Essential Tips For Traveling With A Baby & Toddler : Everything You Need To Know To Prepare For Stress-Free Travels

May 30, 2019

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Sharing The Ultimate Guide & Tips For Traveling with Babies & Toddlers

Essential Tips For Traveling With A Baby & Toddler: Everything You Need To Know To Prepare...

“What are your tips for Traveling With A Kid (Traveling With A Baby, Traveling With An Infant, Traveling With A Toddler, etc, etc)”  has been one of the questions that I get asked the most, and it has also been one of the most requested blog posts by you all…

and let me tell you guys, these tips for traveling with a baby has been a lonnnng time coming…


Essential Tips For Traveling With A Baby & Toddler featured by top US international travel blog, Sveet Eskapes

First International Trip, Ireland


Essential Tips For Traveling With A Baby & Toddler featured by top US international travel blog, Sveet Eskapes

On the way back from the first India trip


Essential Tips For Traveling With A Baby & Toddler featured by top US international travel blog, Sveet Eskapes
Essential Tips For Traveling With A Baby & Toddler featured by top US international travel blog, Sveet Eskapes

Recent trip to Morocco, a few weeks away from turning 2 :)


I am writing this post and sharing all that we have learned from our experiences during our many travel adventures with our baby in hopes that it will help answer most of the questions you have around traveling with kids (and make traveling with kids fairly easy and lots of fun for your family). 

And if you aren’t yet traveling with your baby then I sure hope that this post encourages you to let go of your inhibitions and book your next trip (even if it's just a day trip, there are so many gems in our own backyard, isn’t there?)! 

Vinay and I have always loved to travel and explore different parts of the world and we never wanted that to change once we had a baby. In fact, we traveled both domestically and internationally throughout my pregnancy to give our little one a taste of what life with mama and dada is going to be like… 

Traveling is the best gift and the best education you can give to your kids. It opens them up to this big bright beautiful world and helps them to learn and grow through these real-life travel experiences. Kids who travel soon learn to enjoy the similarities and appreciate the differences in the world. 


Essential Tips For Traveling With A Baby & Toddler featured by top US international travel blog, Sveet Eskapes

First International Trip, Ireland, @Cliff of Moher


Essential Tips For Traveling With A Baby & Toddler featured by top US international travel blog, Sveet Eskapes
Essential Tips For Traveling With A Baby & Toddler featured by top US international travel blog, Sveet Eskapes



Sure, traveling with a baby/toddler is not easy at all (and that is no breaking news) and comes with its own sets of challenges each time, but given the challenges and new learnings each time, it also makes it that much more adventurous, that much more fun, and that much more exciting. And it is 1000% worth it!!! No matter how stressful and how hard it is to travel with a kid, it is these memories that will last and live in our hearts forever and ever. 

And exploring the world with our baby boy and seeing it through his curious eyes is a whole other kind of joyous experience that we are blessed to enjoy now (and yes, our travels look a lot different now with him in the picture). Our goal as a family is to go on as many adventures as possible, indulge in all sorts of travel experiences, and create memories that last a lifetime (and in the process, also encourage fellow parents to do so)! 

P.S: No matter what tips and tricks you use for traveling with a baby, it is way easier to travel with a newborn baby than with one crawling or walking (or in our case always running!). So the sooner you introduce them to traveling the better. 


Essential Tips For Traveling With A Baby & Toddler featured by top US international travel blog, Sveet Eskapes

First road trip, 5-weeks old


Essential Tips For Traveling With A Baby & Toddler featured by top US international travel blog, Sveet Eskapes

Oregon Coast, 5-weeks old


Luckily for us, Aarush has been a total champ during our travels (of course, combined with age-appropriate tantrums, but what else do you expect from a toddler, traveling or not!?). He has been traveling since he was 1-month-old, got on his first flight when he was 3-months-old, and completed his 24th flight (yep, 24 you guys) right before he turned 24-months-old last month (yep, a toddler now). 

And during these 2 years, I have had several versions of these tips for traveling with a baby written, re-written, edited and updated. I kept telling myself that I will publish this post once we are back from our ‘next trip’ so I can include any new learnings/experiences/tips/tricks but that never happened - 
1) there’s always something new we learn during every trip aka time to pull out a new trick. 
2) there’s always another upcoming trip on the horizon for us to look forward to #touchwood. 

