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Ask Shelly: Advice for travel to Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand with two babies?

Dear Shelly,
I am from Quebec and I just bought tickets for a trip to Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Hong Kong with my two babies (one will be 6 months and the other one will be exactly 2 years old). The trip will take us 28 hours including the connections. I was wandering if you had any good tips to survive such a lonnnnnng flight with TWO babies and also how to cope with the big jet lag (13 hours) !? 
Thank you soooo much for your help !!! 🙂 I just discovered your blog and website and i love it ! I already wrote down a few interesting tips and suggested baby gears from it, although I don’t see how we can bring too much stuff, as we’ll change location often.

I am quite used to travelling, having visited more than 30 countries, but with two babies it is quite a different game and I am a bit nervous about that (especially long flights, jet lag, but also hygiene and health safety over there) !!!

I will be travelling with my husband so we’ll be two adults with the two babies. I am mostly concerned with the oldest one (which will turn two years old) as he seems to be already in his “terrible two” phase (hahaha). The other one I am planning on breastfeeding but might have to introduce cereals while travelling as he will have between 5 months 1/2 and 6 months 1/2.

Again, I really really appreciate any tips and comments and thank so much for putting it as an “Ask Shelly” on your blog !!!

Have a good day,
Caroline

As a seasoned world traveler, I’m sure you already have a good idea of what to expect from the countries you will visit. And as a mom, I’d say you’ve got the right idea when you think travel with your turning-two-year-old may be far more challenging than taking your infant overseas.
Here are my thoughts:
 
Normally with such long flights you would jump at the chance to get bulkhead seats with an airline bassinet for your infant. This may backfire though if your turning-two-year-old has a hard time settling in with all the stimulation that can come from this seating position, being near all the friendly people visiting the lavatory, the noise of the kitchen, flight attendants flipping the curtain between sections of the aircraft, and so on. With a breastfed baby, you might also feel more exposed in this location, especially when, due to cultural differences, other travelers around you may not be so accustomed to public breastfeeding.
 
You might instead opt for seats near the rear of the aircraft, where the airline may also be better able to arrange your family next to an empty seat if still available at check in. If you haven’t already, look at the FlyeBaby air travel hammock as a possible alternative to the airline bassinet (or skycot) for your infant (read about my experience with it here). To help weigh your options of seats and any options you may still have for flight times or airlines, see the Air Travel section in Travels with Baby.
 
You will have the usual challenges of long flights with a toddler who can’t yet appreciate there will be a payoff for the long hours spent in his airplane seat. Try to plan your in-flight entertainment in segments you can introduce as if there is an actual planned schedule you are following so that you can stay two steps ahead of him.
 
Health is an extremely important consideration, and just one of the reasons you should be sure to check with your pediatrician well in advance to make sure both children’s routine vaccinations are sufficient for international travel. For example, your doctor may advise giving your not-yet-two-year-old the Hepatitis A vaccine, which is not normally given in the U.S. (not sure about Canada) until the 2-year-check up. Likewise, your infant may not yet have received vaccinations against illnesses largely unseen in Canada, but still common in some other parts of the world. 

Keep a supply of travel-size anti-bacterial hand wipes ready as places to wash hands can be much harder to find in these areas, and you’ll need to be prepared for many strangers touching the hands of your children in admiration–in addition to whatever else your little ones may put their own hands to. You may also find it much simpler to just continue breastfeeding exclusively through your trip for a variety of reasons, food and water safety among them. I think it always wise in situations like yours to also look at a traveler’s medical evacuation insurance plan (like Medjet) as a back-up in the event that any member of your family, child or adult, should need serious medical treatment–you’ll all get a private and expeditious ride to the hospital of your choice back home.

Some key safety considerations for your 24-month-old, aside from the childproofing-on-the-go considerations, would be traffic and dogs. As I’m sure you’re aware, motorcycles on the sidewalk and the like are not uncommon, and drivers are accustomed to everyone giving them the right of way in much of Asia. Street dogs may also cross your path in some places, and young children do not understand the difference between these and pets. A child carrier like the Ergo will help keep him elevated and out of harm’s way while you are on the go, and won’t bog you down with extra gear like a stroller or framed backpack. You’ll also have the advantage of wearing him on the front or the back depending on the situation.
 
I could go on, but this is already quite a lengthy post! I’ll be sending you a copy of the new Take-Along Travels with Baby, which should help with several on-the-go situations you’ll face, including food and water safety with your little ones, childproofing during travel, dealing with sleep and jet lag issues, and keeping both baby and toddler entertained during the long flights—and layovers in airports. Hope it helps!

Good luck! We’d love to hear how it goes for you and any tips you have for the rest of us after your return.

How about you?
Do you have any helpful tips or advice for Caroline? Please feel free to chime in with a comment below or post to the Travels with Baby Facebook page.

Related posts and pages:
Breastfeeding in Bangkok
Photo Fave: Thailand elephant with baby
FAQs and Popular Topics 

Safe journeys,

Shelly Rivoli, author of the award-winning Travels with Baby and Take-Along Travels with Baby 

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