“A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving.” – Lao Tzu
Rucha Karve, wife to Merchant Naval Officer and a mother to 5 year old, has set a real example for young mothers. When her husband is off-shore on duty, she backpacks and travels with her daughter, all alone. Together, this mother-daughter duo has traveled places and explored different countries and cities.
Concept of travelling alone with a kid, as your travel partner, really amazed me. I wondered how Rucha managed her travel, while taking care of her daughter at same time. So, here is Rucha Karve answering my curious questions and sharing her experience.
When did you first decide to travel with your toddler?
I have always loved adventure travel. I had been trekking throughout my college days. And then life happened and that part of me got totally left behind. Fast forward to being a mom, my husband is in the merchant navy and is around only a couple months a year. Even when Advika was born this was the case. Even worse was that we couldn’t plan a vacation since his return dates are never certain. When Advika was 2.5 years old, I decided I had done enough waiting. I was skeptical, no doubt, but I took the plunge. Packed the bag and left. Our first was an overnight road trip to Velas. There wasn’t even a spare seat for her in the non-ac traveler. We managed, of course. This is when both of us saw Olive Ridley Turtle hatchlings for the first time. Those little ones waddling away towards the water. It’s an amazing experience. From then on, we’ve been adding links to the chain and never stopping.
Which all places the mom-daughter duo backpacked so far?
Advika and I started our travel with Velas where we saw beautiful Olive Ridley Turtle hatching, then we explored Malvan, Dapoli, Ladakh, Manali, Goa, Gangtok, Harihareshwar, Srivardan, Bangalore, Karla, Lonavala, Ganpatipule, Kolkata and Delhi. Apart from India, we explored few foreign lands – Thailand (Bangkok, Phuket, Krabi), and Bhutan (Thimpu, Punakha, Paro). We went on animal safaris at Tadoba, Pench, Nagzira and Bandhavgad and also a couple of treks.
What is the most challenging part about travelling with a kid as your “travel partner”?
While travelling with a child, mid journey trouble is “Food”. Not every train has pantry and you can’t find something as common as an Idli or a chapati everywhere. Last year we went to Bangkok, my daughter was 3. We managed mostly with fruits, eggs and bread. While rice was readily available, any accompanying curry was extremely spicy. However now Advika’s accustomed to our travels. Even if we are in a remote village, she adjust with the most basic food.
Next is boredom. Yes, kids get super bored during travel. We had 30hr long to and fro train journey for Bhutan, and it was a test for both of us. Firstly, she doesn’t use phone at all, so that option is scrapped. I had carried cards to play basic games- ludo, colouring. Slowly, kids from the nearby compartment joined in. They started playing with us. We made new friends and shared our food. Got to know about corresponding villages, it was some experience!
Post journey, is mostly the little one not wanting to go to school, but who can blame her?! 😉
Travelling with a kid, what have you learned from this experience?
The first, foremost and most important learning lesson was that children are far more adaptable than we give them credit for. Small worries like soiled clothes, cold or hot weather, availability of preferred food are very small worries when compared to the experience you gain.
Next is that no matter where you go, you will find kind people around you. They will be willing to help you and trying to accommodate as much possible. That their homes might be small but their hearts are really big.
How traveling at early age contributed to your little one?
The dimensions it adds to your child’s (not to mention yours) personality is far more rewarding. Children recall small memories and in this digital day and age, it’s very convenient to help them remember your travels. Besides, the bond we develop is something extraordinary. These experiences that we share have knitted us together further. The questions that she ask – why does Bhutan have prayer flags? The different ways in which different people pray? The lack of electricity in remote areas, the joy of camping by the lake side. It makes them more accepting and understanding of the world around us.
Advika finds happiness in rocks and soil, not missing her toys or the comfort of home. These short bursts of periods, away from our materialistic belongings have brought us close to each other and close to nature.
We’re not staying in the best of places, eating the finest a place has to offer instead we are doing everything on a shoestring budget. We try to stay with the locals, eat their staple food, mingle with their kids, exchange recipes, share knowledge about our traditions. This has all made Advika extremely accepting to the varied natures and cultures of people. We’ve learnt to love all kinds of people, bond with them, share and adapt.
Please give traveling tips to young mommies.
I would say start small. Use public transport once in a while. Take the bus with your child. Start by going to a neighbouring city, exploring neighbouring places alone. Let your child eat the local food.
Pack only what’s necessary and lessen your load. Always have the basic medicines with you. Fever, loose motions and vomiting. Symptomatic medicines are all you need to carry.
Don’t worry about food. Kids are more close to their natural instincts than we are. We eat because we like a certain thing, or because we have company or many reasons other than being really hungry. Kids by themselves understand their need for food. They may or may not want to eat at certain times which is okay. During the ladakh road trip, Advika really didn’t want to eat much and she ended up being one of the very few people who didn’t get nauseous or vomit. So let them be, especially during travels.
No matter which corner of the world you are, fruits or rice is something that will be readily available, so don’t worry.
Lastly, let me tell you, it always works out. Once you start you will simply find ways to get it done. I’m not, for one moment, telling you it’s easy, but I’m telling you IT’S WORTH IT!