Top 9 reasons to Gift your child “travel”

 

Since as long as i can remember, the summer vacations was my most favorite part of the year. Not because i would get to skip school, but because it meant my mom and dad would take me somewhere new. The trill and curiosity i had while i packed my bags dreaming of the things i would see, was beyond words. I really don’t remember much of the toys my mom bought me, or the things my dad refused to buy saying i didn’t need them, may be because it was out of his “budget” at times. I don’t remember the multiple times my mom tried to pacify me that it was ok to not have a big birthday party. All i do remember is the trill of discovery, the trill of travel, the trill of running to make it to the station, to catch the train on time. The little games me and sister would play to pass time, the snacks dad got for us at stations, it’s a memory I just can’t put into words. We (the parents of the present generation) have become so involved in the rat race of giving the “best” to our children that we forget to see their actual needs. Each child needs something different, each child is unique. If one wants a new book to read, the other wants that new remote controlled car in the market, while one may just want to play around in the dust all day. This doesn’t make any one of them wrong. The fact of the matter is our children want experiences. They want to experience new toys, new books, new places to play…..and when we try to give them these things we are gifting them these experiences. So why not every once in a while give them the experience of a totally new place. It does not always have to be a new country, it can be a new city, a new part of the country they haven’t seen before. You will be surprised at the many times you realize,your children may not always want the best in “things”, they want the best in “experiences”.

” I believe its better to clutter our children’s mind with memories, rather than clutter their room with toys”

Here are my top reasons to “gift” your child travel this year:

Travelling exposes kids to new cultures: Each land or a civilization has a different way of living. It shows them that there are other ways to live other than like their own. It makes them more accepting human beings.

It gives them a classroom in the real world: Children learn new things when they see them. Like names of animals, what do mountains really look like etc etc.. They will remember better if they see a cow eating grass,rather than when they are judt told that it is so. It fans their curiosity to learn new things. As we all know “curiosity is the best teacher”.

It shows them new things: Kids are amazed when they see something new, that they haven’t seen before.  A child from the European countries will be curious about the way people dress in East Asia or a child from India will be fascinated by how people in African countries worship nature just like in their own country. It shows them that we as human beings are not very different from each other and it teaches them to respect others.

Real life Maps: Kids who travel to a new place, remember the location and geographic aspects of that place much better.

Teaches them to adapt better to a situation: We encounters many experiences during travelling, not all of them may be pleasant. Travelling teaches the child to adapt to that situation and move on.

Bonds of the family are strengthened: Travelling families are known to be closer to each other. And children of such families are better able to express themselves and are much more confident as they grow up.

Respect the nature around us: Travelling teaches the children that there is more to this world than just their home and city. It teaches them that we as human beings are only a very small part of the vast nature. They learn that it is “us” who needs the trees and the wind rather than the other way around. They grow up to be more environmentally aware human beings.

See new things which are not in their routine: A child living in a populated, polluted city may not see stars every night. But take him/ her to a village and the pitch black darkness exposes them to the full glory of the shining night sky. Do you think they will ever forget that view? I don’t think so. Looking at someone cook their simple meal with effort in an “almost about to go out” light bulb, makes the children appreciate the things they so easily get in the city. This gives rise to a generation of humble and grateful humans.

Kids grow up fast, capture the moment: A day turns to a month and then to years in a blink of an eye and your kids will be all grown up. They will have a life of their own and may not even want to travel with you one day. Capture each moment you have now and fill it with happiness. Travel with your kids. Not necessary that you go on a month long vacay to Europe, just a small weekend also counts in memories.

” The world is a book, and those who don’t travel read only one page” – Augustine of Hippo.

Gift your child the whole book.

 

Diveagar/ Shrivardhan Tourism: All you need to know.

The serene calm sea, swaying coconut trees,little children running joyfully up and down narrow lanes, that’s Diveagar for you. A small village off the coast of Maharashtra in the district of Raigad. The extremely narrow lanes are dotted with traditional houses, and the wiff of mangoes drifts beautifully through the air as you walk by.

Here is a helpful guide if you want to explore the place.

