I met Nila during the 2013 Asian Womens Empowerment Conference in Kuala Lumpur. She is the founder of Travel Sparks Indonesia, and the all inspiring Taman Bacaan Pelangi (Rainbow Reading Gardens), a non-profit organization focuses on establishing children’s libraries in remote areas of Eastern Indonesia. Like me, she is a keen traveller and 32 countries later she is still going!
At the time, she strikes me as an inspired individual and as busy as her life already is collecting books for her reading room and managing Travel Sparks (as well as appearing on TV, being interviewed by magazines and speaking at events and conferences) so you’d think that she had no time for anything else, let alone having children!
Defying our believes, that is exactly what she did. She had Sienna, the little baby explorer late last year, and at three months she travelled with mum to deliver books for Taman Bacaan Pelangi, and at seven months has already been on the road with Nila again to Europe and back!
She is a big advocate of not letting having children stop your own passions, and travelling is obviously something we both share in common. She wrote about not letting pregnancy stop you from travelling (unless of course, in the very last period where it is medically advisable to not fly), and now shares her advice on how to travel with a baby on a plane.
So, I thought I’d ask this super mother just what she has learned, and what advice she can give, on travelling with a young baby.
Nila, when did you start travelling and how have you always travelled?
I started traveling since I was a kid, because both of my parents are both photographers. They took me whenever they wanted to do some photo shoots.
The first time I traveled solo was in 1997, I went to Europe for 2 months. And since then, 99% of my travel was solo traveling. I prefer traveling alone than traveling with a group or with friends. Until now I haven’t tried traveling with a tour agency grin emoticon. The idea of having a fixed itinerary and going together in a group don’t appeal to me.
I love traveling alone because I can stay in one place for a long time, go wherever I want and do whatever I want to do. I can sit in a temple or any site for hours, talk to the locals and make friends with them. These kind of things are not possible to do if you go with a travel agency.
So now that you have a baby, what has changed in the way you travel?
Well, I can’t travel light anymore! hahahaha.. This tiny creature have so much things that I have to bring!
The first time I traveled with her was when she was 3 months old. I took her to the Komodo National Park. Back then, she was still breastfeeding, so it was not so bad. When she was 5 months, I took her to Bali and she already started eating rice cereals. When she was 7 months, my baby and I spend 1.5 month in Europe and visited 6 countries and this is when it was starting to make a big difference. She is starting to eat solids with more varieties so I had to bring more things.
I also have to travel in a more slower pace now, because Sienna needs to be fed all the time! :) Every two hours, I have to stop in a cafe or restaurant to either feed her food (breakfast, snack time + breastfeed, lunch, snack time + breastfeed, then dinner). Not to mention if she needs constant diaper change.
Another change is no more night life! My baby girl sleeps at 8:30pm, so by 7pm I need to be back at the hotel, feed her, get her ready for bed, rock her until she falls asleep. On this point, it is now also important for me to choose a child friendly hotel, that will provide baby cribs and has an elevator for the pram and carrying things around. The hotel I choose now must be clean, with air conditioning etc. For this reason I love semi apartment hotels or even airBnB because they have kitchens so I can easily cook y baby’s food too.
What advice or words of encouragement do you have to new parents who now think their travelling life is over?
Having a baby doesn’t mean your life is over! You still can travel with your baby or kids and it’s actually pretty fun too! To see how excited they are whenever they find something new or being in a new place, it’s just priceless. And seeing how they interact with strangers from other countries, it’s just awesome.
Don’t be afraid to take your baby on an adventure with you. If you’re happy, your happiness will radiate out and your baby can feel it. She/he will be happy too, and enjoy her new adventure with you!
Learn more about Nila on her blog: … LiFe iS BeauTiful …