So I figured, I will just go ahead and publish this post now (before it's too late and before you all lose your patience with me, yikes) and edit it as necessary with new updates. 

Sounds fair?

Ok, so let's jump right into it…


Essential Tips For Traveling With A Baby & Toddler featured by top US international travel blog, Sveet Eskapes

Essential Tips For Traveling With A Baby & Toddler featured by top US international travel blog, Sveet Eskapes

Coeur D'Alene Resort, Idaho, a very special trip


First and foremost, having the right attitude... babies/toddlers should not stop you from traveling. Always say, ‘WE HAVE KIDS AND WE WILL TRAVEL’. 

Secondly, anything, absolutely anything can go wrong on any trip. So be prepared for the worst and hope for the best! While this is true regardless of traveling with a kid or not, the odds are even more when there are kids in the picture. 

Thirdly, every time you travel is going to be different and the same trick might not work twice. So be persistent and don’t let that deter your spirits. Always have a few tricks up your sleeves and try different things. 

And lastly, a traveling trick might work with one kid while the same might not work with the other, travel is no exception. Don’t let that frustrate you, try different things until something clicks, make mental notes of what worked and use it to your advantage next time.


Essential Tips For Traveling With A Baby & Toddler featured by top US international travel blog, Sveet Eskapes

Essential Tips For Traveling With A Baby & Toddler featured by top US international travel blog, Sveet Eskapes


Essential Tips For Traveling With A Baby

1) Apply for your baby’s passport as soon as possible after he/she is born.


I know, I know, besides the many things that you are trying to tackle as a new parent this is probably the last thing on your mind but when it comes time to travel you don’t want this to be the reason you don’t get to travel with your baby. So have that on your checklist of the many things to do once your child is born :)

Also, depending on the country you plan to travel to, identify any visa requirements and get that in order. 

While an infant doesn’t need an ID to travel within the US, it is always a good idea to bring the passport or at least a birth certificate. Or when in doubt, just call to check with the airlines. 

We applied for Aarush’s passport when he was just 6-days-old. I managed to get the cutest pic of him for the passport, can’t believe that this little monkey is that same baby haha. 

TIP: To capture your baby’s passport photo lay him down on the floor with a white background and then fix the orientation on Lightroom/Photoshop as this will be a shot taken from the top (unless you want to get a professional to do it). 

P.S: How early a baby can fly varies by airlines (anywhere between 48 hrs to 14 days, sometimes requires a letter from the doctor), so call the airlines to confirm their policy. 


Essential Tips For Traveling With A Baby & Toddler featured by top US international travel blog, Sveet Eskapes

Mt.Rainier, 10-weeks-old


Essential Tips For Traveling With A Baby & Toddler featured by top US international travel blog, Sveet Eskapes

One of our favorite things to do on the flight :)

2) Tips for Traveling with a Baby on Road Trips:


START SMALL: You want to give both your baby and yourself a chance to get a feel for what traveling together is going to be like. So start by going on a road trip, either a day trip or a weekend getaway. Do this as often as possible before you book the first flight for your baby. 

Road trips are fairly easier compared to flying. Plan pit stops in advance. Bring all the essentials + some more. Have a fully stocked car, including a first-aid kit, plastic bags,/Ziplocs, paper napkins, and a bucket of some sort (in case of unexpected accidents/motion sickness, etc). If your baby is at an age where he/she is eating solids then bring lots of snacks and turn snacking into a fun activity. Bring new car/car seat toys, download shows/age appropriate music on your electronics and play that in the background. Plan fun and educational games to play on the road. Dress your kiddo in comfortable clothes. Darken the windows as necessary. Always have a backup plan. Enjoy the drive! 

Also, a road trip makes it easier (comparatively) to drive to the nearest restaurant to feed, change the diaper, take a breather, etc, as much or as little as necessary. Read my post on our first road trip and all the travel essentials that we brought on that trip.

PRO TIP: The key, when on the road, is to make as many stops as necessary and not to feel the pressure of getting to a place before a certain time. Try not to let the unexpected upset you and simply go with the flow. 

Our first 4-hr drive (when Aarush was 1-month-old) ended up taking almost double the amount of time. Haha, something we hadn’t expected at all. Our first stop was not more than 20 mins away from home, and the rest is history now! 

