Backpacking with a Baby

Story by Deenaz Raising hani

I have been an avid traveller for more than a decade now. I used to travel a lot with my husband, or solo and we have gone on some crazy adventures together across the World. I always had a desire to backpack Europe but somehow it could never materialize. While I was studying for my Masters in Pune, I conceived and things got real for me.

A lot of people advised us when I was pregnant, that life would change after the baby arrived as our responsibilities would increase so the travelling lifestyle may take a backseat. We, however, believed in just the opposite.

A few months into my pregnancy, I made a promise that I would take my child to Europe with me before she turns two and would backpack across one country with my baby alone.

In July 2016, my husband and I along with our 16-month-old baby set off on a backpacking trip across seven countries in Europe. We planned for it for around a month. We carried a few essentials for the baby, covering our ambitious route from Delhi- Istanbul- Helsinki- Oslo-Copenhagen-Paris and Berlin. All we had on us was a rucksack each, a baby carrier, a baby stroller and our tiny baby.

We were surprised to see how our baby adjusted so beautifully to such strange places and faces. We had booked ourselves into youth hostels rather than conventional hotels. We mostly ate local street food and since we were not carrying any baby food with us, our baby also ate freshly made local food and whatever else was available with us and relished it too.

My husband went back to India from Berlin, and I stayed back with the baby to backpack further. This part of the trip was what I had planned to do since I conceived her, and I was super excited about it. Of course, my family was worried about our safety, but I was convinced about my plan and decided to execute it with full gusto.

To manage my travel effectively, I had a rucksack with me on my back and wore her in a baby carrier throughout this time. We stayed at youth hostels in Hamburg and Cologne and cooked our food in the hostel kitchens apart from scouring through local food markets and little cafes. We slept on bunk beds in dorms and she co-slept with me without any problems. She had been eating German sausages, cup noodles, milk, local fruit, and lots of fresh seafood from the street and supermarkets and she fortunately never had an upset tummy.

We visited the riversides and harbours in Hamburg and saw seagulls preying on fish. We chased pigeons in the various European squares, relished German chocolate, saw a live organ concert at the stunning Koln Cathedral, travelled on multiple subway routes, took buses, and always met smiling faces. We bonded like friends and understood each other from so early in life. I think I found my best friend in her.

Since then, I have backpacked with my baby across a few countries and throughout these trips, my baby has learnt to accept people that don’t look similar to her. She has grown to eat foods that taste unfamiliar and sleep in places that don’t look like home. She has learnt a great deal about the geography and histories of the World because of her trips.

To everyone, I have only one suggestion; life doesn’t have to change drastically once you are a parent. You can continue nurturing your desires and dreams and if that involves travelling, then by all means continue to pursue it. There will always be obstacles, and you will always be assigned responsibilities, but remember to think of what makes you happy and practice it every day.

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