Warning – very long post ahead.
I had been asked on many occasions how it was to travel with children. From a new parent or non-parent’s perspective, it would be hard to fathom. For us, the love for travel and children outweighed the cons.
Here was sharing the general experience we had to date, and it was a good recap to prep ourselves on what to expect with X.
Tokyo & Sendai, Japan, Early Summer (19-23°C) – by ourselves
Z was 5-6 months’ old
Verdict: He was pretty alert, enjoyed the sights, no meltdowns and was easy to handle. We could change diapers on the go, he would fall asleep in the stroller or baby carrier by himself and slept most of the time on board. The key thing we had to note was the probable massive spillage of his poo. We made sure he had fresh diapers just before boarding. I would consider this to be the best period to travel with a child. They might not remember the trip but I was too attached to Z to go anywhere without him. He also made a lovely photo companion.
It was a very pro-family country to visit with nursing rooms in most places and even on the shinkansens. We stayed at Hyatt Regency Shinjuku which provided us with baby bath tub and sterilizer too.
Hongkong, Winter(10-15°C) – with friends
Z was 12 months’ old
Verdict: We had to prepare more logistics because he was on semi-solids. As he was turning one, he ended up refusing his jar food and went for the wanton mee, hor fun, baked rice and seafood that we were having. We kept our fingers crossed and thankfully, he did not develop any rash from food. The trip officiated the opening of floodgates to adults’ food. He had refused to latch at that time, so I had to bring my breast pump on the go. It was very inconvenient logistically.
This was also the time when he decided he had a mind of his own and would not hesitate to ransom us by threatening to vomit on demand. He did so, and he ruined my only pair of boots by vomiting right into it. We were very lucky to be staying in Hyatt Regency TST because their awesome housekeeping staff helped me to clean my boots in the middle of the night. For this very reason, staying in an established chain was important when you had an unpredictable child on hand. Furthermore, they were pretty awesome to offer us the loan of an Avent sterilizer. Z also preferred to be carried than to be pushed around in a stroller. It was rather annoying.
United Kingdom & Scotland, Mid Summer (15-20°C) – with family
Z was 18 months’ old
Verdict: Z had been newly exposed to the wonders of iPad by now and roughed through the long flight with Krisworld and iPad. He was a good traveler, so no cries or fussing on board. He also survived many hours of road trip with iPad on the go. He was onto solids and actually liked asian fanfare. Hence, I brought rice, dried scallops, Bovril, a porridge cooking tin and bought fresh vegetables/meat from the local supermarkets. I woke up at 5am every morning (it wasn’t hard due to the time difference!) to prepare the porridge and packed into the thermos. I actually cooked 2 servings – 1 for breakfast (Local time 7am, SG time: 1pm) and 1 for lunch (local time 1pm, SG time 7pm). Z would have his usual milk such as formula milk, the bottled Pediasure Chocolate milk or fresh milk on the go. By then, he was old enough to be eating off our plates too. He was at a demanding stage and wanted to be carried most of the time. Thankfully it was a 70% road trip so the challenging part was managing the shopping and carrying him during shopping in London. We were with family and we got to pop down to West End to catch some musicals while my parents babysat Z in the serviced apartment.
Seoul, Korea, Early Winter (0-5°C) – by ourselves
Z was 23 months’ old
Verdict: Z was getting veteran at travelling. He loved his trunki (which we bought at a steal from UK’s Sainsbury Supermarket). However, he seemed to be getting more and more demanding. He love the rice, soup, seaweed, steamboat and galbi beef that Seoul had to offer. It was an easy trip in terms of logistics but was tricky when we had to carry him in his puffy winter jacket.
Paris & Brussels, Mid Winter (2-8°C) – with family
Z was 25 months’ old
Verdict: This was easily the WORST time to travel with a child. He was demonstrating the best of what he could do with his ‘terrible twos’ syndrome. Trust me, no amount of time could remove the horrors of his demanding cries ringing in my ear. We were with family too, so they helped to relieve us half the time. Z was throwing a tantrum about every single possible thing – from refusing to wear any jackets in the shivery cold mornings, to refusing to wear shoes, refusing to eat, refusing to walk and I could not remember the entire list of things that he would refuse and belt out in tears. Dear parents, do take the time to sort out this syndrome before attempting travel.
It was a horrible experience. It was so bad that Mr H and I would look at each other and wonder why we put ourselves through hell. Almost very promptly after this trip, we planned for New York and decided to leave Z at home. We were 99% booked for the trip when Z realized something was amiss. This was also the time when he learnt to talk in sentences. One of his first few full sentences were, “I like to take aeroplane. Can you bring me to take aeroplane?”
With that, we cancelled the New York trip (no way I would want to risk handling tantrums due to jetlag!) and planned an all-inclusive family trip. I was also pregnant with X by then.
Hongkong, Late Summer(30-35°C) – by ourselves
Z was 32 months’ old
When we arrived in HK, I only thought about how terribly hot it was. We readied ourselves for Z’s meltdowns and was pleasantly surprised when he did not. He loved the trip and appreciated every single moment. He was also especially psyched about meeting Mickey Mouse & gang. Till now, he would always talk about this trip.
Bangkok, Tropical (30-35°C) – by ourselves
Z was 34 months’ old
We squeezed in another short trip before my 3rd trimester. Z enjoyed the food, the Siam World Aquarium and shopping too. We took Thai Airways and he was puzzled that his personal in-flight entertainment was missing. We were rather amused about that. In any case, the Thai Airways A380 flight offered personal in-flight entertainment system and it was good though we never did get the water that we asked for. That merely affirmed why we would only take SQ as best as possible.
London & Paris, Late Spring (12-20°C) – by ourselves
Z was 41 months’ old and X was 4.5 months’ old
We thought we had pretty good odds on our hands. A friend who had travelled to USA with her toddler and young baby gave the assurance that the baby would do fine. X did more than fine actually. He slept 10 out of 13 hours on board. Whee! Z did very well too. He was accustomed to getting on board, turning on Krisworld and dozing off in style. He did not even bother us with “Are we there yet?” sort of annoying questions. The weather was great most of the time too. We had a fantastic family bonding time over good food, fun attractions (Z loved the Thomas Land at Tamsworth) and shopping. I loved how sensible Z was by then too. The weather was great, the sights were beautiful, the shopping was plentiful and the company – the best I could ask for.
Travelling with kids might be a hassle and they might not remember. Hence, since having Z, I had been making photobooks of every trip we had taken together. Z loved them so much and I thought the photobooks made very beautiful gifts to pass down in future, just as the precious memories which had been left in our hearts.