travel with baby - stroller necessary?
Replies: 7 - Last Post: Dec 11, 2012 8:56 PM Last Post By: Api
Dec 2, 2012 1:24 PM
travel with baby - stroller necessary?Hi there,
My boyfriend and I are traveling in Sri Lanka with our 11month old for a month in February. We'll be travelling by train, bus and I'm sure a private car once or twice (although we're only hoping on 4 or 5 destinations in the month - Sigiriya, Ella, Mirissa, Galle, Colombo ). We'll have one backpack (and possibly a small carry on suitcase) and our son in a backpack baby carrier but we can't decide whether we're crazy to bring a stroller (as lightweight as possible) or crazy not to bring one. We had thought not to bring one but now our lad is a lot more mobile and could well be walking in 2 months so a stroller would be handy for him to nap in if we're out and also to seat him in so he's not constantly on the move. I'm not sure about footpaths etc in Sri Lanka so there's a chance it'd be futile to bring one and also it's a lot more to carry.
Also, how busy is it travelling mid Jan - mid Feb? I'll probably have a few things prebooked (that goes hand inhand with travelling with a baby) but just wondering if it's still high season.
Any advice would be much appreciated,
Thanks in advance,
Dec 3, 2012 8:25 AM
I enjoy travelling around Sri Lanka using the trains and buses ...but ... there's no way that I would want to do that with a young baby , stroller, etc. It's often a real struggle to get a back pack onto a bus never mind a push chair ( stroller ).
If I were you, I'd be looking to organise a car and driver for the bulk of the travelling. ie, Airport / Negombo, / Sigirya, / Ella and Mirissa.
It's usually best to keep the same driver for the trip but if you were breaking the journey, such as , perhaps spending 2 or 3 days in somewhere like Ella, you could pay off the driver on arriving at Ella and then hire someone locally for the trip from Ella down to Mirissa.
I appreciate that at times it would be more useful to have the stroller along and if you used a car and driver that could be practical but I don't think it is if you opt for public transport.
Footpaths, if you're talking about a walk way at the side of the road, in most places, they are non existant and often, even when they are there, such as in Negombo hotel area ( Lewis Place and the Poruthota Road, there's quite often big concrete slabs missing and open holes to the drainage system below.
It's not unusual to walk along these pavement areas and to see a bush or small tree sticking up through the hole left by the missing concrete slab. Someone local will often stand a bush or whatever in these holes to draw attention to them.
It works .
Jan. and Feb. are still classed as main peak season but the big Christmas / new year rush has eased off. If you do travel on trains, try to go midweek they are usually a little less crowded than at weekends.. If it's buses, then try to arrange the bus trip so you're starting from where the bus originates.
For example, if you were getting a bus from Ella to the south coast, it would often be worthwhile to get a tuk tuk from Ella to Bandarawella and get the south coast bus from there. It adds some cost and takes more time as the bus will pick up in Ella but as Bandarawella is where the route starts you can be sure of seats by getting the bus there.
Dec 3, 2012 8:44 AM
2having travelled extensively with a now 4 year old, we never brought a stroller. A stroller in SL is going to be impossible, especially a lightweight one which will be flimsy with small wheel. Even a sturdy one with big wheels will be a pain- roads are uneven, you are constantly getting on and off the sidewalk due to potholes, obstacles, etc.
We only brought the Ergo baby carrier on all our trips, until she was 17kg and too heavy. I don't know what baby carrier you have in mind, but you should seriously consider the Ergo.
some of my other standard advice (copy-pasted from another thread so not all of it may be relevant to you now, but it will be in 6 months)
I am presuming this is a long haul flight. Yes, it will be tough. We started getting her her own seat at 18 months. If she will be 18 mo in July, you haven't experienced a mobile toddler yet. Trying to keep her on your lap for a 10 hour flight is hell. babies are easy- they sleep. but toddlers want to move... If you can, get a seat.
During the flight you'll be doing a lot of aisle walking- get a 'leash'- a harness that fits below her armpits so she can walk but you hold on to the leash. that way you won't kill you back holding her hands all the time- you do not want to let her walk unassisted because of turbulence, bothering others, etc. The leash works well in this case. http://www.amazon.com/s?ie=UTF8&rh=n%3A165796011%2Ck%3Atoddler%20leash&page=1
Our perennial life saver- we use an iPod touch (or you can use an iPhone) loaded with games (apps) and her favourite DVDs. Works a charm. With our daughter, if she has a melt down, the iPod never fails to quieten her down. We got ours when she was 9 months (we travel a lot so we figured it could be handy) and never travel without. There are tonnes of educational games (although she might be a little too young for those) and if you have any Baby Einstein-like DVDs put those on there. Better than a portable DVD players (which many parents use) http://www.iphone4kids.net/
Forget hotels. What do you do when the little one goes to sleep at 8pm? We always rent apartments, or at least family rooms with a separate bedroom. Having a kitchen is also handy to make some food. Because going out for dinner with a 17mo old can be pretty tiring. The only problem is that this kind of accommodation is hard to arrange on the fly. So you need to pre-book.
