Most families love long distance trips as it opens up a unique world of adventure and fun. However, travelling more than eight thousand kilometres with a toddler may not be a walk in the park. But, when the trip is more than just a fun adventure, it becomes profound and meaningful.
Deepak and Shilpa, both natives of Mavelikkara in Kerala, decided to go on a trip to Ladakh with their daughter Saanvi who is two years and three months old as they wanted to spread a lofty message too. It was also a campaign that aimed to spread awareness about the right to life and freedom for girl children. They were accompanied by Shilpa’s father too. The family had set on this epic trip in their hatchback Kwid. ‘A kid in a Kwid to Ladakh’ was their trip’s tagline. Besides, they had also pasted posters that read ‘Save Girl Child, Let Her Fly, Let He Explore’ on their car.
Shilpa, meanwhile, is happy that her father too had accompanied them. “Girl children leave their homes after getting married. Then they hardly spend any time with us. But, women are capable to spend time with their parents and take care of them even after getting married. My father had worked abroad for so many years. He couldn’t take us on trips to see the places. So, I decided to take him on this trip,” says Shilpa.
Let the kids explore
“Most people think that you should get serious in life once you have a kid. They believe that they can no longer enjoy life or go on trips. But, it is not like that. We went on a trip with our two-year-old child. We didn’t experience any difficulty. There are people who go on trips by leaving their children home. If you do not take your child anywhere, then it might be difficult for him/her to travel at all. So, it is best to take your children on trips. I got the idea for this campaign when one of my friends told me that he never goes on trips as he has a daughter. Most people advise us to stay at home and try to reduce the expenses as soon as we have a child. You should not save money by denying your children the happiness that they deserve now. You should make them happy every day. It would gift them some amazing memories and help them grow as good individuals,” says Deepak who runs a gymnasium at his hometown.
Deepak and Shilpa say that they used to go for short and long distance trips since Saanvi was just six months old. Most of their trips were unplanned. They believe that one should just travel as and when the situation is right. They were sure that little Saanvi would adjust with the long distance Ladakh trip as she is used to travelling. Other than vomiting once when they climbed the high altitude Ladakh, Saanvi was fine and healthy. Shilpa says that Saanvi may have vomited as she was fed when they climbed the loop road. The proud parents vow that they didn’t have to give Saanvi any medicines or medical care during the trip.
“As children do not have any pre-conceived notions about anything, they adapt to situations easily than adults do,” notes Deepak and Shilpa.
They had carried all the regular medicines for fever, cold and cough and nasal drops too in case Saanvi experiences a blocked nose. Deepak and Shilpa had consulted a doctor before their trip. Apart from the medicines that the doctor had prescribed, they had carried jackets, thermals and gloves. The outfits were chosen based on the idea of ‘Less Luggage More Comfort’. So, the adults mostly wore t-shirts and track pants. However, they made sure to take enough clothes for the baby. They made sure that they had packed enough winterwears for their trip from Manali.
Mavelikkara to Ladakh
“You need to be patient if you are travelling to Ladakh. You will have to drive through deserted roads with just mountains on either side. Ladakh truly is a haven for those who love the mountains. Moreover, you will really enjoy this trip if you love driving. Just be cool and enjoy the trip,” Deepak shares his mantra.
From their home in Mavelikkara the family had travelled almost eight thousand three hundred kilometres to reach the iconic Kardung La pass which is the highest motorable passage in the world. It was an eighteen day long trip and they reached Kerala on the nineteenth day. Their trip got delayed due to the COVID-19 related restrictions. “We decided to start on the second week of June as we realised that travelling would be difficult when the winter season begins. We took the Kochi, Thrissur, Palakkad, Coimbatore, Salem, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Nagpur, Jhansi, Chandigarh, Manali, Leg and Kardung La route. Meanwhile, we returned via Manali, Punjab, Amritsar, Rajasthan, Mumbai, Karnataka, Salem, Coimbatore, Kochi, Mavelikkara route. On our return trip, we drove for over thirty hours. We just stopped for having food. Our father drove for over 300 kilometres as he got bored of just sitting on the passenger’s seat. We pulled over the car and slept whenever we felt tired. Saanvi too was comfortable in the car,” says Deepak.
They made sure to eat healthy food that is cooked hygienically and booked rooms in hotels that had good toilet facilities. The family says that they really enjoyed the changing weather and seasons that they had experienced during the trip. “The temperature was below minus degree on most nights. Saanvi was comfortable as she had proper winter clothes on. We spent a night in tent on our way to Leh. Our daughter slept well in the tent. We travelled almost 40 kilometres from Leh to reach the Kardung La pass. Shilpa had respiratory issues since childhood. However, she was fine during the trip. We clicked pictures and videos at the Kardung La pass. We returned via Rajasthan. We could feel extreme heat when we stopped for having food. This trip has introduced Saanvi to all sorts of climate,” say the proud parents.
Deepak realised the significant of such a campaign from a comment made by one of his friends that he barely goes on trips as he has a girl child. He says that their campaign had been receiving great response within a few days since they started the journey. Those who noted and read the stickers and posters on the car applauded them for such a unique campaign. Meanwhile, some others, overtook their car just to show them a thumbs up sign. At Kardung La lots of people approached them to talk about the significance of their campaign. Deepak and Shilpa say that they are extremely proud and happy to have shared such a beautiful message.
“Even though there are lots of travellers in our place, most are with the attitude that why waste money by going on meaningless trips. The most important thing is that we go on trips by saving some money from our income. We were overwhelmed by the support that we got from many strangers. Many congratulated us when we returned after successfully completing the trip. We feel happy when those who had tried to dissuade us in the beginning are now expressing their happiness and appreciation. We consider it our greatest success when people tell us that they would now go on trips with their children,” says Deepak.
Is Ladakh expensive?
“We are not affluent. I earn my income from the gymnasium. So, ours was not a big budget trip. We decided to travel by car as we had Saanvi and Shilpa’s father with us. We cannot do anything to reduce the petrol price, right? But, lots of people reach Ladakh on cycles and motor bikes. I think anyone can go to Ladakh. All you need to decide is the mode of travel. You can try reducing the expenses by choosing the food and accommodation facilities wisely. As we had a baby with us, we always chose comfortable lodgings. We tried vegetarian and non vegetarian food that was healthy and hygienic. There might not be any hotels in some places. So, we always carried enough drinking water, fruits and biscuits. In Ladakh, all you get is tea, coffee, noodles and bread-omelette. However, you will get every type of food in Leh as it is a vibrant city,” recalls Deepak.
Deepak and Shilpa had begun a Youtube channel called ‘Epic Family’ almost a year ago in order to share their travelling experiences. Lots of viewers appreciated them in the comments section when they shared the videos from this trip. The couple wishes to explore new places and destinations with their little daughter. Deepak and Shilpa have decided to pursue their dreams and passions rather than listening to other people’s discouraging opinions and comments.