Travelling with royalty

One big thing we have learned since having a baby and traveling around Asia, is that Asian’s LOVE babies. So far we have not found an Asian culture who doesn’t go completely bonkers when they see a Westerner baby. I think we have a pretty good idea of what handlers of royalty must feel like, it is crazy, disconcerting, and eventually sweet.

Our first encounter was with tourists in Hawaii. We took our little monkey to the pool at the hotel and no joke we had a Japanese paparazzi horde (we speak basic Japanese so recognised the language). I am serious, I was filming hubby and little monkey when my hubby told me to turn around and there was about 20 Japanese tourists cooing, laughing and snapping away. Wait what? yup snapping like crazy at some random child they don’t even know. But wait, then we had a lady come up and ask if she could have her photo taken with our little monkey! I’ll be honest on one level it was funny, and on another totally freaked us out. We left soon after. But this set the tone for our trip where Asian tourists would stop us in the streets and chat to us about our little monkey.

We did not think much more of it until our recent trip to South East Asia. We traveled through a few countries and one thing remained the same, every where we went our little man was treated like royalty. Old cranky people would bust out huge smiles and silly voices, giggly teenagers would oooh and ahh, workers would stop and high-five our little monkey, and if we stood still for long a small group would form around us.

It was amazing really, and by the end of it we had lost the hang ups our society has on this sort of thing. Certainly in Western culture it is frowned on to touch some strangers baby let alone play with them. Doubly so if your male. I can’t recall in Australia a random male coming up to my baby and saying “high-five little guy”. Previously if one did I would probably pick my little monkey up and move at speed (borderline breaking the sound barrier) in the opposite direction, to be fair I would probably have done the same to a random woman as well. But this is how Western society has become, we are suspicious of anyone we don’t know showing an interest in our child.

I was speaking to a local expat who said most Westerners struggle with the way Asians act towards their babies and children. Once we accepted they didn’t mean any harm we were a lot more relaxed about it. It certainly lead to some of most memorable moments, like a receptions who touched my little man’s arm and whispered with reverence “he is so fair”, the cranky old man who had glared at us as we walked into his shop but then giggled like a school girl trying to entertain our son, the waiter in a restaurant who stood in view of our son pulling faces and entertaining him, having Asian families pointing and staring at us with wonder (and commenting to us about our son) in the pool (and I’m pretty sure it had nothing to do with my glow in the dark white skin), and the cleaner who giggled as the little monkey followed her around the room.

One thing I have learned from this experience is to dial down the panic meter when some stranger approaches our son and wants to interact with him.

Advertisements

Travelling With A Toddler

Travelling with a toddler is different to travelling with baby. Recently we learned how very different it can be.

General Tips

  • Research thoroughly planes, airports, hotels and anywhere you will have to wait. Find out what facilities are there and if there are any things to entertain children (in flight entertainment, play areas, kids clubs etc). This can be a life saver.
  • Packing – pack minimally and utilise laundry services.
  • Try not to take the favourite toy, that if lost would spell disaster. Take easily replaceable stuff.
  • If renting a car make sure you have a baby seat allocated with your booking.

At The Airport

  • If your travelling internationally then you will be there are a good couple of hours at least, which is not factoring in possible delays. Airports are not designed for children so keeping children entertained is a struggle. We were lucky that a good window overlooking the airport runway was enough to keep our son entertained. We also had a wonderful thing called a trunki. It is a carry on luggage for kids that allows you to put everything you need (nappies, wipes, toys, food etc). Best of all though it can be used as a toy; your child can push it around (which my son did for ages), can be pulled with the strap, or rode on (and pulled with a strap by an adult). If you travel a lot I can not recommend this enough.
  • Remember it can take double the time to get through security, walk to your departure gate etc. Always allow for a heap of time to get to your gate for boarding.
  • Riding on the train/bus between terminals can entertain children (if you can access it and its free bonus).
  • Some airports do have children areas for kids to play/eat in.

