Sydney 2017: Solo Travel with 6 year old – Day 1 Journal

Someone, I can’t recall who, planted an idea in my head – “Travel solo with your girl one day, it’ll be fun!” And it got stuck in my mind so I told myself this will have to happen when my girl is in their K2 year, before they start their six years in primary school.

Ayra is starting primary school next year, so I flew us both (just Ayra and me) to Sydney in June because she wanted to experience winter (though she really wished to see real snow, oh well…) and it was Vivid Sydney festival too, which was really an excellent period to visit! Another reason why I picked Sydney is also because I was just there last December and still have very good navigation memory of the city, and I know where and what we can go or do together.

I tried to be as prepared as I could for this trip and ensure that Ayra is comfortable, safe and happy. Flying for the first time on a long haul redeye flight, we brought along the JetKid BedBox, packed in as much as I could with activities and things for the girl. The BedBox was super handy while we zoom across the airport with Ayra seated on it. The ride was smooth and it pulling it around was a breeze.

DAY 1

After our redeye flight, we took a taxi to our hotel – Fraser Suites Sydney. Both of us were super jet lag and were hoping to get some rest in our room before we take off for our first day of adventure around Sydney. However the room wasn’t ready for us when we arrived (5 hours before the hotel check-in time) so we took a quick shower at the hotel gym, checked in our luggage and off we went on foot to explore places near our hotel. The weather was chill and windy! We loved it!

Our hotel is just minutes walk to Darling Harbour, we spotted a huge playground which Ayra enjoyed throughout our stay! She kept asking me to bring her there EVERYDAY! Playing outdoor is so much more fun due to the nice cool weather in winter.

Ayra loves the soft smooth sand at Darling Harbour Children’s Playground at Tumbalong Park

After our McDonald’s lunch near the playground, we continued our walk towards the harbour. Taking in the sights, sound and super cool breeze by the harbour. It did make me rather sleepy though since I couldn’t get much sleep in the plane.

Australian National Maritime Museum

At the other end of the harbour, we spotted some cool ships and Ayra wanted to check them out. An unplanned trip to the Maritime Museums it was and I’m glad we did that. We got to check out the ship and Ayra enjoyed going up and down the navy ship and the Australian-built replica of James Cook’s HMB Endeavour. Find out more about the museum here.

HMAS Vampire, Australia's largest museum vessel
Ayra onboard the HMAS Vampire, Australia’s largest museum vessel
Australian-built replica of James Cook's HMB Endeavour
She’s not as keen to stay onboard the Australian-built replica of James Cook’s HMB Endeavour because she could feel it swaying with the waves.

Buskers around Sydney

One of things we both enjoyed is the many different buskers spotted around Sydney during our trip. Not sure if they appear only during Vivid season or busk weekly over the weekend. Here’s the first we saw while walking back to our hotel after the museum. We both enjoyed the show – the busker was very comical and interacts very well with his audience. Awesome juggling too!

Cheese Tarts and Angel Hat for Dinner

As we stepped out from our hotel after some rest, hoping to find a nice place for dinner, drizzles greeted us and we couldn’t get anywhere without getting wet. It was Sunday night so every dining place near our hotel were packed! Just as we gave up our search for food, the smell of cheese greeted us as we discovered Uncle Tetsu’s Triple Bake Shop. We joined the queue, bought some tarts and Angel Hat.

Here’s our dinner from day 1…

Angel Hat from Uncle Tetsu (we much prefer their cheese tarts!) and Gong Cha (just as they bid goodbye to SG at that time).
Enjoying her tart and the not-so-likable milo from Australia (she prefers the local version with lots more sugar and flavour!)
Pasta from the hotel room service

This wraps up our day 1 in Sydney. By end of the day, both of us collapsed in bed and had a very good night rest. Though I wished the pillow was firmer though. Day 2 coming up in the next post…

All photos taken with my Canon Powershot G7X Mark II which I bought just before the trip. Till today, I’m so loving it!

Read more about our Sydney 2017 trip at these links:

Things I Learned When Travelling Alone With My Daughter Ayra

Fifty Shades of Tiredness

Travelling with a pre-schooler takes a lot more energy and patience than I imagined.

The worst meltdown was on day 4 which lasted a good long 45 mins, I was lucky it happened in the hotel room. It was initiated from our train trip back from Bondi Junction and turned massive the moment she plonks herself down in the room. I did my best to control myself and keep breathing… “I want Mummy to hug me…“, that’s all we needed to get through the painful struggles.

