What’s left, matters!

In this phase of life, I have become somewhat greedier. My thirst for venturing into new places and travel to new countries has increased manifolds and I have, in a true sense, become a voracious traveler.

Someone looked at the fridge magnets that I collect from every city, every country I go to and expressed appreciation. I swiftly pointed at the globe in my apartment to show how much more there still is to explore.

As per a calculation, I have just covered 11% of the world that includes 20 countries and 76 cities around the globe. It’s not something I want to bask in the glory of, it’s alarming that there is 89% of the world to be covered with I don’t know how much time  in hand.

My bucket list includes – NYC, Antarctica, Brazil, Kenya and Jordan for sure. Actually, everything is on my wish list. O God, if you are listening, please be kind to allow me to see as many places as I can before you call me to rest in your abode, forever!

******Been there and seen that -******

Mauritius

Denmark

France

Netherlands

Sweden

UK

Wales

Scotland

Italy

Spain

Switzerland

Czech Republic

Hungary

Finland

Indonesia

Malaysia

Vatican

Monaco

Belgium

India

Prague

What a lovely city it is!! So mysterious… so romantic and so ancient.

It wasn’t long before I marked this city off from my bucket list. Something always attracted me towards it. As if, something – someone – was calling me there… and to my surprise, I fell in love with the place as soon as I put my first step out on the road.

The town square is full of life and Charles Bridge is unparalleled to any other that I have seen so far. The musicians add such a charisma to the town! Wherever you go, you cannot miss following or being followed by exceptionally lovely cafes, music and lots of people. The narrow lanes seem to narrate the history of their existence and the dark nights only add to the eeriness of the city.

When in Prague, do not expect the localities to be over friendly; they are reserved in their own way. The nightlife offered by the city is worth a mention and praise. Do not miss the very traditional Czech Republican Trdelnik for desserts and be sure to add some extra pounds to your body. The beer lovers will find their joy in the local beers that are globally proclaimed for their taste and feel.

The architecture of the city will sweep you off your feet and you will be left in complete awe of the artistic touch that the city is known for. Every corner of this old city is adorned with audacious and loud sculptures and  I am sure they will leave you to wonder about the thought that created them.

All in all, I am not done with the city yet and will find my way there sometime again in the future. Who knows, I might have some roots linked to this mysterious place!

An infant on a road-trip

babys-first-road-trip

You will surely not be able to do this’ said some, while others restricted their feelings to just a mocking smile. Few said it was too early and some said it was criminal… All we wanted to do was go on a 12 hours road trip with our three months old daughter.

My husband and I are dauntless travelers or better would be to say that we have itchy feet every now and then. It had been 14 months since we explored a new destination and tasted different culture. Reason – we were pregnant. 14 months of our lives went in just talking about the baby’s arrival and to prepare ourselves for the new role. Post-delivery, it was all about getting adapted to the new life. Traveling was of course a forgotten plan for some time. As our daughter completed a couple of months we started talking about a vacation as our daily routine became vegetative to be honest. We weren’t surprised when our family and friends discouraged our audacity to travel anywhere in India by a car. But we were determined and decided to try the so called ‘challenging’ trip, which turned out to be one of the bests so far.

Just a little preparation, firmness and patience are all you need to make a road trip vacation a success. The mantra is simple: Baby’s comfort is directly proportional to a beautiful holiday. Want to know how? Here are the tips and tricks I followed:

  • Choose the right destination – With an infant, it becomes utmost important to choose the right destination for a vacation. It has to be a place where the family can relax and unwind the stress and tiredness. Selecting a city for that matter might not turn out to be a very good idea as there won’t be much to soothe the senses. The mountains can do wonders. However, the drive can be a little risky if the roads aren’t smooth and high altitude may cause breathing difficulties for the baby. Hence, a beach holiday would be my personal pick.

Destination

  • Put safety first – Do not even dream of hitting the highway with your loved one without a car seat. Be very cautious while selecting one. I understand that budgets are generally a constraint but we can save a few thousands elsewhere. Ensure you have fitted your car with a good quality, well-made car seat. I also used a good neck support to ensure baby’s comfort. It helped me continue my journey stress-free. Also, having a window shade (sun screen) will protect the baby from sun, which means a more comfortable journey for the baby and in turn happy you. It will help create a darker, nap inducing atmosphere for the little one (drivers please stay alert – It’s not for you 😉 )

Safety

Be firm for baby’s welfare – The child might cry when you place it in the car seat, especially if it’s his/her first exposure. Do not melt by their cry as safety is of utmost priority when it comes to our most priceless possession. It will be uncomfortable in the beginning but infants get adapted to everything very soon. Sit behind with your baby tucked into the car seat and try to talk and distract the little one. Honestly I didn’t even sit in the back seat. My daughter cried initially but soon fell asleep to the rhythmic motion of the car. I also ensured she stretched out straight in the back seat at equal intervals.

Be Firm

  • Pre-preparation – Pack the baby’s bag before you do yours, which means that spend thoughts in ensuring you keep all necessary stuff that your kid might need. Start preparing a list as soon as you book your holiday and keep adding to it as and when you remember something. I kept the baby’s bag ready a few days in advance, which helped me stay calm before we began our trip. It would be advisable to keep a diaper bag handy for obvious reasons. It should have the nitty-gritties like diapers, wipes, diaper sheet, disposable bag to store the soiled diapers, blanket and an extra pair of clothes.

baby-bag

  • Do not overdo – Please do not over pack baby’s stuff. Just keep the essentials. I did not pack toys, gym or any such things for the holiday. All I carried was her pram and carrycot. I wanted my daughter to see and experience new things. Trust me it worked. She was so engrossed looking around that she neither demanded attention nor any toy.

