Gypsy Moms : Featuring Vibha Ravi
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 Vibha Ravi. In her own words she is, 'a wanderer who finds as much joy in watching birds in my neighborhood as seeing the grandeur of the Taj Mahal. I write for Lonely Planet Magazine India and my own blog. If I don’t have a camera around my neck, I’m likely to be at home.'
What does the word ‘travel’ mean to you? To me, travel means freedom – freedom from daily routine, freedom to explore the unfamiliar, and freedom to experience something new. What is your preferred style of travel? I prefer staying at cozy hotels or homes which have recreational spaces, and if possible activities that can keep us engaged as a family. Rather than in-your-face opulence, I like local elements in the architecture so when I see an artist’s mind at work in the décor and attention to little details, it’s a winner. I still remember my trip to Singinawa Jungle Lodge in Kanha and Uramma in Anegundi for this reason. Have you ever gone on a solo trip? Could you describe it to us? I’ve traveled solo only for work so far. My first trip was to Hong Kong in 2002 for a meeting of bureau chiefs from AFX-Asia, a media organization I worked for at that time. Funnily, I wasn’t in the least nervous till I got there and realized what a big deal the event was. I remember the excitement of being in a country of towering steel and glass skyscrapers, of traveling on the metro for the first time ever, and of walking through high-end malls at a time when they were unheard of in much of India. While it was fun, two incidents have lingered - one was going for dinner one night and watching everyone being served while I just sat smelling the aromas wafting around. Turned out, I was the only vegetarian sitting in one of the best seafood restaurants in the city! I remember dying of hunger while trying not to show it. They did manage to rustle up something, though. The next night, I got lost on my way back to the hotel and was frantically asking people for directions, none of whom understood English. Walking down a darkish alley, I began to pray to all the Gods I knew and as I rounded a corner, there it was – no hotel has seemed as welcoming as that one did. After that incident, I’ve learned to carry a card with the address of the hotel in the local language. How has becoming a mother affected your love for travel, if at all? Becoming a mother hasn’t affected my love for travel one bit. In fact, I wrote a blog post on how travel has helped my daughter and I understand each other better.
I think travel makes you a better person, and if you keep an open mind it offers so many opportunities for children to learn things that just can’t be taught in school. I love to travel even more now because it gives me an opportunity to bond with my daughter, away from daily schedules that we so often get caught in. Which has been your most memorable family vacation and why? My personal favorite is a trip to Shekhawati in Rajasthan because it was a glimpse into a piece of fascinating and relatively unknown history, but as a family, our latest trip to Hong Kong and Phuket turned out to be most memorable. The three of us (husband, daughter, and I) discovered our own magic in Disney World. It’s not just about awakening the child in you- it’s also about staying relevant with changing times. We also loved Ocean Park’s variety of marine life and the Science Museum’s exhibits.In Phuket, the highlight was definitely the Phi Phi Islands Tour. It’s almost unreal seeing waters that clear and green, and as we snorkeled the fishes came so close that they were literally nibbling our feet. One word of caution, though – choose a good operator and set out early, else Phi Phi gets too crowded. What are your tips for traveling with kids? Schedule at least one part of your daily itinerary around their interests, allow them space to do things on their own, keep books for them to read and some basic medicines if you’re going to a remote location. Remember they will get hungry and tired, so set aside time for eating, toilet breaks and just relaxing when you plan the day. If they have motion sickness, get them to eat an hour before departure and stop for at least half an hour after you’ve eaten on the way. The next one is more a request than a tip – don’t litter or deface monuments and don’t allow your kids to do that as well. Please! Which destination is next on your list? Since I’ve just returned from a trip, I haven’t planned the next one yet but given that I love nature, North East India, Kenya, and Canada are on my wish list for now. ~ The Times Of Amma wishes Vibha 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.