From Blogging To Vlogging: Shifa & Salman On Travelling With Kids

Sharing tips on curating a mindful itinerary when travelling with kids, the couple said factors like flight duration, accommodation, and sleep schedule are essential for a child-friendly getaway
Shifa and Salman with their son Ayaan
Shifa and Salman with their son AyaanShifa Merchant

When I met travel vlogger Shifa Merchant in Mumbai, I told her how Prajakta Koli, aka 'MostlySane', introduced me to blogging with her quirky videos in 2015. We delved into the momentous transition of YouTubers into Content Creators and the need to churn out "content," as opposed to a decade ago, when Shifa took a "leap of faith" with her husband, Salman Merchant, to start blogging.

"I was a marketing professional in Bollywood while my husband worked in animation, but we chose to quit our handsomely paying jobs to pursue our passion for travel. Starting content creation from when it wasn't monetised in our country to going through the pandemic where everyone's income came to a standstill and still navigating the choppy waters, we have come a long way."

The Merchants come from the "blogging era," when they had to pen experiential pieces and post catchy pictures on their websites. Back then, the term influencer wasn't even coined. Even with minimal social media presence, their content drew substantial followers. Gradually, they dived into YouTube videos, and regardless of the ebbs and flows of life, they stayed true to their passion for seeing new places and seeking experiences beyond the usual. 

For them, it's not about the consistent income flow but the audience's admiration for their content, which now centres around their 4-year-old son Ayaan, their travel companion since he was nine months old. The couple shared that a meticulously planned travel itinerary is all one needs to make kids comfortable. Here are some tips to keep in mind when travelling with a toddler:

The trio pose for a photo in Abu Dhabi
The trio pose for a photo in Abu DhabiShifa Merchant

Travelling With Kids

For the Merchants, it's been a "huge blessing" to be accompanied by their little one who shares the same excitement and happiness. The perks involve skipping the long airport and airline queues (sometimes serpentine). They, however, underlined that travelling with toddlers is not all hunky dory given their tender age, so parents have to get them accustomed to it early on.

"It's no joke travelling constantly with a baby or a toddler, but if you start them young, they will reciprocate the love of exploring the world and making new friends." An essential takeaway for the couple has been to let their son see the world through his lens and learn the ways of life.

Planning The Itinerary

Shifa and Salman with their son Ayaan
Shifa and Salman with their son AyaanShifa Merchant

Travelling with a child comes with its set of dos and don'ts. For the couple it was no different, as they had to ensure that the back-and-forth of the journeys didn't make Ayaan uncomfortable. Therefore, it starts with curating a mindful travel itinerary that factors in essential elements such as flight duration, accommodation, and food while planning a getaway with a kid.

"Research is the key for us. As parents to a 4-year-old boy, we always plan our itineraries around activities we can do collaboratively. These activities are age-appropriate, keeping Ayaan's sleep cycle in mind. Moreover, we prefer slow travel instead of forcing too many things on one day." They suggest that taking it slow and opting for extended vacations help the kid absorb a new culture and see a place closely, contrary to only photo ops for social media.

Ayaan at Yas Island, Abu Dhabi
Ayaan at Yas Island, Abu DhabiShifa Merchant

Do's & Don'ts

Opting for the right destination is imperative to planning an itinerary involving a kid, said the couple. "Parents must ensure that they don't choose a place that requires a longer flight or multiple halts as this can get very exhausting for babies or kids who are new to travelling." 

Give kids enough time to acclimatise to a new country/destination, pack the right clothes, and choose weather-friendly meals. "We also ensure that we book front-row seats on airplanes so that bassinets can be used to put them down to sleep."

The couple shared that it's vital to ensure that a child is well rested as sleep disruption may hamper the travel plans. "If a child does not sleep on a long flight, then the next 2-3 days of exploring a new destination can be challenging."

Shifa with son Ayaan
Shifa with son AyaanShifa Merchant

Keep It Simple & Organised

Little Ayaan loves to travel so much that it's his parent's ultimate antidote to calm him down every time he frets over little things. "Travelling with Ayaan brings only  joy to our hearts and lets us see the world with his pure, perky and kind-hearted vision."

When asked if the constant journeys hamper Ayaan's education with the likelihood of missing classes, the Merchants said there have hardly been days when his education was compromised. "We ensure that the itineraries don't clash with his school schedule. Despite being in play school, our son has hardly missed school as we get many long weekends and back-to-back holidays to plan all our travels with him."

For more such tips, follow the Merchants on sassyshifsays !

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