Singapore wasn’t an obvious choice for us. But after reading some friends posts they shared it peaked our interest. After a little bit of research and seeing how many fun things were there, we decided to make the booking. This would be our first long haul trip with a total of 13 hours one way. A good test of our ability to fly a little further as a family. We were leaving NZ near the end of Winter again (late August 2018) so we were definitely keen for some warm weather! I don’t think we were completely ready for the heat wave that hit us when we arrived in Singapore but it was nice to feel the sun again.
Kia ora Singapore! We have two posts for you on Singapore so keep your eye out for part two. Part one will cover the trip there, arriving in Singapore and our first outing to Gardens by the Bay.
Want a quick look at Singapore and Gardens by the Bay? Watch the video below or if you want the details info, read on!
Choosing the time that you travel is key with little ones. For this trip we decided that we would fly out relatively early leaving our car in long term parking at Auckland Airport. So Haeata was still in his pyjamas and we just changed him at the airport. Leaving early for us always comes with challenges. Being tired is not our best look so the trip often starts off on the back foot. Kids are always super excited but tired at the same time so it can be a recipe for you know what. Once we made it through customs, we decided to look for something to eat. At the time of this flight Auckland Airport was still going through renovations. ‘Best Ugly Bagels’ had recently opened and so we decided to eat there for breakfast. This was by everyones’ standard, pretty good.
Airports and more airports
I will be completely honest, the flight was epic. You will hear us talk about this a little bit more if you read our post tips for your family holiday. Both our boys were overtired and although our trip to Sydney was a short one, the staff on board, flight transfer, and requirement to go through customs again made it difficult. It can be a bit of handful travelling with kids. Our experiences always start well when we receive good service. It is the little effort that helps you out. Unfortunately on this short haul flight we found the service poor. Sorry Qantas, but to be honest we felt like a hassle which is never a great way to be. The plane was ready to depart and we still hadn’t been brought a seatbelt for Haeata, so we had to ask for one ourselves. Smiles and friendly responses never go a miss.
Like all transfers you need to go through some form of security. With little guys needing to go the toilet, lines backed up and not much time between flights, we had another recipe on hand. Again this experience wasn’t great. We all understand that people have a job to do. The security of everyone is important to us all, but a smile goes a long way.
We are currently weighing up how much travelling we will do in the future so that we can look into joining an airline lounge and extending our transfer time. We will let you know how we go, and if we think it is worth it.
Our first stop over gave us just under an hour in Sydney. This meant Mama could get a coffee (super important), we could freshen up a little and the boys could have a little play. Having a bag with a few toys and books was awesome for our short stop over.
Sydney is a massive airport. There were points where the boys were standing right in front of me and I still struggled to see them. This meant for us we just found a spot close to our gate and played rather than looking around. The airport did have a lot of food stores and shops to look through though if you have the time.
What to pack
Packing for a long haul flight is really important. Having stuff on hand while existing in a small space can be the difference between a bad flight and a good one. Here are some of things that we take with us.
Packing cells are a key item to keep everything organised. Being able to get to something relatively quickly and having a place to put things when space is limited, is a lifesaver on a long haul flight. Our best little kit, was the small packing cell with nappies, baby wipes, nappy mat and a few bibs. This saved us a lot of time when doing nappy changes. We also kept a small packing cell with clothes for the boys and a few toys and books. Again this was really helpful with transfers and being organised on the flight.
Pocket bags/backpacks are a great way to be adaptive. Things change all the time with kids, so we carry a pocket bag in our carry on and if we need it, it is there. We found ourselves pulling this out on the flight and transferring the boys clothes and nappy packing cell to keep with us, while the rest of our things went in the overhead locker. Having a pocket bag also gives you something to carry anything around if you need it when you arrive.
For our next trip we are planning on packing another one of these in our carry on. They are super lightweight and great to use.