Day Tour Is Exhausting

When a day tour is planned, prepare activities, for us, it would have been the iPad and food. Hungry and exhausted little one can really drive you crazy when stuck in an hour plus long bus journey. Unfortunately, I didn’t prepare either of them for our planned day tour, I had to pep talk every time we start our ride in the bus. I think I came up with 1001 reasons how we were going to have a great day if she would just rest and nap whenever possible.

Just Go With The Flow

Don’t bother to plan an itinerary, what you do depends greatly on the mood of your pre-schooler. Just go with the flow and go slow, it’s ok you don’t get to visit every place you planned to. Avoid purchasing too many tickets before the trip and keep to just the main highlights, perhaps one attraction every two days.

Be Overprepared

Never underestimate the weather… 11 degree is too cold for our summer-trained body. 3 layers and we were still shivering. Should have bought that Ultra Light Down from Uniqlo! And we almost hit our personal freezing point on the fourth night while walking back to our hotel from Darling Habour.

Promises Not!

When the little one made a promise, don’t take it seriously. “Ok fine! We go to the playground then we go dinner.” – Never happened. We ended up spending too much time at the playground and grabbing a quick bite from McDonald’s instead of a lovely dine in dinner by the harbour.

Stay Away from Social Media

Live in the moments for real and not just capturing and posting about it online. In the past, I used to have the habit to check my mobile and want to post everything I do instantly on Instagram. This trip, I make a conscious effort to keep my mobile away and focus on our time together.

One hand holding onto my girl and the other my compact camera, we lived in every moment together and I capture shots and videos without putting in much thought or planning. Just turn on and shoot. Looking through the photos and videos captured, I double confirmed that perhaps all or most of the “Instagram-worthy” aka well framed and posed shots of kids travelling are lots of hard work and pep talk. Wouldn’t this be too much a hassle just to capture that one great shot? Unless of cos, your little ones are mini supermodels, well trained to respond to “Look here, smile (and pose)!” That’s exactly what I did too but it never worked on Ayra. Just look at the shots I got!

“Ayra look here! Smile! Look here!!!”

Not happening! My girl is just as stubborn as the mother!

Like Parents Like Child

Ayra is very much like me when travelling – She keeps everyone in mind and ensures she buys something for each of them. At the shops, she’ll browse around and go… “This can give to my friends… this I think meimei (Zara) will like… hmmm I think I want to buy this for…“. This is her distributing her loots after our trip at Luna Park.

With one and a half day more to go, it’s time to get something for me perhaps?

Ayra is very much like her father – the moment she stepped into the hotel room, she must have the TV turned on. And it is very difficult to get her to turn it off and head out!

Video Calls FTW

Always have a connection even if you plan to stay disconnected during travel. Because sharing moments and experiences with the sister back home is lots of fun via video calls.

Every day we will stay connected with family back in Singapore via Whatsapp video call. Thanks to unlimited 4G Wifi powered by ChangiWifi (www.changirecommends.com), we called anytime anywhere without worrying we will exceed our data roaming or the need to top-up credits etc. We shared our time on Blue Mountain, view of the Sydney Opera House, travelling in the double-decker train and a lot more happy times with our loved ones during this trip.

With unlimited 4G Wifi also makes waiting in a queue a lot more bearable for the little one, who kept herself entertained with videos on YouTube. That’s us waiting in line for our Scenic Railway ride.

Break a Routine

Travelling could also be one of the best way to break a routine, like wanting milk in a bottle every morning and night. Or the need to hold a hanky to sleep. We survived so far, 5 Days 4 Nights, with Ayra and she has never asked for either of them. Not sure if she will start the routine again when we’re back, but I really hope she has grown out of it.

We are on our final full day here in Sydney and will be flying back tomorrow afternoon. We both miss our family very much and Zara has been upset too without her sister around. Can’t wait to land back home and give a big warm hug to Zara!

Sydney 2017: Preparing My First Solo Trip with My Daughter

The much-anticipated trip for my elder daughter is soon approaching, with less than two weeks to THE day, I am starting to get just a little bit nervous about this whole solo-travel-with-my-girl plan. I have not planned out the exact itinerary yet for the 6 days in Sydney, but I’ve been doing my research and started preparing for the trip since the day I made the flight and hotel bookings. This trip is going to make a big hold through my bank account this is for sure!

