Since having mini MTG, I haven’t published much about our travels or the way my travelling has changed since having a baby.
It is not until last night while pushing her on a swing I realised the changes I have done to my own style of travelling to accommodate my wanderlust and her comfort.
Mini MTG, a traveller in her own right with almost ten countries before the age of two (she is 18 months old at the moment), makes our life complete and different, especially since this year has been interesting for many.
I have travelled around even this year, though with more precautions and safety. Technically we don’t have a house, so we have been visiting family and staying long term in different countries.
Let’s say that travelling with a baby is sometimes hard but the fact that during a pandemic we packed our lives for a holiday to the UK for three weeks and got stuck with border closure there for seven months has not been easy.
Here is how my daughter changed the way I travel:
#1 Picking family-friendly hotels
I was the one who never thought of family-friendly hotels. I didn’t even realise why you would have them, why wouldn’t you want to holiday with a bunch of toddlers I wonder!
It was not until looking at hotels that I realised I gravitate mostly towards “Adult-only” hotels.
For example, for our holiday in Ras Al Khaimah, I would have picked the Waldorf Astoria, a beautiful property but with very little to occupy a toddler who needs to burn energy to sleep better.
So mummy settled for a more-family friendly hotel at the Doubletree Ras Al Khaima, which although full of other kids (duh!) has plenty of things to keep them busy. Helloooo swings!
#2 Dining restaurants that accept children
We wanted to go for a fine dining meal with our anniversary coming up.
Did you know that many restaurants have age limits of their guests?
Even for afternoon tea at some of the hotels I looked at they have age restrictions.
Bye-bye Burj Al Arab afternoon tea, see you in 10 years!
#3 Hotel executive lounges
Executive lounges also have restrictions on the children age when entering.
I almost always book hotels with executive lounges, and it is one reason I chase and maintain status with many hotel brands.
For example, the Conrad hotel in Makkah, my favourite hotel has an age limit of 12 years old. I think it is high for a hotel with pilgrims and many families and makes it very impractical.
So on our last Umrah when the baby was six months old, we settled for the Hilton Convention Hotel in Makkah where they allow kids and also has excellent food options.
So now, before booking a hotel, I make sure they accept children.
For those seasoned parents, these restrictions might seem familiar for some of you, but as someone who loves the lounges and hotels with an adult theme, it is an adjustment.
I used to travel with hand luggage for three weeks of exploring, even today; my mum always mentions this when I pack.
Today with a little toddler madam I still try to pack light but obviously with more accessories. Gone are the days of hand luggage, but we still managed to squeeze three months of travelling into one large suitcase for both of us at 30kg.
Of course, having prams and car seats add to this, but I have found my two best travel accessories for travelling mothers in the GB Pockit+ All city and the Urban Kanga car seat. Both have seriously saved my sanity and back at airports and numerous Ubers.
I am still working on creating a capsule wardrobe for myself and the baby to travel and feel better.
If you have any tips, please do share them!
#5 More flights in Business class
Well, this is something I can get used to.
Since my daughter was born some (not all) of our flights have been in business class (on points) to have more space.
She has travelled way more in style than I ever did. Considering that my first flight on a plane was when I was 14 and then again at 18, I flew to the UK for University.
All of the learning, points collection and tricks are paying off now I find. For the first two years, I am not sure how happy I will be and how easy it is to find three seats in business on points.
Flying in business class with a toddler is not easy, but much more comfortable than in economy.
Our flight from Sofia to Dubai on Fly Dubai for 5 hours with a toddler, not sleeping but only touching and talking to people is testament to that.
Honestly, I don’t understand why people will still try to touch toddlers during a pandemic!
So for now, I am enjoying all the perks I can get and using my hard accumulated points for upgrades to have a better experience. It is the one thing I can get used to though.
#6 Food Hunting
By no means, my kid is a fussy eater; I guess she might be because veggies and fruits are off the list.
Finding food she will eat is limited to what pleases her eyes more than her taste buds.
So gone are the days where we could decide before heading out what we will be eating.
Now it is more of finding a place with healthy options and meal planning for her breakfast and lunch.
I started taking some snacks from the breakfast buffet, for which I used to make fun of my mum.
Now that I turned into a mum, and it’s normal. 🙂
Boiled eggs, feta cheese and toasties are an excellent option for lunch.
Entertaining a toddler is hard work, especially a single child because no other kids can play with them.
My daughter still chases children around to play with them, though she only manages to either smack them or hug them. In both cases, the kids freeze and then run away.
So mummy and daddy need to find options for keeping them busy.
We enjoy long walks around the beach, and I love promenades because we can walk around without cars and enjoy sea views. I also pick hotels with comfortable walking areas.
For example, in Dubai, we spent almost a month in the Marina area because it has walking paths and we don’t need taxis daily to enjoy the city.
#8 Slower travels
Back in the day, I used to explore a city for 12 hours non-stop and be done in 2-3 days. Now, we need to plan our naps and enjoy a slower pace of travel.
I find this relaxing and more enjoyable as well. I think the previous years this fast travel and ticking countries of the list created too much stress.
We saw people on Instagram visiting Europe in a week without genuinely exploring it.
I think my child taught me to travel more mindfully and enjoy the places. It also helps that she will take hours on end if I let her walk.
We also do certain activities every day as she doesn’t nap in her pram, and I do have a routine to keep consistency. It indeed has been a saver, and I think it is why our travels are comfortable with her.
#9 I became a better planner
In general, parenthood requires some planning, but I also started planning a little more details into our itineraries.
Gone are the days when I arrive at Times Square in New York without a hotel booking and spend 30min at a Starbucks finding our place!
I also try to meal plan her food options, mostly if we stay in a hotel rather than an apartment where I can cook.
As a personality, I am very impulsive, so I have been more grounded since I started travelling with a toddler.
Yes, I am talking about this much impulsiveness.
#10 Hotels Vs Apartments
Since I was six years old, I love hotels; I have memories of asking my mum to sleep in the hotel she worked.
I still remember the night as if it was yesterday because it was my dream come true.
I also keep statuses with hotels so I can get better rooms and more perks like free breakfast.
Now with a baby, I also gravitate more towards places with facilities like apartments or suites. This way we can have extra space for play, and when she is asleep, we can go to the living room instead of all of us going to bed at 8 pm.
However, it is harder to find many hotels that offer facilities like washing machines or hotel chains with apartment-style options, especially in Europe.
Also, I never thought about how essential washing machines are! Unless you enjoy washing clothes by hand, which is not my favourite thing.
I think motherhood is all about adapting. I find the same is true for travelling.
Yes, my travel experiences have changed. There are always challenges, luggage, rooms and frequently cries. But overall, I love travelling and showing the world to my Mini-MTG.
After my husband, she is the best travel companion I could have asked for, and I cannot wait to explore more with her insha’Allah.
I would love to hear how your travels have changed since having children and if you have any tips.