After reading countless of articles describing how-to, where-to and what-not-to-do, we packed our bags, hooked up the baby carrier and went on our way to Machu Picchu. I figured if other parents can do it, why not us?
The day began with a 4:30 am wake up call. As part of my mommy duties, I planned ahead and packed our bags the night before to keep the stress hairs at bay. We packed:
-Selfie stick (Obvi)
We wanted to avoid the crowd so we took the 5:55 am train out which was the first to leave Poroy Station, just a 30 minute cab ride from our hotel in Cusco City. If you plan on traveling with Inca Rail they provide a light snack of cream cheese with pesto sandwich, and a list of refreshments to choose from during your ride. The travel surprisingly went by fast! As much as I wanted to sneak in a little nap it was hard with all the scenery going on. The only challenge we faced was dealing with Olivia’s motion sickness which I can’t blame her, we were riding the opposite direction for 3 hours. Poor baby!
Lesson #1: Give Olivia Gravol before getting on the train.
The final destination was Aguas Calientes a small town close by Machu Picchu. We decided to take our time to just relax and walk around the markets and look for a place to have a quick bite since Olivia was still adjusting to everything. A ham and cheese sandwich and coffee later, we were ready to go!
We purchased our entrance tickets before hand but got our bus tickets for about $70.00 Soles round trip for 2 adults, at a stand right by the pick up spot. Line up wasn’t long at all, there would be buses driving in every 10 minutes so no need to rush. It was 30 minutes of long winding roads and breathtaking views. Every time you turn a corner and look out the mountain side you just can’t believe it’s real. Olivia couldn’t help but yell, “Whoaaaaa”, “Weeeee” and “Mountangs” at every turn. After being lulled to sleep by the bus we strapped her on to our baby carrier once we got off. Her carrier was honestly way, way, way to small for her and it looked hilarious but it was too late for us to even do something about it so we just had to make do of what we had. But hey! We were both able to carry her asleep with no problems.
Lesson #2: Test drive that baby carrier! Make sure it fits and secures properly.
There are a few Tour Guides at the entrance of Machu Picchu which we had to pass on because traveling with a toddler meant we needed a lot of flexibility! Also, a bag and coat check for only $3.00 Soles if you need to take a load off.
Lesson #3: Keep an open itinerary. Following a tight schedule will only bring stress!
After handing in our entrance tickets, we took our first steps in and…
I was mostly in awe the whole time so I kept to myself. On the other hand, Marco ..not so much. He was going all out with photos and videos of whatever was in his head, which I hope to share very soon!
We hiked a little further up pass the first platform since it was too busy with other tourists and we wanted that clear shot of the breathtaking view …
How did we do?
Lesson #4: Hike a little further! Try to avoid taking photos where everyone else is. No one likes a photo bomber.
It was spitting for a bit and luckily one of the Tour Guides saw us and gave us garbage bags to cover ourselves. The rain would land on our skin, trickling down trying to wake us up from what we thought was a dream, only to be reminded that we weren’t.
Lesson #5: Rain Coat! I know this is an obvious one but bring a rain coat or something waterproof to cover yourself. This one totally went passed my head. Thanks, mommy brain!
To be in midst of all of this was seriously overwhelming. Our plan was to take as much photos as we can then put our camera’s away and just soak the view in. As we stared with our bare eyes to one of the wonders of the world we can’t help but reflect how fortunate we are to be experiencing all of this as a family. I was able to reflect on all the hard work and challenges we faced leading up to that moment; lack of sleep, altitude sickness, sore muscles, and still having the energy to keep it light and positive for our daughter.
Lesson #6: Turn off technology. As much as you want to savor every moment by taking photos, nothing can replace the human senses. Take time to just be in the moment. Look, feel, smell, listen …be human for a minute or two, your soul will thank you for it.
As the trip drew to an end, we were very thankful that the day went the way it did. We arrived back home at 8:00 in the evening, tired and beat. This trip challenged and taught us about being a fun-loving parent, a supportive-caring partner and a stronger-braver individual. edit: Traveling with a toddler is very unpredictable. Remember it’s all about the journey! Let go of high expectations or comparison of other traveling families. As long as you know your child’s personality you can always adjust and plan for the best and make the trip memorable for your family. Get outside your comfort zone (traveling with a toddler in a foreign country) and look at it as an opportunity to surpass the false idea of your limits and just live.
Lesson #7: Last but certainly not least, TAKE RISKS!