Meet a SuperMOM who has travelled across 21 states in India and 13 Countries abroad.
Deenaz is a mother who loves to travel and study at the same time and this is frankly a mystery to me but she does it with all her heart and as a matter of fact she is on her way to the beautiful country of New Zealand as you read the article and is going to pursue her PhD there. We wish the mommy all the very best in all her future endeavours and ask her to be in touch from the Hobbit land.
Tell us something about yourself, mommy….
I am Deenaz Raisinghani, an Indian mother from the beautiful state of Assam, Army wife and avid traveller. I have worked in Google, India, and other multinationals in the past, in the fields of online advertising and research and have completed my MBA in Marketing and a second Masters degree (MSc in Communication Studies) in 2015. I conceived my baby while I was studying in University in 2014 and delivered her just before my final semester exams. I am married to a Colonel in the Indian Army and we are currently posted in Ambala, India. We have a daughter who is 2yrs3mo. Her name is Arianna.
How old are you? And your kid too!
I am 32 years old and my daughter is 2years 3 months as of today (born on 03.03.2015)
Which countries and places have you travelled till now? Both with and without kids.
I have travelled across the length and breadth of my country India (21 states to be precise, from the Siachen base camp in the north to Pondicherry in the south) and to 13 other countries so far. They are Singapore, Malaysia, Canada, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Turkey, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Norway, France, Germany and Cambodia…Out of these International trips, we have travelled to 9 countries with Arianna and a lot of places within India with her.
Tell us something about your travel with your kids?
My husband and I are avid backpackers and have been travelling extensively since we met. When I conceived, I had a wish to travel to Europe with my baby before she turns two. We promised ourselves that our passion for travelling would not die down after the baby. We, therefore, got her right into the groove since she was born, and tested a lot of home ground (places within India) to see if she could manage air, and road travel, and believe it or not, a music festival (NH7 weekender at Bengaluru when she was just 9 months old!) Since then, I have been travelling alone with Arianna as well as the three of us together, and she has completely adopted this as a part of her life. We feel the itch to travel every couple of weeks, and if my husband wasn’t so busy guarding India’s borders, we would have loved to live on the road in a campervan travelling 24/7
When did you start travelling with kids?
Our daughter Arianna took her first flight when she was 3 months old, and we took a trip to Bhutan when she was 7 months old. We trekked to the Tigers Nest (Monastery in Paro, Bhutan) with her on this trip, and travelled extensively by road from Phuentsholling to Paro, and the capital city Thimphu. Daddy was on a motorcycle expedition and we followed in a car behind the bikers all through this trip. Our next big trip was Kerala when she was 11 months old, with many smaller trips in between to our respective hometowns, Jaipur and Guwahati. After all of these successful trips with baby, we finally went ahead with the dream Euro tour (seven countries in Europe) in July 2016 when Arianna was 16 months old and in Jan this year, Arianna and I travelled to Cambodia with three of my girlfriends. We have just returned from a trekking holiday in Himachal Pradesh and I am still sorting out the pictures from this incredible trip.
Can you tell us 2 destinations that you would recommend other fellow moms to travel? Also, how was your experience of that place and what all places can parents explore there with kids?
Good Question! So, for this bit… I’m going to split my answer into two sections, two destinations (within India and abroad). I highly recommend travelling to Kerala with your kids, because it is one of the sweetest places India has. From fort towns to hill station, to beaches, to idyllic backwaters, to its scrumptious food for vegetarians and non-vegetarians, Kerala will fill your senses with love and pure joy. It is a great place to unwind for all mommies out there, who are looking to take a much-needed break. Kochi has lovely ayurvedic spas and centres that will ease away all your mommy stress and you will come back recharged. It also has some spectacular restaurants set in beautiful locations. Munnar is a beautiful hill station, with gorgeous views and the altitude is just perfect for travelling with children. Take a houseboat cruise in the backwaters from Alleppey to Kumarakom or vice versa and lose yourself in its surroundings. There are also some beautiful beaches to the south of Kerala, and kids will absolutely love this holiday and thank you for it. The second destination within India would be Meghalaya. It’s a very comfortable 3-hour drive from Guwahati, and the places there, including the infamous city of Shillong, will leave you wanting more. There are several beautiful places to explore in Meghalaya besides Shillong, and all of these are day trips you can take with your kids. There are some beautiful waterfalls, lakes, caves open to public (I have explored the Mawsmai cave with Arianna, and it was a wonderful experience, but be a little careful when you’re walking in the slippery areas), hanging root bridges, and areas of Mawlynnong (the cleanest village in Asia), and Dawki with its pristine lake. Catch and eat fresh fish, or explore the local flora and fauna, look at pretty villagers dressed in traditional garments, and go crazy eating the most awesome momos and hill station shopping in the markets of Police Bazar and Laitumkrah in Shillong city.
