I love German people, they are really the best. BUT it took me a while to understand them because they are culturally very different from the country where I have initially lived (India), or the country that I first traveled to for work (USA) or people from other countries that I met while traveling.
It took me a few years of living in Germany after I started understanding them. There were quite a lot of things that I didn’t notice in the first years but more things became visible after a few years of living here.
Don’t get me wrong – most of the below points don’t make anyone better or worse. I’m not saying that they are the best or the worst – these are just my observations about how Germans are different from the rest of the world. I have grown to love most of these things about Germans, and you will too if you live here.
1) Germans Love Rules (Even The Ones That Seem to Hate Them)
I can not write an article about Germany and Germans without the #1 point being about the rules. I have said it before and I will say it over and over – Germans really do love their rules.
Now it is pretty normal that you’d meet a German who would say that they don’t like rules but don’t be fooled. If you spend time with them, you will see that they actually follow every single one of them. The same people will also go out of their way to remind someone of the rules if the other person is doing something to beak them.
They can’t help it because the rules are ingrained so well in their minds they subconsciously follow them. They like how the system runs so efficiently when they all follow the rules.
2) A True German Can Open A Beer Bottle with Just About Anything
It is really a true german skill when one can open a beer bottle with just about anything. Who needs a bottle opener when they have a bunch of random things that work just as well?
Cigarette lighters are the most commonly used but I have even seen plastic bottles, remotes, phones, or keys being used in place. Wondering if I can do it too? I try from time to time but my success rate is 30%.
3) Unfit Germans are Rare ‘Cuz Germans love to “Make Sport”
This section isn’t just about how Germans are but also how they talk. The German language is interesting and I love when they translate it directly into English and say they’re “making sport”.
Yes and Germans ARE sporty. They are a country of physically active people as compared to many other countries. It is hard to meet a German who isn’t in any kind of a sport and even those rare ones are super active in every way. People of every age like to ride bicycles, and almost everyone here likes to at least run, swim and ski. It is hard to find a fat person here.
I’d also like to add that I’m a Yoga teacher and I am always in awe of how fit my German Yoga students are as compared to the ones from other countries.
4) Germans are Highly Efficient
You may think that I’m, talking about the German workers here. Sure – they are known to be efficient but this is bigger than that. They are efficient on so many different levels for every random thing that it is as if they are robots. Be it time management, packing, designing systems, or organizing, the Germans are incredibly efficient.
It is as if the knowledge of how to do even the most random things in the most time-saving manner with maximum results has been passed down from generation to generation. If you live in Germany, you will see an example of this daily.
There seems to be an important life lesson that others have failed to receive except the Germans. German supermarket cashiers are known to scan the items at a lightning speed and a typical German will pick them all up one by one at that same super-fast pace and yet efficiently stack them neatly in their carts or bags.
One can easily spot a newcomer in Germany because they are the only ones who can’t match the pace while stacking the shopping in neat piles in their carts.
Yes, Indians are spoiled and we have the supermarket staff doing this stacking for us but I’m not alone in this observation, my American, Australian, as well as other Asian friends who live in Germany, have also noticed it.
6) Germans Know Their Alcohol Good
In a country where drinking in public is allowed, you’d think that you will often see crazy drunk people walking around but that’s not usually the case.
They can legally drink from the age of 16 and they know how to handle it. They can drink down just about anyone without looking drunk, except maybe a Russian or a Polish. (Haha)
If there’s one thing that German love more than rules it is maintaining social decorum. Believe it or not but generation after generation they have been conditioned to behave well in public, hence they do even on alcohol.
Just to clarify, I’m not talking about the general “drunk-happy” people, but “out-of-control-crazy-drunk” – the kinds who yell around on the streets for nothing. Actually, you will see the latter quite often in New Delhi (where I come from) and without even alcohol. Haha
The only times when you’d see someone who’s out of control drunk is when there’s the carnival, or a soccer match.
When I first arrived in Germany, I realized that without even trying I ended up being the most colorful one because of my clothes. I’m not just talking about normal supermarket visits but also special events where I’d notice that most of the people actually wore muted colors.
If you’re a German and you’re reading this, then maybe you will shake your head in disbelief. But I have a question for you, what color are you wearing right now? If it isn’t black, grey or white then it is most likely another form of muted color.
Of course, there are exceptions to this. If you walk around in an arty city (like Hamburg) then you will actually see people wearing different bright colors but still not too much like the locals from the warmer countries do. More exceptions would be music festival people, the pseudo hippies, or the frequent backpackers.
Older Germans Love Jack Wolfskin and Younger Ones H&M. Yes, it actually does work like this with the majority of the germans, it looks like a dress code.
8) Germans and their English
Germans can speak decent English, but many of them don’t know that they can. A majority of Germans hesitate when it comes to speaking in English and they say “Oh sorry, my English isn’t good”. But in reality, they can speak basic English pretty well.
You see, Germans are inherently perfectionists. If they do something, it has to be perfect and “correct” and the same applies to the language They would rather not speak in English than make a tiny grammatical error. They have been taught English in their schools, many of them listen to English music and English is definitely a part of their life more than they realize it is.
On the other hand, I have met a few native English speakers like Americans or Australians who sometimes speak grammatically incorrect English more often but they don’t care. Even many of my Indian people do the same but their confidence level is crazy good.
Dear Germans, we don’t care if you make a grammatical error from time to time. Speak more English with newcomers please because your language isn’t the easiest to learn.
On the other hand, I absolutely love how Germans completely convert their language into English sometimes and say something that means something else. Actually, most of us who are not native English speakers are guilty of this, but since this article is about German people, I’d mention some of my observations here.
I love how Germans use the verb “become” for “getting it”, for example – “Oh did you become a letter today?” – just because there is a verb called “bekomme” that means getting something. Certain German words are so similar to English words with a different meaning. For example, Peperoni in the German language is chili pepper, whereas “Pepperoni” means an American salami. Imagine my surprise when I visited a vegan restaurant in Germany that was named Peperoni.
9) Most Germans Think Ginger is “Spicy”
Ask any Asian what they think spicy is and they’d say chili. Ask a South American or a Mexican, they’d say habanero. Even Italians, Americans, Australians, and Brits can handle spicy food. But Germans, of course, are a little different than everyone.
An Asian would never find ginger spicy, because that the base of 80% of our food. No, we don’t overuse it but it is there in a small quantity in most of the things we eat. In India, we even put it in our chai.
During my first months in Germany I asked someone if they wanted to try Indian food. They said yes but not spicy, so I offered them a bite. It was actually very funny for me when they said — oooh, the ginger is spicy. No, that’s not just one person but many other Germans too think ginger is spicy. Hilarious!
10) Germans Don’t Like Small Talk
If you’re a german then maybe you don’t know the meaning of small talk, because you are just not used to it. Small talk doesn’t have a purpose. It is actually a waste of time but is done to break the ice, even if you know the other person.
For example, if you were in America then most likely even a work colleague would say something random and unimportant to start the conversation – like how was your weekend, etc. After 1-2 minutes, the work colleague would actually come to the point and say that they need your help with an excel sheet or something.
It isn’t just Americans who do this but also Indians and many other people from all over the world because it is a part of our culture. We may not even realize it but we do it. Germans just don’t do it. Honestly, I really like it without the small talk because I don’t enjoy it when people don’t get to the point.
11) Germans may appear cold, but they are very “REAL”
Ok so if it is your first time in Germany then you’d probably say that Germans don’t smile much, or they are too cold. I thought so too at first. It took me a year or so to realize that Germans aren’t cold or unfriendly – they are just very real. They’d rather not fake a smile or indulge in small talk. They take time to open up to someone but when they do, you would realize that they actually have a very amazing (and sometimes wicked) sense of humor.
On the other hand, many other people from other countries can’t help but indulge in small talk. Also, if you meet an Indian, they’d smile a lot more than a German. I’m not saying that one is better than the other, but it is so interesting to notice the cultural differences.
I did mention in the earlier point that German people are highly efficient. But somehow they just don’t offer even mildly decent customer service.
I’m talking about industries like retail, hospitality, banking, and even travel. Whatever you ask anyone at any customer service rep in Germany will seem to annoy them and the nicest answer you will get is a shrug of the shoulder with “what can I do, it isn’t my job.”
Before I quit my job, I worked for a decade in a multi-national industry in India and also spent a few months in the USA. I wasn’t into customer service but it is a known fact that “the customer is the king” or “the customer is always right”. Of course, none of these concepts ever work in Germany.
Here if you actually go to a normal staff member and complain about something that’s not working in their supermarket/store/bank – they’d say “what can I do, that’s not my job” instead of actually getting up and asking their coworker who is in charge to do this.
This was actually a big cultural shock for me and every time my (German) husband would sweetly tell me that I’m wrong to complain and “what can they do”. I was so happy when I discussed this with an American friend and then a Thai friend who are all living in Germany and have the same observation. I even found so many threads about this on Reddit and an article by DW.
Guess what, I have somehow grown to accept this aspect and sometimes I even like it. Why? Because Germans are conditioned not to complain. It is when I visit other countries after living here is that I notice how many people complain too much and maybe it is a good thing that the German customer service sucks, because it conditions the people here to never complain.
13) Germans are Super Punctual
If you invite a German friend to visit you at 5 pm, most likely they will come 1-2 minutes before and wait outside and then ring the doorbell at exactly 5 pm. Isn’t that adorable? Well, it is a little freaky too. How are they so time efficient and how do they plan everything so perfectly?
