Surviving [and Loving] Overseas Flights With a Baby

IMG_0118Looking back, this is probably one of the easiest ages to fly with a child. I didn’t have to worry about kid friendly snacks or drinks. At almost four months old, all she does is breastfeed. I didn’t have to plan out hours of entertainment. She still can sleep for hours or be entertained very easily. Literally, my fingers moving slowly toward her face makes her belly laugh with glee. She’s not asking are we there yet, protesting the seatbelt, or fighting boredom. She was very stimulated just by taking in all the new sights, smells, and sounds of airplane travel. Of course she cried during the flight, it’s probably impossible to prevent that. But we were quick to soothe her, and I doubt many passengers even heard her. One man even said as we were leaving the plane that he’d fly with our daughter any time. I count that as a success!

But before we left, I was full of concern. We’d mastered flying within the United States. But were we ready for 2 flights totaling 24+ hours of fly time with an almost 4 month old? Honestly, I wasn’t sure. But we were doing it. After about 7 months back in the US where we not only gave birth to our beautiful baby girl but also soaked up fabulous time with family & friends, we were about to head back to our Asian home. This time, with an infant. We packed up all our possessions and began a long, but wonderful week of travel.

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Messy Motherhood

Messy Motherhood

Motherhood. I was a little late joining this hood. It had always seemed like an elusive and exclusive club where I didn’t know the lingo or the handshake. Some moms I knew handled motherhood like they were born for it. Some moms made me surprised their kids survived each day. I knew my journey of pregnancy would one day end in motherhood. Questions continually loomed in my mind…Would I be ready? Was anyone ever ready? Was my entire life about to change in ways I couldn’t even imagine?

My first month of motherhood was awful. I could try and sugar coat it and find the good in it, but I’ll be honest. It was the hardest thing I’ve done in my life.

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Baby’s First Flight

Now that we have a baby, travel will never look the same. Gone are the days of budget airlines and carry-on only. At least for awhile. If I’ve learned anything in the few short months of being mom it’s that everything takes more time than expected. From leaving the house to accomplishing a simple errand, it just takes longer. Sometimes it’s obvious…a diaper blowout, a crying meltdown or a forgotten diaper bag. But sometimes, I can’t figure out where the time goes, but it’s taken me twice as long! So when we were preparing for our first flight with baby, we made sure to allow for extra time.

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Baby Travel Bug’s first flight was at 9 weeks old from Florida to Michigan, from one set of loving grandparents to another. We chose to fly Southwest Airlines because we were not just flying for a visit, but it was the first leg of our move back to Indonesia. So when we left Florida, it was with all our belongings. And Southwest’s baggage policy is the best for that. Another nice thing about Southwest Airlines is the choose your own seat policy & family pre-boarding. A wise mother of multiples suggested heading to the back of the plane and claiming three seats for us, hoping that if it wasn’t a full flight no one would willingly choose to sit in the back of the plane in the middle seat next to an infant. Good advice. Continue reading

Hello World, Meet Baby Travel Bug

After 9 long months [but really more like 10] of waiting and praying and laboring, we are so excited to welcome our daughter into the world. She’s already quite the world traveler, having visited 5 countries while in the womb. We chose to have her in our home country of America with family and friends nearby, but we will return to Asia in 2018. She has already changed us in so many ways. She’s such a joy to love and to parent. I’m blessed to be her mama. Can’t wait to bring this little traveler along on our many adventures! Welcome to the world, Mila Elizabeth.

 

9 Podcasts for Long Travel Days

I would say that this is the year that I discovered podcasts. I’d listened to one or two over the years, but it wasn’t until 2016/2017 that I became mildly addicted. I blame Serial. This binge-worthy true crime podcast launched in 2014, and since then, I’ve been looking for it’s replacement. I love that podcasts are diverse in content, creative in production, and created by ordinary people with passion. Sure, there’s a few I enjoy that are star-studded and celebrity endorsed, but I love the everyday stories. I love that podcasts are [usually] weekly, or at least seasonally. A podcast combines the imagination required for reading a book and the anticipation of waiting week to week of old school TV. Living overseas, podcasts have helped me stay connected to American current events and cultural phenomenons. And they are perfect for those flights, train rides, and bus trips that never seem to end. So check out my handy list of podcasts for travel days and download something new!

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Laying Over in Seoul & Narita Pt. 2

On our 2017 trip back from Indonesia to the US, we had quite the layover experience. Although being 30 weeks pregnant was not how I originally made these travel plans. For Part 1 of our layover adventures in Seoul, South Korea, click here!

From Seoul, we traveled onto Tokyo via the Narita Airport. Tokyo had long been in my heart to visit. I was most excited about touring this mega modern stylish capital city. However, my pregnant weariness and swollen feet got the best of me. We never did explore the city of Tokyo, but instead spent the day in Narita, Japan and still had a grand time.

