x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Enjoying ride with baby on board

Many things that seemed impossible on a trip with children are actually rather doable.

A few days ago, my daughter and I boarded a plane, just the two of us, for what was our ninth trip together in the year since she’s been born. We’ve nicknamed her the “frequent flyer” and I’ve run out of space in her baby book to paste all those boarding passes I thought might be fun to save.

It’s one of the few vows that my husband and I made before parenthood struck that we’ve managed to stick to: having a baby does not mean leaving our passports to collect dust and preventing ourselves from seeing all the beauty that the world has to offer. Some of our other vows didn’t fare so well: I’ve succumbed and allowed her to sleep in our bed, we haven’t set foot inside a cinema in a year and a romantic dinner is now just a lukewarm (if we’re lucky) dinner that we happen to consume at the same time, sometimes in the same room. But travel? Non-negotiable.

Surprisingly, not everyone was on board with our dual decision to continue taking international trips every few months, only this time with a baby strapped to our chest and diapers packed in our bags.

“Oh, nice, good time of the year to go to Rome,” said my brother-in-law when I asked him if we could borrow his Italian phrase book for our impending trip to Italy a few months ago. “But what are you going to do with baby? Take her with you?” The expectation, it seemed, would be to leave her behind with a grandmother, or hiring a live-in nanny who could tend to the baby at her grandparents’ house while we go gallivanting around the world, or even put our travel plans on hold and quit cashing in our frequent flyer miles.

“It’ll be impossible for you to really have fun and enjoy yourselves if you have to worry about the baby the entire time,” we were told, but only by those who never travelled with a baby in the first place.

We paid no heed. If there’s one thing we’ve learnt when we became parents, it’s that a lot of the things that once seemed “impossible” with a baby are in fact very doable – it’s all in how much you’re willing to adapt.

With every trip we’ve taken, things are a little more efficient, the execution a little more smooth. We’re seasoned now, less apprehensive when faced with a layover, not as suicidal when a flight falls smack in the middle of nap time.

And while we might not exactly get to do everything we might have done in a new city as a carefree couple – dancing the night away until the wee hours of the morning or lining up for three hours outside the Vatican just to get a glimpse of the majesticness of the Sistine Chapel – we’re still getting the chance to see the world with our little girl, whose dawning awareness of the vastness around her makes it almost compulsory for us to keep getting on planes.

* Hala Khalaf