Overdo

  • Pack basic medicines – It’s OK to forget yours but it will be unforgiving if you don’t pack your child’s basic medication. I kept the first aid kit ready with crocin drops, colic aid, nasal drops and vomit/digestion drops. Luckily I returned without using any of these, but it’s always good to be prepared than regret. If possible, google some emergency numbers like that of close by hospital, pediatrician etc.

FirstAidFeeding essentials – Carry boiled water flask if the baby is on top feed. It would be advisable to pack a few bottles so that you don’t have to worry about sterilizing them. A feeding shawl is must if you are breast feeding. It helped a lot in my case. Sometimes we had to park amidst small towns, villages or the highway. Being properly covered boosted more confidence in me to feed my daughter without any conscious mind. Needless to say, wear front open tops.

Feeding Shawl

  • Carry nutritious food – It especially goes for the nursing mothers. Do not negotiate your dose of daily nutrition for anything. Pack healthy foods like sandwiches, fruits, nuts etc. to have them during and after the journey. Balance your holiday indulgence with dietary requirements to ensure you are nursing well.

dry-fruits-during-pregnancy

  • Tune the timings – Right from the time you leave for the holiday to the time you return, everything has to be tuned as per your baby’s routine. We left early morning so that my little one could sleep while we covered a several hundred kilometers. She woke up at her usual time for the feed. And almost during the entire journey, we stuck to her meal and sleep routine. For e.g. try to leave when the baby generally sleeps, take short breaks when it’s the baby’s playtime etc.

It's Tune Up Time

  • Follow baby’s routine – Do not play around much with the baby’s routine once you reach the destination. Do not let the holiday create a new schedule for the baby as it will be difficult to return to the previous one, once the holiday ends. We had our meals based on my daughter’s schedule. Trust me; following the timetable really helped me have a lovely vacation. Our timer used to start immediately after she was fed and all we knew was that we had a couple of hours for ourselves.

Schedule

  • Do not be over confident – Please do not stretch your driving limits. Stop when it doesn’t feel so comfortable. We did not exceed the speed limit of 80KM/Hr. and drove mostly in the second lane, just to be more cautious. A Moving ahead with a crying baby in the car can be dangerous as you would be distracted and nervous. Take the time to stop and calm your baby. Keep yourself well hydrated while driving, chew something or just sing songs. That helps keep your mind and mood active. Avoid late night drives. Let the day welcome your journey and keep the nights for rest and sleeps.

Drive Safe

  • Entertainment – I am sure your spouse and you will have your playlists ready for the journey. Do not ignore the lullabies/rhymes/baby friendly music for your little one. After all, everyone needs some entertainment on such a long journey 🙂

Rhyme

  • Be flexible – When traveling with the baby, even the best laid plans can be disrupted. Try to stay relaxed, accept changes and go with the flow. Remember, there is always a plan B.

FlexibleWord of caution: These tips and tricks worked well for me but at the end of the day, every child and its needs are different. So let the best fit for you.

A Sparkling Night!

ob_f97e9c_night-sky-practice-1-by-sniggle-wiggle

Very diminutive did I know about stars and constellations until that night, which changed my perception. I never imagined how beautiful it could be to spend a night with stars and celestial bodies, away from the city, on a stupendous mountain cliff overlooking a giant lake. With peace and nature all around, I couldn’t have asked for a better weekend getaway in the month of December when winters and wind add more charm to the otherwise dull atmosphere.

The activity started with a chit chat with a miniscule likeminded crowd who had come for stargazing camp. As the dusk approached, more and more stars started ornamenting the cosmic sky. Some were brightly lit while others were still struggling to leave an everlasting impression. I had never seen so many stars in a clear sky or rather I should say they went unnoticed in my daily routine. We talked about constellations, planets, universe and celestial bodies while resting ourselves on a huge rock with our eyes constantly gazing the sheet above. What an impeccable view!

After I saw planets and stars through a telescope, I laid myself on a rock, where all I could hear was the sound of the waves that seemed to be playing merrily with the shore, all I could see was the beauty of stars and the blue above me, all I could embrace was the wind, all I could touch was the cold earth, all I could breathe was the freshness and all I could feel was a blessing. It was a moment of complete bliss where I laid in silence with myself, for myself, being myself and in myself. No one to talk with, no phone, no technology, no electricity, no cacophony of the city and no distractions. .. Just myself and the beautiful diamonds up above me. Yes, it was my moment.

It’s not an exaggeration when I say that I felt as if I was the only person alive in this universe. I talked to the heavens as if they were listening and showing me the directions. I spoke my heart out in silence and the shooting stars acknowledged my wishes. I saw not just one or two, but many. One after the other the shooting stars or meteors as they say touched earth’s surface somewhere. They appeared and vanished before I could say Jack Robinson but I was elated every time I saw one.

After lying there for a good amount of time, I reached my tent in the wee hours of the morning and rested myself in a dreamless slumber, so satisfactory and peaceable in nature. In a couple of hours, I was woken up by the rooster crowing at the break of the dawn. Needless to say, the sight of the sunrise was truly mesmerizing and my trek down the mountain was thoroughly adventurous. It’s true that I didn’t want to return to the city after my meticulous meet with the nature, but what’s truer is that if I hadn’t returned, I wouldn’t have realized its prominence to pen down my experience.

I returned completely rejuvenated and now look forward to more of such ‘SPARKLING NIGHTS’ in the times ahead.