During long haul there are a couple of things we recommend. Power bank and charging cords. We always carry a power bank when travelling anywhere and you can carry up to 100 Watt hours (Wh). Most planes have somewhere for you to plug your cords into however we have always found space is precious. Cords going from the seat in front of you become obstacles with little guys moving freely.
Another big one for us is a Gopro so we carry our session with us all the time. Capturing videos is important for us. We often carry our tablet with us too and have a few of our videos that we know our boys love watching. What we also do now is carry these in a waterproof bag. Learnt the hard way once that fluids and electronics just don’t mix!
Let’s start with a luggage scales. We rate them. There is nothing worse than arriving at the airport and then finding your bag is overweight. Carrying one of these gives you assurance so you know well in advance where you’re at weight wise. Travel pillows are awesome too. We sleep on bamboo pillows all the time so we have chosen them for our travel pillow as well. But our biggest essential is Trunki. Trunki has made moving around airports so much easier. Rakeiora doesn’t mind sitting on Trunki at all, especially when it’s late at night or early in the morning. Actually he loves it but he’s actually too tall for it now! Time to hand it over to Haeata we think! This came in handy in Sydney airport too as it meant we knew exactly where Rakeiora was.
We carry our ‘Boba’ carrier everywhere with us. Even better too, that it’s in its own little bag to keep it nice and compact. Carriers are such a lifesaver when you have a tired baby but you need your hands. It is looking more likely that we will have to change to our ‘Tula Toddler’ (Haeata is a big boy!) but this is super comfortable too. Lately we’ve been looking at other options for both our boys, as this trip to Singapore was a little harder. Rakeiora is old enough to walk everywhere but he was really tired. So carrying him became one of the things we had to do. In places like Singapore too where the temperature is so much warmer, a carrier can get really hot. Of course we want to travel more so we purchased the ‘Piggybacker’. It seems lightweight and we hope it doesn’t take up too much space, but so far so good.
Long Haul Flights
Trying to come up with a plan for long flights is essential – when you have kids! It pays to think about the time difference in the country that you are looking to arrive in, and also where you plan to catch up with sleep. This flight saw us arriving in Singapore just after 4pm and looking to arrive at our hotel around 6pm (which was 11pm in NZ). Noting that we had the boys up from 4:30am sleep was essential, so we needed a plan.
Long haul flights normally see you doing the same thing depending on what time your flight departs but here is a basic outline:
- Ascend to altitude
- Eat your first meal
- Lights dim for mid part of the flight or flight continues, snacks are available by order or from the rear of the plane
- Lights begin to come back on 2 hours before arrival
- Second meal served
Most long haul flights have drinks and snacks set up throughout the plane that you can access. This was good, even if only to go for a walk. There are also toiletry kits and eye covers in the rear of the plane. These are not always offered up so you can either ask, or go find them yourself.
Planning the flight with children
The obvious is ‘happy kids, happy flight’ so setting yourself up for success really does help. Once we had eaten our meals (infants were not given a meal which took us off guard for such long flights) we tried to make use of the movies on board. At Rakeiora’s age (4 at the time) this was so easy and he happily sat there zoning out. Haeata however (1 at the time), he’s not so keen to sit and watch a movie for long at all! We took turns at doing rounds walking around with Haeata, because at his age, that’s what he wanted to do. Other parents are doing it too, so whatever works!
For both our boys we didn’t have a lounge seat, so we would make room with bags and pillows so the boys could but their legs up. One of us would also head out to grab snacks and eye masks to help out and give us our own time to stretch. It was so handy on the trip over having a spare seat beside us. It gave us room to spread out a bit more and Rakeiora could lay down that way too. Eventually, Haeata was ready to sleep, which used up a decent chunk of time.
If you need something too, you just have to ask. We grabbed a few extra blankets as Mama was holding Haeata while he was asleep so these were good to put under her arm to take some of the weight. The second part of our flight with Qantas from Sydney was a lot better and this was completely based around service. We felt a little more prepared but the attendants were nice and super helpful so it was far more enjoyable.
