with Kian and we weren’t sure how he would react/adapt. Would he be able to sleep? Would he be ok on the train? Would he be cranky? What kind of foods would we need to carry? How many diaper changes would we have to go through? Where would we change him? Would there be facilities… that list of questions is probably longer than the time it took us to get from London to Paris. And as usual that list of questions and those worries stemmed from everything we had read and seen out there (big mistake!)
Frankly, our worries were overdone. Kian was a trooper! It was almost like him telling us, “Guys, you need to learn to relax! I have this all under control… after all who’s son am I?” While the train ride was relatively easy and hassle free, our travel to France did teach us one thing – we have to learn to adapt. Not adapt to the new city, or new environment, or weather or food, no, none of that. We had to adapt to Kian’s schedule. We couldn’t be ambitious in terms of places we wanted to see or things we wanted to do, if Kian’s lunch time was at 12 noon, then we had to be ready to feed him at that time. If he wanted to nap at 4, then we had to make sure we were home and able to put him to place somewhere comfortable. No more late nights (of a different kind that is), bars, pubs or shows. That visit to Moulin Rouge? Well, that would have to be put on hold until next time!
It didn’t mean we weren’t able to do anything or go anywhere though, Kian has pictures at the Louvre and the Tour D’Eiffel to prove that he visited Paris. He was most definitely able to get out and see the sights for himself. It just meant that we weren’t able to do everything we wanted to and at the times we wanted to -- which is fine. Because as my mum always says, “You must make sure you don’t see everything there is to see in a city in one go… it means you will have a reason to come back another time.” And, so seeking his grandma’s advice we have left some sites in Paris unseen for Kian to come back and discover for himself.
As a new parent, I can assure you the whole experience of travelling with a baby is a lot of fun. It is a new chapter in your life as a parent and one that you must experience for yourself like with everything in parenthood, it tests your ability to manage and deal with different and new scenarios, while also giving you great joys. So, put those books aside, ignore those websites that say travel with a baby is difficult, pack your bags (and your kiddo’s bags of course) and just go out there and experience it all for yourself. Travel, after all, is best summed up by a quote I read on the Internet which said, “travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer”.
You may also like: A complete guide for the family that travels
Image courtesy: huffingtonpost.com