On the other hand, our first flight (when Aarush was 3-months-old) was a breeze (but now that he is 2 it's a whole other story, more on that below). He was absolutely amazing on all the flights (including international) during that trip (4 in total) and got lots and lots of compliments from fellow passengers. A pic from that international trip here


Essential Tips For Traveling With A Baby & Toddler featured by top US international travel blog, Sveet Eskapes

Yep, bags are packed, let's go, Ireland


Essential Tips For Traveling With A Baby & Toddler featured by top US international travel blog, Sveet Eskapes

Columbia River Gorge, Oregon


Essential Tips For Traveling With A Baby & Toddler featured by top US international travel blog, Sveet Eskapes

Another day, another beach destination, Southern California

3) Tips for Traveling with a Baby on Flights:

FLIGHT SELECTION:


Select flights that depart around your kid’s nap time and doesn’t disrupt his or her schedules too much. While this might be doable for most domestic flights, it gets a tad bit tricky when you are traveling internationally, but we always opt for a red-eye flight so Aarush can sleep through the night and it makes it fairly easier to adjust to the new time zone. 

SEAT SELECTION:


While both window and aisle seats have their own benefits the seats you choose depends on what will be most useful to you and your baby on that specific flight. A window seat can keep the baby distracted for long while an aisle seat will give you the freedom to stretch and walk in and out easily and as many times as you want.

Essential Tips For Traveling With A Baby & Toddler featured by top US international travel blog, Sveet Eskapes

Essential Tips For Traveling With A Baby & Toddler featured by top US international travel blog, Sveet Eskapes


AFTER BOOKING THE FLIGHT


BASSINET SEAT: If you are traveling with an infant, after booking your flights call the airlines and place a request for a bassinet seat. This doesn’t guarantee a bassinet because it is mostly offered on a first come first serve basis when you get to the airport, but just so they have an idea (plus, every airline's policy is different). So get to the airport early and request for a bassinet seat during check-in and at the boarding gate (you just have to keep repeating your request, because they almost always mess up when it comes to bassinet seat). 

Keep in mind that flights only have a limited number of bassinets available and if there are other babies traveling on the same flight then chances of your baby getting one is very slim. So be mentally prepared (trust me, it helps a huge deal). It also depends on the age/height/weight of the babies and the youngest baby on the flight usually gets preference. 


MEALS: Call the airlines ahead of time and confirm if they give baby/toddler meals. Some airlines do and you should let them know if you have any dietary restrictions as far as baby’s food is concerned. 

During one of our flights (this was when our baby boy had started eating solids) they gave a non-vegetarian meal (puree) to him (in spite of us having mentioned that we want all vegetarian meals when we booked the flights and had also called them to confirm). And another time, they didn’t even have any food available for him since the airlines goofed up. So yes, be prepared and bring extra food, more than you think you will need. 


Essential Tips For Traveling With A Baby & Toddler featured by top US international travel blog, Sveet Eskapes

Let me off, I need to RUN ;(

PRE-PREPARATION BEFORE YOUR TRAVEL DATE


DOCTOR VISIT: Consult the pediatrician and ensure that your baby has gotten all the necessary immunizations and any medications as required. Sometimes it also depends on the country you are traveling to. So let the pediatrician know about your travel plans and get their recommendation. 

TIP: Make sure to see the pediatrician a few days before the flight. The last thing you want is your baby to fall sick right before your travels because of the vaccination (babies sometimes get fever after getting the shots). 


SHOPPING: Shop for all the necessary travel items for the baby a few days before your trip. There will always be that one item you are bound to forget and Amazon always comes to the rescue. But don’t let that make you procrastinate things until the last minute, sometimes a product you ordered online might not work as well as you had expected it to. Always give yourself room to test a product a few days before the trip so you have enough time in case you need to order something else instead. Especially true when it comes to baby products. 


PACKING ESSENTIALS FOR TRAVELING WITH A BABY


Pack light, this is key!!! Trust me, no matter how light you pack you always have a gazillion things to take with you when you are traveling with kids, so bring only the essentials for your trip and DO NOT overpack, especially in your hand luggage. 


