We want to always feature people like Anu in travel stories because they have so much to offer, they look at traveling as life and while so many moms on so many forums talk about traveling and are concerned about traveling with their kids, some moms here have proved that traveling means the world to them…Let’s hear it from Anu as to what her journey has been…
Tell us something about yourself, mommy.
Hi, I am Anu Saikrishna living in Sweden for 2 years now and a happy SAHM but keeping myself busy studying the local language, Swedish, I got a certification done too, and online courses related to my work field. Prior to this, I was working as a Corporate Communications professional for close to 10 years in Chennai, India and moved to Sweden to support hubby’s career path. I am also a certified western dancer, I used to teach Jazz, Salsa, and Cardio dance. In addition, Ballet for kids too. Besides, I love to network and meet people, travel and am a complete shopaholic, accessories first, clothes later sort of person.
How old are you? And your kid too!
Well, I would like to believe that I’m always young at heart though I just turned 34 years on Feb 23rd this year. My daughter who shares our anniversary date turned 4 on March 21st, she was our 3rd-anniversary gift. We moved to Sweden when Sahana (we call her Sana) at 2.
Which countries and places have you traveled till now? Both with and without kids.
Hubby and I like to travel and explore and managed to do that before Sana and with Sana as well. We are 7 years into marriage and Sana was born in 2014. Our honeymoon trip was to Andaman, followed by first anniversary trip to Thailand and a lot of other cities within India. But after Sana was born, we traveled extensively and so far she has been to 8 countries, including India. Her first flight travel was to Delhi, when she had just turned 1 and then we took her to a lot of places within India, post 2 is when we moved to Sweden and then on she has been to Denmark, Norway, France, Belgium, Italy, and Switzerland. Hubby and mine round up to 12 countries so far (Japan, Thailand, Germany, Denmark, Netherlands, France, Belgium, Italy, Switzerland and Norway). We have covered Sweden to a large extent having visited the four larger cities, Stockholm, Gothenburg, Malmo and Helsingborg (where we are at present).
Tell us something about your trip with your kids?
It is always fun mixed with a lot of caution when you travel with kids. The key mantra that hubby and I follow is we ensure that there’s one day dedicated to Sana’s needs, so we don’t mind including amusement parks, children’s museum or zoo, there’s always a day that is entirely her agenda. This way, she also feels happy during travel and does take interest in our interests too. It is easy for kids to get tired when they don’t have anything much to look for in a trip so by identifying a comfort zone for them eases the entire travel. It has worked so well for us.
When did you start traveling with kids?
We started right from when Sana was 8 months. But very frequently, once she turned 1.5 years. She loves to travel and explore different places and cuisines as well. Sana’s first travel was to our native, Kerala.
Can you tell us 2 destinations that you would recommend other fellow mums to travel? Also, how was your experience of that particular place and what all places can parents explore there with kids?
The two places that we definitely would want to take Sana again is Disneyland Paris. We took her exactly a year ago, we covered Paris extensively and finally headed to Disneyland and spent two days going on all the rides and attending the shows. Well, I would say even 2 days wasn’t enough to cover this beauty. I have been to Disneyland in Japan before marriage but the experience I had with my princess is one of the most exciting. The most exhilarating experience was the Illuminations, the grand finale, we were mesmerized, awestruck and spellbound. Sana was screaming in joy. No words can describe this amazing experience.
Other most kids friendly place is… Copenhagen, there is so much one can do in this country. It is so beautifully planned, known as a biking city, it is perfect for both parents and kids to hang out. The advantage we have with Copenhagen is that we ferry to this place and it takes us just 2 hours so we have covered this at large. But the ones I would recommend all moms to visit with their kids is the Canal tour, Copenhagen Zoo, they have a huge space and Sana has been to this place twice and is a pro at recognising all animals and birds, National Aquarium, Den Blå Planet, considered Northern Europe’s biggest aquarium, very well constructed with a rainforest setup and theTivoli amusement park, best time to visit this place is during Christmas and New Years, it’s like a fairy tale and with the winter wonderland set up, you could have a perfect family time. All this can be very well spread out and visited in 3 days and followed by some unwinding to yummy ice creams and coffee at Nyhavn.
