Bare Minimum – travelling without the conveniences

Experiencing a different world

We recently took a family holiday to Vanuatu and since we were staying half the time in resorts that should be able to provide everything we needed and the other half on the remote island of Tanna which we had to reach via a tiny 16 person propeller plane with an equally tiny weight allowance, we decided to take as little as possible. This meant one backpack carry on, one big purse, one large duffel bag, and one portacot for my partner, myself, and 16 month old for a 10 day holiday.

Now travelling so light had many advantages, but it also posed some limitations of its own, so I thought I’d take you through our calculations and whether I would do it again. It all depends on where you are going and what kind of holiday you are having, but the number 1 thing I regret not taking was our Lobster high chair.

Climbing a waterfall

The pram-unfriendly waterfall climb

 

 

 

Kayaking with the kid

Kayaking with the kid

 

 

 

 


Through the bush path

Through the bush path

The Pram – No

The Pram is a lifesaver in many situations, but we chose not to take it because the dirt roads where we were going would be very muddy, no transportation options would have much storage space, and it wouldn’t be free aboard the remote flight. You just can’t climb a waterfall pushing a pram, it won’t help you when you are kayaking to an island for lunch, or when the quickest way to town is a path through the bush. However, that meant we had to hope she would nap in our arms or in a soft structured carrier (we have a Beco similar to an Ergo), which she did half the time. We also couldn’t go out after her bedtime (and let her fall asleep in the covered pram) without a babysitter for the room or we would have to keep her up later – which backfired on us a couple times with tantrums. And of course we had to carry all the bags plus the baby, but in this case we usually had help from airport people or taxi drivers, etc.

Portacot – yes

We took the Traveller portacot because it’s light and folds up very tightly, she is used to sleeping it so we can get more hours out of it, I know it is safe, and on the remote island we were sleeping on mats on the floor – they certainly didn’t have a spare portacot to provide. The downside of all sharing one room though, was that I didn’t have a cover for the top (sold separately) and so just when we thought she was asleep, she would pop her head out of the top and stare at us reading our books quietly next to her, often angrily getting entangled in the mandatory mosquito netting thrown over the top in the process. Repeat for the early morning waking – you know the one where you lie so completely still that you are afraid to breathe, hoping she will see you asleep and lay down for just a few more minutes…

Lobster high chair – I wish

Looking for trouble

Looking for trouble

For space and weight reasons we didn’t bring along our high chair, the Lobster, and I was kicking myself every mealtime for it. I was very surprised that at the large resort catering to many families, they did not have one single high chair. If they had had one, surely there would have been fighting over it for the 6pm dinner timeslot anyway. I didn’t think this was a big issue until our normally patient, good eating, normally belted-in toddler couldn’t handle her new-found freedom and turned into “that child.” You know, the one who constantly stands up in the chair and slides down because it’s fun. Or wiggles around so much you are afraid it is going to fall over and she can’t concentrate on eating because she is too busy getting down and picking up pebbles under the table (or better yet under someone else’s table.) It was a transformation that unfortunately repeated itself 3 times a day. To top it off, unlike many Sydney locations with pedestal tables on which you cannot attach the Lobster, every single table in Vanuatu seemed to be the ideal solid wood 4-posted variety. It added a lot of stress where there should have been none and I was thankful the kitchen staff almost everywhere was so friendly that they would often whisk her away to play in the kitchen, returning with a treat of some variety while we finished our dinners.

Teetering on the stool

Teetering on the stool

Wishing she could see

Wishing she could see

 

 

 

 

 

Miscellaneous

We only took clothes for about 4 days and alternated tops and bottoms, washing a couple of things while we were away. This wasn’t too

Meeting the locals

Meeting the locals

bad, but when we had a couple of diaper blowouts, I didn’t feel that handscrubbing in the sink was adequate for rewear and the cloudy weather meant they never dried, so we had to carry a few things in a wetbag for the rest of the trip. I would have packed more baby clothes since they were so small. Without the pram we had to have a carrier for the baby, but for size and weight we stuck with a soft one that rolled up plus a ring sling and that worked. I’m also really glad we brought our Ipad and kindle so we could read at night with the lights off in the same room as the baby without keeping her up. Some people have kids that sleep through everything including the TV on, but we just don’t. I also figured if we needed more bags to take things back with us, I could always weave myself one at the markets…although I bet Australian customs would have something to say about that.

Local baggage

Local baggage

 

Playing with the laundry ladies

Playing with the laundry ladies

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We had a great family vacation though and it was fun to see the baby interacting with the little village kids wearing grass skirts. Keeping track of our stuff was much easier since there wasn’t so much of it and on an island like Vanuatu, bulky cold weather clothes nor fashion is a concern. No matter where you go and what you take, there is no better learning opportunity for children than experience and I hope that you get out and see new (and sometimes exotic) things with your family too.

Experiencing a different world

Experiencing a different world

 

About the author:

I'm Tasmin, a photographer and the mother of a boisterous 2 yr old daughter Waverley and new baby boy Charleston. After doing (too much) research when I was first pregnant I became a Phil & Teds convert and love using all their toys to make my life as a mum easier. My partner and I love to travel and Waverley has 5 countries on her passport already! I have also co-founded Portrait Equality which loans instant cameras to travelling photographers so they can give out family portraits along their journey. Enjoy following us on our journeys as we share them with you and our families..