Moms Give Yourself The Gift Of a Solo Getaway – Sharing My Experience From My Hiking Trip to Machu Picchu

gptempdownload

In my recent post My Inca Trail Hike to Machu Picchu & Solo Trip to Cusco, Peru: An Adventure of a Lifetime I shared with you all my three minute movie , lots of pictures and so many other details of my amazing SOLO trip. (Check it out if you haven’t) This post focuses on what this journey meant and how it has affected me personally . Also I am sharing a list of benefits of jet setting alone and going on a getaway by yourself.

Travelling Solo was one of my top goals for the year and I knew that this year for my birthday I wished to do something different, something special, something truly just for myself. I wanted to rediscover the girl I was, before spouse, before a kid, before all the parenting responsibilities. So, a few months before my 33rd birthday I decided to challenge myself, both physically and mentally with a Solo Trip to Cusco, Peru.

I have had several opportunities to travel around the world with and without my family and friends. Travelling alone for work to a new country or state has been a part of my lifestyle and something I am familiar with since I was sixteen years old.

However, planning a getaway on my own to a country where I have never been before, hiking for two days with a group of complete strangers or for that matter living in a hostel and meeting people of all age groups from different parts of the world…… truly made this trip an Experience of a Lifetime! This journey has given me one of the most valuable collection of moments and experiences that has added depth and value to my life and who I am.

“Traveling Alone is Radical Form of Self Care”

img_3860

On this solo trip not only did I get to discover the stunning landscapes of Machu Pichhu on my hike and enjoy the breathtaking architecture, lively artisan markets and the delicious local cuisine of the vibrant city of Cusco, I also got to spend time by myself — walking alone, eating alone, writing alone and sitting alone. And honestly, this was far from lonely. It was in fact restorative!

I can’t think of the last time I had been alone long enough to revel in my own thoughts without being interrupted by my child or the nagging to-do list that lives in the back of my mind. I could have conversations with people that didn’t revolve around my child or me being a mom. It was kind of strange and exhilarating. Radical Self-care is the assertion that you have the responsibility to take care of yourself first before attempting to take care of others.

There is endless list of benefits to jet setting alone and by sharing my experiences I hope to inspire others to try out a solo adventure too.

Makes you Independent and Empowered: One comes back with a new perspective. Solo travel represents independence, wanderlust and of course freedom. One gets to create their own When and How to do it list!

Self-Discovery: Through solo travel you get a chance to listen to your gut and control the direction you want to go to. You get to know you, be you and reflect upon yourself.

Self Confidence: Yes, solo travel is a brave endeavor. There is a lot of planning and preparations that one needs to go through, especially us moms. And as women we need to research more into topics like safety, cultural norms etc. By stepping out of your comfort zone and travelling anywhere new and unknown we learn to face various types of scenarios and gain much confidence.

Making new Friends and lifetime connections: One can always choose to be alone, but on a solo trip you get an opportunity to connect and make new friendships on your journey that could last a lifetime. Travel leads to exciting adventures and meaningful connections, it provides you an opportunity to meet like minded people in a new cultural setting devoid of digital distractions.

Your well-being gets healthier: Each one of us know spending time alone makes us release a lot of stressful toxins and travelling makes us happy. Research shows that travelling alone is such a healthy option as it makes you a happier person and cuts out your depression and stressful phases.

img_3414_facetune_08.04.2018-15:38:16

Being a Mom is hard work! By taking time to focus on myself, recharge and relax a little, I have returned home more mindful. I can’t think of travelling alone as “Selfish” now, as this trip has nurtured my body and nourished my mind while giving me chance to follow my dreams and do what I love – Explore! Also, I want my son to see me as a person with interests, rather than the person who does everything

Have you taken a solo trip? What was your experience? 

