My husband absolutely loves driving and when one of the friends proposed that we take up a self-driven road trip to Puri from Kolkata, he grabbed the opportunity like none other. Though I had my reservations about travelling around 500 km by road with a toddler, the adventure seeker in me gave in to the temptation. Before I knew it, we were on our way to Puri, with AJ driving and with two toddlers in the car. Well, this trip happened when Nik was 2 years of age, and the other toddler wasn’t Lucky. It was AJ’s cousin’s daughter, as they too were accompanying us for the trip.
Both AJ and I, we like to start early when we know we have a long journey ahead. The city traffic is minimal and it helps you scuttle out to the highway in least possible time. So here we were, all set to drive our way to Puri.
Challenges On The Way
- We picked up snacks on our way out of the city. It wasted us almost 45 crucial morning driving minutes. In retrospect know I feel we should have made our snacking arrangements the night before.
- I had not experienced travel sickness for a long time in my life. This made me ignore the fact that toddlers might be privy to it. In my ignorance, the kids were not administered any medicine against reflux. We paid the price later.
- A good long stretch of around 100 km on the highway was under construction. This slowed down our journey and left us on the road for 2 extra hours than anticipated.
- Ajay was a lone driver of the four adults in the car. I was more than willing to drive. But the toddler wouldn’t allow me to do so. AJ dismissed the idea saying that he couldn’t handle the stress of looking over me while I drive and keeping the toddler in check.
- We had made our hotel booking through GoIbibo, but when we reached Puri after a hectic drive of 10 hours, we found out that our hotel was inaccessible due to PWD works going on. Thanks to a friend who works with GoIbibo and the good customer grievance handling, that we were allocated a different hotel. But our hopes of staying in a hotel by the sea were shattered.
Two Days In Puri
As was my temperament, I wanted to start early and make the best of two days that we had in the holy city. But I was in for some disappointment. I had overlooked the fact that my toddler was still young to accommodate to the routine changes that a holiday called for.
We made a late start to the day for the kids decided to not have breakfast. Thereafter, we went to the Jagannath Temple. Thankfully we went in off season and it wasn’t too crowded. Still we decided to spend time in the temple premise at leisure and spent all of our time before lunch at the temple.
Post lunch at a local dhaba, we realized that the kids needed to have their afternoon nap and thus returned to the hotel. This was a cardinal mistake. We should have instead taken the kids for a long drive, where they could nap on the way and we could do some site seeing. I realized this only the next day. So yes, the second half of our first day was literally spent in the confines of our hotel room.
We spent the evening at the Puri beach. It was getting dark already, yet we didn’t want to do nothing for the late evening. Thus, ended up spending time at the beach, where kids played with sand and enjoyed the rides. We the parents enjoyed some street food and the music of rather excited sea waves.
Day 2 was better planned with an early morning visit to the beach and an extended breakfast at the hotel. We went back to the Jagannath Temple as it was going to be an eclipse that night and the temple was open for free darshan from the innermost chamber.
We then left for Konark and spent the cloudy afternoon in the premises of the Sun Temple. Places like these, often mesmerize me as they make one believe that civilization indeed existed thousands of years back too.
On our way back, we stopped at the Chandrabhaga beach and enjoyed a boat ride. This was Nik’s first experience with a boat ride and did he enjoy it? Absolutely!
Today we switched from our hotel to a different resort to join some more friends. This resort had a swimming pool and a kids’ play garden. The children were completely elated while they enjoyed with their fathers. I instead chose to occupy a place near the pool and drowned myself in a book.
Next morning, we rushed to the private beach of the resort, where the men enjoyed a relaxing massage and rest of spent our time making sand castles.
The return journey was almost similar to the onward journey. This time we took care that the kids avoided too much liquid.
Some Tips From My First Self-Driven Road Trip with Toddlers
- It is always better to have two drivers. AJ couldn’t lift anything for two days after he returned home.
- Stock the snacks for your journey both ways. Buy stuff at your destination, as an when needed. Often one tends to forget the stocking up while returning. It is crucial if you are travelling with kids.
- Do not fret over your kids having less food. Fill them up with milk and some biscuits in the morning and keep fruits handy. We bought grapes and bananas where ever we could.
- Keep yourself and the kids hydrated. This is of utmost importance as liquids will keep you energized, even if you do not eat for long stints. Also you minimize the risk of dehydration.
This post is a part of my Travel Diaries Series. My other posts in the series you might be interested in –