On The Plane

  • Pre-allocate your seat, either pay extra and get the seats you want, or try online check in and pick your seats. Seats near toilets, or flight hostesses galleys can be helpful. But make sure the seat reclines, there is nothing worse then being stuck with a sleeping child on you and you cant get even remotely comfortable.
  • Remember with young children you can not sit in exit row seats. See if you can get a baby bassinet seat.
  • Check if you can get some sort of priority treatment. Some airlines allow parents with kids to board first. There is usually a fee but it can mean you are boarding the plane with out the hassell of other people waiting behind you as you get your self and your child/children settled.
  • Make sure everything you need for your child/children is out of the over head luggage compartment. If your flight is delayed and your left sitting on the tarmac for awhile this will be helpful.
  • Try to time your flights around or near your childs sleep times or awake times.
  • Have something the child can eat/drink to help with ear popping.
  • iphone/ipads can be great entertainment. Alternatively you can try in flight entertainment (some international flights actually have games kids can play).
  • Think outside the box for entertainment; two plastic empty cups and a plastic spoon can entertain a toddler or baby for ages.
Sightseeing
  • Plan sightseeing around your childs nap and eating times. Especially if you dont have a pram for your child to fall asleep in.
  • Be realistic about what your child will be entertained by, or want to see. Tramping around a shopping centre for hours may not be your child’s idea of a good time, or going on the roller coaster even possible. However a trip to the zoo or aquarium may keep your child entertained for awhile. Also while at a family friendly place it may not be your baby friends as in a 3 hour performance with elephants at 9pm is not going to be realistic attraction for a toddler who is normally in bed by then.
  • Look into baby sitting services so you can do more “adult” activities like a massage or shopping.
  • If you are visiting somewhere you go to regularly have a good think about your “must see” attractions or “must do” activities. Can it wait till next time?
At The Hotel/Accomodation
  • Check out baby sitting services or kids club to give you a much needed break from each other.
  • Before you arrive ask if a pram can be rented/provided. This could save you on valuable luggage weight limit by not taking your pram with you.
  • A hotel close to the sights you want to see make sightseeing easier and more convenient.
  • Arrange prior to arrival any cots or children’s beds you may need.
  • Two separate kids meals can be expensive but one adult meal divided between two kids can save money.

Travelling with a Baby – By Plane Part 2

Recently we set off for our third trip away with our son. We were prepared. We had been here before and our son travelled brilliantly so why would this time be any different?

Well for one he could now crawl, and was cruising. So ALL he wanted to do was power crawl everywhere. No sitting or sleeping contentedly on the plane or while we waited in airports. Oh No, he wanted to move his little tuckus.

So we deployed all the tricks we had and they did worked well up to a point. Then the unhappiness started. I say unhappiness because thankfully our son at this stage is not really a tantrum thrower or a screamer (he is only just a year old though so give him time). But he got loud and he cried, which resulted in the “look” from other travellers.

So my biggest travel tip would now be; prepare for the inevitable tantrum. Because it is coming, it is just a matter of when. There is nothing you can do either except watch helplessly as the little nuclear bomb that is a baby/toddler tantrum goes off spectacularly.

In the end we just had to let him crawl. Luckily we had access to Qantas club, which is a more private area to wait between flights. We choose a corner not really inhabited by other people, then let our son loose. When even this failed finding a spot by the window overlooking the airport runways was another good distraction.

My next tip would be if traveling a fair distance or more than one leg, try not to travel alone. Having someone else there to hold the baby, or give you a breather is just magical. Plus if all else fails you can hand your baby over and go curl up in a ball yourself and rock back and forth for a while.

I really wish airports would cater to families and make them more friendly to children. Maybe like an airline club there should be a children’s club area.

It will be interesting what our next trip will be like because no doubt our son will be walking and probably talking by that stage. Oh joy!

Travelling With Baby in a Car

Taking that first road trip with your baby can be daunting task.

Here are some tips that will hopefully make the trip an easier one.