Love

Arushi (2)

 

How I Survived a Long Haul Flight With a Lap Baby

 

how-i-surviveda-long-haul-flight-with-a-lap-baby-1

I have traveled a lot since past few years for work and leisure. However, in 2016 due to my pregnancy and childbirth my travel plans were restricted and I ended up staying back home for more than half of the year. This is something that has bothered me for last couple of months. Cancelling our “Baby-moon” to Belize in March 2016 due to the outbreak of Zika virus was one of the my biggest disappointment, since I was really looking forward to our last couple vacation before the baby comes out.

(But hey 2016 is the year that changed my life, my identity and my purpose! Life  came full circle when I saw for myself a new LIFE that I made. )

Moving forward, post my maternity leave and once Vir turned 3 months I only traveled for important work meetings to New York, Dallas and Los Angeles last year. In fact Vir flew for the first time with us to New York in August. I was really nervous of flying with a 3 month old but gladly it all went well and gave me the courage to fly with a baby. Check our my previous post Tips for Travelling With a Baby. 

There are several reasons I love my job and one of those is I get to travel and break the monotony of working from home. I was recently informed that I needed to travel to Thailand for a work conference in Dec 1st week !! This was an amazing opportunity and I was thrilled to pack my bags and get on that plane. Since I was going to that part of the world I took a week’s off to stop over at Delhi. This itinerary worked perfectly for our family as Deep could manage Vir at home in Delhi with his parents while I was off to Thailand. Also our son could meet our family members, and get the blessings of his great grandparents.

When one travels to India especially for the first time with a baby there has to be a plan in place. From the Flight to the Baggage, to the Baby gear to the Stay, everything needs to be well planned !

In this blog post I will share with you my experience on flying with Vir on a 21 hour flight from Houston to Delhi and way back, which turned to be 30 hour door to door journey both ways.

img_9929-1

 

The Preparation! – Thankfully Vir’s passport was ready before he turned 2 months, and I was able to plan this trip. Once I was informed about my travel, I immediately applied for Vir’s E visa to India (which was applicable for a single entry only for a 30 days period. I intend to apply for his OCI card soon) Our tickets were booked 2 days prior to our travel. Due to the last minute bookings me and Deep were unable to get seats together in Premium Economy with United. However I was glad to at least get a bassinet seat after a lot of coordination with United’s customer care. I have to tell you that it was very painstaking task and until I sat on my seat on the flight, I wasn’t sure if I will have a bassinet in front of me.

I made a checklist of all items I needed in India for Vir and packed the luggage accordingly. Since I had to be away for 5 days I was glad that I had slowly started introducing formula to Vir while breast feeding. Thankfully he was accepting both breast and formula at that time and feeding was not one of my worries. For a 2 week vacation we managed to fit in all our stuff in 3 suitcases and 1 carry on. Among the few home chores, we arranged boarding for my fur baby Rio at a local pet home, stopped all the mails for the 2 weeks we were away at the local post office center and got rid of all the perishable food from the refrigerator.

The Flight !
Baggage: I made it a point to travel light and carried only the important items needed for Vir. Between me and my husband we had one carryon bag, a boppy pillow, an umbrella stroller, a diaper bag and a backpack and 3 check in items. The carry on and my diaper bag had all baby supplies.

Security and Boarding: Even though we reached the airport 3 hours prior to our boarding, I was delayed by an hour at security check. I was patted down twice by 2 different officials due to the alarms on my swipe test. Since I had to carry Vir in my arms, I had to use the walk through metal detectors, due to which they had to swipe my clothes and my hands.  And every time they tested it, the machine would sound the alarm. I still don’t know why that happened, but they say it could be due to the use of lotions and hand sanitizers.

Tip( Highly recommend going early then planned to the airport, as you will never know what might cause delays. )

One of the perks of being a parent is that you get to board first and that was a relief! We gate checked Vir’s stroller each time while changing flights.