Outside India, two destinations that I recommend travelling with kids are Tubingen (located in the district of Baden-Wurttemberg, in the south of Germany). Tubingen is a University town with an amazingly beautiful location right by the river. It is always full of young crowd, owing to its student population, has gorgeous cobbled streets, old buildings and Hohen or castles now converted into University departments. These are mostly open to the public, and it’s a completely walkable inner city with lovely little cafes, fresh local fruit, vegetables, lovely cafes serving authentic Schwaben dishes (try Schwaben noodles and flammkuchen) and some pretty BnB(bed and breakfast) options to stay in hosted by locals. The new town is better developed with concrete roads, very smart buildings and museums, and there is always something happening in the town. A fun activity to do there is punting on the Neckar river with kids, it’s a very beautiful experience and very safe for kids. Mommies can travel alone with their kids without any issues, as Tubingen is an extremely safe and warm town. The second destination I recommend travelling with kids in Singapore. It is something that I feel is already very well advertised and a lot of parents have already travelled to Singapore or are planning to. I absolutely loved Singapore for the way it functions, and although I travelled there before my daughter was born, I have no doubts that kids will love this country for all it has to offer. There is so much to do, from Amusement Parks, Universal Studios’ to shopping arcades with kids zones, to the beautiful Singapore Zoo and Night Safari, to Sentosa Island, Singapore is a treat to the senses. It is great because it has activities for both parents and kids on holiday. There are special kid cafes, and the subway lines are fantastic and always on time. You will never go wrong with Singapore as it is completely catered to the tourist.
How do you pack for the travel?
Well, we decide on what to pack depending on the mode and distance we have to cover. If it is a road trip to India, we are able to carry more luggage than we do otherwise. We have a Ford Ecosport, and we make sure we carry everything essential in the car itself. If it is a well-connected city we are travelling to, we just carry our strollers and one small stroller for the baby, and one backpack with her immediate essentials (a few days’ worth of food and diaper changes for the baby), and we buy the rest during our stay. If it is a road trip to a destination that is not very well-connected (such as this recent trekking trip in Kullu district, Himachal), we pack our clothes into rucksacks (well our luggage was carried across the river to our place of stay by this hanging trolley in the air called a ‘span’ that works only twice a day, otherwise you are your own beast of burden) and stay away from strollers as strollers and mountains don’t go together! We even carry tents, sleeping bags to camp in open locations, and we pack a huge food bag that we keep in the car generally, and that has survival items for ourselves and baby. We also carry essentials in pouches such as our camera, adaptors, batteries, torch (what I call the technology pouch), medicines pouch (for baby and us), diaper pouch (instead of a huge diaper bag, a pouch is easier), and a toiletry pouch and all of these go into our rucksacks.
During our backpacking trip to Europe, we carried a few essentials for baby (in a small backpack), two rucksacks, baby carrier and a baby stroller for our trip and we were set to go. We only stayed in youth hostels and BnB’s on this trip, and travelled only by public transport (trams, buses, trains) so we were walking extensively…almost 6-7 hours a day with breaks in between, so we had to make sure we travelled light. We alternated with the baby in the stroller and carried the rucksacks ourselves, or wore her and carried the packs in the baby stroller. Apart from the other pouches I mentioned, an Itinerary pouch is very important while travelling abroad (which has a city map, subway map, and a copy of your bookings for accommodation).
Dos and don’ts of travelling with kids?
There is no DON’T that I can think of. The only DON’T is DON’T BE AFRAID of travelling with a baby. Mothers, I would like to tell you that it’s absolutely possible to take that dream trip with your child, and one should definitely start early on in life. Kids will adjust to anything as long as you make a routine of it, and we have tried our best to make backpacking travel a routine affair for her. There is absolutely no need to stock up on baby supplies except the absolute essentials as everything is available around the world, and it is really good for the baby’s immunity if you want to introduce them to real food from all over just so they can adjust to different tastes and not cry for their home food and milk bottle. Having said this, I obviously do not recommend taking them to unsafe locations and leaving it to chance. There are certain instincts we ought to follow as parents while taking them out of a home, but overall, travelling with kids is not as difficult as a lot of parents seem to think. Just make sure you travel light if your trip involves carrying your baby for longer periods of time and using public transport.
What are the best & worst parts of travelling with kids?
The only downside is while travelling with children, you miss out on destinations that have crazy nightlife, or a couple spa that you may have enjoyed when you didn’t have a kid. Also, it takes a bit more planning to be responsible for a little human that is completely dependent on you. You need to ensure (mommies mostly) that you are carrying a spare set of clothes in case they throw up on you, and you need to make sure they get enough food and sleep on a daily basis. As long as their three basic physiological needs (food, sleep, poop) are taken care of, babies don’t trouble much, you just need to know their cues and address it at the right time. Trust me, take care of these three needs while on vacation and you will have a lovely time bonding together
How do you manage your kid’s food items while on vacation or any crazy food incidences?
