The Times Of Amma family believes deeply in travel. We also highly recommend travelling with children as it brings a fresh perspective to travel.
Through 'Gypsy Moms ' we aim to to feature Moms who enjoy travel, to inspire those readers who baulk at the idea of travelling with their children.
Today we speak to Sonam Eapen, who in her own words is a day dreamer, a writer, carb slave, good wine-company, a marketeer, record-time suitcase-packer and a millenial mom discovering life one missing toddler sock at a time.
What does the word ‘travel’ mean to you?
Travel means so many different things to different people. To me it means going somewhere, anywhere even if it is on a trail in your backyard. If your curiosity has sparked and you are learning something new in a place, you are traveling. Travel is more than just seeing sights. It is soaking in new experiences and forming new perspectives on life. It takes all the assumptions you had of a place and its people and turns it upside down. Travel taught me that all people want is the same things : to be loved and accepted, to do your best for your family and to laugh. It taught me how to live with the absolute minimum and realize how little it takes to stay happy. It is not getting furious when the gps stops working but learning to laugh at circumstances you get into. Most importantly travel inspires me to live fully, to accept people for who they are and be grateful for everything life brings me.
What is your preferred style of travel?
I would say we follow a fairly backpacking travel agenda with hints of luxury. These days if you look hard enough you can land yourself luxury hotel stays at unbelievable prices. On our travels we often live in charming air-bnbs and set a daily spending budget. It is easy to nibble on inexpensive local food in the day from farmers markets or hole-in-the-wall eateries and then treat yourself to an extravagant dinner.
Have you ever gone on a solo-trip? Could you describe it to us?
Never have! And although people swear by what a wonderful journey of self-discovery solo trips are, it doesn’t excite me. I have always been a people's person and enjoy sharing experiences with family and friends. If I ever find myself on a solo trip I am pretty sure I’d barge into a tour group and pretend to have always been part of it. Or knock at a local’s door and invite myself over for dinner. Now that wouldn’t be so bad would it!
How has becoming a mother affected your love for travel, if at all?
I must say, I have become more easy going when it comes to ticking bucket lists. You have to be flexible when it comes to traveling with kids and prepare to go with the flow. We have been lucky with our little guy who has been a fabulous sport throughout our travels. He is going to turn 3 and although he doesn’t completely understand the concept of going to new lands and meeting new people I am looking forward to the time he grows curious about the world. As of now, for him, every new hotel room is home and every stranger is a friend.
Which has been your most memorable family vacation and why?
The holiday that stands out in my mind was the recent road trip we did through Central Europe. We had a very ambitious agenda that involved multiple hours of car travel through different cities over a period of 2 weeks. All of Central Europe was memorable, but we absolutely loved our days in the Salzkammergut region of Austria. The landscapes were so serene and untouched. During our stay there, we did numerous hikes through mountains and valleys with our little man and he thoroughly enjoyed it. One such hike was 10km long and although we were wary about doing it with a toddler, we decided to brave it out. A large part of the hike was uphill through the woods and on a very faint trail. We were the only souls in the mountains that day and that freaked me out a little. After a few hours of trudging uphill, singing nursery rhymes, playing i-spy, picking rocks and drinking water from streams we reached the very top. And what a glorious view it was! The next thing we heard was loud thundering and rain fell in torrents unannounced. Of course the mom in me panicked! I imagined every situation from being stuck in the mountains and feeding my child berries to playing dead while being circled by a grizzly bear. Thankfully the husband is more practical and has far better presence of mind than I do. We quickly proceeded on our journey downhill and made it back home safely, drenched and exhausted but without making any acquaintance with grizzlies.
What are your tips for travelling with kids?
My two bits on traveling with toddlers:
Loosen up! Don’t assume the worst is coming. Stressed parents create stressed kids. Kids are more resilient than you think. While traveling, little Tom might not poop at 9:00am as he has all his life and little Mary might not get her daily omega 3’s but everything is going to be ok with the world. Take it from a mom who carried a pressure cooker halfway around the world to whip up khichdi for her son but soon figured she was being obnoxious!
Plan your days keeping the kids in mind. If you stick a toddler in a stroller or a baby carrier all day, he/she is going to be bouncing off the walls when you get back to your hotel room tired. Find times in the day to let them vent their energy. You’ll be surprised at how child friendly a lot of places are.
Plan snack-time and treat time for when you are visiting museums and other seemingly boring places for toddlers. Bring in foods that take longer to eat- a box of raisins, cheerios,tiny cheese cubes, blueberries etc. Some museums won’t allow food in its premises. Then you have to make do with a lollipop! Find a playground post that to work off all the sugar.
Keep them engaged. Apart from bringing along that 1 favorite toy and book, pick inexpensive new and interesting things for the trip. I’ve always found fun flash cards, puzzles, stickers and art material at local dollar/euro stores. Novelty keeps them hooked for a while.
When traveling with little kids be prepared to meet supportive people and the eye-brow raisers. Don’t feel overly apologetic about your whinning toddler, your little girl singing “the wheels on the bus” on loop or your son shouting “ we are going down!” everytime he gets on a plane. What is important is you and your family are together and having a good time.
Which destination is next on your list?
We are back on American shores now and hope to explore places in South America soon.
The Times Of Amma wishes Sonam, a lifetime more of happy adventures and safe travels!
If you are a 'Gypsy Mom' or you know of a Mom who loves to travel, mail us here or get in touch with us via our Facebook page or Instagram account.