Adventure Seeker

Travelling means the world to me. And I am an Adventure Seeker!

Any travel destination I pick I make sure there is atleast one thing I do that I

have never done before. This time it was travelling with a 1 year old. Yes, that

was an adventure in itself! And of course there was scuba diving too!

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Andamans is a place I could go back to any number of times. And I think the

trip has been so memorable because of my experiences attached to my little

son. I lived every moment of ‘firsts’ with him on this trip. First time on a flight,

First time in the water, First time on the sand, first time on beaches, first time

in a swimming trunk, first time on floats, First time on outdoor food, and first

time encounter with a variety of sea creatures! His expressions and reactions

were priceless.

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It was a full week long vacation and we travelled by air, we took the cruise, we

travelled by road and it was as if my son was born adapted to travel. A

blessing! My son has this love for listening to people speak. All I do is make

anything and everything into a story and he is all glued and occupied. Where I

work , we actually design and curate innovative game play for parents and child. So

gamifying every bit of this travel became so easy for me. I made sure

everyday we did one activity that my husband and I wanted to do and one that

my son would totally enjoy. I dint really have to carry a lot of books or toys for

the long flight journey either. We played games that involved my child and I

staring out of the window and spotting things and then we played some other

games that involved snacking on a healthy meal during the flight.

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We played for hours in the sand, spotting dead and live mussels, collecting

and counting shells, decorating them on the beach, sorting them based on

their size and colours, digging tunnels, running races, making art out of dead

leaves, counting between the waves! There are a whole lot of things that can

be done on a beach with a child than just standing on the beach, splashing or

making sand castles. The next time you are travelling with your little one to

any destination, make sure you make every bit of the trip interesting from their

point of view, because I realised when my kid started responding and enjoying

the little tasks we would do, I started to really enjoy my time on the trip and I

was sure I could travel anywhere with my son and it would be a totally

awesome trip! Happy travelling!

Author Bio:
Sumana Sethuraman is the content manager for Candy Cane Club and mother to a toddler.

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How to Choose your Travel Destination with Your Little One !

With the advent of summer and school holidays just round the corner , I noticed a sudden spurt of this question on various mommy groups on facebook and discussion on many parenting blogs. The perennial travel question for mothers, ‘Where should I go with my little one?’ by first time mommies, moms of toddlers, seasoned mums of teenagers and so forth. Here are some questions, which will help the mommies answer, what they should look for on their next trip!
1.Do you want to go ‘all that way’?
If your little one will be on a long haul flight for the first time keep in mind the travel time involved. For newbie parents, it is often advisable to take 3 hour flights at the most. The distance involved is crucial as the start of the journey should be on a happy note, and the short flight would be manageable for most moms. Travel tip for first time baby flyers: check out airlines with a ‘flying nanny’.
Suggested places : Singapore, UAE , Hong Kong/China
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2. I need a holiday or does the child need a holiday?
At the onset of your travel planning, it must be clear in your mind if you would like the holiday for yourself or for the child. If it’s tipping towards yourself (because you are fatigued being a new mom) or just want some peace and quiet (being the second time mom) , I highly suggest a relaxing holiday. Choose a resort based holiday which keeps the kids busy and you can catch those winks you have missed or just laze by the pool. Since there is no offsite travel involved  , your days can be leisurely paced , with no schedule to adhere to purely enjoy those moments with your kids.
Suggested Places: Child Friendly Resorts in Goa, Kerala, Mauritius, Thailand, Bali, Seychelles , Maldives
Alternatively, for seasoned mums whose kids are looking for a holiday, I suggest a destination which will entice an all-round experience. A city usually has some cultural aspects and city life experiences , while the countryside offers more adventure and nature. Choose your destination wisely to include both as they can get a taste of each aspect. This in turn also behaves as neutraliser for the parents , as they also get a fulfilling holiday which is not child-centric.
Suggested Places: Greece, Slovakia , Spain, Manali , Nainital , Coorg , Sikkim
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3.Don’t I have enough sunshine back home?
Depending on your month of travel,the weather can greatly vary even in one hemisphere. As a family decide which weather you are more susceptible towards. If you like the cooler temperatures , don’t make the mistakes of heading to Asia. The weather although not really a deciding factor many a times  , is what actually makes or breaks the holiday! Wait another time to go to your bucket list destination if the weather isn’t right!
Suggested Places: Kashmir, Ladakh, Norway, Iceland for cooler temperatures  ; Hampi, Jordan , Tanzania ,Kenya for sunshine! Don’t forget Australia has the opposite weather.
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4. Is this holiday exciting for my kids?
Some times what you would like to experience at this stage in your life is not age appropriate for your child.Discuss with your kids what type of holiday they would like and come to a consensus as it’s easier to be adaptable to their likings at the planning stage than after reaching your destination!
Don’t bore the pre- teens on a museum tour through Europe as their active energy levels are best encompassed at an amusement park. Don’t take the tiny tots on cruises as they aren’t independent enough to be at the kid zone and want the parents around. These are some commandments by experienced parents , and who better to understand what our child wants than us!
Suggested Places: Parks and Zoos for toddlers , Amusement Parks in Americas or Safari in India/Africa for pre teens , culture & adventure sports for Teenagers
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5.Is too early to introduce them to ….?
Be adventurous with your kids , they understand and learn much more faster than you can imagine. They are open minded and embrace new experiences without fear. Be it a new interest , or a new cuisine , don’t hesitate to try it out with them as they might surprise you!
Suggested : Introduction of new foods for the toddlers ; Skill based trips such as Scuba/Ski for pre teens and South America for older kids
Hope these questions will give you some answers to decide your next trip ! Wherever you go always remember to carry some humour along , and capture every moment in photographs to create memories! Happy Exploring !
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Author Bio:
Prachi Kagzi is the founder of Little Passports India and mother to a 4 year old.
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Blue hai pani pani …