How do you pack for the travel?
I must admit I am a shopaholic and hence we usually keep it light. We always keep some extra space in bags so that we could do some local shopping. To all the places we have been, we always manage to pick the local souvenirs and do local shopping for clothes and shoes. So, I ensure we don’t carry much. But for Sana, there are always enough clothes as I like to get her changed when we do multiple visits in a day.
Dos and don’ts of traveling with kids?
Do’s include many, carry enough toys, books, comfort toys, blankets, clothes, hats, sunscreens, socks depending on what kind of places you are visiting. Sana is particular about few of her favorite soft toys and doodle pro, it changes with each trip, so that’s a must we carry. We keep her busy by engaging in pretend plays, some reading, and drawing.
We don’t encourage mobiles or tablets while traveling, well a lot of moms have been puzzled with this approach, but it has worked well for us, that’s a Don’t from us. We don’t want her to ask for it during the holidays so instead while traveling, though it can be tiring, hubby and I ensure we take turns in engaging but of course most of the time she’s busy with drawing, coloring and pretend plays. It’s also important to remember not to squeeze in too many agendas and make it a packed trip for a day. We always do a max of two giving enough time to have lunch, dinner and also ample time to relax. With kids, it’s important not to tire them out as they can get very cranky once they are exhausted. We always carry stroller but there are times when they like to be carried too it’s perfectly okay to give in occasionally.
What are the best & worst parts of traveling with kids?
The best part is they bring the family together, hubby and I often say that the travels without Sana are all a limited memory for us but each and every trip we have made with our princess has left us with some good laugh and we still can recall them. That’s the beauty of traveling with kids. Sana’s curiosity and the constant questioning has only helped us learn a lot. Sometimes, travel can be tiring especially when we traveled to Italy, it was too tiring as it was a summer vacay and too hot since Italy is known for its architecture and endless monuments, we had to take it a bit slow with her. Rome was manageable still but the more we delved into Florence, Venice, Pisa, Verona, she was getting a bit restless, and there was very less for her to do. Venice gondola ride was something she took interest in and also a glass factory we visited. Such times, it’s essential to keep them happy too, so we indulged in some gelatos, ice creams and candies, well holidays we need to sometimes break the rule. It’s equally important to keep them hydrated. Reminding them to drink water is a task but we have to make efforts to do it.
The worst part is when your kid wants to take a loo break, Sana has been potty trained from 2. So, every time it is important to check with the kids and finish all bathroom routines especially if we are visiting a museum or a tour that doesn’t involve any breaks, it’s better to prepare than feel sorry. I still carry a diaper bag for Sana but a smaller one as she’s 4 with some 2 pairs of clothes, extra innerwear, enough wipes as kids tend to eat on the go. These are some of the must-haves in my bag.
How do you manage your kid’s food items while on vacation or any crazy for incidences?
Sana has a huge craving towards pasta, while in Italy, she was super excited trying out different kinds of pasta and pizzas. I usually encourage her to try out everything we eat, and whatever she likes she will take that a little more. Luckily she’s not a fussy eater, most of the times, we try and feed her continental cuisines.
I also carry enough cookies, juices, fruits, muffins on the go. These are some of the mandates for Sana. Especially when we are on flights or long bus travels or road trips, these essentials keep her busy for a longer time. Eating on time is something that’s often missed while on travel, but trying to keep with children’s routines helps to a large extent and keep them less cranky.
All kids need enough sleep and food, if both are taken care of well, half the battle is won. And hey, one more thing to remember, it’s good to wind up travel schedules by your kids’ bedtime so you can have an early start the next day.
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Keep on Travelling,