My main goals for experiencing Japan were food related. I wanted to eat ramen and sushi and edamame and dumplings. I love love love Japanese food. And other than the sushi [yay pregnancy], I got to eat all my Japanese favorites. Our first stop was at Ramen Bayashi, right on the main street through Narita. The food was exactly as good as I hoped it would be. My husband and I shared the most savory dumplings and the most delicious ramen that I’ve ever tried. After our huge meal, we continued to walk through Narita and take in the sights. We visited a 7/11 because convenience stores in Japan are no joke. Quirky soda flavors, prepared meals, household goods, and unique snacks were all on display at this one stop shop. We continued walking through the carefully curated streets of Narita and found ourselves at Naritasan Park & Pagoda. This large temple complex was a beautiful ancient Buddhist temple with so much to explore. We arrived a little late in the day at almost 5pm, so the temple itself was closing but we could still walk around and enjoy the architecture. Our final stop on our walking tour of Narita was AEON Mall. Usually a shopping mall isn’t my idea of great sightseeing, but I really wanted to find Daiso, a 99 Yen store [$1 store], and spend the rest of our yen on souvenirs for ourselves and family & friends! I stocked up on washi tape and cool stationary supplies, bought authentic fans, designer pens and sushi shaped erasers. All for 99 yen. What a deal. As we took the free shuttle bus back to our hotel for the evening, and prepared to catch our flight back to Chicago the next day, I felt completely satisfied by my Japanese experience. And of course, completely wanting to return.

Laying Over in Seoul & Narita Pt. 1

On our last trip from Indonesia to America, we had booked a crazy flight combination. We pieced together a few routes and ended up with a super cheap flight with two long layover in countries we hadn’t yet visited. I was so excited to explore Seoul and Tokyo on these layovers. I love planning trips to new cities and countries. Sometimes, I make travel plans for fun. So I was ready with a long to do list of must-see, must-do, and must-eats in both South Korea and Japan. And then I found out I was pregnant. And then we realized I would be flying at 30 weeks of my pregnancy. I was just hoping to leave the hotel honestly.

Our first long layover was in Seoul, South Korea. We arrived earlier in the day, after an overnight flight from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. It was too early to checkin to our nearby hotel, so I summoned the energy to explore a new city. Thankfully, downtown Seoul is accessible from Incheon Airport by a pretty fast train. We got off the train in Seoul Station, but transferred to the local metro to check out my number one must-see in Seoul: the Cheonggyecheon River. The Cheonggyecheon River is a is a 10.9-kilometer-long (6.8 mi) creek and nature space running through the middle of urban modern Seoul. It’s beautiful to walk along and take in the design and creativity along the waterway. From bridges to waterfalls and artistic murals and landscapes, it was a beautifully peaceful and a great spot to see in downtown Seoul. It reminded me a little of Central Park in New York City, a green space in the middle of a concrete jungle. From the Cheonggyecheon River, we wandered through the shops of Myeong-dong shopping district and found a Korean bbq place tucked away down a side alley. We’ve eaten Korean bbq in the past, but never in Korea. So we were happy the waiter had some limited English, a limited English menu and the grace to prepare all the food for us because we had no idea what we were doing! But it was delicious. And that was our trip to Seoul. We took the metro back to Seoul Station, and from there back to the airport to get over to our hotel for the night. It wasn’t the whirlwind 10 stop walking tour of a major Asian city that I was hoping for, but it was a tiny taste of Seoul that left me hungry to go back for more one day.

Portrait of a Mother-To-Be

I confess, blogging has taken a backseat to this pregnancy of mine. Not because it’s been a hard pregnancy, but because my brain and my heart have been focused elsewhere. But I did want to share these stunning maternity photos my husband & I had taken once arriving back in the US. Our good friend, Tommy Oldham took these gorgeous shots on Lake Michigan. We are so excited to welcome our baby girl later this year!

Fifteen Photos to Inspire You to Visit Singapore

Singapore is a one of kind city/country. Nestled at the tail of of the Malay peninsula, Singapore has an identity all it’s own. It’s a culture collision, in the best way possible. Chinese, Indian, Middle Eastern foods & places of worship blend seamlessly with European architecture and modern transportation and efficiency. It’s one of the rare places in Southeast Asia that I expect to catch a bus on time. Or travel by underground metro. Singapore is not just rich in culture, but also rich in wealth. One should adjust their budget to travel through Singapore after visiting nearby Malaysia, Indonesia or Thailand…the price tag is steep. But so worth it. Hopefully these photos inspire you to plan a Singapore holiday of your own!

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Beautiful architecture near Chinatown

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Hello Marina Bay Sands Hotel!

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Yummy dumpings at a Hawker Center

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Fifteen Photos to Inspire You to Visit Vietnam

Vietnam is a pretty great place. However, it had never really been at the top of my must-see locations until we moved to Asia. Then, I discovered low cost airlines that could transport me to relatively unknown places for limited finances. I’ve now been to Vietnam twice in the past 12 months, because I simply fell in love with the place. I hope these photos can inspire you to make the trip to Vietnam so you can fall in love with it too!

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Kayaking HaLong Bay

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Hanoi traffic

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West Lake of Hanoi

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