Distance:(from Mumbai):210 kms,(from Pune):159 kms(from Kolhapur): 307 kms

How to get there: Driving down is the best bet, the road are fairly good, and the drive is pleasant leading through some of the most stunning scenery you can find. Take drive straight towards Pune via Mumbai Pune expressway(toll Rs.131)and take the Khopoli exit, continue towards Mangaon and turn right in Mangaon after the Bus stand. From Mangaon to Diveagar is 44 kms but take more time than expected as the road is full of curves and bends.                                                  A second option and a better one is to drive via Alibaug,past Kashid and reach “Agardanda” and take a ferry to “Dighi”. You can take your car in the ferry boat(Rs.176) and for individuals(Rs.21). You can take this option while returning too. This road gives some stunning views of the magnificent Murud fort.We will surely not recommend a separate visit to the fort as there is nothing new to see, the fort itself is in ruins and the approach route is full of garbage and not at all maintained by the government.This is the best view of the fort according to me.

Where to stay: Lots many homestays and guest house options are available here. There are no big hotels, Exotica Beach resort and Cocohut Beach resort offer fairly good stay options. They are a stone’s throw away from Diveagar beach. Read our review section for details about our stay at these places.

The Diveagar beach which is close by from all places of stay here is a very beautiful beach, the sand is soft and the water is clean.One can spend hours here, just staring at the waves and lying down on the beach with a good book.Dont enter from the main entrance of the beach, walk a little furthernorth and you will find a small path which leads to the beach. This part of the beach is much quieter and with less crowd.Carry a torch while getting around, as there are limited number of street lights and the place can get dark immediately after sunset. One cant depend on the phone battery with the given power conditions, so a simple torch is your best bet. Do be careful on the beach,as some irresponsible and mannerless tourists take their cars on the beaches, which can be dangerousfor others on the beach.when we were there we did witness a Toyota Innova getting stuck in the sand, and everyone had to get down and push the car hoping it would come out of the soft sand.                                                          There are many other small and large beaches when you drive from Diveagar to Shrivardhan, but not all are very clean. The water is clean but locals have dumped garbage on the beaches and made them rather unaesthetic.

Food: Only “khanaval” options are available. These are small home joints that offer the thali system of lunch and dinner  “Patil’s Khanaval” is the more famous one and we would also recommend it as the food is good,tasty and less spicy(food in Kokan can be very spicy).They close their service at 9:30 sharp in the night so be sure to reach on time. The traditional restaurant options available are at Borli where there is “Golden Dish restaurant” (again very spicy food). This restaurant does have some nice icecream sundeas which are quite awesome.Vegetarians fear not, there is a khanaval right next to the 3D museum that offers “pure veg” food and is simple but amazingly tasty.

If you are travelling with small infants, carry a small hot plate and a vessel to boil milk and sterilize feeding bottles(dont forget to carry bottle cleaning brushes and liquid cleaning soap). You can get fresh milk easily, but a more safer option is to purchase “Amul Moti” milk packets which dont require refrigeration till opened. they are convenient and are available at Rs.26 for half litre packets.

Breakfast is served early and mostly the services are closed at 10:30am at most places, expect a simple breakfast of tea and poha or upma(portions are small so be sure to order a little extra). We also had trouble finding a place for our early evening tea as nobody offers that. So we drove down to this plave called Royal Family restaurant at Borli for tea and some light snacks. Do savour the local knick knacks like the dried Kokam, kokam juice and amazing fresh coconut water.

Very important Note: There is some serious load shedding at times when one has to depend on generators, most people have those. The power fluctuation is major and one thing we observed is that our mobiles started behaving weird after charging at the hotel rooms. Its better to charge your Power banks and then charge your phones and other devices with it. Its better to take some effort than to spoil our phones and laptops.We dont recommend carrying your laptops as nobody offers Wifi.

This is the ideal place to put your electronic devices aside and have a tech-free vacay. Enjoy the simple life and dont expect much luxury, you will throughly enjoy yourselves.

6 Top tips to pack light when travelling with kids.

The best way to live life is, to explore life. Travelling takes our mind to realms we didn’t know existed. But be aware, travel means dragging a heavy suitcase around,or pushing a almost going to collapse airport trolley while you figure out which gate your flight is at……Not any more…

I used to be one of those who used to carry ten sets of clothes to a three day vacation. But over many trips I have realised that the best way to travel is when you restrict your luggage to a bare minimum.

Now, I know what you will think…There’s the kids essentials,the toys,the beach stuff and everything….How do I travel light with KIDS? I have a 2 yr old too….It’s hard to travel light,but not impossible…

So…..A little guide to help you travel light even when with kids.

1.Keep cosmetics/creams to one pack only: The moisturizer you use may not be suitable for your kids,but your kids’ moisturizer will work just fine for you. So just one bottle of moisturizer for the whole family will do just fine.

2.Buy cosmetics locally: The weather of different places requires different types of soaps and shampoos/creams. When you reach a destination,shop locally,there will be products available that will be better suited for that particular weather.Buy smaller packs so you don’t have to carry home leftover products and there is no wastage.

3.Buy clothes locally: Carry only half the number of clothes that you may need. And you an the other half if the need be at your destination.Stick to few basic pieces of clothes,and do the washing and drying routine and repeat your clothes,It saves a lot of space in your luggage. Tropical destinations have great shops that stock up wonderful breathable cotton clothes which are best to be bought there at a much cheaper price.

4.Avoid carrying electronic hair styling tools: Its best to let you hair be natural,just use a locally available hair serum or dry shampoo and you will be sorted. You dont want to keep the hassle of hair styling when you have to run out for sight seeing now do u.Most hotels have the basic hair dryer in your room or will provide on demand, which will serve just as well.

5.Use multi purpose products: A lipstick can double up as blusher as well. Or the baby wet wipes can be face towels for you too.There are many such multiple uses for your basic proucts which will keep you sorted and help you enjoy your vacay to the fullest. The humble Petroleum jelly is my “go-to” product for everything from chapped lips to bruised knees/heels.

6.Limit footwear packing: Limit your footwear to one or two pairs as they will occupy way too much space in your luggage. However cute those fluffy bunny slippers may be,they will not serve you in a beach location. The cutest beach flip flops are best bought at the small shops by the beaches.

Hope this helps a bit, we know most of this stuff,but to hear someone else say it again makes us take notice. Travel basic,travel light.

5 Budget weekend destinations around Mumbai.

We are bombarded with long weekends this year, when the work load and daily routine gstarts to get the better of you, what better way to rejuvinate than to head on out for a fun weekend getaway. But, the question that bugs everyone these days…..does it fit my budget? will it be too costly?….So here are our top picks of pocket friendly weekend destinations that are sure to make you pack your bags right now.

Note: The list below is of two night stays within a budget of around 10k to 13k for a couple and one kid.

  1. Diveagar, Shrivardhan:
  2. Tarkarli: A quieter and much less commercialised cousin of Goa, the little town of Tarkarli offers much to be explored. The beach is famous for water sports. The beach is famous for its clear waters and clean beaches,which offer snorkelling and scuba diving for the adventurous lot. If water sports is not your cup of tes, then just relax and enjoy the amazing costal cuisine and the salty breeze of the amazing arabian sea.
  3. Sindhudurg: The beautiful costal town of
  4. Diu:
  5. Matheran/Lonavla:

(during the rains the following are recommended, but wait for a few showers before heading here to allow the lush greenery to blanket the reagion.)

Malshej Ghat: A wonderful destination for a road trip, Malshej ghat offer stunning views and beautiful scenery. The road leading to it is not crowded and hence a pleasure to drive on. The ghats can be tricky during heavy rains, and are famous for landslides. So however adventurous you may be,don’t venture out here during a heavy downpour. The MTDC Resort in the ghats is a delightful place to stay, but can be easily missed if not on a lookout. It falls on your left hand side and has a sharp turn to reach. The mobile networks are next to non-existant, so use this as a no-electronics holiday break for you and your family. The food is basic but tasty. And the fog during the later months of the rainy season are the best time to visit, with a little drizzle. Best time to visit is from early september to late January when the path is dotted with small and large waterfalls with ample parking place and privacy(if you go sightseeing earlier during the day)

 

 

Top 5 Secret Beaches in Goa.

Goa has a different vibe which is absent in most other parts of the country. There is something about “apna Goa” that tugs at our hearts every now and then. Be it a fun vacay with friends, an all girls outing, a family break…Goa caters to all. Mostly known for its stunning coastline, Goa has some amazing beaches which are yet to be touched by commercialisation. We are not attracted much by the noisy beach scene, we would rather head to a quiet, secluded beach paradise and spend our day watching the waves kiss the shore. So these beaches which we recommend here are not the kinds which would offer you five star luxury, but would cater to the five sensesxs for sure. So pick up a picnic basket and head on out to these awesome beaches for a great time. Here are our picks for the best beaches in Goa:

  1. Polem beach: Situated at the sothernmost tip of Goa, Polem beach is seldom visited by tourists. The clear waters, the clean white beach is scattered by the occasional rocks at the shore. It offers a beautiful view of the sunset, and you may find the occasional group of dolphins who come close to the shore. There are no eateries here, A small shack by sells cold drinks and other knick knacks, and can serve food at prior order. The beach isnt considered safe for swimming dude to the rocks, but no harm playing in the sea as the waves are gentle and water is invitingly warm.                                                           One has to cross the Goa toll limit to get to this beach. A small road to the right just after the toll booth takes you through a mud path straight to this beach. Keep this beach at the start or end of the beach hunting trip. Start at this beach and then move northwards to other beaches so that you dont have to travel much during the night. Do not venture along this route on a scooter at night,it may be unsafe.
  2. Galgibaga beach: Although the name is close to Baga beach, the Galgibaga is nowhere close to Baga. This beach also known as “Turtle beach” is in south Goa, just north to the beautiful Polem beach. There is a turtle farm here,hence the name.To drive to this beach is the best way to reach. Carry your own food supplies as there may not be many options available here. The beach is clean, with few tourists. It is best for children and families to have a nice day out in the sun.
  3. Betul beach: Going more nothwards and still in South Goa, the Betul beach is a beach lovers’ paradise. The clean beach, soft waves makes it an ideal beach destination for families. Mostly skipped by the average tourist this beach is still untouched by commercialisation, which gives it a very relaxed and wonderful vibe. Its very easy to reach this beach if you know the way to Varca or Fatrade.
  4. Fatrade Beach: A very small beach situated between Varca and Benaulim, this is a secluded clean beach. No eating joints around, sp carry your own food. Dip in the clear water and splash around in the wonderful waves as you enjoy the stunning sunset.
  5. Kakolem Beach: One can see this beach from the top of :Cabo-de-rama” fort. A small secluded beach(bit difficult to reach),requires one to climb up and down steps(small & meandering) that lead to the beach. We would not recommend visiting this beach if there are seniour citizens in your travel group. You can easily carry your babies in your baby carriers and head to this beach. No beach shacks here, situated in a small beach cove,this beach gives you much needed privacy and an amazing beach to relax.
  6. Hollant Beach: This beach is a saviour for non-swimmers who want to take a dip into the sea. The water is shallow and waves are almost absent, giving a very easy and safe area for small children and non-swimmers to frollick in the sea.Locate the Bagmola beach and this beach is very close to that.there are a few beach shacks which can serve food for you, but other than that this beach is the beats place to do “nothing”.
  7. Arambol Beach: Sharing its borders with Keri beach and Mandrm beach,this beautiful beach offers an ideal setting for a quiet outdoor day with family.Its far from the maddening north Goa crowd and hence is our coice for must visit beach in North Goa.

5 Simple & important Travel Essentials for a Beach Holiday.

  1. Breezy Cotton clothing: The bestest fabric for a hot summer day,”cotton”. It breathes, and allows your skin to breath. Keep children in soft cotton playsuits to keep them comfy. You will be thankful that you gifted yourself that breezy cotton or rayon maxi dress, shorts and comfy t-shirts are my “to-go” dressing style for a day out in the sun. (Stay away from tight denims) Comfortable kurtis, with loose pallazzos are great for places that require conservative dressing.
  2. Sunscreen: Cannot stress more on the need for use of good sunscreen for you and your kids when out in the sun. It may be sticky,it may feel yucky, but in the end its worth it. Any sunscreen with SPF of 30 and above is great, reapply every three to four hours. I personally prefer Biotique for my baby girl. It has an amazing texture and feels like nothings there.Here are some good ones available for you to try:                                                                                 Best Sunscreens For Babies In India
    • -Lotus Herbals Kids Sun Block
    • -Farlin – Baby Sunscreen Lotion SPF 20
    • -Chicco Sun Milk
    • -Seba Med Sun Lotion-Nivea Sun Kids
    • Neutrogena Pure & Free® Baby Sunscreen Lotion Broad Spectrum SPF 60+
    • Key Sun Clear Zinke Babies & Toddler SPF 30+ Stick                                                     Back of neck, bridge of nose, hands, upper surface of feet, require special attention as these places are most prone to burns.                                                  
     3.  A good pair of Glares & straw hats:  A nice pair of sunglasses not only look stylish but also protect your eyes from the harsh rays of the sun. The sunlight reflects really hard from the sea when at the beach. Be sure to wear glares with wider rims and dark lenses for maximum protection.
    Wide brim straw hats give excellent coverage from the sun and also keeps your hands free. buy a pair for yourself and your kids. Make sure the hats have elastic or braided holding ties so that the hats dont fly away with a strong gust of wind.
    4. Thermal flask: This one is not for hot milk, but carry cold water around. Summers can get very hot and humid, Purchase a cold water bottel from a store and empty it into the thermos,it will remain cold for a long duration. A sip of this cold water every now and then will keep you refreshed during the hot outdoorsy kinda days.
    5. Talcum Powder: The simple talcum powder is a saviour when it comes to a day out on the beach. How you ask? After a dip in the sea, splashing around in the waves, you will notice that your and your kids’ skin is full of sand. Its rather difficult to get rid of all this sand. Don’t fret, just sprinkle some powder and dust off. You will be surprised at how easily the sand falls off.

11 Top Travel Hacks for Families:

 

1.Roll the clothes:While packing, roll the clothes instead of folding to make more room in your suitcase. They occupy much lesser space, and its also easier to search a piece of clothing faster, as all are visible at once.

2.Make kids activity books:Take print outs of short stories, colouring pages, mazes, games etc from the internet. make a collection of about 20 or so pages and get the spiral bound. Your own kids activity book is ready. Its sure to keep them entertained for hours. Here is a link to help you https://www.education.com/resources/worksheet+activity/

 

3.Use the USB slot of the hotel television to charge your phone/tab: During your hotel stay most of the times there are a limited number of electrical sockets to charge your electronic devices. Use the USB slot at the back of the television to charge your mobile phone or tablet. This way the television is useful in two ways,to keep your little ones in one place and to charge your phone in the process

4.Organise your accessories:Keep small earings together with large buttons: There were a number of times i have carried lots of accessries on my travels and ended up not wearing them,reason, only one of the earing can be found. Here’s a handy hack, buy large buttons from a store, and put the earingsinto the holes. There you have a handy earing holder.

5.Small snack pouches:Pack small self sealing pouches with snacks,for a quick bite during the trip(also saves on wastage caused by opening large packets and then just leaving them to spoil).

6.Pack liquid cosmetics in smaller containers: A contact lens case makes for good containers to hold lotions and moisurisers for the trip. Hotel toileteries also are a good size to carry and also adhere to the TSA rules for carying liquids on flights.Refill the small containers with your own products,and dont forget to label them to avoid confusion.

7.Keep Baby clothes fresh: Keep a few sheets of tissue in between your baby’s clothes to keep them fresh. This will avoid the odour that is sometimes associated with clothes packed for a long time.

8.Pack shoes easily: Place a shower cap over shoes and then pack them in a small carry bag before putting them in your suitcase,this will prevent the dirt from shoes getting in your clothes.

9.Keep a check on phone battery usage:Take screen shots of travel directions then turn off location setting of the phone to save power. Be sure to carry a Car charger during road trips(you will be thankful they were invented), Invest in a Good power bank, they are a life saver at airports where you may have to line up to charge your phone at the charging points.

10.Use Google maps without internet connection: When you are in a Wifi zone,save the city where you are in your offline areas in the app. Mark all areas of interest like your hotel,places to eat,tourist spots,toilets etc… Save this area. Now when you are out of the Wifi zone, and even if you dont have an internet connection you can open the app, go to offline areas, and zoom into the area. You will still be shown as a blue dot even without internet connection. Believe me this has been a lifesaver for us so many times.Learn this trick here..

!1.Tackle air pressure discomfort: Tackle ear discomfort due to air pressure by offering your toddler a lollypop. Your child will be happy with the sweet treat and also keep them comfy.Smaller children can be breast fed or bottle fed during the flight take off.

Important note: Do not ask for hot water to mix formula for your baby from the flight attendant, the water available on flight is hot but sterility/purity of the water is not guaranteed. Carry your own hot water in a thermos or pre-mix the formula just before the flight.

Top 5 Beach holiday destinations in India(our picks):

The wind in your hair, the relaxing sound of the waves crashing against the shore, there is something very soothing about the beach. Laying in the sand,drink in hand,relaxing with a good book makes up an ideal vacation setting.

Here are some top Indian beach destinations which wil surely leave you rejuvinated and relaxed:

1.South Goa: When in doubt,go Goa.Considred the quieter sister of North Goa, South Goa is mostly frequented by families seeking a good time(thought you may find a group or two of the unwanted rowdy lot). The crowd is a healthy mix of Indians and foreigners. Most beaches are “bikini friendly”(means no stares…haha)

There are a number of beautiful beaches in south Goa:

(quite easily asseccible beaches for families)Palolem Beach,Agonda Beach,Mandrem Beach,Varca Beach,Majorda Beach, Utorda Beach, Polem Beach(far south tip of Goa.)

(Which Take effort To find and reach)Cola Beach, Cabo-de-rama beach.

Ideal time:September to February

Ideal stay duration: 7 to 8 nights.

2.Havelock islands,Andaman & Nicobar Islands: featuring some of the most picturesque beaches,the Andaman Islands is the top choice for most people seeking quiet and solitude. The sparkling blue waters and calm sea offers much to be sought after. Most beaches are clean and offer a few beach shacks for a quick bite to eat. Havelock Island has many small beaches to be explored. So be sure to check them out(Radhanagar,elephant beach.kala pathar beach etc..) Don’t forget to visit Emerald Gecko,a place that offers stay at rock bottom prices. I would recommend this place for the food. Some amazing stuff to tantalise your tastebuds.

Ideal time: October to February.(summer months can get very hot)

Ideal stay duration: 5 to 7 nights.

3.Kovalam,Kerala: Well” God’s own country”, what more do I say. This beautiful and lush state at the southern tip of India offers everything from hillstations,wildlife sanctuaries,holistic healing to stunning beaches. We are beach people so,talking mostly about beaches.

Kizhunna beach(Kannur),Kanwatheertha Beach(Kasargod),Bekal beach are just some of the lesser known beaches in kerala. So get that explorer in you going and explore this stunning beach paradise.

Food in Kerala is mostly non spicy,lots of fish options, vegeterians fear not,Kerala veg/vegan cuisine gives you lots to dream about.

Ideal time: October to february(march starts to get hot and humid)

Ideal stay duration: 5 nights (if only exploring beaches) 7 or more if you are going to explore Munnar, Tekkady, Allepey etcc…as there is lot of road travel involved which might get exhausting.

4.Gokarna, Karnataka: This is an important religious site for many, it is a ideal mix of religious activities and beach fun. Approximately 190 kms from Goa,this sleepy(& tranquil) town is a photographer’s paradise. Paradise beach amd half moon beach are quite popular, there are many more to explore. You have two options here: get your camera out and shoot some amazing stuff or just kick back and relax in a hammock with a good book.

The state of Karnataka also has the stunning Malpe beach, St.Mary’s island,Ullal Beach which are farther away from Gokarna but surely can be explored if you have the time.

Ideal time: September to January.

ideal stay duration: 2 to 3 nights.

5.Pondicherry,Pudducherry District:This is the capital and the largest city of the Indian union territory of Pudducherry. Though this region is hot and humid most parts of the year, the months of nivember,december,and january are ideal with temperatures hovering between 28 to 30 degrees celcius.The city is bathed in French architecture, this city offers you wonderful sights to sooth your eyes. A leisurely walk down one of the bylanes or a cycle tour is ideal to soak in the sights and sounds of this beautiful beach town.

Ideal time: November to January.

Ideal stay duration: 2 to 3 nights.

There are many more which are worth a mention like Tarkarli beach(Maharashtra),Kashid beach(Maharashtra),Marina beach (Tamilnadu),Ullal beach(Karnataka)Chandipur beach(Orissa) and many more, but the ones we mentioned are our favorite. You are welcome to add suggestions in the comments section of this post.