Bassinet Seating My Nightmare: My fear of not having the bassinet seat came close to being a reality!! As we boarded our long leg flight from New Jersey to Delhi I saw that we had just 1 bassinet in front of the 3 bulkhead seats on the plane!! And to my disbelief I had to share the bassinet with another mom for the entire 14 hour journey. Once the air hostess attached the bassinet in front of us she informed me that it was in the name of the other mom, and claiming subtly that the bassinet is hers. I couldn’t believe the inefficiencies in the system at United and the ignorance of the customer care and the gate managers, as none of them informed me on the bassinet seating policies and arrangements even after checking with them several times. To add to my misery, the flight was full, due to which me and my husband didn’t get to sit together either. Vir ended up on my lap the entire flight, except for that one time when I got the bassinet to use the restroom.

My loving son was truly an angel the entire 14 hour flight; he didn’t fuss at all, slept most of the time and fed properly. His cooperation made this crazy experience worthwhile and helped me calm my nerves. Now my nervousness of flying such a long distances with a baby is out of the window.

(Tip- The thing that worked in our favor was that I booked the flight during his nap time. That way he slept more than half of the journey. Also I highly recommend wearing a baby wrap or carrier that way your hands can be free)

Once we landed in Delhi we rushed to the immigration and were shocked to see no lines. I guess fewer international flights land at 9:30 pm. We also learnt that there we had to go for immigration check at 2 different windows as Vir holds an American passport. We were out of the airport in less than 25 minutes yet it still didn’t feel we were done, as we had another 1 and half hour drive from the airport to reach home.

img_9922

Flying back to Houston !

After good 2 weeks of stay, meeting with family members and indulging in a lot of Indian street food it was time to head back. Finally my good luck kicked in and we couldn’t have asked for a better flight experience on our return journey from India. This time I really didn’t care about the bassinet. I just wanted to be seated with my husband, so that I don’t have to hold my pee forever !!

While we were checking in we saw that the fight was almost 80% full. That was amazing as it meant that we had the chances to get an extra seat apart from getting to sit together. We booked our seats in the center row purposely as there were 4 seats in that row, which also meant there was a good chance of getting a vacant seat next to us.

Like I mentioned, my luck finally worked and we not only got to sit together but even got an additional seat for Vir between us on our first flight !! We changed our planes in Munich and requested the gate staff to see if they can seat us next to an available bassinet or upgrade us to the larger leg space seats or check if there is a row with an additional seat for Vir. (It never hurts to ask, you need to be patient and hopeful, something I say to Deep all the time). Thankfully, it worked again and we got an additional seat for Vir. I couldn’t believe that not only did I get to sleep for at least 6 hours, but also saw a movie (Life of Pets)  and grabbed both dinner and breakfast on the flight!!

Tip ( In my opinion a return flight on Monday or mid of the week are not fully booked and there is room to change or move seats.)

If you follow me on Instagram , you would have seen on my stories, that post we landed in Houston we were stuck at immigration for more than 2 hours. I cannot explain how miserable it is to stand for that long with a hungry baby and I cannot understand why all security windows cannot be open when there are 6 international flights landing at the same time! We were glad to be back home as we couldn’t wait to meet our fur baby Rio !! This was an extremely tiring and long vacation for us. We cancelled all our travel plans for Christmas and New Years as I didn’t want to head back to the airport so soon and neither did we want to leave Rio again so fast.

I have a Travel Goal of visiting minimum 5 new places in 2017. I want to get used to travelling with our baby and learn along the way and share my experiences, learnings and tips with all my readers- as I am hopeful it will help some of you!!

Wish you all a wonderful 2017  !!

arushi

How I Prepared to Leave My Breastfed Baby for a Work Trip


In my previous emotional post I wrote about my anxiety and fears as a new mom, who was leaving behind her 5 month baby for a work trip for the very first time. It was an emotionally challenging experience and physical one too, as I am exclusively breastfeeding Vir. I couldn’t have left my house without a plan for my family and support of my husband.  As new parents we want to make sure we are doing everything right and at the same time hoping that things go smoothly.