 

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Mumma daddy ” muje blue pani main khelna hai  hum log gummi gummi jaye ” these simple words by my angel made us take her to summer  vacation  to Mahabaleshwar Saj resort.
Though she is Hydrophobic , she herself  wanted to take out her phobia of  water, and that’s y keep on saying, Mumma , I will go to pool this time.  We started from Navi Mumbai the place where  we live, in an Innova with one more  friend family and  their two kids. The journey  started with eating lot of stuff in car itself. By the time we reached Lonavala  Junction, all kids slept,  but I made them get up to see the lovely atmosphere  outside was. Water fall , trekking sites, hill, mountain, beautiful  scenery.. Just a bliss to see Lonavala  during rainy season.

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Though the day we went was very clear. We reached the resort,  took some rest, and went for a buffet lunch. After taking lunch, I took my daughter  to play in a pool, first she was scared again, but I insisted my hubby  to go along with her inside.  He some  how managed to take  her inside, but still she was just sitting in border n splashing  with water. But then my hubby took her in shoulder n made her touch the water till her neck, she enjoyed  a lot.  After sometime  the pool manager came with kids tube, Author:and seeing that she became  so happy, that she started swimming herself and I was most happy person  on earth that, finally her phobia for water went away. 

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In Mahabaleshwar  we took her to Verna Lake, where we did boating, ate Icecream, hot pakoras and garma garam  bhutta.  What most attracted my angel was colorful fruits especially  Strawberry  and jamun. She was so fascinated by straw  berry that she ate alone, without  sharing to anyone. We took them mapro garden  where, how chocolate  n jellies are made, shown to kids. She even learnt making jellies. In the mapro garden, there  was a food court and kids activity centre, where we all tattooed Strawberry on our hands. N even made video of making it.  Then we went to different  points n clicked unlimited  pics of her.  In whole 3 days of stay in Mahabaleshwar  she loved the best part of resort is food and pool..

Author: Sneha Jain

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Missing of the Heartbeat…

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This experience even recalled today gives me goose bumps. We generally keep reading news of violence, accidents & abduction – get disturbed for that moment and move on. But when it is about your own kid, you lose senses.

We, two families together, were on a holiday to Kerala. Our 1st destination was ‘Thiruvananthapuram’. After a long day touring the city, our last point was the Padmanabhaswamy temple which was also in the news for gold being found there.

It was a very pleasant & divine atmosphere there; as per the temple rules, we entered it only after wearing the white sarees and dhoti which we rented out from there itself. It looked like a white sea with all people in whites and pretty crowded. We all tried to move in a group, holding the kids securely. The temple inside was mesmerizing, very huge, an old stone architecture; Aadi, my son was amazed looking at everything around.

After our darshan, we ladies got ourselves into shopping of local traditional items , outside the temple premises itself as had to wait for my father in law who got stuck inside as the ‘Aarti’ had begun and the authorities closed the door. Prashant (my husband) and Yogesh (our friend) went on to return the rented clothes along with the kids. We met at a pre-decided point.  Suddenly I realized that Aadi was MISSING.