14) Germans are Very Trustworthy
Have I mentioned a few times already how honest Germans are? Well their honestly makes them highly trustworthy. I feel very safe around Germans and I feel that they aren’t going to scam me. Don’t get me wrong but when I visit my own country, I can’t trust so many people because there are scammers around that are looking for an easy target. The only German city where I don’t trust as many people is Berlin because that’s the city where you can actually get scammed.
15) Strange German New Year Tradition: Dinner for One
This is actually an insanely strange but very funny. There is a tradition in Germany where Germans watch the same video every single New Years Eve and laugh a lot. (NYE is called Sylvester in Germany by the way.)
The video is called “Dinner for One” and is a small 5-10 minute long old English comedy video without any significant dialogues. It is so old that it is black and white.
I love quirky traditions and this one really is the best because it is the same effing video that the Germans watch every year and laugh so much. I wish we had a tradition like this in India too but I can’t think of any. I will leave the video for you below and let you decide how funny it is. Have a few beers and you will find it funnier than it actually is.
So, do you know any German people too? Share this post with them to make them smile. Pin the below image to save the post.
15 Things I learned about German People after Moving to Germany
It has now been close to five years that I have been living in Germany. The last five years have been extremely eventful. I have learned a new language, lived with Germans, made many friends, traveled within the country, celebrated many festivals, taught Yoga in a studio here and done much more than what can even be put on a list like this.
There have been moments when I have been bewildered by German rules, excited at the start of spring or snow season, hated everything when I missed my home country too much – but most of my moments were spent enjoying the joy of living in this country.
If you’re on this page, then most likely you are considering moving to another country. Is Germany the country for you? Read on to see my experience of living in Germany.
Germany is a Country Full of Rules
Every country has rules for everything, but not everyone follows them. In many cases, the people aren’t even aware of the rules in the first place. Things run very differently in Germany. In fact, things run exactly the way they should.
There is a reason why public systems or many other processes run very efficiently in Germany. It is because the people have a very high regard for the rules and hardly ever break them. There is a process for everything and it is black and white hence highly efficient. If only every other country functioned like this, the world would have been very different.
If you break a rule in Germany, then it is very likely that a fellow resident will point it out to you instead of turning a blind eye. Take it with a smile because they are just trying to help you.
Mountains, Castles, Forests: Germany is Insanely Pretty
Posing Outside Disney’s Cinderella Castle – Burg Eltz, Germany
Germany has the alps, the North Sea coast, the Baltic sea coast, insanely beautiful national parks and stunning castles. Germany has the best of nature and the most interesting cities.
If you like big cities then you’re going to love Hamburg and Berlin. If you want to see beaches then you will love Reugan Island on the Baltic coast and North Sea destinations.
Everyone is aware of Bavaria’s beauty – the clear lakes, Bavarian Alps and lovely small towns. But honestly most of the small towns all over Germany are lovely because of an “old town”, castles, protected forest area and more.
Germany’s Trash Management is Crazy Awesome
Yeah so almost every developed country and some developing countries have a trash management system that starts with people segregating their trash, but things are a little too extreme in Germany.
Broadly speaking, all households need to sort out their trash into bio, plastic, paper, diaper, glass, old batteries, old electronics, paint, and drink bottles. Yes, you need to segregate trash in these categories in your house. This is a very broad bifurcation because there are many “if”s and “but”s to this segregation in terms of rules.
There are recycling boxes for old clothes and shoes in many parts of the city so you can get rid of everything that you don’t use as long as you plan accordingly.
I don’t know if there’s any country that beats Germany in terms of trash management but I have heard that the Scandinavian countries are pretty good too.
Clean Air and Forest Reserves
Germany is so green
I love how Germany as a country protects and preserves the environment. The country is full of forests. There are plenty of nature reserves and they aren’t just close to small towns but also big cities. Yes, you could be living in a busy city on some 4th floor of an apartment building but you may still be able to find a small forest reserve nearby where you can go for a run and feel alive in the nature.
Everything is Closed on Sundays (+ Holidays)
In most of the countries, offices are closed on Sundays but the big shopping areas are open because that’s when a lot of people finally get the time to step out and buy things. Of course, the things are very different in Germany. Here everything is shut on Sundays. Really, everything.
It took me some time to get used to the fact that there is one day in a week where almost all the shops are closed. Sometimes there is a holiday that’s on Monday or Saturday, so one has to be prepared for two days of supermarket closure and buy the important things from before.
This required a bit of planning from me in the beginning because in India the stores are open literally everyday. Even on Diwali. Yes, this is one of the things that I miss about living in India.
Drinking in Public is Normal
Drinking in Public in Germany is very normal
Yes, shockingly you can drink beer in many public areas in Germany, including trains. No, that doesn’t mean you see wasted people everywhere.
German people know how to handle their alcohol well because beer is a very important part of their culture. They seem to respect the social decorum and you’d hardly ever seen anyone overdoing it unless it is a special occasion. But yes, occasionally you will see people who are drunk as hell.
No Work After Hours: Work Life Balance is Super
Do you have a 9-5 job? It is highly likely that you don’t leave your workplace at exactly 5 everyday. It can be 5:15 on some days or 4:50 on the others. Even after you leave work, it is likely that on some days your team or colleagues will call you or email you about some important work. It is very normal to work after the hours in most countries. It sucks!
Having experienced corporate life in India and the US, the German way of working came as a pleasant surprise to me. If someone’s work ends at 5 pm here, the person WILL leave at 5 pm, and not a minute after that. No boss will call or email after the work hours or on a weekend. That just doesn’t happen in Germany, unless it is a highly exceptional case.
This system really works well in Germany because Germans are highly efficient during their work hours. They really do work like machines because being efficient is in their blood.
Silence on Buses or Trains
Berlin Train Station
Things may be different in bigger cities that are international, but when you travel within a smaller city or a town, you will notice how silent the public places are. Coming from India, this was a big change because on a train in India, you’d normally hear a few people talking excitedly and loudly, a group laughing, somewhere a kid whining and his mother yelling.
Most of the Germans don’t talk loudly and if they are in a public place, they observe an unwritten but mutually understood rule that they’d lower their voices to a level that no one else can hear them.
I do remember traveling with a group of blogger friends on a train in Berlin and all of us were from different countries. Someone from the USA, someone else from the UK, a couple from Spain, and me from India. Yes, all from the countries where people talk loudly. Of course we were the loudest group on the train but we weren’t even talking loudly.
Getting a Doctors Appointment Isn’t Always Easy
This isn’t always the case but it happens a lot. Don’t be surprised if it takes you 6 months to get an appointment with a doctor. Because it is 6 months away, you are highly likely going to forget it and miss it. Good luck getting another appointment within the next few months.
If you fall sick or need to see a doctor urgently then God help you! Once my daughter injured herself near her teeth and we called every single doctor for jaws and also dentists, but no one was available to see her.
Lovely Old Towns with Fachwerkhäuser
Typical Old Town in Germany with Old Towns with Fachwerkhäuser
Most of the people who travel to Germany end up visiting the most expensive and touristy cities like Munich, Frankfurt, Heidelberg, Hamburg or Cologne. No doubt these cities are lovely but so are the smaller towns.
No matter where you live in Germany, you are never going to be far from old town areas and traditional timber framed houses a.k.a. Fachwerkhäuser. Even my completely under the radar boring town has two breathtaking old town areas with some historical houses. Some of the houses are from as early as 1300 AD.
The old town areas are super dreamy and they will make you feel like you’re starring in your own romantic movie. You will most likely find old buildings, small shops with lovely but expensive handmade things, benches strategically places in scenic spots and an amazing atmosphere.
Talking about the timber framed houses, yes – they exist in other countries too. BUT, as per wikipedia, the country that’s most known for these kind of houses is (drumroll) – Germany.
If you’re traveling within Germany then you will not really face a lot of language barriers. It is only when you start living in the country, you will realize that you will need to learn more than just the basic level German to do things here. I’m talking about paperwork, visiting different government offices like the town hall, tax office, etc.
In order to live in Germany, most of the visas have a prerequisite of basic German language skills. Trust me, you NEED to learn the basic level German, else you will feel stuck.
If you know English, then learning basic German isn’t that difficult because many nouns and verbs are same. What’s different is how the verbs are used and the endless articles. The good thing is, that German words sound exactly how they are written, which can’t be said about a lot of English words. The bad thing is that German language is highly complicated if you compare it to English.
Honestly, it doesn’t matter if you slightly mess up the grammar. If you make an effort to speak a few sentences in German then the locals will highly appreciate it and help you.
Paperwork Never Ends
Get ready to drown in a lot of paperwork if you end up living in Germany. Yes, paperwork exists in every country but in Germany it seems to never get over.
If you live in Germany, you will notice that there’s something new that comes up every month that needs immediate attention. Hence, more paperwork. Thankfully, the paperwork in Germany is pretty straightforward because all the rules and procedures are always black or white.
The Food in Germany
Food in Germany – Schnitzel
Potatoes, meat, eggs, bread and dairy are things that truly rule the German food scene. If you eat in a restaurant in Germany, you will find very limited vegan food options unless it is an Asian restaurant.
In India and many other Asian countries you will find an entire section of vegetarian and vegan dishes, even if it is burgers. I have spent 3 months in the USA and I always noticed a lot of veggie items in the menu too. In comparison, here in Germany you will notice barely 1-2 dishes in the entire menu that are vegetarian and just one out of that would be vegan.