FOOD: Depending on your kid’s age, bring more than sufficient food with you - breastmilk, milk, formula, water, pureed food, snacks, etc. You never know when something will spill, and more often than not your baby is always hungrier on the flight than otherwise. The last thing you want is your baby getting cranky because there’s no food. Plus, they also get dehydrated on the plane. 

While you are not allowed to bring more than 100 ml of liquid on the flight baby’s food is an exception (so don’t stress about it if you have to carry 2 bottles of milk/water, just make sure they are in the right kind of baby bottles). Most airlines will be able to warm up the milk or water as required but you need to ask them beforehand. 


DIAPER BAG ESSENTIALS + a few extra pairs of change of clothes both for the baby and you. You must be prepared for those blowouts, spit ups, spilling, etc, etc. As I mentioned earlier, you never know what can go wrong and when anything can happen, I mean, anything.can.happen, so be prepared! 

During our recent flight from Morocco back to the US, a really stressed fellow mom came to us asking for a diaper. Poor thing, I mean, imagine her plight. The sad part was our baby boy was 23-months-old at that time while the other baby looked more like a 6-month-old (meaning, the diaper we gave was too big), so better overcarry than under. 


MEDICATIONS: basic ones (such as Tylenol, etc) based on the age of the kid and others recommended by the pediatrician if any. And diaper rash cream. 


TOYS: some old favorites and some new additions so you can switch things up and keep the kiddo engaged and interested for long. Make busy bags (simple and engaging activities stored in a bag) with interesting and fun things in them. Will share more on the kind of toys/busy bags to bring on your travels in a separate post.


ENTERTAINMENT: Download some interactive game apps, download some of your kiddos favorite rhymes, videos, and shows from Netflix and Amazon Prime. And carry age appropriate headphones/earphones for him/her. 


PRO TIP: Organize and pack everything in such a way that it is easily accessible. Use ziplock bags to keep things separate and to easily recognize them.


Before heading to the airport, dress your baby in comfortable layers. You know how the airports and flights are, sometimes too hot and sometimes freezing cold. You don’t want your baby to get fussy because of the temperature.


Essential Tips For Traveling With A Baby & Toddler featured by top US international travel blog, Sveet Eskapes



Essential Tips For Traveling With A Baby & Toddler featured by top US international travel blog, Sveet Eskapes


AT THE AIRPORT


Always plan to get to the airport early, give yourself even more time when you are traveling with kids. 

During check-in ask the staff if they have any empty seats available on the flight and if they can seat you in that row. Always helps to have more room for you and your baby, especially if the baby is under 2 and does not have a separate seat. 

LOUNGING AT THE AIRPORT: Surprisingly, not many websites or ‘traveling with kids’ articles talk about this -> once you are through security make use of the airport lounges to relax, refuel, and/or help your baby sleep in a comparatively calmer and comfortable environment. Airport lounges also help a big deal when you have long layovers. 

PRO TIP: Most travel credit cards give you free access to many airport lounges across the world and it is hands down one of the best advantages of paying for a credit card with an ample number of benefits. 


Essential Tips For Traveling With A Baby & Toddler featured by top US international travel blog, Sveet Eskapes



PLAYTIME AT THE AIRPORT: For toddlers and older kids, take them to the kid's play area at the airport and let them burn their energy before they get on the flight. Our little one wants to run non-stop, like all.the.time, so his dad is usually the one running behind him, and by the time we get on the flight they are both mostly out, or at least one of them is (any guesses who? ;)).

PRO TIP: Please wear comfortable running shoes, I mean, I wear comfortable shoes for the flight but they are not necessarily meant for running miles inside the airport chasing a toddler. And I always get heat from the hubs for that :-/

PRO TIP: If both parents are traveling with the kid then one of you should board the flight first (priority boarding) with all the luggage and the other one should board the flight with the kid as late as possible. This is so you can let your toddler run outside for a bit longer and prevent them from getting bored/restless on the flight before take off.


Essential Tips For Traveling With A Baby & Toddler featured by top US international travel blog, Sveet Eskapes

Essential Tips For Traveling With A Baby & Toddler featured by top US international travel blog, Sveet Eskapes

All day, every day, it's what I do :p

ESSENTIALS TO TAKE ON THE PLANE WHILST TRAVELING WITH A BABY


Besides your standard luggage that you are used to traveling with, a lot more things get added to that list when you are traveling with kids. Diaper bag essentials, different kinds of toys/entertainment options, extra food, stroller, car seat, baby carrier, etc, etc. So below is a quick overview… 


CAR SEAT: almost all airlines allow you to check in the CAR SEAT for free. Unless you have booked a separate seat for your baby (not mandatory until he/she turns 2) and want to bring the car seat on the plane to seat your baby (we never did, so I do not know much about the process) then check with the airlines about the restrictions on the kind of car seat you take inside the flight. 

