Looking back now I realise that we spent much of our childless years doing road trips. And our partner in crime was our SUV that not only gave us the flexibility of time but provided for a leisurely mode of travel. Most highways in India are well maintained and driving is a pleasure on such roads. Moreover, it was such bliss, deciding to travel on a whim. Most often it didn’t matter where we were driving to, as long as it meant having somewhere to go. It also meant that we rarely planned and prepared for these trips so we would leave at ungodly hours, stopped whenever we felt hungry, and sometimes we even went without eating if we didn’t like the place or what was being served. More often than not we would simply have a juice or soft drink to tide us over till we found some place decent.
With our daughter now, we still try to be as spontaneous as possible and travel whenever we find time. What has changed though is our attitude towards food! Now the focus is more on nutrition and health. We always travel with a stock of biscuits, granola bars, cookies, fruits (especially apples and bananas), cheese, chocolates and the different flavours of MooShake. Yes, the one thing we NEVER leave home without is milk! Even when visiting relatives or going to the vegetable market, we either carry plain or flavoured milk with us. During long distance travel milk is a necessity. For her, milk is sustenance and for me, peace of mind. I know that if all else fails, milk is the one thing she will not refuse.
Although it may seem that we’re always prepared with snacks and MooShakes for those in between meal times, the one thing both my husband and I are keen on is for her to learn how to adapt and adjust to whatever might be in store for her when travelling by road in India. During such travels, we prefer to eat rice or roti, dal and subzi from a roadside dhaba or idly, dosa, wada from an eatery that is frequented by all and sundry. Most often food here is most appetising as it is prepared daily and therefore, definitely fresh. They might not be the most hygienic of places to eat though but there are ways to be safe. Both at home and her preschool there is a general mix of these items served, thus, it has been easier for us to opt for food that we know she would like to eat or wouldn’t be too fussy about trying!
You might ask, if this is our outlook, then why fuss about carrying snacks and MooShakes with us? I know there are many contradictory views about the need for children to drink milk daily. Simultaneously there are also discussions about the health benefits of milk from cartons or plastic packets or that the milkman delivers. My daughter has grown up drinking milk daily and it has been a blessing for me on many counts. She loves having milk (plain or flavoured) and milk products. Long distance travel can become painful from all that sitting and MooShake is good as it has haldi which is a natural painkiller for discomfort from joint pains. So it not only serves to ease her crankiness but even if she drinks less water en route, I know she’s hydrated. And much like us, she too has learnt to sometimes remain without eating for hours simply because she feels full after sipping on those shakes! Moreover, since they are found almost everywhere nowadays, I’m never out of options. Simply put, I like being prepared for any eventuality or uncertainty.
Traveling is a great way to teach children about people and cultures. It also helps to broaden one’s outlook, builds character and teaches them to become responsible for themselves. Thus along the way, our intention is to teach our daughter to not only be comfortable travelling, but enjoy the experience of the journey as well as look forward to the destination.
(The Travel Shake was first published in Momspresso (formerly mycity4kids) on September 9, 2015)