Every mom has to leave the nest sooner or later and to get through this difficult time, I am sharing the list of things I did before getting on the plane:

  1. Introduce care giver ahead of time: I am working from home and of course to be most productive I need to be able to focus without distractions. After my family left, we got a nanny to manage Vir during my work hours. This worked well for us, as by the time I left for work to another city, Vir and my nanny had gotten used to each other. It is hard to trust someone else with your baby other than family, but having a good caregiver can be very comforting.
  2. Enlist a Trusted Relative or Friend: Thankfully my husband could take an off on one of the days in my absence at home and manage Vir. However, I am thankful to have a close set of friends whom I can trust Vir with. It is ideal to have someone living close to your home, just in case.
  3. Maintain sufficient supply of milk in the freezer: Vir is being exclusively breast fed and my biggest worry was running out of the frozen milk. I was short of 7-8 bags as per my calculation and so I made a plan to start pumping after every feeding to increase supply in 1 breast. I pumped only one side, so that I don’t run out of milk on the other. This worked perfectly and I was able to store milk and also give Vir his full feed. Also, I was eating more food that helped in lactation and drinking lots of water.
  4. Leaving behind Mom’s scent: I wore my husband’s T-shirt to bed for 3 days before I left, so that my scent could be transferred to it. In my absence Deep wore the same T shirt to soothe Vir and put him to sleep every night.This strategy also worked for us very well while we were crib training Vir and making him sleep in his nursery. I would leave my t-shirt on the side of his crib, so that he felt that I was around. Note: this might work for younger babies only.
  5. Setting up security cameras or a nanny cam: We bought a security camera for the house through which I could see Vir when I wanted. I could monitor the daily activities live on my cell phone from anywhere. Not only did it give me a sense of relief but I also felt involved. These days baby monitors and security cameras have great features. Ours has a mic function through which I could talk to Deep if he needed something and also see the entire day’s recording. (We have the new Logitech Circle camera)
  6. Make a List of Things related to the baby: A list with all information that is essential for the baby like feeding and nap routines, allergies , medication, place for baby gear and supplies, important phone numbers ,etc etc. This can be very handy for the care giver or your husband. I had emailed it and also printed it and left it on the refrigerator.
  7. Packing your Pumping bag: Even though you might have a temporary break from the baby but that doesn’t mean you get a break from breastfeeding. Our body continues to prepare the milk and that means you can’t forget to carry the breast pump, nursing pads, bottles and the freezing pack. I was pumping daily in the morning and at night, at the restaurants and at the airports. I can do an entire blog post on it, and honestly I hadn’t realized it would be such a complicated affair until this trip. I was able to bring back only 2 bottles of milk from the trip as I had to dump the rest. (TIP: If you don’t have an ice pack, take zip lock bags and put the bottles in it with ice to keep the milk chilled. Also if you have a milk bank close enough to where you are and if time allows you can donate it there. Sadly I couldn’t. Try to carry a manual breast pump too if you want to pump anywhere and not be stuck to a plug.)

I hope these tips come in handy if and when you plan to travel without your baby. There are a lot of things about Motherhood I am still discovering and I hope to share my experiences with all my readers.

Planning ahead of time is key to our sanity!

You can also check my post Tips on Travelling with the baby. (Our short trip to New York)

 

 

 

 

When I had to leave my 5 month baby for a Business trip. 

Processed with Snapseed.

The Snuggle is Real 

My head was hurting, my heart was racing. I felt I couldn’t breathe and all of this was happening exactly at the same time while I was waving goodbye to Vir from the window of my cab. Leaving the baby for the first time is not easy and even though I spent a ridiculous amount of time snuggling him and kissing him beforehand, the moment of panic at the door was not going away. I still can’t tell whether at that moment I was feeling guilty of leaving him for 2 days or if I was terrified of the thought of how will he survive without me. It was one of the weirdest moments of my life and is very hard to describe in words. It felt like I was carrying an extra bag that day – A bag of Guilt.

Inside this extra baggage was the guilt of leaving Vir at home while I traveled, guilt of not rocking him to sleep those 2 nights, guilt of leaving my husband on his own to manage an infant and taking leave from work. From the moment I sat in the cab till I reached the airport, I was stuck to my phone the entire 40 minute drive, watching Vir play with his Nanny while I kept taking heavy breaths with moist eyes.

