Overcoming fears when travelling more complex journeys with a Toddler
I received an email today, which has inspired me to blog about this subject and some barriers that parents may encounter that may put them off going on more complex trips away. She made some valid points on why parents often seem concerned or don't go ahead with travels to more far flung places with young children, which is a shame. I certainly did my best to reassure her and I hope she ventures on a backpacking trip to Asia with her 3 year old son.
My last few trips away have been more stationary shall we say! Using a main base to stay for the trip and venturing out to explore for days out, rather than the packing, unpacking, moving on to the next destination type of trip. I have no preference in either trip to be honest, they both come with pros and cons when traveling with young children so I welcome either option on my trips away!
8 months ago, we took Ruby off on a complex itinerary for a month. We decided to go to Thailand, Malaysia and Cambodia. I have been to all of these places prior on a solo backpacking trip when I was younger, so I wasn't a complete stranger to this sort of trip but wanted to see it with my little family and venture to some different places en route. Plus it is a completely different ball game when you have a young child in tow, goodbye full moon parties!
Lets touch on some barriers or things that may put off parents when thinking about more complex trips:
1) Longer flights with connections.
There is no easy way and all kids are different especially at different ages. When we flew long haul to St Lucia when Ruby was a year old, was completely different to when she was 4 months and at 2 years. I will do a longer blog post focusing on purely flying with children. However there are definitely tips I can give when flying long haul or doing flights with connections. Think about the time of the flights. You don't want to be dragging you grumpy toddler out of their cozy bed at 2am to get that 6am flight if you can help it. I know these flights tend to be cheaper so if you are traveling on a budget, I get it. If you can chose, think of better more suitable times to travel like tying them in with scheduled naps so they can sleep whilst you sleep too and have a smoother journey. I personally prefer flying at night if its a long haul with a child. They will naturally be tired and as a result, SHOULD sleep! Even if they get overtired which they do and decide to kick off, its just a matter of time before they literally pass out. With connecting flights, we had connections at Dubai airport as the flight was much cheaper than direct. There are pros with this. Think, letting them run wild round the airport, tiring them out. At the same time you do not want them to be there too long. This will make the whole journey even more exhausting and testing your patience! A layover would always be welcome! It is always a way to commit to less flying time at one time. Rather than boarding a plane with the thoughts of "13 hours to go" think "Its just 7 hours, than we can get off" and start again of course.
2) Worrying about traveling on local transport like tuk-tuks, boats, trains etc with young children.
I can honestly say that all the times I have got on local transport with Ruby, whether its by tuk-tuk, boat or bus, the locals have been very accommodating. Sometimes letting us board first, giving us priority to sit and she hasn't paid a single penny! Obviously the ride itself can be a little hair raising to say the least. Jetting through the Andaman sea at 40 mph with strong winds and clutching hold of Ruby or whizzing round locals and cows in Tuk-Tuks, just take it all in your stride! Yes in terms of "Health and Safety" this is non existent in some countries so you must make your own judgment. Obviously you would never let your child roam on a boat unaided or without a life jacket (if they have one) or not sit them in the middle of a fast driving tuk-tuk. I honestly think you just have to take charge and make decisions on your modes of transport. I just think most of the locals are traveling with children this way, they have never had the luxury of such safety in place. I would never let my child be in any form of danger and I can only speak highly of the experiences that we have had. I would just try to relax, don't stress about it and take each moment as it comes. If you worry about things that have not happened or you haven't even tried, than it's only going to increase your anxiety and you will have a negative experience. If you are relaxed than your child will be more relaxed for sure and you will have a great time! Just go for it and enjoy the ride!
3) Luggage on your trip
This is another big subject and again I will be posting examples of exactly what I have packed for different sorts of trips. From Camping, to backpacking and simple weeks away it definitely varies and you have to be mindful. With regards to complex trips, lets focus on backpacking. Bags that you can carry easily on and off boats, up and down stairs and the less you pack the better. Sounds simple right? It is much easier when you don't have a kid in tow but that is not saying it is hard.
Our first backpacking trip with Ruby, quite simply we over packed. Yup, we were lugging things with us that we barely used "just in case" we needed it on the trip. This ranged from a swim/life jacket, An umbrella and unnecessary toys that she barely played with because she was enjoying her surroundings. This is why I totally get why parents panic and pack things last minute. Just take a breather and remember, if you don't have it, more than likely you can buy it on route. Think of your backs.. there were times where my poor husband was lugging two large 65 litre rucksacks, a small rucksack and a buggy so I could carry Ruby's small, bag, my own plus her whilst she has a temper tantrum. Thinking forward to our trip later this year (backpacking) we most certainly have learnt from this and will be packing FAR less than before. Again, it does differ with younger babies such as feeding supplies or a breast pump, but just think minimal and worse case scenarios you can buy it out there or wash clothes if you have run out.
Personally I think go for it. I know I am going to say this as I do, but in all honesty you have to experience these sorts of trips to learn from mistakes that you may have made to make the next trip more plain sailing. I hope that some of my advice is a help to some of you out there and it only encourages you to take the plunge on your next trip and make those memories to last a lifetime.