  • Feeding – If you’re feeding formula, this one’s pretty easy. Make sure you have a way to warm up the bottles in the car (there are many products on the market for this) and you’re set. Don’t forget to pack enough formula, bottles, and water. If your breast-feeding, well there is nothing else to plan for. Also if your baby is eating solids make sure you bring enough along.  When the car is stopped try nursing the baby while he or she is still in the car seat. This usually involves some form of dangling, draping, or leaning over the seat, but babies don’t seem to mind. This can also be an excellent comfort if baby gets fussy in the car seat, or can be the thing that helps soothe baby off to sleep.
  • Regular Stops – Make sure you plan regular stops. This is good for both baby and grown ups. Both get a change of scenery, some fresh air and a good time to eat and take care of ahem business.
  • Sleeping – If you can, start your trip about the time of baby’s longest nap – or even around baby’s bedtime. Many babies find the motion of the car to be soothing, and many babies take longer naps while traveling.
  • Give Baby a Friend – Consider having one parent sit in the backseat with the baby while the other drives. Many times, babies fuss in the car seat because they’re simply lonely and bored back there. Having someone to look at, play with, and talk to can help turn an unhappy baby into a content one.
  • It Will Take Longer than it used to – There’s no getting around it – trips with a baby just take longer. You’ll be making more frequent stops and the stops will probably be longer. Plan for this upfront so you’re not stressed out once you get on the road. Calm parents help make a calm baby.
  • Stops – Don’t plan marathon stretches of driving. Invest in a map that shows where the roadside rest areas are – this information can come in really handy when baby starts trying to break the sound barrier with its voice and you’re trying to decide whether to pull over or keep going.
  • Feeding – it’s easy to let baby sleep through a feed or think “just five more minutes”. It will be easier to keep your baby’s feeding schedule as close to their normal routine as possible. It will save tears and stress on both sides in the long run.
  • Routine – Again keep the routine as similar as possible to home.
  • New Toys – for older babies a new special toy can be a great distraction. A mirror and can also be a fun toy for a baby to talk to. Like wise tape some light toys to the roof, create a viewing poster, or make a chain of light weight toys to string across the car seat. Be creative! We had our son amused with a simple empty soft drink cup for ages (washed and cleaned of course).
  • Books – if your baby is old enough some books with bright colours (or a photo book with relatives) can keep your baby entertained as well. The emergency exit laminated sheet kept out son entertain for quite a while.
  • Car seat – NEVER TAKE YOUR BABY OUT OF IT’S CAR SEAT WHILE DRIVING. It is so tempting to put a parent in the back and drive with baby to soothe. But it is illegal and dangerous.
  • Let there be light – some babies do not like travelling in the dark. If this is the case with yours, try turning on the back seat light (if there is one), take a portable battery-powered lamp and put that on.
  • Play that funky music – many babies find “pop” music soothing. Try some beetles or easy listening. Better yet if you can stand it some children’s music like The Wiggles can be great for babies.
  • Practice – do some dry runs before hand and see how your baby copes. That way you identify before hand areas you need to address. Much better than finding out while doing 100 kph down the highway.
  • Sunshade – a sun shade on the window helps prevent sun burn on your child and keeps them cool in their seat.
  • Sightseeing – plan your sight-seeing stops around your baby’s sleep routine. Obviously do not go to a noisy busy place while your baby is sleeping. Try and go somewhere more sedate (like a park or museum). Save the action packed aquarium full of screaming, excited older children for when you baby is awake.

Most of all remember to have fun!

Please share any of your tips.

Travelling With Baby On A Plane Tips

With Christmas rapidly approaching we thought it would be a good idea to share with you some tips for travelling on an airplane.

At the Airport

  • Pack your baby’s food and essentials in clear bags. That way airport security do not contaminate your sterilised items if they have to rummage through your bag.
  • Call ahead of time and see if your carrier allows families with small children to board earlier then the main passengers. Some airlines do this, others do not.
  • Check in early and ask for the bassinet seat. It is supposed to be offered to the youngest baby on the flight, however the last time I flew the baby in the was HUGE and there were two other babies nearby who were clearly younger and smaller.
  • If you cant get the bassinet sat ask for the seats in front or just behind the toilet. You wont get more space but you will be able to stand up and walk around with bub if necessary. So long story short get there early to ensure you get the bassinet seat.
  • Don’t check your stroller unless you plan to carry your child in a sling. Most airlines will allow you to push your stroller all the way to the gate. They’ll then check it at the gate and have it waiting for you outside the plane door when you deplane. Some airlines will even let you bring a small stroller on board if there is space.
  • Anticipate delays in security. Security is tricky with a baby especially when you have to take your sling/baby carrier off (or even the stroller it has to be x-rayed). Remove your baby carrier or stroller last when unpacking, and first on the other side. Having somewhere safe to sit your baby while you are packing and unpacking is great. Some airports have family lines where you will get assistance. But don’t count on it. I used to think airport security was bad before I had a child. Now its a nightmare.
  • Anticipate delay’s in general. Make sure you have double the nappies, formula, or food in case you are sitting at the airport for six hours instead of three.
  • Some airports have children play areas. Otherwise pick a large open area near your depature gate so you can walk around and show your baby stuff. Or let your baby crawl or practice cruising. Also think outside of the box if your flight is delayed and looking for entertainment. One suggestion was if possible (and at your airport) ride the light rail between airports.
  • Utilise luggage trollies at the airport. Again in my pre-baby travels I never needed a trolley, but with a baby it became almost essential. It certainly made navigating the airport easier.

More

%d bloggers like this: