Ever since we decided to take our then 2 years 7 months son to Hongkong and Shenzhen trip in December 2009, me & my wife has been googling for other parents experiences during their trips with their toddlers. It sure help us to be better prepared for the trip. Honestly, I had my doubt, is it worthwhile for us to take him to go overseas this young? However, we decided that it is a go!
It was only a four hours flight, but we were concern whether he can enjoyed being forced to sit for 4 hours plus. When we browsed Cathay Pacific website, we noticed that they provide kids menu and activity gift set on board. I did the request for the kids menu by phone to the local Cathay Pacific office.
At the boarding gate in Jakarta & Hongkong, we were the second group to board after elder passenger. The air crew on both trips was nice and helpful. They gave him a Disney theme bag containing activities set (coloring, games, etc) and a kid headset for the entertainment system. There are about 3 channels in the entertainment system that are suitable for toddler. The kids menu portion was rather big, consisting of bread, pasta, and fruit.
Our son spent most of his time sleeping. While he was awake, he spent his time with the activities set, movie, playing with his toys, and looking around at his seat.
One more thing, since the flight from Jakarta to Hongkong was not full, they even gave our son 2 extra activities set when we got off the aircraft.
Since we came from a tropical country, our son is accustomed to warm weather. We saw that the average temperature in Hongkong and shenzhen in December will be around 20 Celsius, so we prepared some sweaters, thick long sleeves shirts, jackets, and gloves.
Baby stroller & carrier
We brought along our foldable MacLaren Triumph stroller and an ergo baby carrier. It turn out that in the first few days of our trip, the temperature dropped to a windy 12-15 Celsius. Since we don’t have a stroller cover, on our second day at Disneyland we decided to rent their stroller for HK$60 (with HK$ 40 for deposit) because it has a really nice plastic cover that protect our son from the chill wind. It sure help a lot since he enjoyed his second day in Disneyland more than the first.
Better not bring bulky unfoldable baby strollers since it will seriously reduce your mobility. Some of the places we visited are not stroller friendly, even for our light and rather small stroller.
Although we think we might be able buy the diapers at our destination, we decided to bring enough diapers for the whole trip since we don’t know when we can visit the store to buy the diapers. Moreover, the space used for the diapers in our luggage will be replaced by souvenirs & gifts on our way back home.
We brought along 3 of his favorite toys, a small car, a Thomas train, and a small magic drawing board, although it turned out that we only used the magic drawing board. The car and Thomas didn’t even make their way out of the suitcase.
In the airplane before take off, the helpful Cathay Pacific crews gave him a small Disney gift bag containing stickers, crayon, coloring book, games, and else which are enough to keep him occupied during the flight.
We also let him chose his own toys at Disney store (a mickey mouse toy doll) and Toys R Us in Hongkong (James from the Thomas the Tank Engine series). These two new toys are really helpful to distract him whenever he started to get cranky throughout the trip.
Always be sure to arrange the schedule around his needs rather than ours. While our son enjoyed the rides & scene at the Hongkong Disneyland, Snoopy World (in Sha Tin), and Happy Valley (Huan Le Gu, in Shenzhen), he sure didn’t enjoy the times when we decided to go shopping, except it involve toy stores. Thus we decided to take turn for our souvenirs & gifts hunting. One of us accompanied him either at the hotel or nearby playground (or even toy stores in some cases), while the other do the shopping.
Make sure that he can get his afternoon nap either at the hotel or other comfortable place. We had one day when we visited the Snoopy World and New Town Plaza during the day, which was very crowded. He can only managed to get less than one hour of sleep in his stroller. Later in the afternoon, our relatives in Hongkong invited us for dinner which turned out to be a late dinner which finished around 10.30 pm. We were able to get him to sleep a little after 11pm, but then he woke up and cry nonstop around 3am. Because he was over stimulated during the day, it seemed like his subconscious state was still in “have fun” mode. He couldn’t stop crying and insisted to get out of the room to play slide (he was only half awake). I ended up taking him up and down the hotel escalators, pretend it to be a slide and then cradled him up while singing lullabies to get him back to sleep. It took me about an hour to do so.
His eating schedule is pretty much messed up during the trip. We always try to fed him properly during the designated hours but his excitement and adjustment to new environment seemed to affect his eating mood. He refused to eat on his normal eating hour and asked for food during unusual hours. After the first couple of days we always armed with cereal bars, biscuits, and fruits just in case he suddenly felt hungry.
It also help to have some meal at a buffet restaurant / hotel since there are plenty of food to choose from, including fresh fruits and vegetables.
We do try to travel light. We minimized our own gears, but we still ended up bringing 2 medium size luggages, one backpack, and one stroller. Therefore although traveling with MTR and bus in Hongkong is much easier on the wallet, we have to spend some extra money for taxi, especially when we are moving to other hotels (from Disney Hotel to downtown HK to Shenzhen), since it will be hard for me to go up and down the MTR station stairs bringing two luggages and a backpack while my wife have to struggle with the stroller and a restless toddler. Although some part of the MTR station in Hongkong & Shenzhen do have elevators and escalators, some part only has stone stairs.
Because he loves the Thomas & friends series, my son enjoyed the MTR rides very much. He can stayed relatively calm in the train, even on our longest trip (from Yau Ma Tei to Lo Wu). We just have to keep an eye on him everytime because once he almost run out of the door when the train door open in one station. One more thing, since he was not 3 years old yet, we didn’t need to buy him the tickets for the MTR trips.
There is an extra charge for baggage put in the trunk of the taxi in Hongkong, HK$ 5 for each baggage. There were no such charge for taxi in Shenzhen though plus the taxi fare is much more friendly in Shenzhen. And if you can’t speak proper Chinese, just make sure that you have your destination address written up in Chinese characters, and do make sure to take only the official taxi.
Traveling with toddler with airplane do have its own advantage since we are entitled to the priority boarding (no need to queue up with the rest of the passengers).
During the trip our son sometimes has to stay idle for quite a while, eg while waiting for the food to arrive at the restaurant, queuing up for the rides at Disneyland and Happy Valley, in the bus, train, taxi, etc. When he started to get bored with the toys or playing with us, we tried to divert his attention by playing songs and videos from our handheld. It helps most of the times.Overall, although traveling with our toddler son is much harder, we found it quite worthwhile. So don’t hesitate, be prepared and happy traveling!
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