However, when it comes to the availability of vegetables and fruits in the supermarkets, then Germany is awesome. Even the smaller super markets in small towns have German as well as a lot of international produce so you can find almost anything. If you love vegetables as much as I do, you are going to really enjoy cooking while you live in Germany. I didn’t know I could cook before I arrived in Germany!
Trains are Good BUT Expensive
German trains are awesome. They are clean, comfortable, 98% on time and extremely fast. You can travel very easily within Germany and nearby countries on trains. But they aren’t cheap.
It is sometimes cheaper to take a flight than travel by train. In many cases, if you’re looking for an affordable train ticket, you may have to change trains a few times in your journey.
Bicycle Will be Your Best Friend
Cycling in Germany in Spring
Forget driving, or buses but the best way of getting around in Germany is on a bicycle. The bike lanes are everywhere and in many cases you can take an inside “walking / cycle only” path that’s more scenic. You can also take your bicycle on a train and travel to other places within Europe. San and I once also traveled to Amsterdam from our town in Germany on our bicycles.
Carry a lock, learn how to take care of your bicycle and enjoy riding one.
Tier E Scooters – Yay
This is a new point because E Scooters have recently been introduced. I used to crib about the lack of good internal public transport in smaller cities but everything changed after Tier was launched.
You can use an app called Tier and find a scooter near you and just ride it to where you want to go and leave it there so that another person can use it after you’re done. I love this! These scooters are very easy to ride too.
No, I’m not getting paid to promote them but I genuinely love this app and use it everyday to rent scooters. The scooters are environment friendly!
You Can Travel all Over Europe
Us three with van in Croatia – we drove all over Europe with our camper van
I’m sure other Europeans who are reading this would just say – “yeah of course”, but for a non European the ease of traveling within Europe is unbelievable. Yes, one of the best things about living in Germany is the possibly of reaching a new country in just a couple of hours. Not just by air but very easily by road or train without any need for visa paperwork.
Depending on where you live in Germany, a few hours of driving can take you to Austria, Switzerland, Belgium, France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, or the Czechia. If you take a flight, you can reach most of the European countries in just 2 hours. How awesome is that? San and I ended up traveling in most of Europe on our camper van while living in Germany. Check out our post about the most beautiful lakes in Europe.
Tap Water is Safe for Drinking
The tap water in Germany is safe for drinking even in big cities. It is the most controlled beverage in Germany and it should be. I wish it was the same all over the world. Everyone should have the access to clean and safe drinking water from their taps.
Strangely enough, not many Germans that I know drink tap water. They buy bottled water or carbonated drinks and choose to drink that over tap water despite its consequences on the planet (and their health).
Tap water gets tested periodically to check the quality and as per many reports it is as good and sometimes even better than the bottled mineral water.
BUT You Can Never Order Tap Water in Restaurants. Never.
For a country where the tap water is safe for drinking, it is super strange that you can never ask for a glass of it in a restaurant. You are expected to order drinks with your meal and water isn’t always cheap. Also, bottled water creates unnecessary plastic waste.
If You Ask for Water, You Will Most Likely Get Soda
For non-Europeans, water means just water. But that’s not the case with most of the Europeans. If you order water in a restaurant or ask for it somewhere, you will get a glass or a bottle of soda. In some places, they’re nice enough to ask if you want your water with or without bubbles. No, plain water doesn’t have bubbles, that’s soda.
Highways have no toll.. and no speed limit
German highways are awesome. They are very well maintained, have resting stops after every few kilometers and are toll free. The only time we remember ever paying toll was when we used a bridge that connected Germany’s mainland to Rugen island.
Guess what, Germany’s highways are world famous and some people come come here from surrounding countries with their fancy cars. All because the highways (Autobahns) have no speed limit.
School System is Very Weird
There are just a few things that I dislike about Germany and one of them is the school system. It is very weird and it feels wrong. There are separate schools based on the intelligence level. There is a school for very bright kids and only those who finish this school can go to college. Rest others have to go to a school that’s not for the smartest kids. If they fail, they get thrown into a school that’s for below average kids.
I understand that this may be an efficient system for managing education but it is a horrible system for developing smarter all rounded children. In real life, everyone has something to learn from the other. When children aren’t given the opportunity to study with those who are smarter than or not as smart as them, then they will miss out on some important life lessons.
Customer Service Doesn’t Normally Exist
You know what’s the only word that comes to my mind when I think of German customer service? It’s non-existent. Unlike Asia or Americas where the service mantra is that the customer is the king, in Germany it is completely different. Apart from the Deutsche Post and DHL, if you seek help from anyone at any office at any time, they will act as if they are doing YOU a big favor or they will just say no.
You Get to Enjoy All the Seasons
Snowy Winter in Germany
You’re probably thinking – huh, so that’s in many other places. Yes it is but I felt a need to add this here because this is a very big deal for me. You see, while living in New Delhi (India), I thought I was experiencing every season but I realized what I was missing after moving to Germany.
Because Germany is in the Northern Hemisphere, the winter is really cold with shorter days. It doesn’t snow throughout the winter but it does snow at least once or twice per season. When it does, the world turns absolutely magical and white. Because of the extreme winter, spring feels more alive and the sudden burst of color because of the flowers is eye-popping.
Spring in Germany – Rapeseed Flower Field
The summer is warm in Germany and sometimes the temperature can go till 35-40 degree celsius. Those are the times I miss an air conditioner but I made do with a fan here. Right after summer, the autumn season is pretty intense.
Honestly, my first Autumn experience was in Germany. I never realized I was missing out on Autumn beauty in India till the time I moved to Germany. Autumn in Germany is beautiful because there are so many trees everywhere. They all turn yellow, then red and then brown. It is insanely beautiful to see autumn foliage in Germany.
When it Snows, You Gotta Shovel the Sidewalk next to your House
No, I’m not talking about shoveling the driveway – that’s something you will need to do anyway if you want to take out your car after it snows. If you live in a house then most likely it would have a sidewalk for bicycles or pedestrians. In Germany, if anyone walks on the sidewalk next to your house and hurt themself bad if they slip on the snow then it is your responsibility. So, enjoy the snow but keep shoveling the sidewalk.
Don’t get me wrong – this isn’t a rant about Germany but just an observation about how life is different here than my own country. I like the fact that the residents are accountable for the area around their house in the immediate vicinity.
Celebrations and Festivals
Carnival in Germany
I thought India had too many festivals and celebrations but Germany isn’t any different. There’s something that happens every month in Germany. Everyone knows about the Oktoberfest? Well that’s just one of many. There’s the Carnival that’s crazier than anything you can imagine. It is like a psychedelic festival where everyone dresses up crazy and participates.
Christmas time in Germany is like no other. Guess what, many famous international Christmas traditions actually came out of Germany., Santa Claus is from Germany too! Christmas festivities start in Germany at the end of November and last till Christmas.
There’s St Martin where children walk with the lanterns. Apart from this, there are so many smaller monthly celebrations and some are region specific. In my area we celebrate Kirmes, Schützenfest, Medieval Fest, Plum festival and many wine festivals to name a few.
The only time of the year when I haven’t seen any celebrations is between the New Years Eve to Carnival and that’s just one month. Carnival occurs in mid February every year.
Germany Has Bad Internet
You will find it unbelievable but you will find better internet in most places in Asia as compared to Germany. This comes as a shock because Germany is a highly advanced and developed country but the internet situation has evolved in a strange manner.
You see, Germany has an Oligopoly market situation when it comes to the internal. That means, there are just a handful of providers that rule the market. The speed is slow, service is horrible and faster internet is obscenely overprices as compared to many other countries.
Conclusion – Life in Germany – Yay or Nay?
I didn’t particularly love every aspect of living in Germany right away. It took me some time to adjust, and I kept comparing it to life in India. I missed the food, the color, the sensory overload and my people from India. I don’t know how it happened but two years after living in Germany, I started to miss it while I was traveling in India. When I was at the airport, I felt an odd connection to people who were talking in German. This is how I usually felt when I saw Indians talking in India.
Disclaimer: Just because we attend music festivals, doesn’t mean that we participate in intoxicants. We do it for our love of music and nothing else. Yes, we perhaps the most sober people in a festival with just a beer or two in their system.
Fast forward a few years, we’re new parents! During my pregnancy, we decided not to stop what we loved doing together. It includes attending music festivals. Of course, it would only work when we take our little one to music festivals with us. It was going to happen sooner or later, so we decided to start early. Well, why not?
Our little girl is just 9 months old and she has already visited two music festivals with us. Her first festival was Modem festival in Croatia and the second one was Wonderland Festival in Germany. Our festival experience has now completely changed, but not for worse. It is definitely a lot of fun to attend a festival with a baby.
By the way, if you’re a new parent, then be sure to read our 35+ tips for traveling with a baby. It is a detailed post where I mention tips for flying with your baby, camping, managing food and sleep and so much more.
So you want to take your baby to a music festival too? Here are some of our top tips which will help you:
Pick the RIGHT Music Festival
Attending a music festival with baby
Don’t just go to any music festival with your baby, especially if it is the first time. Make an effort to pick the RIGHT one. Every music festival attracts a different kind of crowd, which depends a lot on the genre and location. Read this post to know what kind of music festivals we like.
A good music festival experience for you and your baby will be picking a festival that has much more than just the dancefloor. Many festivals feature a special area for children, a Yoga zone and an art corner.
Pick a genre that you enjoy and one that attracts people that are a little more relaxed. A heavy metal festival would be a bad idea but an indie rock festival would make a lot of sense with a baby. Similarly, jazz or reggae festivals will also work well if you’re taking your baby.