Aarush was a lap baby until now (not anymore, now we have to pay full price for his flights too, ouch!). Lap baby - baby sits in your lap until they turn 2 and the flight is either entirely free or you pay 10% of the adult flight tickets. 


STROLLERS: you can use the stroller inside the airport until you board the flight and leave it by the gate (gate-check) before you get on the flight. Strollers are really a godsend (I have no idea how our parents ever managed without one back in the days), either to seat your baby or some of the luggage you are lugging around as you navigate through the airports (depending on who wants to be carried in your arms or on your back and at what point hehe). 

PRO TIP: The stroller we use is the world’s smallest folding stroller, it folds into a compact light handbag-shaped package and it's easy to stow away in the overhead compartment on flights, and hence, it is allowed to be brought on the flight. 

And that is especially useful because more often than not you don’t get to pick up your stroller as you deplane the flight, but you only get the stroller back at baggage claim, which means you have to carry your kiddo and wait long until it arrives, and that is no joke. 

TIP: Some airports have courtesy strollers available which you can use until you pick up your stroller at baggage claim, but very few airports have those available and you still need to walk to the stroller area to pick one up. 


Essential Tips For Traveling With A Baby & Toddler featured by top US international travel blog, Sveet Eskapes



BABY CARRIER: Super helpful in situations when you don’t have access to your stroller (such as the above scenario) or if you want to be out and about with your baby in a carrier. We have 2 carriers but Aarush didn’t use it much as he would get restless and would want to wiggle out of it (haha tell me something new). 

Essential Tips For Traveling With A Baby & Toddler featured by top US international travel blog, Sveet Eskapes

I have a better pic of dada, but I am going to stick with this one ;)


CARRY ON: The usual stuff + I also keep extra pairs of clothes, shoes, and other toiletries and essentials in our carry on bag for all of us. As I said, you never know when you will need them. 


DIAPER BAG: See above for more details. 


PRO TIP: You are also allowed to bring a piece of infant luggage on some airlines. Each airline has different policies around it so call ahead to confirm. This is especially useful when you have to pay for a check-in bag and you would rather bring a carry on instead, especially when you aren’t carrying too much weight. 


BREAST PUMP: If you are breastfeeding/pumping then you can also bring along your pump too. Again, call the airlines to confirm details. 


TRUNKI: Now that our kiddo is a toddler who gets his own seat on the flight, we bought (I mean, his favorite uncle bought) him a Trunki for his birthday. Aarush was all over it when he saw the other kids with a Trunki in the airport traveling with one last time around so we brought him his own. 

P.S: Trunki is a ride-on suitcase for globetrotting tots! It’s hand luggage for kids and they can also sit on top of it and go all vroom vroom in the airport. 


Essential Tips For Traveling With A Baby & Toddler featured by top US international travel blog, Sveet Eskapes

At Amsterdam Airport, when I showed mama that I can free myself from the stroller straps :-o

DURING TAKE-OFF & LANDING


The change in cabin pressure during take-off and landing can hurt the kid's ears and they end up crying. Feeding them usually helps with the pain. Either give them milk or water to drink, or even a pacifier/ lollipop helps.


ON THE FLIGHT


Once you board, get settled in as quickly as possible. Make acquaintances with your fellow passenger on so it helps a tad bit during your flight. Once you have had some friendly conversations then things usually stay good for the remainder of the flight. 

And let’s face it, most people don’t want to sit anywhere near a baby, let alone next to him/her. But it is what it is! All you can do is be courteous and ensure that your baby isn’t directly bothering them, but beyond that, there’s not much else you can do. 

If your in-flight neighbor gets irritated every time the baby cries then it's not your problem. You are already dealing with the stress of pacifying a cranky baby, and I know, it’s easy to feel guilty or be apologetic but come on, if they can’t handle sitting next to a baby on a flight then they better get their own private jet and fly in it. Nothing annoys me more than the looks of annoyed fellow passengers because a baby is being fussy. 