I asked Prashant “Where is Aadi??” He checked on his side and said “Was just here with me”. My heart beat missed for that moment – All different stories about kids started flashing in my head…. All of us cried his name, but No Answer. My eyes were no less than a hawk’s eye trying to search Aadi, but inside I was going through an emotional turmoil, with all negative thoughts taking charge over me. After 10mins or so when we were not yet able to trace him, I was totally petrified, almost started crying “Prashant, where he might be? I want him now”. He too obviously was tensed and was going through the same emotions but tried to console me “Aadi will never go away with any stranger; he must be around”

All of a sudden, I saw his back, standing on one of the stairs & facing towards the temple. I beckoned Prashant   immediately and we both ran towards him, calling his name. He turned around and waved; the relief was beyond anything….

 He sensed the tension through our expressions and realized that he has done something wrong…thus started giving explanation that he was waiting for Dada(his grandfather ) there. I was very angry with him for not informing us before leaving, but did not say anything, just hugged him, hold his hand tight and started moving down the stairs… He kept pleading – “Sorry Mamma…Are you mad at me??”,I just kept walking;  

No I was not trying to give him hard time, It was just that I was collecting myself….

Author: Sayali Garware

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Me and Aadi 🙂

Reach the Beach!

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The whole thing started with mum’s friend Nidhi (MBA classmate) coming to visit us with her daughter Avni…What would be a good experience for someone coming from the Gurgaon chills? Beach, of course! With some help from friends and the Internet we froze on Prakruti Resort. And boy am I glad that we chose it!

The drive to the resort from Chembur takes about 4 hours with a short 15-20 mins break…the drive is fun and, for me to see all kinds of roadside vendors (fruit, pillows, inflatable toys, plants) was a first! Do carry some food as there are hardly any good eateries along the drive, but you could buy fruit along the way.

As soon as you enter Prakruti Resort, it beckons to you; we were greeted by a refreshing welcome drink while we cleared the check-in formalities. The lobby was tastefully done with interesting antique pieces.

We were then shuttled to our room by a golf cart, which was a fun experience, perfectly setting the holiday mood 🙂 Our room was very spacious, clean and had a really big bed! It had a balcony attached overlooking the pools and the bathroom, though didn’t have a bath tub, was neat, had hot water and enough toiletries.

Once we quickly settled into the room, we packed up our sand toys, swim suits, towels (you can also buy them at the resort store) and headed to the only restaurant Nisarg. All meals are served at Nisarg and are buffet. We enjoyed a sumptuous meal and proceeded to Prakruti Resort’s private beach which is short walk from the resort.

The beach was stunning! The sand was lovely and white and waves were perfect; the beach was absolutely clean…there wasn’t much crowd as we went on a weekday. After the mums’unsuccessful attempts to keep us busy with sand play while they tried to grab a snooze, we hit the water! And it was sooooo much fun!!

Next, we decided to take up some water sports and decided on aqua scooting. It was my first aqua scooter ride and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The waves were quite high and it was an exciting experience!

We then changed, dried and made our way back to the resort by…Bullock cart! The resort ferries its guests from the beach to the resort by bullock carts which was an incredible experience that I will never forget! The uncle ferrying us was very friendly and let me hold the ropes all the way and also let me pat the bullocks…I conversed with him all along and learnt that the bullocks’ names were Raja & Saja! I also tried my Marathi on him and it worked! We enjoyed the ride so much that we went for one again the next day.

Once back from the beach we refreshed (includes watching TV) and headed to explore the resort…Luckily as we stepped out, we got a ride on a golf cart and we noticed that the resort was quite vast and spread out.

We then explored the playground but it was getting quite dark and we had something more interesting to do…The dance room!!! Here, Nidhi aunty was in her element! As were Avni & I!! Reluctantly, we left the dance floor and headed to Nisarg for dinner…After a quick dinner we returned to the dance floor and finally retired for the day, totally exhausted but with a big smile.

Author’s Bio: Veena Rao

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Mom to a daughter, she blogs about life, travel and things in between.Follow her blog.

The Bajrangi Bhaijaan In Our Kashmir

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First things first. Our kids are unapologetically bananas about Bollywood. While the elder one watches everything from the best that Bollywood has to offer to the worst that Ekta Kapoor puts out, it’s our younger child who seems to live in a parallel world altogether. (Note to reader: If Bollywood is not your thing, skip the next two paras. You have been warned!)

On good days I’m Mastani or her father is Bhaijaan, and on not so great ones we become the villains who need to be ‘tod, phod ke jodofyed and then again todofyed’ or vanquished with a high powered flying kick ala’ Akshay Kumar (if only they achieved his level of martial arts in reality, I wouldn’t complain at all).

So, Miss Lil who’s all time favourite has to be Bajrangi Bhaijaan and who is convinced she is the original ‘Shahida’, decided that this session break she wanted to go to Pakistan (and imagine my expression at that one!). Now that wouldn’t be such an impossible request really. But it was the addendum that put us in a bit of a conundrum. “Mujhe Pakistan jaana hai… taaron ke neeche se, bina passport pe!

