Taking a tour with a baby – is it even possible?
My hubby and I are self proclaimed culture vultures.
We met when I was travelling the world, we have seen much since, and we plan to continue to do so even now we have a little man in our lives. But it’s become trickier.
You see, the hubby and I love a good tour. That’s how we get our culture vulture on when we are travelling about.
Provided the guide finds the balance between history, human interest and humour, there’s no better way of getting under the skin of a city.
The problem is that since having little Sir Harrison, we’ve found that taking a tour with a baby is hard. We’ve tried a few times and failed miserably. When Harrison was 9 months old we made our way to Vietnam. While enjoying the first part of our Vietnamese adventure in Ho Chi Minh we booked a tour to the Cu Chi tunnels.
This was to be an opportunity to see ‘real’ Vietnam and give our culture vulture a good day out.
Despite pre-booking our adventure to the minutest detail before leaving Melbourne, we did not have a child restraint fitted for the little man from the airport to the hotel. We knew we needed our concierge to do some local wheeling and dealing to make sure we had a restraint for our road trip to the tunnels.
If subtitles were to run while the conversation between our concierge and the tour company was underway they would say: “Our guest will require a child seat suitable for a nine month old child.” To which the tour company would say: “Not a problem at all. Thank you for your call and confirmation of said tour with party of three.”
So we were confident that the ‘travelling with a baby’ memo had been received and a car seat would be fitted in our bus.
The next morning our luxurious air conditioned bus arrived and a brand spanking new booster seat was there to greet us – with its pristine black cover glistening in the sun. The seat was twice the size of Harrison. Unfortunately the subtitles were wrong and it was too late to change our plans as we flew out the next day.
So a booster seat it was, but I did not move my arm from across Harrison’s body the entire journey. It’s fair to say that journeys on Vietnamese roads are character building at the best of times, let alone without a baby seat fitted!
We saw some creative license taken on child restraints while cruising the Vietnamese streets, where a cane bar stool had been repurposed to become a baby seat using cable-ties to attach it to the back of a Vespa. So perhaps we should have been grateful for the booster seat?!
Fast forward six months and I was ready to give this taking a tour with a baby business another try.
It was Melbourne Day and we’d just been announced the world’s most liveable city. I knew that already ‘cause I live here, but I was eager to soak up more of this great city and booked a walking tour of the CBD. It was due to start at 10am and I thought, brilliant. Perfect kick-off time. That’s when the little man has his morning nap so this is totally doable. I’ll recline the City Mini GT seat to snooze position and I’ll let the rocking motion of mummy pounding the pavement work its magic and put H to sleep.
In my mind H would know this was the plan and he would follow it to the letter. This was a kid who loved his two-hour morning nap, so there should have been no issue with him sleeping his way through the tour. It was meant to be, I thought.
Have you guessed already that he didn’t sleep?
Of course he didn’t! And not only did he not sleep, but he fought like nobody’s bizzo to get out of his cosy pram and put his new crawling skills to work.
So our plans to take tours in H’s short life have failed. Taking a tour with a baby is impossible unless a few things are adapted. I think the reality is that big group tours are a thing of the past (no more Contiki tours for this mumma!). Itineraries need to be tailored to allow for little leggies to be stretched and at the bare minimum, a restraint needs to be provided if it’s to be a long day on the road.
Once we start touring with a toddler and/or tween, we’ll need to add family-friendly meal breaks to our list of minimum requirements.
We’re not a unique family. We’re pretty average and like many other families we want to continue to see the world with our kids. We want to immerse ourselves in culture and we want to do that by taking guided tours.
Learning from the experts and seeing the hidden gems off the beaten track – now that’s my sort of holiday.
From our experience, taking a tour with children is challenging particularly when the provider and/or tour are not geared towards families. But it’s definitely do-able with the right company and the right attitude.
I’d love to hear your experience taking a tour with a baby or toddler, please feel free to share your stories in the comment section below.
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