We always pick psychedelic music festivals which normally have a chill stage with soft music and another stage with dark PsyTrance. We’d never pick a festival like Tomorrowland, or Coachella – that’s not at all our scene.
Pick a festival that you have already been to and you’re confident about managing your baby at that particular location. In case you haven’t been there personally, try to find others who have taken their baby to that particular festival. Ask them for their location-specific tips.
Going with a Partner is Easier than Going Alone
A beautiful family that we met in a music festival with baby
I’m sorry to mention this to the single parents who are planning on going to the music festival without the baby’s other parent – it isn’t going to be so easy.
Get a friend (or your girl gang) to accompany you if you’re single. It takes a village to raise a baby, and you will surely need help when you take your baby to a music festival.
Baby Sleeping Arrangements in the Festival
The best part about music festivals is camping there for a few nights – which can also be the worst part for your baby if you don’t do it right. Sleeping (along with feeding) is something that you need to mindfully take care of so that your baby remains in a good mood and doesn’t make your life hell.
Based on the location and the weather forecast, think and plan your sleeping arrangements from before. Here are a few options:
Consider Renting a Van
Us three with van and our camping spot – traveling with a baby
San and I have our own camper van. We have traveled a lot on our van with our little one and she’s now comfortable sleeping in it.
I highly recommend you rent a van to make the festival experience more comfortable for yourself and your little one. (you can rent one for cheap). I saw a lot of people with rented vans at the music festivals that we went to. It is not expensive to rent vans and will be cheaper than buying all the extra camping gear for your baby.
Consider Getting a Camping Bed
Did you know you can get a Foldable camping bed for your baby? It folds up pretty small but opens up to a big and comfortable crib. It makes an amazing bed for your little one on the go! This bed is an excellent option for those who are thinking of sleeping in a tent with their baby. Just make sure your tent is large and high enough for this.
Karma also has a bed like this in her grandparents’ house in Frankfurt and she is very comfortable sleeping on it when we’re there. A few months back, we thought of borrowing it for the festival but did not end up because Karma is now very comfortable on the van.
Along with the camping bed, you will also need to get a mattress for it. If the festival location is cold, then you will surely need a thick and effective sleeping bag. No, blankets don’t work so well because babies kick them off.
Consider Getting A Room
“No way, I’m not renting a room in a festival and missing out on all the fun,” says my husband.
Do you think like that too? You have no choice but to change your mind if the weather isn’t suitable for camping with a small baby and you’re going there without a van. Get a room that’s very close to the festival location.
Of course, this is only recommended if it makes sense to rent a room considering the ease of getting to the festival from your room. If it involves too many changes – like walking, then a bus and then a shuttle – then it isn’t worth the hassle.
While writing this article, I asked my husband for his #1 tip for attending a music festival with a baby and he said to arrive early. Why? Well, it is a good idea to get your baby comfortable and used to the new festival environment before things start going crazy.
Moreover, arriving early will help you find a good camping spot that’s close to everything but far away from music. It will also help you figure your way around before the area gets crowded with many people.
Make Sure You Carry Headphones
Babies have sensitive ears and they should wear noise-canceling headphones in the music festival, especially if they’re close to the dancefloor.
It isn’t easy making your baby wear headphones if they have decided to hate them. It happened with Karma and she wore the headphones only in two instances after a lot of drama. Every baby is different, so don’t give up. Let your child play with the headphones before you put them on.
Prepare to Take Turns to Hit the Dance Floor
Yes, I get it – it is more fun to hit the dancefloor with your partner or better half. However, things change a little bit when there’s a baby in the picture. Someone has to be around the baby, even when he or she is sleeping. In this case, your choice would be to not go to the dancefloor after the baby sleeps, or take turns and enjoy the party. We did the latter.
We did take Karma to the dancefloor but only for a short time. For serious partying, San and I took turns to hit the dancefloor one by one. What worked really well with us was an arrangement where one night he would stay at the camping area with the baby and I’d go out to party, but on the next night, it was his turn. Even though Karma slept by 7 – 8 pm every night, at least one parent was always next to her inside or outside the van.
Sleep Schedule – to Follow or Not?
Rocking my baby to sleep in a music festival in Croatia
Most babies have a fixed sleep schedule. Should you follow that schedule when you head for a music festival? I will share my experience and will let you decide.
Karma has a fixed sleep schedule and she usually sticks to it even when we travel. It is just the first day of travel that gets messed up, but on the second day, she returns to her normal schedule on her own.
Before her first festival, I asked a few parents and one said I should just forget the schedule when I’m at a music festival with her and go with the flow. Yes, I did try that but it did not work for us.
Karma always takes two naps a day but she did not on the first day of the festival, which caused her to be irritable. On the second day, I made sure she was comfortable (in her pram or on the mat) and in a silent spot during her nap time. I rocked her a little and she slept very easily. Because of this, my next few days were super easy.
So yes, we did follow her sleep schedule at the festival. We did not follow it minute to minute but loosely. In all honesty, it was HER who followed her sleep schedule, not us.
Get Ready to Wake Up Early
Never have I ever woken up religiously at 7 am in any music festival as I did with I went with my baby. Our little one woke us up in both in Modem Festival and Wonderland Festival.
Babies normally wake up early, especially if they are in new surroundings with different morning sounds. Accept it with a smile and prepare yourself mentally to begin early.
Sleep Early or Don’t Get to Sleep at all
Our little baby in a music festival with us
This is more like an extension of the previous point. Well, as I mentioned before – your baby will most likely wake you up early every morning. If you’re like me and you love to sleep, then you will have to sacrifice the party night on some nights and sleep early so that you don’t hate your life when you’re woken up at 7 am.
Pick your party night and sleep early on other nights. You need to rest too! After all, it is a vacation for you too.
Managing Food and Breastfeeding in a music festival
If your baby is younger than 6 months, hasn’t started solids and is only on breastmilk, then managing food is going to be super easy. This is one of the cases where taking a 3-month-old baby to music festival may end up being easier than taking a 7-month-old. Direct breastfeeding is the easiest form of feeding to manage when traveling. You don’t need to carry a bottle or worry about cleaning it!
Managing food when your baby is on formula, drinking milk from bottle or solids is a little more work. You will need to carry the food, bowls, spoons, bottles, sippies and what not. You will also have to ensure everything is always clean and sterilized.
Most of the festivals have a place where you can buy fresh fruit, bread, milk, and cheese. Usually, 6+-month-old babies love bananas and 7+ months onward they love bread too. Even if your baby has just 1 or 2 teeth, they can eat and enjoy soft bread. Carry ready to eat or easy to make cereals that are specifically for babies. Buy the ones that you can just mix with hot water. TIP: Carry something that you know your baby loves to eat.
In our case, Karma was 8 months old and we carried her favorite ready-to-eat porridge for dinner from Germany, which we kept in the refrigerator in our van. The brand is Hipp, which is easily available in most European supermarkets and DM.
She drinks breast milk so I did not have to worry about the formula. Also, I bought bananas, fresh bread, and cheese for her almost every day at the festival.
Should you carry a sling or a carrier or a pram? Many people swear by slings but a pram works wonders for us. It all depends on what your baby is most comfortable in, and is used to.
I have met many parents who love carrying their babies in slings or backpacks or carriers because it keeps them close to the chest but my little one doesn’t like them. She doesn’t like staying in a carrier or sling for more than 30 minutes on a good day. On the other hand, she loves her pram and can also sleep in it.
Personally, I prefer the pram because it is so much easier to manage than a sling. Pushing is definitely easier than carrying. I can take my little one around in her pram as well as carry her stuff under the it so I have my hands free. The one I have has enough space for her stuff as well as MY stuff. Moreover, it also acts as a high chair for eating and a makeshift bed on the go.
I have a compact folding one from Cybex, that I can open with just one foot while holding my little one in my arms. Pretty cool, huh?
Not just in festivals but I have taken this partuclar ones on many flights. Because of its small size, I never have to check it in along with my luggage but literally take it to the flight entry door.
Baby Festival Essentials
Me with the Baby in a Music Festival
In my post about tips for traveling with a baby, I mention you should travel light and not carry too many diapers. After all, you get them in every supermarket. But things are very different when you’re at a music festival with your baby.
Carry more than enough diapers because that’s something you will not get in a music festival (unless there’s a supermarket nearby). Not just diapers but bring enough diaper gear – like wipes, disposable changing mats, dry tissues, and diaper cream.
Don’t forget weather protection such as sun cream that’s specifically for babies, sun hat, waterproof gear, thick jacket, gloves, socks, etc.
We have a lot of other festival gear for our baby too – like an Inflatable Bathtub, travel potty, bath thermometer and cute costumes. You probably don’t need most of these things. Neither do we, but it was fun to buy them and waste money. Yep, that’s what we do with our firstborns, don’t we?
Festival Bag Checklist – Keep a Day Bag Ready with ALL THIS
My best tip for enjoying a festival with your baby is always being ready to be on the move. Set up your handbag before the festival and just refill the basics every day and you’re ready to move without a delay. In our case, it was a small rucksack.
Pack all this in your day bag – at least 5 Diapers, 1 disposable changing mat, 1 pack of wet baby wipes, soft burping towels, solid ear protecting headphones, a change of clothing for your baby in case of mess-ups, a picnic mat, 1-2 toys, a small blanket, 1-2 snacks, baby food, spoon, water sippy, sun hat and sunglasses. Karma did not ever wear her hat or sunglasses, so I also carried a little umbrella for her.