NOW imagine my expression!

So, we decided the next best thing would be to take a holiday to Kashmir.

As indulgent as that sounds, the truth is I’d been hankering to visit the valleys for a while, and this seemed like a great opportunity. Miss Tween quickly did her research and further discovered that parts of YJHD and a song from SOTY (yes, that’s how they actually talk – I tell you!) had also been shot in Gulmarg and Pahalgam so those destinations were quickly included into the itinerary.

*Pause*

This was supposed to be a piece on travel.

*Regroup*

So, having chosen Kashmir as our destination the planning began in earnest. DH (Dear Husband of course!) focuses on the hotels while I tend to focus on what we can do. The Misses (12 and 6 years old) on the other hand focus on the Bollywood of it. After much going back and forth and several viewings of Bajrangi Bhaijaan and other flicks, we shortlisted Srinagar, Pahalgam and Gulmarg for our short 6N-7D holiday with 2 nights in each location.

Our arrival in Srinagar was pretty uneventful other than the fact that we travelled from a hot 35 degrees in Delhi to a cool 14 degrees in Srinagar which was very pleasant given it was already end of March. We had chosen to rent a car for the entire duration of our stay (read my views on Renting A Car In Kashmir) so we drove onwards to Pahalgam immediately.

As you drive from Srinagar to Pahalgam, you not only leave behind your mundane existence but also the concrete jungle that modern Indian cities are. Suddenly you’re welcomed by soaring mountains, rivers that tumble fast and furious, orchards bursting with juicy ripe apples, mulberry and walnut trees, and the aroma of fields laden with mustard and saffron (ok, so that’s a bit of an exaggeration but the sights are there!) Miss Lil and Miss Tween were delighted to stop at dhabas along the route and to sip a delicious cup of kahwa (yes! Miss Lil at 6 quite took to the cinnamon and saffron flavours) with what I now call the state food of Kashmir – Maggi. Just like the Himalayas, it is persistently present whenever, wherever, always!

Pahalgam is nestled between lush mountains and gorgeous valleys. There is Auro, Betaab (named after the 80s movie starring Sunny Deol and Amrita Singh) and Chandanwadi. Each with views that rival the next. We got our first snow interaction at Chandanwadi but honestly, if Gulmarg is on your itinerary I’d suggest you just enjoy the flowering valleys and rivers at Pahalgam. Miss Tween had us all pose behind trees at Betaab valley which was the location for ‘Ishq waala love’ from SOTY. Miss Lil on the other hand, pointed to the highest peak she could and screamed with joy, “Woh raha mera ghar… pahadon mein. Zila Sultanpur!” Which meant we then horsed our way up to Mini Switzerland as it is known. My advice – if you have a great sunshiny day go for it. If it’s raining, the narrow paths can be quite slippery and it gets unpleasant really fast.

Enroute Pahalgam to Gulmarg we passed many cricket bat factories. The Kashmiri willow is perfect for making bats and it is a very popular cottage industry. The conversion of little wooden rectangles into polished bats is an art often passed down generation to generation. DH and Miss Lil excitedly bought bats for themselves, while Miss Tween posed with a batty background!

Moving on to Gulmarg meant we saw a completely different side of Kashmir. As we climbed higher into the mountains, the landscape underwent a rapid change. From little mounds of snow on the sides of the winding road, to piles, to snow hills through which the path had obviously been cleared (think Kareena Kapoor in JWM – I warned you!). Living in the scorched, landlocked Delhi, it can sometimes be difficult to imagine that such luxuries of nature are available to us in such close proximity. Miss Lil especially had to stretch her mind to grasp how one, same India can be so different and how Kashmir is India as much as Delhi – innocent questions can sometimes be profound.

Gulmarg was like a postcard come alive. Snow, snow and more snow. Skiing, ATVing, sledging, ski bikes, the Gondola – it was every winter sports enthusiast’s mecca. Miss Lil and Miss Tween got quite the rush from all of it. While I completely and totally enjoyed all the play, the snowman we built (with considerable help from our guide, Irshad bhai) was the highlight for me! It took me back a few decades when the only snowmen I saw were in Archie comics. Note: Sunscreen, snow boots, shades, layers that can be taken off and a pair of gloves are mandatory – for yourself and the kids. A muffler comes real handy on the ski bikes as the chilly wind cuts through you quite fiercely. The snow is slippery and falls are common so keep safe.