Singapore Airport is massive. Both on the way in and out we did not do much exploring mainly due to being tired on the way in and trying to make it to our flight on the way out.
Food establishments were crammed into a small part once you moved through immigration heading out of Singapore. There are a lot of stores and although we didn’t really look around it seemed really busy.
The customs process is again really dependent on staff. We didn’t initially notice the signs for families so we went through a normal line which was a lot longer than the family line. This process on the way in and out was similar.
Arriving in a country can be harder then departing. Having some idea of the general etiquette of the country is pretty important as well. For example in Singapore, eating and drinking is not something you are allowed to do everywhere. Makes you realise how you can’t assume anything, and try and read any public signage. Mama soon realised why the train stations in Singapore were so clean – no food or drinks allowed!
A few things about Singapore
We will be going over where we stayed, food, and what we did in our next blog. So we will tell you about what Singapore has to offer there.
A few quick tidbits before then though:
- Singapore is hot, super muggy so get ready for it
- Littering is not allowed
- Eating and drinking in some places is not allowed
- Sentosa is awesome
- 7 days is not long enough to fully explore Singapore
- Gardens by the Bay is amazing
There is a whole lot more information about Singapore in our next post but here is a little bit about Gardens by the Bay.
So why are we talking about Gardens by the Bay now. Number one reason, It is amazing and the second reason is sleep. We were so tired, you might not fully notice it but we are feeling the jet lag. Jet lag is something that really affects your holiday when you are on a long haul flight.\\
Stay awake as long as you can the first day
The biggest advice we can give is try to move your body clock to the time zone you are in early. We tried starting to switch to the new time zone before we left, you can do this a little bit at a time and if you try it you need to think about the time of your flights as well. We change our times on our watches as soon as we can too, even if it is just when you get on the flight.
Water is good for almost anything. When your body is trying to adapt to something new it’s always a good idea to stay hydrated. Drink water on the flight and try to stay away from caffeine – even if you’re craving it! With our boys we take their water bottles with us on the flight, just because it is something they know. Just remember to empty them before you go through the security check.
Although it’s got nothing to do with drinking, having a hot bath before you go to bed on your first night is also a great idea. Your body will go through all sorts of changes on the first night so you need to give yourself the best chance to wind down.
Do everything you can to help yourself sleep
Getting to sleep can sometimes be the hardest battle. As we said above your body will go through ups and downs. So help yourself out by doing the things to help you out. Limit your screen time closer to bed time, listen to relaxing music. Anything that helps.
Lastly go with it – the kids will feel it as well. You will get tired and so will they so try to relax.
Gardens by the Bay
We loved everything about Gardens by the Bay but looking back it would have been good to be a little more ‘alive’. If we could do it again we would extend our time and spend a little bit of time relaxing and getting use to the new timezone. We would also take time to go back and see it all again by night.
Things to know
- Cloud forest is amazing. Once you enter everything is part of the package. If you see lines before you get to the upper level it is for the lifts so keep going (we thought you had to pay extra to go up).
- The flower dome is beautiful. We didn’t spend much time there, but our boys loved all the statues scattered throughout and looking at the impressive flowers.
- The Children’s Garden opens at 10am. We went to Gardens by the Bay early and tried to head straight to the Children’s Garden, but it was still closed. Once we got back to the garden later, it was closed again due to thunderstorm warnings. This is something that you have to be aware of for all exposed areas while you are in Singapore.
- MRT is a great way to get around on a budget. We decided to take the Rail system on this trip as we didn’t have return shuttles. The price was only $6, but we had to first figure out how the trains worked. The system is pretty easy to use one you know it but we found the trip back to Vivo City to be quite long. The last thing you want to do is spend your time in Singapore sitting on transport so something to think about.
Singapore and Family Long Haul Flights
So that’s the start of our information on Singapore. Look for our next post coming out soon. We hope that we gave you some information that helps you if you ever decide to take your family on a long haul flight. The experience was worth it, we would do it again in a second.Go on tweet this sweet postClick To Tweet