My bag also included my basics like a swimsuit, sarong, jacket for me and my essentials. I always carry my camera too because I wanted to capture special moments of my baby’s first music festival. I did not end up using my camera on most days but it was good to use it twice.
In short, you should have enough to change the diaper at any point, to make your baby get comfortable to sleep whenever he or she wants and to feed the baby anywhere. Also, the idea is to carry just ONE bag that includes yours and your baby’s stuff.
Sounds like a lot of stuff? Well, don’t forget you have a pram. Put all this in the lower part of your pram and keep your hands free. Be creative and hang a few things on the pram, like the toys and umbrella.
Make Your Baby Meet Other Babies
Excited Babies meeting each other in a music festival
Music Festival with babies – Go Make new friends
Festival babies should meet each other and be friends, no? Well, when you see another tiny human with parents, go ahead and say hello.
Make your baby meet as many babies as possible and watch the fun. It is adorable to see how babies react to each other and are so curious. You never know, some of your baby’s lifelong friendships may begin here.
Moreover, you will also make new friends with similar parents who enjoy the same kind of things as you do – like music festivals. Do you know how difficult it is to find like-minded people and make friends with them when you’re older?
Spend Time in the Children’s Area
Toddlers and babies playing together in the Children’s Area in a music festival
Most of the music festivals have a children’s area. Find one and try to spend time there. The Children’s Area in a festival is an amazing space for your baby to play, meet other babies and to get creative.
Back in 2016, I fell in love with the Children’s Area at Boom Festival (in Portugal). It is called Young Dragons and I saw children playing with bubbles, colors, and blocks. They all had their own workshops and cinema there!
I remember thinking at that point that I will surely bring my child to music festivals with me. Little did I know that I’d be taking my own baby to music festivals with me.
My little Karma had a lot of fun in Modem festival’s Children’s Area. She met many other babies and got noisy with them. She also had her first little fight with another baby (aww). Sadly Wonderland Festival in Germany did not have a Children’s Area but we spent most of our time in the Chai Shop which was next to the Chill Out Floor.
ALWAYS Keep an Eye
Keeping an Eye on the Baby in a music festival
This point is very obvious but I do feel it is my duty to mention it to all my blog readers. Being a parent, you must be habitual of keeping an eye on your baby by now. Festivals are no different.
One parent or a close friend that you can trust should be with the baby at all times. Keep an eye and make sure your baby is well-fed, hydrated, is wearing sun protection if needed and is not cold or not hot.
If you’re sitting on the grass, be mindful of where the baby is crawling and what he or she is putting in the mouth. People consume all sorts of drugs at festivals and you don’t want your baby to find a baggy with intoxicants and start eating it.
Stay Sober [at least one of you]
A music festival is a place where some people may want to get intoxicated, but YOU will have to do things differently. I personally attended many music festivals in my life and I was usually sober.
By now you must have mentally accepted the fact that your life is fucked and you can no longer do what you want. Haha, kidding. I mean, you now have the responsibly of your child’s safety, so come to terms with the fact that your music festival experience will be a little less drunk as compared to the others.
I suggest at least one parent or friend stays sober – whoever is watching the baby. Of course, a beer or two should be all right. As long as you’re in your senses and are confident of being able to watch your baby.
Take it Easy and Enjoy. It is EASIER Than You Think
Yes, you’re at a music festival with your baby but you need to relax and have fun too. Taking care of your baby at a festival is easier than you think. There are plenty of distractions like interesting decoration, hula hoopers, jugglers and most commonly people dressed in interesting costumes that will keep your baby busy.
Get a picnic mat, lie down and let your baby crawl around. Keep an eye on your baby from distance and smile. Be happy, because you’re one of the very few parents who are showing the awesomeness of a music festival to their baby. Make the most of it.
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A few months back I shared my top tips for traveling while pregnant. This post is a follow up for those who want to continue traveling after their pregnancy and with their baby.
It has been 9 months since my little Karma has entered this world. In this short time, we have traveled extensively in and outside Germany. We have made quite a lot of international trips, crossed continents, visited mountains, beaches, national parks, busy cities and even took her to two music festivals.
I was earlier going to write a post with just a few important points and later create separate posts dedicated to tips for flying with a baby, campervan tips and more. Instead, I have written everything in just one post and create separate sections with sub-points for flying, camping, etc.
The below tips for traveling with a baby are segregated in multiple sections. The first section covers tips for flying with an infant for which I get the MOST amount of questions. The sections after that cover things like packing, planning, baby food, baby sleeping arrangements while traveling, road trips, camping and more.
Change Your Mindset
Change your mindset about traveling with your baby
The first and the most important thing about traveling with a baby is changing your mindset. Sounds like some wise-ass bullshit? It is more than that.
Someone wrote to me on Instagram yesterday saying that I make traveling with the baby appear easy. Well, it is as simple as you make it.. Or as complicated as you unintentionally make it.
If you think that it will be a lot of work and stress to travel with your baby even before you even try it, then it probably will be. It is simple – everything you do with a baby inside your house, you can also do outside.
You will be surprised to know that babies adapt much better than you can imagine. Maybe they will cry on their first day but they will accept the new surrounding well on their second day.
Tips for Flying with a baby
Flying with a baby can be a total nightmare, but there are things you can do to make it better. This below ten points will give you tips for flying with an infant, how you can make things better and have fun.
Avoid Layovers, Book Direct Flights
Direct flights cost a little extra but if you’re flying alone with your baby, I highly recommend you try your best to look for a direct one. Your peace of mind is worth every penny. This is especially if you’re flying alone with your baby.
In case you’re traveling with your husband or another person, then go ahead and brave an indirect flight.
Call the Airline and Ask for a bassinet. (and thank me later)
Bassinet for my little one on our flight from Germany to India
Call the airline in advance and ask for a seat with a bassinet. It will make your life very easy. Imagine spending the entire flight with the baby on your lap, versus a flight where the baby has her own place for sleeping and sitting.
The reason why I recommend you call in advance is because many airlines have limited bassinets. Karma had her own bassinet when we flew to and back from India. She spent a lot of time playing and sleeping in it. She wasn’t the only baby on the flight but she was one of the few that had a bassinet.
Bring the Pram to the Airport
Flying with a baby is more than just the actual flying – it is also about moving from point A to B in the airport. For me, the flight was easier than the first hour after landing when I had to go through immigration. Go for an easy to handle pram that collapses easily and folds super small. I have one from Cybex, that I can fold and open with just one hand or foot.
To make your life simple at the airport, fly with a pram (or a buggy). I did that too! I had to call my airline in advance and find their policy about traveling with a pram. I was able to use the pram until the time I boarded my flight.
Baby Carrier or Sling
Baby carrier is a must have while traveling
Baby carrier or sling will save your life when the baby refuses to go in the pram. Sometimes they need to be physically close to you, so wearing them on you will work well. There will be times when the pram will not be available to you and the sling will make things easier.
Even though I had carried Karma’s pram and used it till the time I boarded my flight in Frankfurt, I did not get it when I landed. I had to pick it up from the other checked-in bags. Thank God I had carried the carrier in my cabin bag, else, it wouldn’t have been possible for me to walk 2 – 3 kilometers inside the airport and go through the security and immigration with her on my lap as well as my cabin backpack.
I have a baby carrier from Chicco that can be used for small and big babies. I also bought a sling, but Karma rejected it completely. I know many other babies that prefer slings to carriers. You should try them both at a store, or order both from the internet and return what your baby doesn’t like.
Check-In Early (and also Board your Plane Early)
There is a reason why the airlines always request those who’re flying with a baby to check-in early. It is not just better for them but also better for you when you check-in and board before everyone else does.
It is always good when your baby adjusts to the seat and the plane before other people arrive. When you check-in early, you can always ask for a seat with an empty seat next to you. Reconfirm at this point about the bassinet, baby food or any other requests that you may have.
Protecting Baby’s Ear While Flying
Flying with baby – tips
There is so much wrong information on the internet that things can be misleading. Being concerned about Karma’s ears before I was flying to India alone with her, I checked the internet to find out how I can help her avoid ear pain.
Most of the websites mentioned I should breastfeed my baby during the takeoff and landing so that the sucking helps her ears. I wish it was that easy, but it is NOT ALLOWED to feed the baby during those times as per the safety rules.
Babies are supposed to be held up close to the chest with their head over your shoulder and your hand behind their backs during take off and landing – it is mandatory. Please follow this rule for your baby’s safety.
In my case, the only things that helped were pacifiers and water sippers. No, I took the safety instructions very seriously and did not breastfeed my girl during take-off and landing. (And it isn’t anatomically possible to do so when you’re supposed to hold the baby’s head over your shoulders.)
Karma has Chicco dummies pacifiers and water sipper. She doesn’t ever take dummies but thankfully took it when our flight took off. I’m happy that I sterilized them and carried them in my hand bag before boarding. During landing, she was close to my chest and was sipping water from her sippy.
Please note, that it appears that the airlines no longer allow breastfeeding during take off and landing. There were two incidents where a 4 month old and later an 11 month old died on a flight. It is highly advised by certain medical practitioners not to feed during take off and landing and not to use the bottle. Moreover, always make sure you burp your baby and even more so on a flight. Here are some more safety instructions while flying with a baby by medical experts.
Change your Baby’s Diaper Before the Flight
Just a few minutes before you have to board the plane, change your baby’s diaper. You will not be able to change the diaper during the takeoff, which sometimes can take 15-20 minutes.
