Like Duck to Water, thats how I have taken to life :). This blog is the saga of love and adventures of a small duck in a large water body called LIFE....

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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Initial travel with a baby...

This post is going to be a set of 3, so please bear with me (atleast you have a promise of 3 posts coming back-to-back :-D).

Flashback to somewhere in mid-2007. One of the things usually newly pregnant women think about is whether life will ever be the same again. So in the same trend, I was wondering whether we'd be able to travel as much. I knew it wouldn't be easy but I wanted to still keep going. I was certain adventuring wouldn't be feasible, unless Sri and I would go on them individually, but I thought travelling should be fine..

Fast-forward to June-2008. Certainly travel was not a problem, since we had travelled to India and back. Wanted to talk about the journey back as a guide to some new parents (sorry for being so late about it, but I hope it helps atleast a few). We had booked an infant seat for Snugli so that we'd get a bassinet and some luggage quota for her. We were told that we'd have to reserve the bassinet for each plane which we did. There were no problems while travelling to India as such. While coming back too, the plane from Bangalore to Paris wasn't an issue as we reserved a bassinet and got one. In Paris the first thing we did was ask for the bassinet. But when we climbed onto the plane, I noticed that there was no slot in front of us to attach the bassinet, but thought that it must be a different sort of bassinet and didn't worry. Even after the plane took off, nobody came to attach the bassinet. Thats when we had the doubt and asked a hostess about it. We were told it cannot be attached as this particular hold didn't have a slot and the one which had was occupied. They refused to move us to the other slot as the people sitting there didn't agree to. The air hostess actually said that I could lay my baby on the floor in the walking path if I wanted to! I was outraged, but there weren't any helpful suggestions. It was only after about an hour later that I noticed some seats were empty in the back and asked to be moved there so that we could sit in a 3-seat stretch and keep the baby in the middle seat. This was in Air France, but I'm sure this story will be the same in other airlines.

We complained to the airlines and thats when we found out that taking a ticket doesn't automatically mean a bassinet. The ticket price of about $500 is only for the extra luggage and the bassinet is on a first-come-first-serve basis. You know what was worse - we were the only ones on the plane with an infant, so where was the question of first-come-first-serve? There was a bassinet available and despite us telling them in the beginning, they didn't have the sense to issue the seat-numbers for us. Even after complaining to both Delta and Air France, they said they were sorry but they could do nothing about it. We went as far as complaining to the Federal authorities, but there was no response. So new parents, if you are travelling on a plane with an infant, you don't need a ticket for the baby unless you want to carry extra luggage. Please make sure you have the bassinet slots in the hold as soon as you see your seats. If not, inform somebody immediately and maybe they'll seat you correctly. I hope no other parent with a young baby goes through such a bad experience. We were tired from the travel we had done + a cranky infant + we had to face this predicament + no help whatsoever from the air hostesses or anyone.

Anyways, getting back on track, despite the harrowing experience, our trip was a success in all other matters. After all, I had travelled with a baby on planes, trains, buses and cars. So we thought sight-seeing would be a breeze. But boy, were we wrong!

In June 2008, as a trial run, we headed to Pine Mountain state park, just for a day. It was just go in the morning and come back in the night. Still, it kind of became a circus atleast for me. Snugli's sources of food were cerelac and breast-milk then. The cerelac was only in the morning, so that was done before we left. But she refused to breast-feed around her usual time, so when we wanted to "sight-see", she wanted her food. Its not that we didn't have any fun at all, we still managed to see what was there to see, fit in a mini-golf game, but it wasn't the same. But you'd never guess it by the photos..

we did learn a few pointers about taking it easy, but we still hadn't learnt our lesson.

Fast-forward to July 2008. We drove to Putin Bay (or Put-in-bay as the map calls it :-D).

In retrospective, we didn't plan it well at all. Since its about 6 hours drive away and there wasn't much to see, we thought 2 days (half a day each for driving to and fro) would be sufficient. The lesson we learnt was that when you have a baby with you, keep atleast another extra day than you'd otherwise. Again, its not really that we missed everything entirely. We enjoyed a nice ferry ride to Putin bay on lake Erie. We were able to see the Perry memorial.

and we did take a nice stroll beside lake Erie..

We also visited a crystal cave and a winery. But didn't really enjoy the whole experience. Firstly, we reached Putin bay in the noon, what with Snugli's morning routines (bath, breakfast etc) + the ferry timings (we reached the ferry at 11 PM, but the wait and travel on the ferry took another hour). Next, Snugli was too distracted for breast-feed and later her afternoon cerelac (because she was having it outdoors and even trees were distractions!). She was having fun, but was not eating and that frustrated us, especially me to no end. Her afternoon food got so delayed that it in-turn delayed our lunch to 2 PM. The lunch we ordered took more than 30 minutes to arrive, so it was time for another breast-feed by then. So we weren't able to have our lunch until 3. And we had to drive all the way back that day!

So believe it or not, we finished our "sight-seeing", if you can call it that, in 2 hours!! Got back on the ferry at 5:30 PM and drove all the way back with breaks in-between for Snugli's feeds. I think it was midnight by the time we reached home. It certainly wasn't worth driving almost 12 hours for! I guess we didn't need any retrospection to realize what a mistake we had made. In fact, we realized that then in Putin bay itself..

I believe we did learn from the 2 episodes - but some of the travelling we did after these was with my in-laws and to the places we had already been to before. So the rules obviously changed and it was a bit easier. How? Tune in again after a couple of days to find out in the next post..

Subsequent travel with a baby..

Starring - My MIL, my FIL, Sri, Snugli and me.

Where you'll be seeing places like Chicago, Pittsburgh, Niagara falls, Dayton and a glimpse of the Smokies!

Don't miss it :-D. Hehehehe (didn't you love the TV episode style trailer? :-D)


Ranjani retorted...

WOWOWOW ...loved this post..You are so right about how little you can actually sight-see with infants. Also about booking the bassinets, on Lufthansa, we had confirmed the bassinet "THRICE" before we left US. Onward journey was fine. But on the way back, in frankfurt, we did not get the bassinet. I really made a big fuss about it as soon as we got in. The airhostess finally gave one to us :)

on9thcloud retorted...

Lovely one! Definitely useful tips for the new parents. And look at Snigdha..she has changed a lot. She kind of resembles your husband in these pictures and 'you' totally now.
Or is it just me? :-)

Soumya retorted...

That must have been a really nightmarish journey yaar. I hope Snigdha was fine, what with all the confusion.
When Raju went to India, she flew Cathay Pacific, she said it was very hassle-free.
Well, sight seeing is a whole different thing with a baby na.. Well, atleast you enjoyed the trip.
You guys certainly are avid travellers. Nice to read your accounts.