By Mihir Joshi
We just got back from our very first vacation with little Neil. Six months old and the boy has already been on two flights, stayed in a fancy hotel and seen the sea in Goa!
Let me rewind a bit. Thanks to my work I end up travelling a fair bit, be it for gigs or to anchor events or for shoots. And because my wife Neha loves to travel, we’ve also travelled a fair bit for fun. In fact, while Neha was pregnant we actually flew to Dubai for a short vacation with my family and then to Singapore for her babymoon (remember that little concept. I told you about it in “Two Lines On A Stick”) and finally to Ghodbunder Road. I think it took longer to get there than it did to get to Dubai! So yes, we’ve always loved travelling and we decided that even after our son was born we would continue to do that and take him along with us. Obviously, we wanted to make sure he could handle a plane journey so we waited till he turned six months, which in our head was a safe enough time for him to take his first flight and thus we planned our first vacation.
Here are some of the things we thought about before we left for Goa and I’ll also tell you the things we learned about while we were on our trip. We chose Goa for the following reasons:
1. We wanted to go to a seaside place rather than a hill station. Why? Lesser clothes to worry about and babies and I love warm weather a lot more than cold. Okay…I like it more…but I’m sure Neil will agree with me when he’s older. I’m 37 and I’ve still not seen snow and I have absolutely no problem with that fact.
2. We wanted to go away from Mumbai but not too far. The flight to Goa is just an hour and that, we thought, was enough time to figure out how Neil deals with air travel.
3. We wanted to do a staycation, which means we wanted to spend pretty much all our time inside the hotel and not go about doing sight-seeing. We chose a fantastic resort after a fair amount of research in South Goa, because it is not as crowded and crazy as North Goa…and a resort rather than just a good hotel because we wanted a place that could keep us entertained for four days.
4. Recognise this. At six months, the vacation is for YOU. Not the baby. He or she won’t remember where you took them. You do this for you and for your wife so that you get a little change from being parents all the time. I mean, on vacation, you’ll continue to be parents – change diapers, put him to sleep, feed him at all hours (you brave mommies you) and keep looking at every little thing he does…but you get to do that in a place away from home.
5. You can stop worrying for just a bit about cooking food or cleaning the room or doing the dishes or the hundred other things that you need to think of, apart from taking care of your baby, when you’re at home.
6. Because we really, really like Goa!
Now you know our logic behind our location. Let me tell you a few things we learned during our first time travelling with an infant.
First things first, a baby that has never been on a plane WILL freak out when the plane starts off and gets in the air. NOTHING you do will stop him from wailing his a** off. The important thing at this point of time is to remember to stay calm.
We were told that feeding him during takeoff and landing helps calm him down and theoretically, that helps. It probably practically works with a few babies too, but our little boy decided that he just does not want to feed and expressed himself at his loudest possible volume. This was both while going and coming back. It came to a point where virtually every passenger in five rows behind us wanted to figure out what they could do to make him smile. From personal experience, I learned that the only thing that worked was baby wearing and being calm. (I told you guys about babywearing in The Babywearing Bond.)
Finally, after about 10 minutes of wailing, I wore him in my carrier and once the “Fasten Seat Belts” sign was off, I walked with him, humming to him in a calm voice. The humming helps because it is white noise and the vibrations he feels when he’s up close to me in the carrier help calm him quickly.
Next, what do you carry when you’re on a vacation to transport your baby around? After careful deliberation, we chose to take just his car seat. The reasons were simple. The rear facing car seat also acts like a rocker and we kept him in it when we were eating at restaurants and he would sit calmly and watch as we ate. Also, the trip from the airport to the resort was almost two hours and we wanted to make sure that he was absolutely safe in the car. It is imperative that when you’re in a car ride that’s more than a few minutes, you take the utmost care for the safety of your baby. So taking just the car seat served both purposes we needed. Something to transport him in and something that would keep him safe in our car journeys.
· Carry at least four diapers a day and then add about 20 per cent extra as a backup. You can never have too many diapers.
· Carry a swimming costume type diaper (you get those) if you intend to take your baby in the pool.
· Carry LOTS of clothes. Babies poop and pee. Shit happens. Prepare for it!
· Carry baby shampoo, soap, baby lotion, baby sunscreen (NOT regular sunscreen that you’d use for yourself), baby powder and if your baby isn’t exclusively breast fed then carry whatever food and water they may need.
We had a baby cot that was available to us in the room but since Neil is used to co-sleeping, he eventually slept with us on our bed. Now, in retrospect, we realised that hotel beds, comfy as they are, are not the best beds for co-sleeping. They are too soft and the baby tends to roll into you. So if you can, ask for rooms with slightly firm beds or if that’s not a possibility, prepare to sleep uncomfortably for a few days. I told you…the vacation isn’t technically a vacation. You don’t get to stop being parents. You just do what you do, in a different location. That’s how it will be. Accept it and learn to love it!
Carry things that will entertain the baby. We took some books he likes and a couple of his favourite toys. We want to keep him away from tablets and phones for as long as possible. That’s a completely different column and I’ll write our thoughts about that soon. But yeah…books! Start ’em early!
That about covers it. You may have different things that you will do and a few other things that you may want to carry but this is what we did, and it worked out quite nicely. Yes, he cried a bit on the plane, but he smiled a lot and we got some incredible pictures with him. I know he won’t remember his first vacation…but we will. And that is what it is all about. Making memories and getting your little one involved in every part of your life.
(The writer is a singer-his debut album Mumbai Blues won the GIMA Award for Best Rock Album in 2015-hosts his own talk show-The MJ Show and does live Hindi commentary for WWE. Follow him on twitter @mihirjoshimusic. Views are personal.)