Traveling with two-year-olds is not easy. Traveling with two of them is no easier… Or at least, it is not much easier. True, they do a lot to keep each other occupied, but two kids also means twice the number of crises in the shape of bumps and falls, tantrums, toileting accidents, and everything else.
Last year, we made several trips with the kids: Once each to Delhi-Chandigarh and Calcutta to visit family, and three or four trips to Pondicherry for their adoption legalities (which, believe it or not, are still under way). On each trip, the kids enjoyed at least some part of the journey, but we also faced some troubles. Still, we bravely (or stupidly?) undertook a trip that was exclusively a holiday – no family, no court case and no reason at all other than our selfish pleasure.
Did the kids enjoy it? Well, at times they did.
Did we enjoy it??? Well… at times… or at least occasionally… hmmmm…. let’s see now…
It started badly, when Tara managed to wet her pants in the Indian style bathroom at the station while waiting for the train to Kochi. Mrini immediately seized the opportunity to run out of the bathroom and on to the platform.
After I had got that situation under control, we boarded the train. It being early evening, the kids were full of energy and did their best to run into other people’s berths or to run out of the coach altogether. Keeping them in check took all my energy (whatever was left after making all those masala dosas, remember?) and when they started fussing about going to sleep, I was end-tethered very quickly and reduced to a screaming wreck.
To make matters worse, no food was served on the train. We ate what was left of the dosas, then I started to dig in to the supply of snacks intended for the cruise, before sleep overtook me.
The next day, in Kochi, when we ventured out to go to the SPORTS office to get our tickets, we found that traffic was off the roads because Sonia Gandhi was visiting. We lugged the poor kids around while we searched for byways that would get us outside the cordoned-off area. By the time we had given it up as a lost cause and gone back to the hotel, her convoy had just passed and the roads were re-opened to traffic. But the kids had been subjected to a lot of foot-soring by then, and for no good reason. Still, after a trip to the toilet, we dragged them out again, and this time we managed to get an auto.
By the time we actually reached the SPORTS office, they were tired and sleepy, almost asleep in fact. Not that that explains why they chose to spend the half-hour there driving me to distraction running around screaming, and touching everything they shouldn’t touch.
When we got back to the vicinity of our hotel, we stopped at a restaurant for lunch. It was your typical “meals ready” type of thali, only, it was so extremely chilli-hot that by the end of it even I was begging for mercy. And I have a fairly high tolerance for chilli. The poor kids ate a few bites, then drank a gallon of water.
Stupidly, I then let them – made them, in fact – fall asleep, without thinking about diapers. With the natural, inevitable consequence. Not only did both of them do oceanic puddles on the bed, Tara, who was snuggled up with Amit managed to thoroughly wet his jeans and underwear as well. Of course, none of the three of them woke up until it was all a cold, soggy mess.
I paid for my stupidity by struggling with a huge load of laundry. The mattresses remained damp the rest of the day, as did the bed-cover. The sheets dried, but had a visible “watermark”. Ugh. That’s one hotel I won’t dare to show my face at again.
Toileting accidents continued to plague us. The first night’s dinner was as horribly hot as the lunch, and probably was the cause of both kids’ mild stomach upsets. The trouble was that on the islands we had access to only a couple of toilets among 150 tourists, and for kids with tummy upsets, that’s simply not enough. Nor were there any bushes for them to decently hide behind.
Moral of the story: use diapers, or don’t go on the sort of holiday where you aren’t guaranteed instant access to the toilet at all times. Ideally, if you have twins, you need access to two toilets, specially once they get tummy upsets.
Luckily their tummies weren’t too bad, and most of the time we could focus on other things. Like, for instance, on the ship, where we were mostly focused on keeping them occupied. In the cabin, there wasn’t a whole lot of room for them to run around and play, so I had to spend a lot of time reading to them. On the deck, the problem was making sure that they stayed on the deck and didn’t roll out between the railings and into the sea below.
Mealtimes, specially dinners, were hectic. We fed the girls before our dinner time was announced, then when it was time for our dinner, we took it in turns to go. Apart from breakfast, Amit and I didn’t eat a single meal together. Normally, at home, dinners are together, and so are weekend lunches.
It wasn’t all bad. The girls didn’t enjoy the boat rides to and from the islands much, but they loved the sandy beaches and were quite happy on the ship as well.
But, it wasn’t the way it would have been had we gone without the kids. (Not that that’s an option any more or will be for, oh, say, the next ten years or so.)
So, all said and done, is traveling with kids worth it? It’s a different answer for every family and maybe even for every journey. So far, from what I’ve seen, all I can say is that it’s better to go, and take the rough with the smooth, than not to go at all. But it doesn’t always seem that way.