They say “Birds of a feather flock together”. When Tarek and I got together in Cambodia, we had no idea how much of a roller coaster ride it was going to be and that the thing that would connect us the most, will be our spontaneity. In fact, nobody else apart from each other has been able to keep up with our spontaneous decisions, restlessness, and the driven need to follow our passion. Thus, it is no wonder that we are happiest when we travel together and an offspring of ours would be born with wings. Though we share four children between us, it is only our youngest, baby Akash who seems to be just like his parents. Easy to laugh, restless, volatile, and full of stubbornness, that little boy loves traveling and is happiest when on the move. Needless, to say, he has been traveling 4 weeks after his birth and went with us on a 30 days pan Europe road trip at the age of 8 months. That was our baby‘s first road trip and his stubborn parents had gone ahead with their crazy plans despite everybody advising us against it. Call us crazy or simply lucky, but that was one of our best travel experiences and we came back home after 30 days with some extremely memorable life lessons and breathtaking moments.
How we survived our baby‘s first road trip
Though the thought of a baby‘s first road trip can create a lot of anxiety, even to seasoned travelers, in reality, it is quite an enjoyable experience. The secret lies in proper planning, packing, and keeping in mind, that all the aspects of the trip revolve around the comfort (and safety) of the little one. Driving at nights, taking small breaks, stopping at parks, etc were some of the sensible things we did to make the journey comfortable for Akash and his favourite mobile was diligently strung on his car seat throughout the trip. His things, clothes, toys, and toiletries occupied maximum space in the car and during the day, I often sat next to him, holding his little hand, while Tarek drove alone for hours. We started from our home in Cologne one spring afternoon in March and drove through Belgium, to reach Paris in the evening.
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An evening in Paris
In France, the glittering Eiffel Tower greeted us to the behemoth capital and we navigated out of the city with boxes of fried chicken dinner on our laps. Our first stop was in a little village called Petit Champs in Dordogne near Toulouse and I can vouch for the fresh misty prettiness of French spring. The medieval fortified town of Carcassone at the French Spanish border was our next overnight stop and we visited the Dali Museum in Figueres before heading towards Girona. Both Figueres and Girona were typically Spanish towns with clear blue skies, crisp weather, laughter, food, and relaxed pace and we ate our way through entire Spain. After Girona, we drove through the night from Catalunya to Andalusia and passed by the Roman town of Cartagena on a beautiful Spanish morning.
Catalunya to Andalusia, a part of our baby‘s first road trip
The obscure stunning desert town of Almeria was our next destination and we spent some of our best days there. In Almeria, we decided to skip Rhonda and Seville and took a long break at the magnificent erstwhile Moorish capital of Granada instead. Our next stop was Saragossa in northern Spain and we stopped by the dramatic hanging houses of Cuenca on the way. That part of our drive was perhaps the most thrilling and breathtaking and the Don Quixote country was beautifully bleak. Our last impromptu decision was to skip San Sebastian and Pamplona and we decided to stay at a very relaxing resort at the French coastal town of Anglet. Though close to Biaritzz, it had none of its glamour and sheen and we saw some gorgeous sunsets there. Petit Champs was the final destination before heading back to Cologne and we passed by the awe-inspiring massive shifting sand dunes of Dune de Pilat on the way.
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Fighting over doo doo diaper and tapas platter
It was a road trip encompassing more than 3000+ kilometers and the whole journey was peppered with exhausting, nerve-wracking, exciting, awe-inspiring, and hilarious moments. But it was not always a bed of roses and there have been times when our baby‘s first road trip nearly split us up as a couple. Fighting over who will dispose a doo doo diaper at the glamourous Avenue des Champs-Élysées, which tapas platter to order, whether to take the bus to the attraction or who will take turns in sleeping, many seemingly mundane reasons became big issues during the trip and it was a journey as emotionally dramatic as the places we visited. Exhaustion of long hours on the road, being constantly alert, aware, bombardment of new experiences, and having less space as individuals are some of the hazards of traveling as a family, and a crying baby in a small enclosed area like a car also adds the stress.
A journey is like a marriage. The certain way to be wrong is to think you can control it
Yet we managed to somehow survive them all and as mentioned before, the reason lay in our passion for exploring the world. The road trip also taught us one huge lesson in life. “A journey is like marriage. The certain way to be wrong is to think you control it,” said John Steinbeck and when you travel with someone (even a baby), it is important to take large doses of patience and tolerance with your morning coffee. Today, in retrospect, I remember the beautiful experiences, awe-inspiring moments that we three shared together and as parents hope that someday, travel will form our dream child to be an open, warm human being with a heart of gold. In the upcoming posts, I will share the tried and tested tips of our baby‘s first road trip and how we managed to last 30 days on the road with a little one while having a lot of fun. Until, then, here is a sneak peek of our awesome road trip that spanned across Germany, France, Spain and back.
Stay tuned for survival tips, packing hacks and checklists for a hassle-free road trip with a baby.
RESPONSIBLE TRAVELING-BECAUSE I CARE