Changing Diapers on the Plane
Ask your flight steward to tell you which toilets have diaper-changing tables. Most planes have small (and pretty useless) diaper tables in their already cramped toilets. There won’t be space for you to carry a diaper bag. (I have a detailed point later in this post about ditching diaper bags).
Carry the basics – diaper, disposable sheet, wipes in a small waist pouch so that you can easily manage the stuff in a small airline toilet. Carry a small toy or something that can keep your baby’s hands occupied during the process so that you can be quick. I normally let Karma play with my long necklace, she loves holding the colorful beads in her hands.
If the airplane doesn’t have a diaper table, then be prepared to change the diaper anywhere. Ask the airline staff for their best recommendation. When you absolutely have no choice, then you will have to change it on your tray table.
Breastfeeding on the Plane
Don’t be ashamed to breastfeed on an airplane. It is natural and your baby needs his or her meals. Breastfeeding on an airplane is more discreet because the person in front of you won’t be able to see you unless they turn. The person behind will only be able to see your back. The only people that will be able to see you are the flight stewards. Moreover, you will probably get the seats that are right in front because you’re traveling with a baby.
If you’re regularly breastfeeding your baby, then I highly recommend you invest in at least a couple of comfortable nursing tops and scarves. Wear it on the plane for discreet breastfeeding so that you’re comfortable.
I have said this before and will say this again, make sure you burp your baby after breastfeeding especially on an airplane to avoid the risk of SIDS.
Let Your Baby Charm the People Around You
When your baby is in a good mood, try your best to let him or her charm the people around you. After all, they may have to listen to her cry (or maybe that has already happened). Your baby’s smile will let you earn some brownie points, it will help you move faster in queues and people around you will suddenly become nicer. Your baby won’t be a small baby for more than 12 months, so use their charm well.
Pick Your Destination Mindfully
Me and the Baby in Bosnia
Pick places where you will feel relaxed. Sometimes big cities can stress you and also your baby. While natural sites like lakes, rivers, mountains, beaches can relax your mind. When you’re relaxed, even your baby will.
When I say pick your destination “mindfully”, I mean pick a place where you can imagine yourself having fun with your baby. There should be enough interesting things for your baby to see around. I don’t mean children dedicated places, but a place that’s not dull for your baby.
Be realistic and don’t expect to reach places that you have to visit at a fixed particular time. If you’re visiting a highly touristy attraction, then most likely the best time to avoid the crowds will be in the early morning. If your baby doesn’t let you leave at that time, then consider skipping that attraction entirely.
Choose Your Method of Traveling Wisely
As per my experience, the easiest way of traveling with a baby is on a train. Babies sleep well on trains because of the swaying motion. Unlike car [or bus], they don’t need to be confined to a seat.
Traveling with a baby in a car is easier than by air. Road trips are easy and fun because you can stop when you want to. The only thing that can get a little difficult on a road trip is the time when your baby gets sick of the seat.
Us with Karma in India – she got vaccinated before the trip
Keep your baby up to date with vaccinations. If you’re leaving for an international trip, check with your baby’s doctor about the necessary vaccinations. Traveling to another country with your baby without vaccination can be life threatening. Please be smart and don’t risk your baby’s life because of some anti vaccination bullshit that exists on the internet.
Ditch Big Diaper Bags
Typical diaper bags are big, bulky and useless. You don’t need them. All you need is a disposable waxy sheet on which your baby can lie down, baby wipes and a few diapers. I was able to fit these things in my small waist pouch!
Ditching the diaper bag may appear to be a counter-productive tip, but it will save time and make it easy for you to move around quickly. Just put the necessities in your own small handbag. Of course, it will work better if you carry a small bag for yourself (hehe).
Many people told me to carry extra baby clothes, extra diapers, and extra everything. That turned out to be the most useless tip for traveling with an infant. I did carry extra everything but realized how it slowed me down, even though my suitcase had wheels.
Maybe I overdid it but I did carry 20 onesies but used just half of them. The only things I wished I had carried enough were her bibs because she’s a messy eater.
The thing about carrying extra diapers is that it is possible to buy diapers everywhere. Carry enough for a few days but you can always buy more at your next destination.
To be on the safe side, check about the stores and supermarkets, closing days and times. For instance, if you’re traveling in Germany, the supermarkets aren’t open on Sundays so you can’t buy diapers.
But hey, I have visited a lot of countries with Karma and also a few remote locations, I found diapers everywhere. The only place where I didn’t find was inside a music festival, but I was fully prepared for this. Anyway, festivals are a different ball game and I will write a separate post about taking your baby to a music festival.
About Packing Toys
Carry 4-5 baby’s favorite toys that are small, but don’t overdo it. Carry something that your baby can chew on, a toy with music, a soft book that can keep her occupied for long (Karma has one from Fisher Price and Lamaze) and just something small that he or she likes to hold and play with.
Be smart and carry the toys that can be attached on to the car seat, pram, or the bed. It helps if you carry toys that can be washed easily. Be aware that battery-operated toys and extra batteries can sometimes not be checked in.
Be Prepared to Breastfeed Everywhere
Me Breastfeeding my baby in Amsterdam‘s Waterloo Metro Station
Believe it or not, I have breastfed Karma while hiking in the Himalayas, on a train station in Amsterdam, many restaurants all over Europe, and I’m sure more places that I can think of.
Regular breastfeeding is not just good for the baby, but is good for you too. It is the most natural thing and you should not be ashamed of feeding your baby anywhere. It helps if there’s a private spot available so that the baby doesn’t get distracted. Wear a nursing top, poncho or a long scarf to be discreet.
Be Prepared to Change Diapers Everywhere
You may not always find a diaper changing station, so be prepared to change anywhere. As mentioned in my “ditch the diaper bag” point, carry a disposable mat, a few diapers, and wet wipes.
A disposable mat doesn’t need to be disposed of after every single use. We only dispose of the mat when the baby pees or poops in it. This mat will help you set up your diaper changing spot anywhere – even on the ground. You can buy them in bulk. I bought around 100 but I haven’t even used half of them.
A golden rule of traveling with a baby is realizing that they have their own needs and you can’t travel at a crazy fast pace as before.
If you’re the kind of person who likes to visit 10 attractions in a day (even if they’re next to each other), then you will have to relax and take it slow because you have no other option. Pick one or two things to do in a day and do them with a lot of love.
There will be times when you think you’re done and ready to leave on time, the baby will poop or puke right before to make sure you’re late. Accept it with a smile because there’s nothing you can do about it.
Consider Renting a Car
Look for options to rent a car on your travel destination, it will make things very convenient for you. Ask for a car with a baby seat. This way, you will open more possibilities for yourself and will be able to travel at your own pace in your own (rented) car.
Car Travel with Baby OR Tips for Traveling with a baby on a Camper van
Our camping spot in Croatia
Travel Car Seat
Invest in a good and comfortable car seat for your baby. You will have to change it depending on their age. A seat for a newborn baby is different as compared to a 6-month-old. Sounds expensive? Look for a second hand one.
There are many things where you can save money, but your baby’s car seat should not be one of them. Safety and comfort are extremely important and are worth the money.
Prams are awesome and will save your life. Babies love to be pushed around in their prams as they gaze around. The best part is that they can also sleep easily in their prams as you take them around.
Get a pram that is foldable and compact so that you can keep it in the boot of your car or travel with it on a bus or airplane. Attach a few of your baby’s favorite toys on the pram, preferably something with music or lights.
Driving Through the Night – Yay or Nay?
Before we started traveling with Karma on our camper van, many people mentioned that we should drive through the night during her normal sleeping hours.
It sounded very easy but it did not work. We tried it many times. Each time she slept but woke up after a while because she wanted to change her position. I do know that she moves around on her bed a lot even though she sleeps through the night.
So, the tip about driving at night during the baby’s sleep time did not work for us. Also, when you drive through the night and reach your destination in the morning – you would at some point need to sleep – right? Considering the best situation that your baby actually sleeps while you drive, how will you sleep after reaching your destination if your baby is awake after sleeping through the drive?
Try to Reach your Camping Spot or Destination before 5 PM.
Try your best to reach your camping spot or hotel at least 2 hours before your baby’s bedtime. This way, you can settle her sleep environment, bathe the baby, get food for yourself, etc – before putting him to sleep.
I have intentionally used the word “try” instead of “do”. I understand that the most desired situation may not end up being the actual scenario. Heck, even though we knew that our life’s easier when we find a spot for our van before 5 pm but we did not end up doing it often.
Sleep is the most important aspect and when it’s nailed, everything falls into place. When your baby is well-rested, he or she won’t be fussy but instead will smile and make you happy.
Try to build a fixed sleep schedule for your baby before you travel. The schedule should have at least two naps during the day and the exact same bedtime each night. If you work hard enough to fix a sleep schedule from day 1, then getting them to sleep while traveling will be much easier.
Build Sleep Association Before the Trip and Bring The Items Along
It helps if you try to build your baby’s sleep association with a few items. This can be a “sleep toy”, a sleeping bag, blanket or even white noise. Carry them all, it will help your baby sleep faster.
Sleeping Spot and Sleep Environment
Create a comfortable sleeping spot and environment before their sleeping time. If you do so, then they may fall asleep on their own when their sleep time approaches. Even not, help them a little by rocking them.
A comfortable sleeping spot doesn’t necessarily have to be a bed, but their pram or car seat or even a picnic mat on the ground can work well.