Honestly I am so blessed to be a full time work from home mom. I can see my child whenever I want, have the flexibility to manage my work and calls, apart from adding income to the household and doing what I love most. Having a house with an office space I am able to get so much done effectively on a daily basis. And with the help of my nanny I don’t have to worry about Vir either. It’s the best scenario I could have asked for. However being a Sr. Account Manager and handling a huge pool of clients across the country, travel in my job role is inevitable. Honestly, I have always looked forward to my work trips as I not only get to reconnect with my colleagues but also get a break from my routine.

Processed with Snapseed.

Likely, most of you are not gasping in horror at the thought of leaving a 5 month baby with his daddy, while mom goes on a business trip. Business travel is fact of life for few moms far sooner than 5 months and many 5 month old babies are not exclusively breast fed. But this is a very big deal for me, as I never left Vir for more than few hours a handful of times until this unexpected work related travel. The very thought of getting on an airplane without Vir had been giving me heart palpitations. I was having anxiety of what might happen when I would be away. Will he be all right , will Deep be able to manage the baby, what if Vir doesn’t take the bottle , what if I miss my return flight, what if things falls apart…..I was losing my sleep. The angst of leaving a kid behind is natural and biological; it is out of concern for our children or even out of the fear of leaving our comfort zone as a new mom. The fact that we control our household makes leaving the responsibility on someone else more difficult.

But having a supportive and understanding husband and a loving and hands on dad can make a mom’s life more manageable. I am so blessed to have a husband like Deep. He is a great dad and I knew in case of any urgency I can count on him to manage Vir. This trip was a huge learning experience for me and Deep on dealing with our fears and anxiety as first time parents. While Deep is now more confident in handling Vir, I am more comfortable in leaving the responsibility on daddy at unplanned situations.

But then there are other situations out of our control, like my nanny was not able to make it the next day while I was out and the ordeal on the date I was flying back….

After a very productive meeting, I was looking forward to getting home from LA and snuggle with my baby. To avoid the crazy LA traffic I reached the airport early only to learn that my flight was delayed by an hour. I immediately rushed to the airlines counter to see if I could reschedule my flight to an earlier time, and I was lucky to get one. But, that luck was short-lived; I was put in another frustrating situation where my rescheduled flight was delayed by 4 hours due to maintenance!! Wow !! That is exactly what I needed on my first trip away from Vir. (Screaming in my brain) It almost felt like my nightmare was coming true. But honestly, there was no point getting mad at that time…  Rather, I actually felt blessed, as the flight I was supposed to initially take got cancelled!

After speaking to Deep and knowing that all was good at home, I finally found the time to get something to eat and make most of the delay with a pumping session.  (If you follow me on instagram , you must have been pretty amused with the instastories I made that day.)I pumped at the ladies room standing for an hour splitting the pumping session on each side while watching Vir and Deep play on the camera, as the nursing room at the airport was occupied. While pumping I was able to speak with Deep through the house camera mic function, it gave me so much relief and I almost felt I was with them. Apart from that, I was glad to take the express milk home, unlike the last few pumping sessions where I had to pump and dump. (I hate throwing away breast milk, it makes me feel terrible)

Processed with Snapseed.

.

After an exhausting 10 hour wait time from LA to Houston between flight delays, traffic and flying time, I was finally home at 11 pm holding Vir tightly in my arms, with a heart full of joy and a needy dog liking my face and asking for equal attention.

Even though we might be connected with rapid transit and wireless technology, the emotional distance while traveling is challenging. I wish I could handle everything at once, but motherhood has taught me the unfortunate rule of being a human: I can’t. We have to make hard choices and cope up with the real world. And as a working mom I have to act like one and deal with my lifestyle changes while coming up with strategies that work for my family.

Yes ! The Struggle is Real !!

…In  my next post I will be sharing with you how I prepared to leave my baby overnight for work  and what I discovered about being a mom when I was off the clock.

Processed with Snapseed.