Travelling Solo with a Toddler

My Birth Story
August 6, 2018
Travel Guide: Singapore with Kids
September 9, 2018
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Travelling Solo with a Toddler

I haven't travel anywhere since Chloe was born. The first year was fine as I was too occupied juggling my new role as a mum. As a first time mum, I was literally obsessed with parenting ‘by the book’ and gaining any valuable insight from articles and books on developing good eating and sleeping habits. My anxiety level was high, coupled with handling a colicky and fussy infant

In the second year, traveling became wishful. Routines were more established and I was able to enjoy my brewing tea and have warm food without having to rush to a clingy baby, every single minute. Having spent so much time together, the mutual understanding heightened between us. Her babbles made more sense to me and the communication cycle flowed smoother. But she was still a handful! And aside from that, my dad's health deteriorated rapidly that year. I had to prioritise his well being as part of my household duties. It was a year of heartbreak and adjustment to see my dads independence and strength decline in the blink of an eye.
Apart from those reasons, Chloe hasn't had a passport to legally travel abroad since birth. She was on a "special visa", which I had to take to immigration and renew every 42 days for her to legally stay in Brunei because, while I am a Bruneian citizen, my husband is a foreigner (we are still in the midst of waiting for her Brunei citizenship to be approved and fingers crossed it will be done soon).

After dad's passing, I thought it’ll be helpful if we go on a holiday to get a break from the cycle of grieving, and in the hopes of regaining some normalcy. Since Daddy was busy with work, I decided to take Chloe on the trip solo! And the only country I felt comfortable to do this is Singapore. I was pretty excited as I finally get to travel somewhere that is more than a 30KM distance further from my usual route for almost three years.
After purchasing the air tickets, I felt sudden knots in my stomach and the tension building up on my shoulders… Picturing my miserable self with a tantrum throwing toddler in a foreign land, ending up in a disastrous trip. I slowly pick myself up and shoved away the negativity, and made a survival plan! Thought I can share some of it :
1) Prepare a thorough checklist of items to bring
Make sure you bring the necessities such as milk powder, bottles, diapers and things that you use on a daily basis. I had to get it all listed down and checked because organization is a priority when you need to respond to a toddler’s demands instantly. You literally have no chance of wait time. To keep my sanity, I keep telling myself, they will outgrow this and one day… it will be missed.

Disposable bibs are quite useful to have, along with disposable placemats, hand sanitizer spray and disposable milk powder storage bags. The travel stroller was the best thing I brought along for the trip. I have the Limousine stroller which I purchased from Babyavenue ( Instagram store ). Aside from having a full recline and weighing 6.5Kg, there’s a built in handle which you can use to pull it like luggage. And it opens and closes easily with just one flip. No regret on this.

With Chloe sleeping in her baby cot since birth, I had to make sure the hotel provided a cot (otherwise I would have had to bring my Baby Bjorn travel cot - which I purchased from ( Instagram store ) and is another travel item that is really light weight at 6Kg and convenient to have if no cot is available at your location).

I brought along Chloe’s supplement Sambucol, which I give her every few days and everyday for a couple of days prior the trip. I have heard many good reviews on this elderberry syrup and works well for shortening colds/ flu and even preventing it. Whenever Chloe has a flu, I gave her doses of the syrup during the earliest sign shown and usually she recovers really quickly compared to without having it. And I’m pretty sure the syrup plays a role in Chloe not falling sick throughout the whole trip.
2) Mentally prepare her for the trip
I created a personalised book for Chloe, filling the page with images of the airport, the airplane ride and the hotel. It was repeatedly shown to her several days before the trip so it wouldn’t be much of a shock from her usual surroundings.
3) At the airport
If you’re heading to Singapore’s Changi airport you are in luck because there are plenty of fun options to keep children entertained. From rooftop swimming pool, indoor and outdoor gardens, interactive stations to movie theatres, just to name a few. A butterfly garden with a collection of 1,000 butterflies and a 6 metre waterfall can also be found. For RBA air ticket holders, the check-in station is found at Terminal 3 where you can find the largest public playground in the airport. Touring around Changi airport can easily be one of the highlights of the trip.

I prefer getting into the plane last because this allowed Chloe to burn off excess energy at the boarding gate before being confined to a compartment seat. Priority lanes were given to families with young children and clean, well equipped baby care rooms were easily accessible throughout the airport, which makes a big difference for travellers like me.
4) Prepare a well thought itinerary
Chloe has been a good sleeper since very little and I don’t want to risk having an overtired, grumpy kid and comprise too much on her routine schedule. Also, I find it quite daunting trying to fit sleeping schedules, mealtimes, activities, logistics and trying to make it all work seems very challenging (I will share details of where we went in Singapore in my next blog post).

In terms of preparing inflight activities, I had overdone it on this one. I brought along the usual stickers, colouring books, washi tapes, mini storybooks and snacks. I bought these organic lollipops that are free of preservatives , for landing and take off. You can find it in Natural Health Farm at Times Square or The Mall.
The travel duration to Singapore is really short and I actually over prepared for this.
Oh, and for those who know me, I have always been the health conscious parent who prepares every single meal at home for Chloe. Even when we have to dine out, I pack a lunch box with home cooked food for her to bring along. So it’s just natural for me to include a travel cooking pot for the trip. At the end, the travel pot along with the dried food was just extra weight I carried on the trip. There was no time or the energy to cook and not to mention, cleaning and washing after that! So yes, she was fed with whatever there was that was available, not escaping the MSG, salt, sugar, oil, preservatives, colorings…. But we had a good time, that it didn’t bother me that much.
The biggest challenge was to find the middle ground to meet my needs and my little two year old’s needs, without compromising too much on either side, and still make it an enjoyable trip. Like when the usual bedtime for Chloe is 7.15PM and we had to drag on till 9.15PM because mummy had lots of catching up to do with her friends. The downside for that night was an overtired child, having trouble staying asleep throughout the night and being whinier the next day, when she usually can sleep for a full 11 hours straight.

The whole trip wasn’t as bad as I thought it might be. In fact, it went quite well and things were manageable. Mainly because I think the effort in prior planning and research actually paid off. Traveling solo with a two year old is still challenging, but Singapore is really such a child friendly place that actually made the trip pleasantly enjoyable!
Kristie is the mother of a two-year-old and is a strong believer in early childhood development. She is always on the lookout for purposeful, quality child related activities and shares her experiences on Baby Brunei.

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