Ask Your Hotel for a Baby Bed
Even though we did not stay in luxury hotels, our request for a baby bed was always fulfilled. We booked an apartment in Croatia and a homestay in Bosnia through Booking dot com, and to our surprise, they put a baby bed in our room as per our request. It made things very easy for us.
…or carry a camping Baby Bed
Yes, I did tell you to travel light but this point can work if you’re traveling in a car or a van. Nowadays there are plenty of awesome camping beds on the market that can be folded up small. They are very good to use as travel baby beds.
No, we did not feel the need to carry one because our van has two beds. Karma sleeps on the top bed.
Do Everything You Can to Help them Sleep
I’m all in for teaching your baby to fall asleep on their own, but things are a little different when your traveling. You see, you’re taking the baby out of their usual sleeping spot and imitating it somewhere else. Your baby may need some time to adjust. During this time, don’t hesitate to help them by rocking, feeding or holding them.
Rocking my baby to sleep in a music festival in Croatia
Normally my little one sleeps on her own on her bed in Germany and doesn’t need a lot of help from me. While traveling, she slept on her own only when we were moving in a car or train or so. At other times, even if I was outside I made sure I held her and rocked her a little during her nap timings. The first day (or even more) weren’t easy but later she slept during her earlier timings.
When your baby’s stomach is full, he or she will sleep better and deeper. Check the next point for food tips on the go.
Baby Food, Snacks and Fluids
If Your Baby is Smaller than 6 Months
If your baby is less than 6 months and is only drinking from the breast, then your life is going to be super easy. If your baby drinks from the bottle, then there is going to be more work for you as you have to sterilize the bottles, prepare the milk and give it to the baby at the right temperature.
If Your Baby is on Solids
Feeding Karma her mixed veg puree in Slovenia
If your baby has started solids, then try to carry premade puree bottles or easy to prepare porridges. I carry both – normally I just have to add water and milk to her porridge mix. Always carry snacks that your baby loves, like bananas or baby cookies. You don’t have to carry a lot, just carry enough for the way and the next few days. Most likely you can usually buy these things at your travel destination.
I normally buy Hipp’s food for my little one. She loves the Good Night porridge, Multigrain cereal, and Mixed Veg soup. They’re organic and the quality is excellent.
Moving over to snacks, usually bananas will solve every problem. Carry a few and also buy them fresh at your destination. I also carry Bebivita Baby cookies that Karma loves.
Keep Your Baby Hydrated
When it comes to fluids, please remember it is very important to keep your baby hydrated while traveling, especially when they start eating solids. Before solids, the breast milk takes care of everything and babies normally don’t need water.
Carry a water sipper that your baby is comfortable using. Wash it regularly and keep changing the water. Give the sipper to your baby often.
Pack some Snacks for Yourself
Make sure you PACK A SNACK FOR YOURSELF too. Traveling with a little one requires you to be at your most energetic self, so don’t let yourself stay hungry for long.
The More, the Merrier
San’s friend with our baby
Those who know me well will be shocked to see I’m saying this. The thing is, I love traveling solo or just with San. I hate to travel in a group. However, when you travel with a baby, things are so much easier when there are more people.
Consider asking 1 – 2 or your close friends to accompany you if they’re free. When there are more people around to play with your baby or to carry him or her for a while, you will finally be able to relax and enjoy a few minutes of peace.
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Congratulations! Pregnancy is an amazing time and you should definitely make the most of it before your little bundle of joy arrives in this world.
Well, just because you’re pregnant, doesn’t mean you can’t travel. I traveled a lot during my pregnancy and visited 7 different countries. I also traveled a few times within the country of my current residence – Germany. Oh, and I went to a music festival too!
I’m not trying to brag here, but just letting you know that you can do this too. If you love to travel, then your pregnancy shouldn’t hold you back from it. Instead, you should do exactly what YOU want to do if your health permits – with just a few restrictions for the sake of your health. You may just have to change a few things about the way you travel.
Considering how much I traveled during my pregnancy, I have many tips for you if you’re traveling when pregnant.
Check with your Doctor
Every pregnancy is different. In some rare cases, the doctors may ask you to be on complete bed rest. If this is the case, then please listen to him and do exactly as he says.
If your doctor has given you a green light for traveling, then read the rest of this post for my top tips to travel during pregnancy.
When to Travel in Pregnancy
The first trimester isn’t too bad for traveling but can be hard because of morning sickness. By the time you finish the third month, your morning sickness will most likely be over.
The second trimester of the pregnancy is generally the easiest and hence the best time to travel. During the fourth, fifth and the sixth months, you will have a lot of energy. This is the time when I did most of my traveling.
The last three months are generally not considered to be the best months to travel because you will get tired easily. Because of more weight on your stomach, your posture will change and you may suffer from back pain. This is the time when your doctor may ask you to just stay at home.
Pack Light. And Ditch Your Backpack
If there’s just one thing that my doctor told me I shouldn’t do during pregnancy, it was lifting heavy things. This would be the right time to ditch your backpack and carry a suitcase instead.
I always traveled very light and often repeated my outfits. My stuff was light, because of which I ended up never carrying a suitcase. I carried a backpack, but it was difficult to carry it when I went to the Czech Republic. This was during the seventh month of my pregnancy and regretted it. It was a press trip and I was so embarrassed when the rep from Czech Tourism always carried my bag for me.
Travel slow in your pregnancy
If you have always been a fact paced traveler, then your pregnancy is the best time to slow down. Don’t pack your itinerary too much and don’t even try to visit every landmark. Sometimes it is more fun to do just one thing in a day and do it really well.
Carry healthy snacks and water
Sometimes there can be delays when you travel and you may get stuck somewhere without lunch. Carry a few healthy snacks in your bag like nuts, granola bars, fruits, muesli, etc.
Skipping meals is one of the worst things you can do when you’re pregnant. If your stomach is empty for a long time during the first trimester, you will feel nauseated. In the next two trimesters, a late meal will make you feel very weak.
Morning Sickness? Ginger tea helps
Morning sickness doesn’t just occur in the mornings but can stay till late evenings. It is one of the reasons why many women don’t travel in their early pregnancy months.
Everyone has a different way of dealing with morning sickness. My doctor mentioned ginger tea and it actually helped. Another thing that helped me was the awesome smell of citrus oils.
Take a REAL BREAK with your partner
I was 4 to 5 months pregnant when San and I went to Serbia
Let’s face it, taking care of small babies is HARD WORK and is far from a break. Your pregnancy is the best time for you (and your partner) to take a real break together before the baby enters your lives.
Go ahead and enjoy each other’s company, relax a little, think about baby names that you both like and just spend a lot of time hugging. This way, you can try to prepare yourself for that big change in your lives.
No Heavy Dinners, especially during the third trimester
During the last months, your baby will grow in size and your womb will take up most of the area in the middle part of your body. Many of your organs will move away to make space for the growing fetus. Because of this, you may suffer from gas reflux. It can get worse if you eat a heavy meal or eat too late in the day.
As for me, I was only able to eat salads for dinner during the last three months. Everything else kind of made me want to vomit at night. There were actually times when I woke up in the middle of the night just to puke because the dinner wasn’t exactly light.
Air travel in Pregnancy
Air travel during pregnancy – Tips for traveling when pregnant
There are a lot of things people told me about traveling on an airplane when pregnant. The most common thing I heard was that the cabin pressure isn’t good for pregnant women. I asked three different doctors and 2 midwives, they all said that’s not true at all.
Most of the airlines will ask for a letter from your doctor if flying when pregnant over 6 months. This is just the standard protocol that they follow. You should anyway visit your doctor before every single trip for a regular check up and confirm if you’re good to go. In most cases, your doctor will say it’s no problem except during the last few weeks. You should anyway not travel after week 36. Many babies arrive early and you don’t want to deliver yours on an airplane without any doctor – do you?
International travel while pregnant
International Travel shouldn’t be a concern when you’re pregnant, except if you’re heading to a country where any disease is prevalent for which you’re not vaccinated. In most of the cases, it would be the yellow fever countries in Africa and South America.
Wear Comfortable Shoes and Clothes
I was 3 months pregnant when I traveled to Romania
Pamper yourself and give comfort the top priority when you’re packing your outfits. Soft leggings or tights work very well with long tank tops or tunics. Sundresses and maxi-dresses look great in summers and are usually very comfortable.
Guess what, most of the maternity dresses ALSO convert into nursing dresses so that they can be worn not just during you’re pregnancy, but also when you have to breastfeed your little one. Invest in at least one or two good maternity tunics / dresses.
No matter what I wore, I always made sure my feet were super comfortable. I loved wearing my Crocs arc support wedges, which are pretty decent looking unlike the (in)famous Crocs clogs.
Don’t forget to carry your supplements
During pregnancy, your doctor will ask you to take daily supplements of folic acid and/or iron and magnesium. These supplements are important for your baby’s development and your health. Make sure you carry them and a few extra doses when you’re traveling during pregnancy.
Stay away from negativity
Tips for traveling when pregnant – everything you need to know
Many well-wishing relatives or friends may try to discourage you from traveling. They mean well because they’re usually worried for you. Let them know that your doctor says it is ok. You don’t have to share your travel plans with those who unnecessarily stress you out. Stay away from energy sucking people who give you negative vibes.
The Magic of Coconut Oil
Stretch marks can be avoided to some extent. Everyone told me that no matter how much they used things like Shea Butter, they still got stretch marks. People also mentioned that it depends on the genes. My mom has them and so does my sister, but I didn’t get them at all.
My aim was to prevent stretch-marks as much as possible and I ended up preventing them completely. I used coconut oil on my skin every single day from the second trimester onward. It wasn’t even fancy or expensive coconut oil, it was just the simple one that can also be used for cooking. Apart from this, I also ate nutritious food instead of just fatty and sugary things.
Take care of your body when you’re pregnant. When you’re traveling while pregnant, make sure you carry coconut oil.
ALWAYS carry your Mutterpass [or a copy of pregnancy documents]
Carry your Mutterpass – Pregnancy Documents – Tips for traveling when pregnant
Living in Germany, I was given a small handbook that’s called Mutterpass (mother’s pass). I was asked to carry it everywhere so that it can be used in case of emergencies.
Depending on your country, you will also be given a document with important information about your pregnancy. Make sure you carry this with you all the time.
What to expect when you’re expecting – the Book
At the start of my pregnancy, my sister gifted me the pregnancy bible – What to Expect When You’re Expecting. Because of her, I finally read a book the old fashioned way instead of a digital print.
This book had an answer to every single question that I had about being pregnant. The book is divided into different trimesters and is further divided into weeks. There is information about the weekly growth of the baby and the changes in the body.
I always traveled with this book and I recommend it to you as well.
Tips for traveling when pregnant
Tips for Traveling during pregnancy
Always check with your doctor before you travel when you’re pregnant. Take things easy and relax while traveling and let it be a real “vacation”.
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Ever since I was in school I wanted to move to another country to see what it would be like. Back in college, I got through a few universities in the UK for my Master’s degree and even paid a part of the tuition fee for one of them. A month before I was supposed to move, I developed cold feet and changed my mind.
No, I never regretted my decision but I knew I wasn’t ready then. Perhaps I should have jumped right in? I’ll never know. But hey, it took me ten years after that to finally move out of India – my home country.
It can be career, education or just seeking a change that makes some of us move to another country. Not everyone wants to do it and not many who want to do it can actually end up doing it. The process is not easy! But hey, the part where you actually move is the most difficult part, but after that is a rollercoaster ride.
Moving to another country is surely exhilarating but can be terrifying in equal measure. No matter how prepared you think you are certain things are still going to take you by surprise. And that’s good, because this way it never gets boring.
One thing is more certain than the sunrise, no matter how old you are, 18 or 48, your dear-old mommy is going to worry! It happens with me, it happens with my friends and I’m sure it happens with you too. Well, if you’re just about to move to a new country and are smiling to yourself, go tell your mom not to worry because things are going to be ok.
Even if you’ve visited your intended new home countless times already there is a big difference between being a repeated visiter and a resident. I visited Germany a few times but never knew I was going to get surprised and shocked so often after moving here. From my experience there are a few things that every new expat or an immigrant will have to get used to at some stage in their new life.
I use the terms “expat” and “immigrant” interchangeably and I encourage you to do so too. There is a tendency of using the word expat for people from first world countries who move to a third world country and immigrant for the other way around. There’s an interesting discussion on Reddit about Expats vs Immigrant.
Anyway, here’s what happens when you move to a another country:
Love it or hate it – you will have to do a lot of Paperwork
Paperwork doesn’t seem to end when you move to another country [CC0] via Pixabay
If you enjoy paperwork and filling endless form, then you’re not like most of the people on the planet. For the rest of us, this aspect of moving to a new country is going to totally suck.
Changing your residence to a new country involves crazy amount of paperwork. You will have to register yourself and obtain some sort of ID and address proof. Without that, you will not be able to open a bank account or be able to sign a rent agreement. Whether you have a job or not, you will also need to get some sort of tax ID for yourself. In most of the countries, you will also need to sign up for a mandatory health insurance.
Now many of you will say that this point is #1 on this list because I moved to Germany, the country of abundant paperwork at every opportunity. Well guess what, before I moved here, San had moved to India for a while and the paperwork that he had to do in my country was also insane.
You’re going to get homesick (of course)
Skype will be your best friend when you move to a new country [CC0] via Pixabay
Homesickness is not what is once was. Thanks to the proliferation of cheap internet and the omnipresence of smartphones being in touch with friends and family from back home is no longer the problem it was even five years ago. Let alone in the dark days before the internet! Argh, remember them? No, of course you don’t you’re far too young.
Through WhatsApp and FB Messenger groups you’re still going to hear all the gossip going on. Have a burning desire to see your best friend’s disgustingly silly yet endearing smile? Then Skype or Facetime will be your best buddies!
This constant interconnectedness will however mean that you will quickly discover that life goes on without you. Your friends will still go out drinking without you (of course). They will still meet up for that post-session brunch the following day. They will still go dancing until dawn at that secret music festival you introduced them to. And what’s worse you are going to get real time updates, photos and videos of all of it. All of it! Ugh.
You will miss your family like crazy on festivals and special occasions. It will be a strange feeling knowing you’re not there when any of your close family members are cutting their birthday cakes.
You are going to get homesick like never before. I guarantee it.
You’re going to have to get used to being the ‘other’
Sometimes you will be the odd one out [cc0] via Pixabay
My good friend says she had always considered herself fairly tactful, that was until she spent some time in Japan. Suddenly she was a blundering fool banging around and constantly putting her foot in things – including her mouth. I often feel the same way too in Germany. Even small things matter – such as being the most colorfully attired in a church event where everyone’s wearing black. Before you ask, no it wasn’t a funeral.
No matter what country you move to you are going to have to get used to feeling a little bit different about yourself. Whatever ‘type’ of person you were at home isn’t necessarily how the inhabitants of your new country are going to view you. From now on, you’re going to be the ‘other’.
For instance, being opinionated and outspoken might be seen as strength in one country where in another it might the height of bad manners.
Now, this doesn’t mean you have to go about changing yourself completely just to fit in but it will take a period of adjustment before you know the lay of the land. It can also be a great opportunity for you to reinvent yourself!
You will probably need to learn a new language
Learning a new language can be fun [cc0] via Pixabay
Learning a new language can be fun because it will help you understand the culture of your new country of residence in a better way. Moreover, it will give you a chance to connect with the locals in a far more deeper way than before.
There are some countries like Germany where the new residents are required by law to learn the basic language for their residence permit. However, you can luckily avoid this step if you’re moving country where English is widely spoken. You may not need to learn a new language at all, but it will surely help you if you can speak a few basic sentences. The time when San was living in India, he did not necessarily need to know Hindi, but speaking a few Hindi words got always him extra brownie points.
Your habits will change
So you’ve always been a night-owl have you? Moving to Lusaka are you? Well, prepare to be in bed by 9pm every night my friend.
Moving to a new country and immersing yourself in a new culture means different things for different people but for almost everyone it is going to mean some of your habits are going to change. Whether you want them to or not!
Some countries start their day early and go to bed early, sometimes really early. Others don’t eat their dinner until the stars are in the night sky. You can try and fight against it but you’re not going to win. My advice is lean into. Your assimilation into your new life is going to go a lot smoother if you go with the flow.
If you do find yourself struggling to get enough shuteye in your newly adopted homeland then visit the sleepadvisor site for handy hints and helpful tips on rediscovering your sleep mojo.
Your mind will open up like never before
Literally every single day I see a post on Instagram about someone confessing how “travel changed their life and made them a better person”. Well, moving to a new country does the same and usually on a deeper level.
This happens because your mind absorbs the new culture, etiquettes, social norms, language, food and so much more. There will be days when you will hate how different your new country of residence is as compared to your home country. But again, there will be days when the exact same thing will make you smile.
Moving to a new country is a non stop learning process where our minds have no choice but to evolve and open up further to changes and a world of more possibilities.
You’re going to have weird cravings
Momos (Dumplings or dimsums) – miss my favorite food back home in Delhi [cc0] via Pixabay
Moving to another country doesn’t mean you are leaving behind all the things you love, rather it’s an opportunity to fall in love with a whole host of new things. By things I am mainly referring to food and drink here. After all what’s more important than food and drink?
The less you live somewhere new, the less you will desire things from home. For most of the year being without your beloved blue roti or samosa is going to be a little bit of a pain. Yes, there is a picture of dumplings here (or Momos as we call it) because that was my favorite street food while I was living in Delhi.
Where this all becomes even more extreme is during special occasions – for me it is Diwali or Holi but for many others it would be Christmas, Eid or Halloween. For instance, an Irish person not having a pint Guinness on Paddy’s Day is akin to a crime against humanity!
Some foods and drinks are so associated with certain occasions that going without them on that day is almost unbearable and you might find yourself going to unreasonable lengths and paying reasonable prices to get hold of them.
You will need new friends
For some the thought of making new friends is very exciting and for others it can be frightening. If you’ve moved cities a lot during school (I did too), then this will not be difficult. But hey, the process can be a tad frustrating. Why? Because it is easier to make friend when you’re in a school or when you’re traveling.
Depending upon where you have moved, it can take a while to find people who you’d love to be friends with. My suggestion is to join a course or a club – it can be a fitness course, a language course, a book club, a library, or even a swimming pool membership. Talk to people and introduce yourself and who knows – maybe you’ll start an awesome new friendship.
Comment below and let us laugh or cry at your experiences. Share this post with your friend or family member who has just moved to a new country to make them smile.
Namaste, Guten Tag!
I'm Sonal from India, living in Germany and exploring Europe. I've been writing about my travel adventures since 2015. I often travel alone (and sometimes with my husband & our toddler).
I love nature, adventure, hiking to viewpoints, Yoga, and road trips. I love creating itineraries and in-depth travel guides which will help you make the most of your trip.