Opinion: Allan Wu's tips on how to travel with children, our precious cargo

Allan Wu
Contributor
Allan with kids, Sage and Jonas. (Photo: Allan Wu)

For anyone who has ever traveled with infants and toddlers, he or she knows that it’s a completely different experience than the good ole “pre-baby” days. The notion of “traveling light” goes out of the airlock door, and it’s simply a matter of how many things you can stuff into your allocated luggage for children in the event ANYTHING happens. Throughout my years of traveling, I even find myself asking, “What exactly is the point of traveling when your children are still very young?” First, it requires a tonne of concentration just to decide what to bring. Second, the journey itself is the last thing from relaxing and being undisturbed. And thirdly, I often ask myself whether these kids can even recall this trip, let alone appreciate it! 

Still, we parents continue to lug our children everywhere near and far by land, sea, and air. We endeavour to take enough pictures and videos so one day when our children are old enough, we can show them that we actually did take them somewhere other than the neighbourhood park or local shopping mall. For me, if I am going to put in all of that effort to transport these little people from the comforts of our home to another destination, you can be certain I am going to document it! And I can safely say that is the wisest decision I ever made, no matter how many times my children complained about taking another picture together.

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Bassinet in an airplane. (Photo: Getty Images)

Of course, a lot of work does go into traveling with children, and the amount of effort is inversely proportional to their age.  The younger a child is, the more work and effort it involves to get everything in order.  Now that my kids are in their teens and more or less able to take care of themselves, it feels like a lifetime ago when their mother and I would feel like we were packing for a mass exodus no matter how near or far we were going. About four months after Sage was born, we took her on her first flight from Singapore to Bali. Of course, she has absolutely no idea what was going on, but I can still recall our greatest concern was how she would handle the short flight. Fortunately, she fared well and we all arrived in one piece… and in peace! Less than one month after that trip, we then took her on her first long-haul flight to Los Angeles from Singapore. As daunting as that seemed at the time, we survived that trip and that can be attributed to a few points to remember:

  1. Make sure to book a seat with a bassinet so that allows you to rest without your child for a portion of the flight. If the baby can sleep most of the way, then that flight is already considered a big win for everyone.
  2. It’s essential to bring a sippy cup or bottle not only to keep the baby hydrated but also to relieve air pressure, especially since infants don’t know how to do that yet during ascents and descents.
  3. Pack lots of clothes and diapers because an accident is waiting to happen just around the corner. 
Making memories everywhere we go. (Photo: Allan Wu)

Of course, there are numerous articles online with tips on traveling with babies and toddlers so I don’t really want to regurgitate all the same information. For anyone who has ever traveled with infants, we all know it requires a completely different mindset. For starters, I would remind myself to rest well before the start of a journey with my children versus expecting to get quality rest during the flight.  And after returning from a long trip with the little ones, I am reminded how much I miss the comforts and convenience of home. Still, no matter how much I might jest about all the additional work that goes into traveling with Sage and Jonas, taking one look at their smiles in my comprehensive library of our traveling adventures has made it all worth it. And now that they’re older, I am sure they are certainly excited to “fly solo” without their father hovering around trying to take pictures to document the family outing!