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  • Category: Miscellaneous

    Travelling with toddlers- ordeals of night bus travel.

    Those with infants and very small children below the age of three would do well to not travel long distances by buses. A friend of mine narrated a horrible experience of a mutual friend recently. With a nineteen months old child, this friend had chosen a night bus to travel. The child was not able to bear the rather severe cold. It had rained on the way and the bus was jam-packed. Furthermore, the Government bus, on the way to Madurai from Vellore, broke down. The place was pitch dark and the conductor was not able to send the passengers by another bus on the route. The alternate bus took a full 45 minutes to arrive. The next day, the child had to be admitted in a hospital for infection and high fever.

    Don't you feel an alternate mode of transport would have been better? What other points do you think should be taken care of while travelling with a toddler?

  • #651595
    When there is no way out, and if the journey is essential, we cannot avoid bus travel during the night. Unlike the olden days when there used to be no bus operating between 10 p.m and 5.00 a.m, these days are better with round the clock bus services between most of the cities and towns. Moreover, the long distance buses are well maintained, and the breakdowns are very rare.

    It is unfortunate that your friend boarded a bus during a chill night and unexpected rain. 19 months baby is not an infant, but can tolerate cold with protective clothes.

    @ I don't agree with your suggestion.

    No life without Sun

  • #651598
    In context to the alternate mode of transport, this solely depends upon the financially sound circumstances of any of us. Instead of the State run buses we could go for the VOLVO buses the services of which are easily available 24*7 & for any locations on PAN India basis. In addition, a better planning could be used in advance so as to avoid any unnecessary troubles as in the current scenario this lead to health related issue with the nineteen Months old child. In another alternative a vehicle can be hired for the time being in order to keep-up with the time table or with our schedule.

  • #651607
    I travelled from Vijayawada to Hindupur with my wife and my elder son who was 6 months old at that time by bus in 1987. I was working in Hindupur those days and our native place is East Godavari Dt. of Andhra Pradesh. Those days there were no direct trains. So we have to travel by bus only. It was taking 18 hours from Vijayawada to Hindupur. The bus started at 4 PM and reached Hindupur at about 10 AM the next day. The whole night my wife was keeping my son in her lap and both of us didn't have a sleep. But there was no other way those days. The next time we travelled by a car from Hindupur to our native place and back when he was 9 months old. It is difficult travelling by bus with such a small child but when there is no option we can't avoid. Those days the buses were also not very comfortable. There were no Volvo or sleeper buses. These days bus journeys are also comfortable if we select a good AC sleeper bus for a night journey.
    always confident

  • #651610
    This thread is basically meant for rich and upper-middle-class-people who can afford to think about an alternative mode of travel. Thousands of poor people travel in long routes by ordinary long-distance buses with very small kids because they can't afford alternative and costlier modes of transport.
    Beware! I question everything and everybody.

  • #651612
    I agree with #651610 / Partha K. This completely depends upon the type of resources that one is having & for the BPL sections they can't go for the other options but to use the state run busses. or with the whatever cheapest available.

  • #651625
    With so many people travelling by bus during the night with toddlers and even infants, I don't think it would be fair to arrive at a conclusion that one should not do so just because a mutual friend of yours had a bad experience. I am amused by the way the author has generalized an isolated (almost) incident. As has been said in some of the responses above, there are many people who cannot afford to travel by private services and again factors like urgency etc need to be considered. Infants, toddlers and even kids might not be comfortable during such journeys but what else can be done when there is no choice left. However, I agree that it would be better to avoid such journeys if possible otherwise.
    'Any fool can know. The point is to understand."- Albert Einstein

  • #651626
    For long distance travelling its advisable not to board state travel buses as these are not well maintained instead board VOLVO. These are well maintained, one can easily sleep as these have very comfortable seats unlike state roadways buses.

    More over its advisable not to do long journey when you have a toddler with you. I always used to travel by my own car when my kids were small as for it was very troublesome to travel by bus specially during summer. If someone cannot avoid travelling then train I feel is the best option than bus. One should always board train for long journey.


    " It is better to be hated for what you are than to be loved for what you are not" ... Andre Gide

  • #651637
    Saji Sir there was an option of taking a 5AM bus. But the friend refused and travelled by night bus. In my opinion a journey of six hours should have happened only during daytime. We are looking for options in any situation. The fact remains that night travel with such small children are not advisable. People may have different opinions. That is fine.

  • #651638
    It is true that traveling with kids is very difficult. I caught up in similar situation during 1977. As ano urgent situation emerged I went to Tiruchi from madurai by bus with my aunt and her one year old baby. This was so happened as we could not get any train at that time. Till the bus crossed the outer city it went well but after that heavy rain caught. When the bus reached a village after one and half hour the road found blocked as many trees fell on the road. They stopped the bus amidst. The child started crying for milk. I tried to go out but could not because of heavy rain. After a brake of half an hour I bought milk from the nearby teashop with the help of copassenger. The whole night all of us stayed in the bus and only in the morning we reached Tiruchi by another route. I never forget this.

  • #651639
    Rain and breakdowns can happen anytime. One shouldn't allow one odd incident to influence how we travel.

    I think night travel is the safest bet when you have a toddler along. The child would sleep through the night. In this case, the means of transport and the time are not to be blamed. It is the parents who are at fault. They should have ensured that the child was kept comfortable and warm. Nights are in any case chill, and long-distance buses travel through long stretches of uninhabited areas where the temperatures drop considerably. They should have dressed the child appropriately and carried a shawl to keep the child warm.

    Also, infections generally have an incubation period. It is likely that the infection just flared the next day and coincided with the night travel.

    I travelled from Wellington in the Nilgiris to New Delhi, in the month of May, with my three-month-old. We chose to travel in the First-class coupe rather than in the AC bogies since this was a special Military train and most children onboard the train were suffering from measles and other infections. We didn't want our kid to catch a virus. We also had our dog with us. We travelled from cold environs crossing hot plains. Being a special train, it did not get priority, and we had long halts at stations, so the travel time was more than a usual train. But, we ensured that our coupe remained cool – we hung tarpaulin on the window and kept it wet so that our baby was comfortable. You just need to plan ahead and make sure that the child in your care is well attended to, at all times.

    Parents cannot shirk responsibility and blame their unpreparedness on other things. Circumstances may not always be favourable, and parents need to be prepared for the worst when travelling with a child.

    "A love affair with knowledge will never end in heartbreak." -Michael Garrett Marino

  • #651640

    " It is better to be hated for what you are than to be loved for what you are not" ... Andre Gide

  • #651646
    There are many alternative ways to travel when you have a toddler with you, but if there is no alternative then parents must take proper care of the kid while travelling. While travelling in a bus or train many people face the hardships at times and proper planning should be there when travelling with a toddler.

    The train or the bus may be running late due to many factors and at these times we do not have much options rather than waiting. What an adult can bear a child cannot, so parents need to be very cautious when they plan to take the kids on a long journey. Sufficient food for the kids and comfortable clothes to protect them from adverse weather conditions are a must while planning for a long journey.


    "Life is easier when you enjoy what you do"

  • #651685
    Night bus travelling has never been an issue with me. I have travelled a lot with my twin kids through bus at night and I have never faced much problem with it.

    Only problem which I faced is of milk. Normally we used to take thermal flask with us and carry milk but as you know it doesn't last for long hours. I remember once we were going to Vrindavan through bus and one my kid was hungry and was asking milk but we could not get it so had to wait for at least half an hour as there were no shops opened on the way Its difficult to travel with the kids when you are travelling long in bus as you can't stop when you wish.


    " It is better to be hated for what you are than to be loved for what you are not" ... Andre Gide

  • #651698
    Don't you feel an alternate mode of transport would have been better?

    We may assume that there was no there positive alternative in the given situations. Or there would have been some urgency and compulsion which made the person to undertake the travel in such circumstance. I think it does not serve any purpose in dissecting those things about a bygone incident. The next line question is more useful as it can give some general guidance for future

    What other points do you think should be taken care of while travelling with a toddler?

    Generally parents ,especially mothers are careful and take possible precautions when they have to travel with their children. If they got sufficient time to prepare they usually carry food, drink, some casual bites and toffees etc needed according to the age of the child/children. They may even carry monkey caps, sweaters or at least wrap shawls etc when they know they have to travel in cold nights.If such protection are not carried, the mothers usually cover their children by their 'saree pallu' or their own Duppatta or shawl. This is a common knowledge and practice by mothers in our country. Unless it is the first time journey, parents know what their children are prone to. It is suggested to cover the ears of children by at least a handkerchief and also cover the chest region by a small cloth when travelling in cold nights and/or exposed to cool breeze.

    While travelling with children at night it is better to allow the children to have a lying posture either on the laps of parents or at some comfortable way avoiding the upright posture. The mother or parent can cover the ear and neck region of the child giving a cosy warmth, which will help the child feel comfortable and fall into sleep more comfortably and with confidence.
    Prudent parents will and should take necessary precautions and preparations when travelling with children.
    Whenever possible travel with prior reservation and booking seats/ berths.

    I had mentioned a few other general tips in my article Travel tips while travelling with children in India in ISC article section.

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