29 October 2018

Traveling Internationally...with a Baby

Dun dun dun.

Okay, really, there's no call for such drama or exaggeration. People fly around the world with their babies every day. But I will say I was just the tiniest bit nervous ahead of the trip. Some babies are big cuddlers, who just love to stay in mommy's arms.

Cyrus is a big adventurer, who loves to crawl to the far corners of the earth. So...I knew that traveling for a week in places where we mostly wouldn't be able to put him down and let him get some exercise might be a bit of a challenge.

But it went fabulously! Here are some of the factors, most of which are highly impractical to replicate, that helped make this baby's first international trip so smooth.

1) A stroller.

We didn't actually own a compact stroller ahead of the trip. Strollers are ridiculously expensive in Malaysia, and we have a borrowed one that we use for walks around the neighborhood, but it's quite bulky and not great for traveling. We decided to buy whatever really cheap compact stroller we could find online for the trip, and we ordered one from Malaysia's version of Amazon...and it never arrived. Even after the still hasn't arrived. I don't think it ever will. This is why I don't shop online here.

Anyway, we had asked around about possible places to buy an inexpensive stroller before we bought the one online, and shortly after we'd placed the order, some friends stopped by and said, hey, we have this super cool ultra-compact stroller that we got in America, do you want to borrow it for the trip? They showed me how it folded up, and I was in awe. It is amazingly small!

It's the gb Pockit stroller, and guys, it's amazing. We didn't even have to gate-check it on the airplane because it fit under the seat as a small piece of hand luggage.

Cyrus spent a good part of the trip falling asleep in the stroller. For a trip that involved taking airplanes and then public transportation all over the city, this was the right stroller to have on hand!

2) Ergo Carrier

I'd put an Ergo 360 on my "wishlist" of sorts before he was born, because I wanted a carrier that could be used at many different ages so that we could have only the one carrier, and one that could easily used by different adults of different sizes. My aunt and uncle gave it to us, and we've used it a lot!

We used the carrier on days when we were going to parks or islands, places where a stroller was not convenient to have. Carrying Cyrus in the Ergo is much easier than carrying him in your arms for long periods of time. A high-energy TWENTY POUND baby...yep, the carrier is the way to go. He also likes to fall asleep in the Ergo.

3) An Ultra-Friendly Baby

Sometimes I suspect that this baby loves strangers more than his own family, because he sees his own family all the time and they are a little bit boring, but strangers are new and exciting. He smiled at all the strangers in the elevators, in the metro trains, in the buses, everywhere we went. He was constantly making friends. The flight attendants gave him a kitkat bar (that was confiscated and eaten by Angel because kitkats are not part of a seven-month-old's diet) and took selfies with him.

Also, we went to Disneyland. We weren't really planning to meet many characters, because shows, parades, and rides were a bigger priority, but then we kind of accidentally met Chewbacca, and Captain Hook, and Cyrus loved them so much that we kept bringing Cyrus to meet more characters when we had the chance.

This kid has never even seen a movie. For all he knows, these are just especially strange-looking strangers. But he loved them! It was the funniest thing. I have more photos of him meeting Disney characters, but for this post, I'll just share one story.

Very close to the end of the night, I was holding Cyrus outside the bathrooms, waiting for my sisters to come out. We looked across the walkway, and there was Frollo, in a little garden, meeting guests. Cyrus spotted him, and started smiling, so I walked a little bit closer to the Exit gate of the garden and held him up to see, with no intention of going in, because the Entrance gate was far away and I was just waiting for my sisters so that we could go back and join the rest of the family. But then Frollo spotted Cyrus. And it was apparently love at first sight, because Frollo walked all the way away from his little photo-taking spot, and Cyrus got even more excited when he came closer, and they held hands over the gate, and then Frollo opened up the gate and led me and Cyrus (holding hands the whole way...Cyrus holding Frollo's plastic hands...) down the path to the photo-taking spot and they spent time posing together.

I mean, would you look at that? He was so ridiculously happy and overjoyed. Even I don't know anything about Frollo. I was told he's the villain in "Hunchback of Notre Dame," I've never seen the movie. But from now on, I will always associate this character with this funny little moment that Cyrus had of being so excited and happy to spend time with...Frollo.

I need to get me a baby who looks at me the way my own baby looks at...Frollo.

So, pro-tip. Occasionally, you might have a baby who excessively loves meeting giant cartoon-looking people. This seems strange, but don't be alarmed. It was one of the most unexpected joyous things of our trip.

4) A 5.5 adult to 1 baby ratio.

We were traveling with my family, which was especially fun because I got to experience Disneyland and the rest of Hong Kong with my little sisters, but also, it's super convenient to have so many big people to take care of one small one. Grandma hung out with Cyrus while the rest of us rode roller coasters. We had many arms to hold him and carry him on long bus rides.

It rarely ever seems to happen that adults/almost-adults far outnumber children, but that's the perk of being the oldest grandchild and having teenage aunts around to play with you.

5) I've decided that 7 months is a brilliant time to travel. 

Several factors make it good. One, he can eat other foods besides milk. This was very useful because not all moments while traveling are convenient for breastfeeding. Two, he can't walk or run yet. He loves to crawl, and pulls himself up on all manner of furniture, and climbs onto low footstools or mattresses on the floor (danger baby!) but babies are much easier to contain in the pre-walking days. I'm sure that by the time of our next big adventure, he'll be toddling all over the place.

Another perk of traveling with a baby is that they're pretty much free to take with you. ;) Just the baby food and diapers and apparently they need those just as much when they're at home, too.

Kristin said...

We'll be traveling across the country (and staying in strange places!) at 6 months so this gives me hope! It'll be a car trip, but still.
Is that a liner in the Ergo?

rooth said...

What a happy kid! I'm glad y'all had a good trip together. And 20 lbs! Already?!

Natalie said...

Cyrus is SO cute, Rachel! He's got the best chunky baby cheeks--I am so happy for you and Angel! :)

And yes, the gbPockit is AMAZING. We've had ours now fro 2.5 years, and it is one of the things I absolutely must have when we travel. We used it as part of our carry on luggage on our last round of flights, and the flight attendants were amazed that we could collapse it down so small!

Unknown said...

Oh man, that's too bad that your stroller never arrives, but it's great you could use that one! I can't believe how compact that thing is!

The pictures and story about Cyrus meeting characters are hilarious! Especially because it's Frollo. I've never seen the animated Hunchback movie, but I have read (and really enjoyed) the book and OH MAN Frollo is horrific/creepy/awful. So seeing a costumed character of him with your cheery baby is pretty funny :)

Charlene Maugeri said...

That Frollo story cracked me up! Isn't Disney magical? I love how much Cyrus loved all the characters and that this character made a point to get you two over there and spend time with you guys!

Salo said...

Dear Rachel, please do not carry you baby face to front.
That is not good for babys hips and especially for boys they squish their boy parts.
Instead try carrying him on your back if he wants to see more.
Greetings from Germany, Salo

Manish Ambaliya said...

Amazing! I know nothing about traveling all over the country, what a wonderful looking place to explore.