(text: Tomasz Jabłoński, Charter Navigator)
When planning a trip with such young children, we need to make some preparation first. Unfortunately, I must admit that usually mums know much more than daddies about that and that is why it is difficult for me to write about all aspects. It’s nothing new if I write that all children are different. Their behavior during car trip depends on age. Route from Kraków to Wustrau takes around 7-9 hours. Unfortunately we had a “small” adventure. We arrived to Wustrau late at night after 11 hours of driving. Why? I will write a little about it further on.
Every parent knows that it is good if the child is sleepy before the car trip. That gives us at the beginning of a journey 1.5 – 2 hour nap in the car. Later it gets harder. Feeding, changing diapers, etc., etc. After a nap, small kids can stay calm in a car for several minutes only. Thus, stops are necessary. It is difficult to predict exactly how many stops will be needed. I think we should plan to have a stop every 3 hours. Of course as I wrote before, every child is different. I should mention that for the 4-month-old Maja, 8 hour trip wasn’t a problem at all. We bear in mind also the worst-case scenario, namely, that we will have to spend a night in the middle of the route. A very, very pessimistic option, but it is good to consider it.
Going on such a journey we should take toys for kids but it’s rather obvious. For me, indispensable gadget is car inverter. A mug with heater option (plugged to 12 v socket) might be a good idea. You can heat up baby food (if mother does not breast-feed). Let us remember that young children need to have a passport or an ID. If I remember correctly, waiting for a passport lasts around 30 days. Crossing borders in the Schengen area is without border controls, but if you are stopped by the police or other authority control, you have to prove that the children in the car are yours. We experienced that few kilometers before the German border. Our car was stopped by Polish Border Guard.
Let us remember that together with baby we need to take… a stroller. Therefore we need to choose barge which will have enough space for it. Also we need to consider taking a travel cot. Not all cabins are big enough to accommodate them. Therefore, let’s find out in advance whether your model is large enough. Of course, there is always an option to sleep with the baby in one bad, but every parent has their habits. You should also take a bathtub for infants. I suggest inflatable. It does not need much space in a car and on a barge it really does the job. Some of the Nicols barges have storage closets where you can leave big and rarely used items.
As I mentioned, our trip took a little bit longer than was planned, and that is because of the driver (yes, it was me). Driver mistook Nicols base in Wustrau near Neuruppin for a located 30 km to the north village of Wustrow. It took nearly two hours took to locate each other, us and the base manager. Seeing his face when we finally met was priceless. Apparently, we were the first who made that mistake. I hope that after this article there will be no further followers.
Nicols base in Wustrau
Because of our late arrival, check-in was done next day morning. Interesting was that all barges had in their inventory a bow thruster. Believe me, sailing cannot be easier. So, if anyone still fears chartering barges, believe me … models in Wustrau are very easy to operate.