We happened to read one of the posts on visiting Egypt by this mum and how she spoke on why travelling can be fun and at times, scary too. The need to accept varied experiences while travelling makes for the good traveller. This enthusiastic mum from Mumbai should be knowing about it as she is one energetic mom who has travelled to over 30 countries and manages a blog called the Hip Hip Holiday.
Meet Gunjal Bhansali who shares her experiences with Mums and Stories. She says. “I inherited the passion for travel from my dad. As a child, I have travelled the length and breadth of the country. Thankfully, my husband shares the love and I have travelled to foreign destinations (30 countries & counting) only after marriage.
I have a passion for travel and writing. I have entered the blogging world ( Hip Hip Holiday) only recently. The purpose is to bring real travel stories to the world , especially on Indian families with kids.
I am aware there are loads of bloggers and travel agencies. They paint a rosy picture of every place but I want to show the real stories. It’s not always perfect. There are times when things don’t go as planned, but isn’t that what makes the journey worth its while?
A normal traveller like a mother is not always dressed in flowy dresses & doesn’t have the best camera or cameraman (read husband) to click the best photos.
Nevertheless, it shouldn’t stop them from travelling. There can’t be any better experiential learning for a child (& for us) than travel.
Though I have helped my friends and families make their itineraries, it is only out of sheer love for travel. I am not a tour organizer. I plan to share do’s and don’ts of places in my upcoming posts, along with itineraries. “
Talking about taking her young daughters to various destinations, Gunjal shares, “The kids have caught the fascination now. They enjoy the change and look forward to it.
Here, I would like to add that we always take into consideration our kids’ opinions before finalizing any destination. “
This mum also has a few useful tips on travelling with kids.
- Include your child in decision making when you are selecting the destination is very important. It gives them something to look forward to and makes them less complaining. Also, helps them in building their opinion and enhances decision making skills.
- Try and take a late night flight or a one stop flight to long destinations. This helps to be better prepared once you land.
- Make sure you get the child excited for at least one thing that you plan to do on the holiday. It could be something as small as a beach visit or a temple visit. Build an exciting story around it so the kid looks forward to that experience!
Talking about managing schedules, considering Gunjal is a busy traveller, she shares, “The holiday lists of my husband and kids are the topmost star marked images in my photo gallery. I ear mark the long weekends and holidays so we do not have to take too many additional leaves from work and from school. Despite going on vacations almost 5-6 times a year, my kids hardly miss a day or two at school in the entire year.
Yes, proper and timely planning makes it doable.
A holiday on a Tuesday or Thursday gives you the chance to plan a longer vacation within approximately the same budget. Midweek flights are often cheaper than those on the weekend or on holidays. “
Travel can give varied experiences and Gunjal says one incident was when she was stalked by an Egyptian man, who even proposed marriage to me ( on a crowded street) when she was with her husband and kids.
Second incident was their guide trying to do something similar after touring with the family for 6 days!
” It has made us cautious, for sure but it was also just a one off incident. Nowhere else, have we ever faced such unpleasant experiences. We also do our research better now and plan accordingly.
Also we do save judiciously to incorporate our travels. We keep aside a stipulated sum, every year for holidays and plan them accordingly.”
Talking about starting to travel with kids, this travel lover mum shares, “ We travelled with my first daughter when she was 7 months old, to Goa. We were more seasoned travellers, by the time the second daughter was born. We went for a road trip in Rajasthan and Agra when she was three months old.
I think it isn’t very difficult to travel with babies, as they are either sleeping or feeding most of the times. The only catch is to choose a destination which is relaxed, so even Mothers can enjoy a welcome change in a more easy going environment.
There have been times when we didn’t space out two holidays. The quick succession was because of better deals and holidays at school. That’s when we though we need to pace our trips a little apart from each other. The gap in between two vacations makes the wait more exciting plus gives us a chance to savor the flavor of the last holiday.
There’s a lot more to see, so much to learn and teach! But yes, we have promised each other not to repeat any destination.
If there’s one thing travel has taught us, it is compassion and acceptance. It teaches how to be comfortable outside your comfort zone. Meeting new people, learning about their history and culture, learning about their life style has taught us we all belong equally to this planet and this planet belongs equally to all of us.
Our travels are a mixture of luxury stays and budget travels. We have done home stays in remote Indian villages, airbnbs in Europe and even luxury stays in leading hotels of the world in India and abroad.
We have flown in sea planes in Maldives, used over crowded public transport in Seychelles , eaten on footpaths with the locals in Vietnam and even stayed in farms and helped out with the pets!
Being calm is very important. Most often than not a setback looks bigger than it is, if we get anxious. I think the locals at any place can provide the best solution to any problem.
Think of travel as an experience to create wonderful memories for your family and yourself. Be a child with your child and connect with them on a one on one level.
Gunjal ends with the must see places in the world:
- Ajanta & Ellora caves , Aurangabad
- Hampi, Karnataka
- Zaanse Schaans Netherlands
- Hoi An Vietnam
- Masai Mara, Kenya
Mums and Stories wishes Gunjal the very best and we hope she gets to travel a lot more to inspire others.