Mum-of-two, Yin, shares her experiences of bringing her then two-month-old infant, Hana, for an overseas holiday and gives some handy tips on how other mummies can do the same.
Mummyfique: When was the first trip that you took with Hana?
Yin: Hana was just two-months-old when we went to Nagoya, Japan for a week in December 2014. It was a spur of the moment decision. We usually go travelling at the year of the year, but as we were first-time parents and didn’t know what it would be like being parents, we held off on making any holiday plans. However, we realised we really missed travelling and started chatting about how nice it would be to go overseas. One thing led to another, and before I knew it, my husband was already on his Macbook looking at flights.
The main fear I had was having Hana cry non-stop while we were on the plane, disturbing all the passengers on board. However as I’m a first-time parent travelling overseas with my baby, I was bound to run into situations that I wasn’t prepared for. Thus, I could only be mentally prepared to manage any situation that occurred.
What preparations did you have to make before going on your trip?
The first thing on my list was to sort out Hana’s passport. After that it was mainly drawing up a list of things to pack. I mentally ran through my daily routine with Hana and noted down all the things that we use regularly.
What are the essential items that you brought for your trip?
As Hana was still quite young, having milk and sleep were the most important things we looked out for. We had thought that her pacifier was an essential item to combat the changes in air pressure in the plane cabin during take off and landing, but as it turned out, we didn’t use it. The one item we did use was our baby carrier. We didn’t have the hassle of having to lug a stroller around and Hana slept in it, allowing us to walk around with our hands free.
How is travelling with a baby different from your previous travels before you had a child?
I think the most important is to manage expectations. We chose Nagoya because we know it’s not a very busy city so we were in no hurry to check places off our sightseeing list. Not having a long itinerary, no must-do activities or must-visit places/restaurants is definitely a change from how I used to travel. I have to give credit to my husband for planning the details of the trip. He did all the research and did up our daily itinerary. All I had to do other than care for Hana, was follow him around.
Were there any unexpected events that happened during the trip?
Fortunately I brought my breast pump on board the plane with me. When we first got on the flight, Hana slept so soundly and didn’t need any milk. So I had to pump on board, but it worked out really well as when she woke up and wanted milk, I had a bottle ready for her and didn’t need to spend time getting her to latch on, time that could have made her cry more and disturb other passengers.
We also didn’t expect it to be so difficult to find diapers for Hana in Nagoya. We only brought enough for two to three days, thinking that we could buy additional supplies when we reached our destination. We couldn’t be more wrong. It turned out to be a really difficult affair. Firstly, we were in Japan around New Year’s Eve, hence many of the stores were closed or closed earlier than usual. Secondly, even when they were open, most only carried the bigger sizes and it was nearly impossible to find S sized diapers. We finally manage to find some of the right size, but it was a rather messy affair as they were leaky.
Despite the mishaps we faced, it was a great trip and we loved being able to travel with Hana. Though many people would say it’s a waste to bring her along as she’s too young to remember anything, we wouldn’t have it any other way. During the trip we bonded as a family and my relationship with my husband was strengthened because of the trip.
Once we realised that it was not that difficult to travel with an infant, we didn’t hold back. We went to the Maldives when Hana was nine-months-old and to Europe for two weeks when she was 10-months. Both trips were rather different as Hana was bigger, and the two countries were very different too.
For the Maldives, I had to pack everything I would need for the entire duration of the trip. I brought along a suitcase full of diapers, as there were no stores to buy additional diapers from, and bags of pureed food, as she was already on solids. Both food and diapers were readily available in Europe, but Hana had started crawling by then and would not stay in her baby carrier for long. We spent many days having picnics and letting her have free reign of the park.
What advice do you have for mummies looking to travel with young children?
Don’t spend too much time over-thinking the trip — you won’t know what it’s like until you try. However, do bear in mind how old they are when you are travelling with them as they develop very quickly at this age — what is suitable for them now and three months later is very different. Note their regular schedule and plan their itinerary accordingly.
You now have two kids and are planning to make a trip with both of them. Anything you will be doing differently?
We’ll be going to Tokyo in December with a toddler and a baby, and bringing twice as many things for them — not just two sets of outfits, but also diapers of two different sizes. However, Hana can now eat whatever we are eating, so that is one less thing that we need to worry about. We also opted to stay in an apartment instead of a hotel, as there would be a kitchen and small balcony. It will be more convenient for us and good to have more space. And like our very first trip as a family, we don’t have any checklist of places to go to, we’re just going to take it easy.
To read another mum’s travelogue on how she survived a long haul flight with a seven-month-old, click here.