At 17mo, (s)he can sleep in a big bed but is likely to roll out of it. Some people put the mattras on the floor, but there isn't always space to do so. A baby bed is the easiest. Many hotels and B&B can provide them- or you can bring your own. But that's more luggage...
Be prepared to move at half or a quarter of the speed you used to go. less sights per day, more time feeding, changing diapers, dealing with tantrums, etc.
Dec 4, 2012 2:24 AM
3I've traveled alot with my kids as well, and we live in India (visited Sri Lanka this year). We have never used either carrier or stroller because it seemed to be more hassle than they were worth. Our kids never wanted to sit for long periods when active so carriers weren't an option, and strollers were a problem with roads. But, I know several people who have come without a stroller and ended up buying one because they preferred its utility over the hassle (i.e., somewhere for the baby to sleep). It seems to be very much a personal decision!
Our way of travel has been a bit different to MTL. We've never bothered about apartments and only recently needed an extra bed (since all 4 of us no longer fit in one). it is nice to have a largish room, or a balcony, or somewhere you can sit outside - but isn't essential. We tend to be up early though and don't tend to go for relaxing holidays, so an early bed time suits us! When it come to sleeping time for the baby we might turn off lights etc, until the baby was asleep and then could usually get away with staying up without waking them up. It was easier once they were a toddler and slept for longer periods.
I really don't like the Ipod thing for toddlers / young kids, but I recognise this is a very personal decision. What you will find though is that attitudes towards children - particularly young ones - is very different in Asia. They aren't expected to be quiet and well behaved all the time. Tantrums are normal and while no one likes them, local people won't find them a big deal (my son thew a big one in Bali last year. All the westerners avoided us, and all the local people were handing me something - like fruit - to try and help). Also, local people will interact with your child alot more - it isn't a big deal keeping them entertained. My kids have grown up this way, and find it really odd when they meet someone who doesn't want to talk to them.
Dec 4, 2012 6:39 AM
Dec 5, 2012 11:06 AM
5You aren't climbing Sigiriya with your son in his baby backpack are you? Even without a baby on one's back one deserves a medal for climbing it. If I remember rightly it takes about 45 minutes to climb and on the last section you have the option of wearing hornet protection suits which is like having a sauna whilst you climb! If you aren't planning on climbing it then Sigiriya isn't interesting to just stand and look at. Better to go and see the wonderful caves at Dambulla which are very accessible and really stunning.
How will you get from Sigiriya to Ella. Kandy to Ella is 7 hours by train. There are only about 2 roads in Ella and the rest is paths up hills or along railway tracks.
In Galle an Colombo you will be glad of a stroller I think!
Dec 6, 2012 3:34 AM
6Thanks for the the advice, it's been really helpful. So we've decided against the stroller and just have the backpack. It's one with a sunshade you can put up and rain cover and really durable as we plan on doing small walks around Ella. Our son isn't walking yet but could well be by the time we head off so I'm sure it'll be great fun running around after him!. He seems to enjoy the carrier at the moment so fingers crossed that continues. I'm not sure if we'll climb Sigiriya with him, some friends did it last year and said we should be fine with the back carrier but I'll wait and see what it's like and we can always take turns going up on different mornings.
We'll probably rent a car and driver from Sigiriya to Ella as it'll save time rather than getting train back to Colombo and the train to Ella. We've rented an apartment in Colombo for the first couple days to have a rest after the flight and then I'm hoping to book guesthouses with a veranda or balcony so we can have a bit of extra space for us after we put our son to bed. We've a travel bed, a bit like a tent for Cian to sleep in and he enjoys hanging out in it now so hopefully he'll settle well as it'll be familiar surroundings every night. He's a bit young for DVDs and isn't bothered with cartoons or anything yet but we might have one as backup just in case.....
With regards to the trains I was hoping to travel in first class if possible ( we're hoping for Colombo - Habarana, Matara - Galle, Galle - Colombo) and am planning to book in advance - quick question - how far in advance would you need to book?
If all else fails and it seems to be too much trouble travelling around with a wee one I'll heading straight to a beach for the rest of the trip!!!
Any other pearls of wisdom are much appreciated!!
Dec 11, 2012 8:56 PM
7I probably would have climbed Sigiriya with a baby. If you are reasonably fit it isn't too bad. Would have preferred to have the child on my back than my fearless 4 year old! Main problem would be the heat as there is no shelter (so climb early).
Sorry MTL. I don't like that route for my kids and don't believe it is necessary - but that's my choice for our situation. Everyone needs to figure out for themselves what they can handle and what works. As I said - I am also lucky I've raised them in a place where children's antics / tantrums aren't seen to be such a problem. Eating out was always work, but we learnt to take toys or play games, and I like the interaction that becomes necessary. Immigration lines were an issue when I was by myself, but somehow we managed those too. Once I saw a woman on a 7 h train journey entertain her young child (maybe 1 year old?) with nothing except games / songs etc. The child did get stroppy once, and then many other people on the train helped out to distract her.
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