Winding downwards after the adventurous Gulmarg, Srinagar seemed fairly tame in comparison. The Tulip Garden was stunning and DH and myself happily had our Silsila moments, with Miss Lil playing SRK. Dal Lake is a tourist attraction that can’t be hyped enough. The still waters of the lake, glorious mountains on the horizon, dancing water lilies and etched houseboats, photographers that effortlessly balance on the narrow edge of the Shikara as they click bedecked couples (Kashmir Ki Kali anyone) and locals peddling everything from tulip bulbs to Pashmina shawls – we loved it all.

We did do a quick day trip to Sonmarg which has some of the best scenic vistas in the region and follows NH1 upwards towards Leh-Ladakh but it was too early in the season and the roads were closed.

I’m well over the word count allotted for this piece, and well under in highlighting the glories that are Kashmir. Miss Lil had her fill of Bajrangi Bhaijaan with Irshad Bhai playing the Pakistani cameraman for us and DH carrying Miss Lil on her back through the trip. For me however, the love affair has just begun and I’m hoping to be back soon enough with the #sisterhoodoftravel.

Agar firdaus bar roo-e zameen ast,
Hameen ast-o hameen ast-o hameen ast.”

If there is a paradise on earth,
It is this, it is this, it is this

  • Persian couplet by Amir Khusro

Have a look at this as well! “Rent a car in Kashmir” 

Author’s Bio: Pooja Mittal 

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A head in the clouds, feet on the move and a heart filled with dreams. I’m more of a fantasizer than a realist and if there’s one thing I want to teach my daughters its that travel fills your heart, mind and soul with wonder. I’m also lucky enough to have my Sisterhood of Travel – a group of girls who I’ve been travelling with for 27 years now. 

5 lessons which every kid is sure to learn on travel!

‘The world is a book, and those who do not travel, read only a page.’ So, to turn our kids into avid readers we must travel, travel, travel

U.S. Department of Education Study found that kids who travel did better in reading, math and general knowledge than their peers who didn’t travel. Travel is a valuable part of a child’s education that “contributes to cognitive growth and stimulates a child’s sense of wonderment,” says Dr. William Norman, associate professor in parks, recreation, and tourism management at Clemson University in South Carolina. “Providing kids with the experience of travel broadens their horizons and opens up their minds to learning”, he says.
I consider myself a travel evangelist and can’t think of enough benefits for kids from travel. Here are some of them from my personal experiences:
I am not that important 

For today’s kids, especially those who are the apple of the parents’ eyes, this is most relevant. Travelling and seeing the life others lead, puts into perspective that getting that new dress wasn’t all that mattered! In the lap of nature, while breathing the crisp mountain air or looking out at the vast ocean would always make me think, as a kid, that I definitely wasn’t the center of the universe! (pun intended)

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Research is fun 

In the pre-internet days, we spent weeks researching places through books, making detailed notes and opening up the humongous atlas during our family voting sessions, deciding where to go! I think that was part of what made every trip so exciting, knowing just enough to get us interested, yet still recognizing that we wouldn’t really know what it was like, until we stepped off that plane and saw everything with our own eyes.

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Strengthening family ties 

My mom was very energetic on trips. She believed in immersive travelling and would point out flora, fauna, local customs and the most random things to us. This made us build stronger bonds as we didn’t have to worry about the daily chores or homework with her! Long road trips were never my number one choice, but I do have some fond memories of sharing inside jokes with my brother on them.

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Befriend the situation

I remember so many bad situations on trips, but as kids we learnt to embrace them and move on. Whether it was the gigantic iguana at my door in Langkawi, fueling my herpetophobia or spending the night in the ill-maintained hotel on a religious trip. Sometimes you even find humour in these situations.

Combat “boredom”

On trips, there would be no time to spare taking in all the sights and smells but if there was the odd hour where there was nothing to do, I wouldn’t run to my mom due to boredom. Instead, I started taking to sketching or even counting tiles! You become more self-reliant and respect everyone’s space.
Additionally, the social skills equate to experiential learning; they learn to see similarities instead of looking for differences and start practicing tolerance.

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Moreover, our children allow us to see the world freshly through their eyes and allow us to experience the world through a renewed child-like perspective. I hope to never lose sight of this quality inside of me ever again, and continue to travel with my son. (Thank you Arsh!)

Author’s Bio :

3 newPrachi Kagzi is a travel evangelist and mother of a three year old. After being in the corporate world for over 8 years has decided to follow her passion for kids and travel. She has founded ‘Little Passports’ a novel concept in the kids’ educational travel space in India. They organize educative travel tours for kids aged between 3 and 15. The trips are age appropriate and the child if not independent, he/she will be accompanied by the parent.