After my first visit to Sydney last year, I knew my next trip is going to be another mad shopping spree. Even before we fly off, I’ve already started shopping because this is the first time I’m flying solo with my daughter, her first 7-hour flight to a potentially 15 to 17 degree country and our first navigate-with-google-map and long-hour road trip adventure.

So here are what I’ve planned and prepared so far…

For better in-flight experience

To ensure Ayra is comfortable and be able to sleep through the redeye flight to Sydney, I’ve gotten the children’s airplane bed, BedBox for her from Taxibaby.sg. I first learned about the BedBox by JetKids when a friend shared the demo video on Facebook. I thought I’ll never need one because I had no plan to travel anywhere more than 4 hours with my kids when they are little. And this happened! HA!

From our previous flight to and from HongKong, I noticed that Ayra couldn’t sit comfortably on the plane, her legs were not long enough to touch the floorboard and when laying down reclined, she slept in quite an awkward position. With the BedBox, Ayra will be able to stretch out her legs and be in a more comfortable position. Hope this will help her to sleep soundly through the flight into Sydney so we can both be refreshed and ready for our first day of adventure.

bedbox-inused

For safer travel in cars

We will be travelling quite a bit on cars and private vehicles around Sydney, and Ayra will need to be in a booster seat! For this, I didn’t need to worry as we already have two very compact and travel-friendly boosters which I’ll be bringing along to Sydney. If you’re wondering how I am going to fit a child booster seat into my luggage, here’s how ours look like. Can you even spot it in the photo below? LOL!

Meet mifold, the most advanced, compact and portable booster seat in the world! mifold grab-and-go booster seat is 10x smaller than the regular booster. Instead of lifting the child higher in the car seat, mifold brings the seatbelt lower to fit the child shifting it from their stomach to their lab and away from their neck. We have been using the mifold booster seats in our family car and the girls have come to get used to it (as long as they are occupied with toys or the ipad).

For constant connectivity

Having been introduced to the Wifi router from Changi Recommends, I cannot leave Singapore without one! Connectivity is even more essential and important for this trip since I’m alone with my precious daughter. The last thing I want is to lose connectivity and get lost in the big city. With unlimited and constant Wifi connection and the ability to connect up to 5 devices on the ChangiWifi router, we will be able to stay connected and use our phones and tablets to navigate around Sydney, Ayra will be able to catch her videos when we take breaks at cafes and I’ll be able to catch up on some emails and work when I can (I SHALL abstain myself from work when I’m in Sydney).

The last time I was in Sydney, the ChangiWifi was loading faster than the Wifi in my hotel and the airbnb I stayed at!

For capturing happy travel memories

I have been battling with the decision to bring which camera to Sydney for the past one month or so. I didn’t want to carry around a heavy and bulky camera because I know there’ll be time when I have to carry Ayra when she’s too tired to walk. I didn’t want to just bring any compact that may potentially not give the best quality shots for this first-in-our-lifetime-adventure! So… I gifted myself with a Canon Powershot G7 X Mark II for Mother’s Day!

This is compact enough to fit into my small sling pouch and yet powerful enough for superb photos and videos! I’ve been carrying the Powershot G7 X Mark II everywhere I go since I got it last week and I’m loving it.

For time-saving and lower costs

Two of the places I confirm will be bringing my girl to are the Blue Mountains and Sydney Tower Eyes. To save time queuing for tickets or finding a trusted tour package, I booked ourselves through Changi Recommends attractions and tours offering.

Purchasing attraction passes/tickets and tour packages on Changi Recommends is very convenient and easy. And because it’s recommended by Changi, it should be among the best right? If anything goes wrong, you can come back and complain loh! ermm… you can always provide your feedback when you’re back in Singapore!

I’ve had good experiences with Changi Recommends when we visited HongKong last year, so I know I can trust them lah.

For unforgettable experience at Vivid Sydney

One of the major deciding factor to visit Sydney was because of the huge line-up of activities and attractions at Vivid Sydney! If you are travelling during the period from 26 May to 17 June, be sure to check out Vivid Sydney website and download their mobile app! I’ve got so many items bookmarked in my profile I hope Ayra will have enough energy to go crazy chasing lights with me when the sun sets in Sydney.

So I’ve got about ten out of the one hundred and one things I plan to do with Ayra in Sydney planned out, I shall leave the remaining 90% of the trip to our sense of exploration and adventure with Google Map and Foursquare.

Next on my to do list… get more warm clothing for Ayra and the luggage packed.

Sydney here we come!