I do not remember having any crazy food incidents, but here’s what I would like to say. First of all, there is no need to carry a pressure cooker when you are travelling abroad, as you can make your dal khichdi(if the kid is used to only that) while staying at hostels or BnB’s..while we are on vacation, we carry some dry items like cereal, biscuits, nuts, some chocolate, cup noodles in the car with us…we buy everything fresh from the locations or cook with fresh produce that we buy from the market. I remember that we cooked a lot during our Europe trip as all BnB and hostels ( please look up websites with International Hostels as they are nothing like what ‘hostel’ means to us in India), they come equipped with good clean kitchens and very pretty rooms of all kinds for families as well as solo travelers. Our breakfast was almost always freshly cooked in the kitchens, and we ate a lot of fresh fruit, bread, fresh cheese, sausages, and local hygienic food from all over Europe. We realized that baby was enjoying these foods as long as they were not spicy or unhygienic. We also found fresh milk in cartons that she took. She even ate crab meat when she was 11 months old in Kerala. I feel babies enjoy different tastes, so make them explore their palates a little instead of only sticking to cereals and home food. They build up their immunity when they fight infections, so let them go through their first bout of a cough and cold, or a tummy upset, don’t fret about it and relax and enjoy your vacation.
Advice for first-time travellers with kids? What’s your favourite kind of accommodation
My advice is to just start! Take that first trip, start someplace small and manageable and take it from there. I too started the same way, and now having stayed alone with her in multiple places within India, and in Europe and Cambodia, I can travel confidently with my daughter anywhere in the World. More than anything, travelling alone as a mother with your little baby and making sure you both have a good time gives you a kind of self-confidence that only travel can. Those moments are what I will always cherish as they ended up teaching me a lot about myself, and my child. You start seeing your kid in a different light and appreciate the patience and bond you both develop as mom and baby. I don’t even have to tell you how much exposure your baby gets early in life, and new sights, tastes, people and cultures will only make him/her more sociable and a better placed human being as they grow up in this multicultural World
My favourite kind of accommodation has to be the BnB(Bed and Breakfast). Explore www.airbnb.com to know what I am talking about, and you’ll see an entire world full of charming homestays and rentals, and apartments in every city In the World! There are locals who put up adverts on these sites and confirm your booking on the website with a part payment. The site is very safe, with verified properties, and you can chat directly with the owners and write reviews post your stay with them. Staying in a BnB as opposed to a hotel is it converts your experience from a tourist to a local. You start feeling at home, get the best local advice from your hosts, stay and interact, eat with them, and get a feel of their culture which I feel is very important to absorb while travelling to a new place.
Tricks and tips to blog and be active on social media while on a vacation with kids?
If you believe and recording and sharing your travel experiences, make sure you record your travel from Day One. Check in on your social networks, post a pic of your funny lil goof while on holiday, and when you have time, just take note of all the things you accomplished day wise, be it things you saw, places you went to, stuff you ate, and blog about it when you have the time and wifi (remember not every place will have wifi so be patient). You can start with posting about the places and whats in it to see, want kids will love, or a special something that is not widely known to the public. Put up food pictures and record your kid enjoying all these activities. Blogging is very subjective and a lot depends on who your target audience is, so if it’s a parenting blog, fill it with listicles instead of articles with top 10 things to do and see during family holidays, or top amusement parks to visit in a city with kids. If it is a product review blog, use all the items you plan to review on your trip, take good pictures using them and review each with action pictures writing the pros and cons while you used them. You can link the blog to your Instagram account, and direct your followers to the post of the day through that, and any other social network you might be on, say Twitter or Pinterest. Engage with the parenting community on a daily basis, and enjoy the networking experience. Also, please remember to switch off from time to time while on holiday to savour your uninterrupted moments of holiday bliss.
Any special camera equipment or tricks for a great family pic with kids?
There is a lot on offer in the market, and I am not the best person to recommend camera equipment, as I do not use high-end cameras to record my travels. I have been exploring a few options, and they are on my bucket list as of now. If you have an iPhone, you will end up taking some amazingly clear snapshots as the picture quality on iOS is brilliant. Apart from that, the GoPro action cameras are something worth exploring if there is a lot of action in your travels. Otherwise, a great selfie stick, access to multiple mounts on lenses, and a basic DSLR should be good enough to start off on your travel adventures. Also, a funny tip is to also take grumpy pictures of your kid who has just woken up from a nap or early morning flight pics. They stay on in memories and make for a lot of laughs when you are back from vacation.
I hope you loved reading Deenazs travel diary in detail.
Till then keep on Travelling