Our first overseas family holiday came about as a combination of my maternity leave, husband needing a holiday, super cheap flights to Japan, but most importantly Touristo was happiest when he was partaking in marathon walks in the Ergo carrier or drives in the car that went on for hours. At the time we thought Touristo was just an unsettled or colicky baby, but with the beauty of hindsight this was the very first sign of autism and the need for constant vestibular input, and the marathon walks around our neighbourhood were getting boring. So what better place to walk around than Japan? I had visited Japan before, plus it was number one on my husband’s bucket list, so I booked the tickets and off we went!
The flight over was an epic nightmare! I had booked this trip and put zero thought into travelling with a baby. I had booked a day flight from Sydney to Tokyo and really hadn’t thought about how we were going to divide sharing the baby wrangling, how we were going to entertain Touristo or what to pack in our carry on. By the end of the day we all got to the hotel extremely stressed, shaken, slightly traumatised and very cranky with each other, vowing to NEVER, EVER get on a plane with children again. We all eventually passed out from fatigue, and when we woke up the next morning decided that we were going to try and make the best of the next 10 days.
We traded in our voucher for the JR Rail pass and boarded a train to Hiroshima and over the next few days made our way back to Tokyo. Travelling in Japan was so easy with Touristo, he just hung out super contentedly in his Ergo, had naps, and when he was awake his eyes opened up to the size of saucers so he could take in absolutely every detail around him. The novelty of travelling also seemed to pique his interest in solids. Up until this point he had never shown an interest in solid food, but the novelty of different food had him trying EVERYTHING.
By the end of the holiday, none of us wanted to go home. We all had time to connect as a family unit in a way that wasn’t possible at home, and we had only just seen a snippet of everything that we wanted to see. I also loved how much easier Touristo was on the road, plus I was stressing the plane trip back home.
The flight home was a night flight and I had booked the bulkhead row with bassinet ahead of time and we formulated a plan as to who would look after what, to alleviate stress. The most important thing though was reflecting on the really, really bad flight, assessing what went wrong, why and what could be done so we didn’t run into the same issues again. A lot of this had to do with what we had on hand and easily accessible in our carry-on luggage. You know what? This time it was a completely different experience. Touristo got really excited about being on a plane and curled up on my chest and went to sleep for about 8 hours of a 10 hour flight.
This trip was a total game-changer for me. Both my husband and I had traveled a little before having kids but it was by no means a priority. Now it is a priority, because getting to see the world through the eyes of your kids is amazing especially in our case because we have the contrast of the Princess who sees the world in terms of Princesses, castles, dancing and fairy tales, alongside Touristo who has a totally unique perspective on the world which is totally beautiful.
Travelling these days requires a fair bit more planning than this to set us up for success as Touristo requires a fair few accommodations, but it is absolutely worth the extra effort because all of our best memories as a family have been made whilst travelling.
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