Surviving Singapore- A guide to enjoying an overseas holiday with kids under three.

It has been a month since and I blogged!! I finally got time to sit down and write about our maiden overseas trip with the kids! Benefit of having your in-laws nearby is that you can pack your toddler away for a good chunk of the day, while you get work done as the mini sleeps! 😉

So, let me come to the point of this post (before my daughter wakes up). December has been a monumental month for us because we finally took our holiday skills to the next level. Why? We managed to travel overseas for ten days with two kids. I know, some of you may say that it isn’t rocket science. But believe me it’s nothing short of that! At this point, I would like to record my respect for parents who travel with kid(s) on flights that are more than 5 hours in duration. *falls to ground, kisses it*

They say that if you are traveling abroad for the first time, Singapore is a great place to pick. It is easy in terms of transitioning from India to Singapore and you can do a lot of stuff in peace. I agree! I would recommend that as well. Lishaan’s 3rd birthday was coming up and the past two birthdays have been quite a story to remember. This year, we wanted to do something special for the boy and with good airfares, we nailed down the plan to S’pore town! So, without much story, let me tell you how we planned a holiday with two kids and on a budget of 80,000INR. That’s right!

(Photos of the trip right at the end of this post 😉 Just so you read!)

STAY:

This was the biggest deciding factor for us. A dear aunt of mine lives in Singapore and she’s been calling us over for a holiday for years now. Two babies later, the plan finally worked! With stay sorted, we had less to worry about in terms of comfort for the kids, basic food and of course, familiarity.

If you don’t have family or friends who can spare a couch for you, then Airbnb is a great option.

Word of advice: You will be spending MOST of your day (and night) outdoors. So, spend minimal on your stay. Unless you plan to stay put at the Marina Bay Sands 😛 That’s another story altogether!

AIRFARE:

We booked our tickets in September and managed to find a great deal on Air India. From friends who travel often, we heard that Air India was good and fuss free. I would second that. We had a comfortable travel, with good food for the kids and us. Even better, we got a bassinet seat for Isha on the way back (though my monkey never slept in it). Tickets came up to 35,000INR for two adults, one child and an infant. Yup, the half ticket got a separate seat!

Word of advice: As opposed to most airlines’ guidelines, Air India does not recommend breastfeeding or bottle feeding your baby during take-off and landing (pacifiers are alright). This came in because of a choking incident the airlines faced recently, I gathered.

SIGHTSEEING:

Fuss free tourist work thanks to strollers on rent

The best thing about Singapore is that you don’t have to be a tourist. You can just explore the city on your own and not be worried about missing out on fun. I did my research and spoke to a couple of friends with kids to figure things we could do there. There are enough options to explore for mom, dad and kids (individually as well). Most of these tourist spots have a website and an online booking facility. Even better, there are packages that give you max benefit for your money.

I skipped some fun places like the National Gallery and the Art & Science museum for obvious reasons (my monkeys would have brought the place down).

Word of advice: We made a list of places we wanted to visit. Zoos, malls, Ikea and the likes. It’s good to have a list, because you can then make sure you’ve covered all aspects of the city.

COMMUTE:

Our mode of survival for the whole trip. Buses were quick, frequent, less crowded and easy!

The best thing my aunt did (among keeping a whole stash of good food ready for the kids) was that she got us the EZ Link card ready for travel use. The best way to get around town is to use the bus or metro services. They are VERY easy to figure and you can just about go hopping from station to station without much trouble. We explored a lot by bus (because of our choice of destination) but the metro is great too!

My transport Singpore is a great app that helps you plan your journey and suggests bus routes/trains as well.

Word of advice: Have your EZ Link card loaded or carry enough change. The bus stops have a chart that tells you the distance you will cover and the charges for it. The drivers speak less and it’s essentially to cut out unnecessary chatter. Figure the distance, have exact change on hand and hop on. Simple!

CLOTHES:

Singapore is a humid humid place! I did the mistake of carrying clothes for a chill climate instead. So, I ended up looking sweaty in almost all pictures. Carry comfortable cotton clothing and keep your layers to the minimum (That’s why most folks wear shorts and a tank top there!). Do keep a good pair of walking shoes in hand because you will be doing a LOT of walking wherever you go (if not to the destination). Keep an umbrella handy too. Lovely showers in this city!

FOOD:

From what my aunt tells me, the city has warmed up to ‘pure veg’ food in the past couple of years. So, you shouldn’t have a problem finding comfort food. However, please ask if your food is all veg. A KFC in Sentosa was kind enough to alert me that the fries weren’t fried in separate oil. Most places have a great food court with plenty of food options. You won’t go hungry while you are getting all touristy 😉

The local food is amazingly interesting. From the Malay Laksa to their Satays to the glass noodles, there’s plenty to explore. I being a vegetarian found comfort in pasta in most places (I KNOW! Don’t give me that look :P). As for desserts their street food ice cream sandwich in wafers and their red bean pudding on milk ice is YUM! Don’t miss that for sure!

HOW WE DID IT WITH TWO KIDS:

THIS is the main part, right? 😛

Lishaan is 3 and Isha is 1. Between my husband and me we planned the kids’ duty like so:

  1. Husband is in charge of Lishaan completely and I am in charge of Isha. This includes food, pee, potty, water, tantrums.
  2. We didn’t have a stroller (most tourist spots happily rent strollers). But we had our carriers and that was a live saving idea! No way could we have walked with both kids in tow or taken buses like we did, without babywearing. Dhana carried Lishaan in a Soul Cherry Linen Full Buckle and I carried Isha in the Neon Linen Soul AnoonA. Only two carriers for the entire trip and it was the perfect choice. Sweat free and hassle free.
  3. My aunt had stocked up on finger foods and snacks. So, we’d pack enough little snacks for the kids to munch on in between destinations.
  4. Water in Singapore is free. I mean that you have refilling stations at many places which give you cold, fresh water. So, invest in a reusable bottle and refill as you go.
  5. Minimize Luggage. We travelled with one large suitcase and one smaller one. This + 1 backpack. The large suitcase was the kids and me, while the smaller one was for the husband. The backpack was a roomy one from Fastrack that I picked up during my post pregnancy days. It held a diaper bag, two bottles, my emergency meds kit and wallet + some random stuff.
  6. Plan in parts. The first day was a stretch at the zoo. We kind of maxed out on our kids’ patience levels and got the result of it later that night. So, ideally break your day into two parts. Singapore is a city that comes to life at night. Most malls and shopping areas look stunning after sunset. So, we planned activities in two bits – mornings for sightseeing and evenings for a casual stroll around town.
  7. Google maps was a huge savior. Apart from just helping you plot a map of where all to go from where you are, it also recommends bus routes and train options. VERY ACCURATE. I survived on maps for most part of the trip.
  8. This might come as a pinch, but Singapore (and I think a lot of overseas destinations) straighten you up. Cabs function super punctually; you can’t cross the road wherever you want; no tossing garbage wherever you please; no line cutting; no nonsense, basically. It makes you respect the city and what it gives you.

Places I LOVED:

Ikea for the food :P, The River Safari, Marina Bay Sands and Orchard road. Given a chance, I would love to go back all by myself and enjoy all of this without a baby at the boob! 😀

So, that’s our trip and how we survived it. Tell me if it helps you and do share it with your friends too! 😀

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