Sunday, January 15, 2017

5 Lessons Learnt from Travelling with Children

We started travelling with our children when they were 5+ and 6+ years old respectively. We didn't bring our children overseas when they were younger because we were worried that we couldn't manage. After travelling with the children overseas a few times, now I have learnt 5 lessons from travelling with the children.

Lesson #1. Managing my own expectation

I learnt to manage my own expectation about travelling because:
  • The children may not enjoy going to places that you enjoy e.g. scenic sightseeing spots on the mountains and at the seas.
  • You may not really enjoy the places that they enjoy e.g. hotel's indoor swimming pool.
  • The children need to eat when you are busy admiring the scenery / shopping.
  • The children need to visit the washroom at the most inconvenient times e.g. in the long queue at some places of interest.
  • The children's batteries are flat by afternoon and refuse to continue the evening itinerary.
  • When you have 2 or more children, they will fight for whatever they can fight e.g. sitting at the window seat in the plane, sleeping on the same bed with DaDi (no one wants MaMi, sob...)

For example, I planned to enjoy this beautiful scenery for 1 hour. However, the wind was so strong that the children screamed and wanted to leave. So we were there for 9 minutes 59 seconds.

Well, these happen even if we do not step out of Singapore!

I have to keep reminding myself to manage my own expectation especially when I have to increase my alert level by 1000% in the foreign environment.

Lesson #2. Slow is the key, but fast when necessary

Before we have children, our itineraries were usually very packed, we tried to visit as many places as we could within a day. But this travelling method is a big No No with children. So when we planned our itinerary, the number of places to visit per day is 2 to 3. No more than that. 

While slow is the key, there are exceptions.

You bring your children to the beautiful cape. It is super windy and the children are very scared. What do you do? Take a fast selfie. Admire the cape within 59 seconds. Leave. the. place. FAST!

You order the sashimi which the children don't eat. They start fidgeting when they are getting bored. What do you do? Take a quick shot of the sashimi if you have to. Swallow. that. sashimi. FAST!

Lesson #3. Plan at least one activity that is specially catered to the children

Ok, let's be fair, the trip is not just for the children, it is for the whole family. So we should not just visit places for children only, go to places that you would love to visit too! But still, plan at least one activity that is catered for children.

We visited Disneyland Hong Kong, as well as slides in Taiwan and Japan, specially planned for the children. Recently I asked the children what their favourite activity in Japan was, they answered "The indoor swimming pool at the sea side hotel". Before I almost fainted, they answered, "Actually the long slide!" Yes, they do remember those special activity planned for them!

Lesson #4. Availability of food

The children have an amazing appetite, and they get hungry every 2 to 3 hours. So we always carry some bread and biscuits in our bags for such emergency. Sometimes the snacks may not satisfy them, so when I plan the itinerary, I always make sure that I know where the eateries, supermarkets and convenience stores are.

In addition, I learnt that I shall never order child's meal on the flight again! No, I don't mean that the child's meal is not nice, it is actually quite delicious. But it happened that the airlines we took offered pasta with tomato sauce as part of the child's meal, and it happens that my children do not like tomato sauce! So we ended up eating child's meal, while our children ate our meal!

Lesson #5. Capture the moments 

Take photos of my children and my hubby. And not to forget to include MYSELF in the photos too! I used smartphone to take wefies, but the quality of photos is not that great under low light condition. So I bought a camera with flip-out screen!

But there are times that I remind myself to keep the camera. Just savour the bonding moments with my family.

What do you learn when you travel with your children?

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