Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large

Economy and spontaneity, the enemy of travelling with kids

I usually have one sacred, unbreakable rule when I travel, and that's don't do anything you wouldn't do at home.

Our taxi driver is tutting and rolling his eyes at anyone who looks his way. It's 10pm and we're 10 hours into our journey home from Sri Lanka. My husband and I are patiently strapping our two sleeping children into their car seats and securing these in the back of his Mercedes-Benz. It's not a quick process on a dark night and the queue of taxis outside Abu Dhabi Airport lengthens steadily.

Tired as we are, I wouldn't dream of putting this most precious cargo on our laps and bombing home asap and yet, only hours before, the four of us had been sitting, sweating, in the back of a tuk tuk that is overtaking into oncoming traffic on the insanely busy road that runs between the beach resort of Unawatuna and Galle.

With a three-month-old baby strapped to my chest, I'm trying to brace myself against the driver's seat to minimise the risk of serious injury if the three-wheeler grinds to a sudden halt - as it has twice this week - knowing full well that all such resistance is futile. My one comfort is that our driver, who runs the guesthouse where we're staying and has a family of his own, is driving with as much care as the kamikaze tactics of others allows.

I usually have one sacred, unbreakable rule when I travel and that's don't do anything you wouldn't do at home. This rather po-faced instruction doesn't apply to the fun stuff that make holidays a joy such as paragliding off a mountain top (not something that is even possible in downtown Abu Dhabi) but the dull stuff like not playing Russian roulette with your children's safety.

My sense of worry only deepens when our driver-cum-host tells us that 17 people died in a single accident on this very road only a few days ago. So why has the normally uptight me, a play-by-the-book, irreproachably responsible parent, gone nuts?

I blame spontaneity the enemy of travelling with kids. I'd booked our holiday just 24 hours before we hopped on the plane. I'd made sure the children's vaccinations were up to date and read the latest travel advisories on Sri Lanka but skipped the usual worry and paranoia stage of my pre-holiday planning. The first sign of trouble appeared at Colombo airport when the taxi I'd ordered arrived with lapbelts, next to useless for securing a kid's car seat. Then the undeniably cheap and lovely guesthouse close to the beach turned out to be 15 minutes away up a very steep hill. Without the option of hiring a car, a tuk tuk proved the only feasible mode of transport.

What should I have done? Checked into a swanky hotel on the beachfront that rented out cars for the day and fitted the car seats. So make that economy and spontaneity is the enemy of travelling with kids. Luckily we all survived to learn the lesson.


Back to the top

More articles

Editor's Picks

 Shah Rukh Khan performs at the IPL Gala dinner to open IPL VII at the Emirates Palace hotel in Abu Dhabi.

In pictures: Shah Rukh Khan stars at IPL Gala dinner in Abu Dhabi

The superstar entertainer Shah Rukh Khan on stage last night at a gala dinner to launch the Indian Premier League cricket tournament.

No words can describe this April 17, your captions will

Have a catchy caption for this picture. Share it with us and we might publish it and reward you.

 When this 1856 British Guiana One-Cent Magenta stamp goes under the hammer at Sotheby’s in New York on June 17, it is expected to attract a world record bid for a single stamp of up to $20 million (Dh73.4m). Courtesy Sotheby’s

Rare 1856 stamp up for auction at Sotheby’s

This is one of the world’s rarest stamps and when it goes up for auction in June it should fetch $20million. Its history since it was issued in 1856 is fascinating – and includes one murderous chapter, as Jonathan Gornall reports

 The Retreat at the Westin Abu Dhabi Golf Resort & Spa will screen IPL games on request. Lee Hoagland / The National

Top five places to catch an IPL game in the UAE

Enjoy all the 20/20 cricket action at a sports lounge near you – whether in Abu Dhabi, Al Ain or Dubai

 Iranian President Hassan Rouhani greets supporters after his arrival in Zahedan, the regional capital of Sistan and Baluchestan province on Tuesday, April 15, 2014. During Mr Rouhani's two-day visit, he will tour several other cities and hold meetings with local scholars and entrepreneurs. Maryam Rahmanian for The National

On the road with Hassan Rouhani

Iran's president is touring some of Iran's most underdeveloped provinces. Foreign correspondent Yeganeh Salehi is traveling with him.

 Barcelona’s Lionel Messi plays with a rugby ball during a training session at Ciutat Esportiva Joan Gamper training camp, near Barcelona in Sant Joan Despi, April 15, 2014. REUTERS/Gustau Nacarino

In pictures: Barca play a little rugby before Copa del rey final

Barcelona and Real Madrid will play in the Copa del Rey final on Wednesday night but the day before the match, Braca players played a little rugby during a training session at Ciutat Esportiva Joan Gamper training camp, in Sant Joan Despi, Spain. Barca meet Real Madrid on Wednesday at 11.30pm (UAE time) and the match will be on BeIn Sports.


To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National