Essential Tips For Traveling With A Baby & Toddler featured by top US international travel blog, Sveet Eskapes

The most special, precious, and priceless pic of us two #hearteyes


SAFETY: Make sure you don’t have any dangerous objects (which can be most things when they are an infant) around your baby on the flight. Put all things away and out of his/her reach. 

TIP: On some airlines, for extra safety, they give you an additional baby seat belt which goes into your own seat belt and latches around the baby. 


ENTERTAINMENT: Lots of play time with various interactive toys and educational games (such as this), from putting gel stickers on the window to coloring to anything super silly as long as it keeps the kid from getting bored. I will write an exclusive post on toys/busy bags to bring on the flight.


WALK & STRETCH: Make sure to take your baby for a walk every so often. This is Aarush’s favorite thing to do since he started walking. He anyway loves talking to new people and on the flight, he loves walking back and forth saying ‘hi hi, hi hi’ to everyone. It’s a welcome change for them and you as well. 


Essential Tips For Traveling With A Baby & Toddler featured by top US international travel blog, Sveet Eskapes

Just before I started hitting the person in front of me on his head, oops


Essential Tips For Traveling With A Baby & Toddler featured by top US international travel blog, Sveet Eskapes

Hong Kong, summer of 2018

SLEEPING WITH A BABY ON A FLIGHT


Bring a neck pillow, footrest, and/or a jet bed for your kid (depending on the age and if he has his own seat). Aarush has so far slept laying across Vinay and me on the flight so we haven’t had to use a neck pillow for him yet. 

P.S: Though we bought this footrest for him, it was super useful to me during our last trip. I could lay my head on top of it and sleep on the flight and at the airport. 

Now with his own seat on the flights, a Jet Bed is going to be quite useful going forward. 

PRO TIP: Avoid giving your kiddo any sugary treats before and during the flight, this will only get them more excited and won’t want to sleep.


AFTER LANDING + IMMIGRATION


Nothing feels longer than getting off the flight, am I right? Actually no, there is, it is getting through the really long (and at times super slow) immigration lines, the worst nightmare ever! 

After a long flight, with very little sleep (if at all), and managing a kid, you just want to get to where you want to go asap but that won’t happen anytime soon thanks to immigration lines. I do not understand why they can’t have efficient immigration processes in place, argh! 

So to make this process fairly easy for your baby and you, instead of rushing towards immigration first, freshen up, change your baby’s diaper, give him something to eat before you get to the immigration line. And hopefully, it will make your baby less cranky and more willing to listen to you as you wait in the line. 

Essential Tips For Traveling With A Baby & Toddler featured by top US international travel blog, Sveet Eskapes

Forever up to some kind of mischief ;)
P.S. Mama told me not to go outside without my shoes on, but the desert was calling me :p


ONCE YOU REACH THE DESTINATION + JET LAG

Do NOT plan too many activities for day 1. First try to get into a new routine with the new time zone, try to get out and get some fresh air and light. Avoid long naps at all costs during the day or your baby will be up all night.
Essential Tips For Traveling With A Baby & Toddler featured by top US international travel blog, Sveet Eskapes

WHEW, that’s it, there you have it, all my tips for traveling with a baby that we have used in the last 2 years from all our travel adventures, experiences, and learnings.


This ended up being a really long post, but I sincerely hope that these tips for traveling with a baby answers all your questions and encourages you to plan your next trip with your little one(s). 

So with lots of planning, tons of patience, and an open mind, anyone can travel with a baby or with kids and have the time of their life. And trust me, no matter what, things will not go as planned, but instead of fussing just make that part of the adventure… And let’s face it, as much as we all love to travel, no one, including us adults, likes to sit in long haul flights so it’s not fair to expect that from a baby. 


Essential Tips For Traveling With A Baby & Toddler featured by top US international travel blog, Sveet Eskapes

Hong Kong, that view though :)


Essential Tips For Traveling With A Baby & Toddler featured by top US international travel blog, Sveet Eskapes


NOW GO on, plan your next vacation and MAKE SOME MEMORIES WITH YOUR LITTLE ONES!!! 



” Travel, in the younger sort, is a part of education; in the elder, a part of the experience.”


xoxo,


Kusum

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