This was our first international trip as a family of 3!!!!
Annnnnd it was VERY HARD traveling with a toddler. The 14-hour flight there was AWFUL. R went from being super excited about being on a plane to being completely overstimulated and unable to fall asleep. She maybe slept for 4 hours the entire flight, waking up every hour and demanding Cindy to walk up and down the aisle. We feel so embarrassed for being “that” family. Once we landed, Cindy looked around trying to convince herself the other kids on the flight were older. But Jake definitely saw some toddlers. It didn’t get easier once we arrived. R wouldn’t sleep!! All of our travel gear that worked before suddenly didn’t work for this trip. We were sleep deprived and missing our home and our routine. By the end of the first week, we wanted to go home. We even considered a moratorium on international travel until we were done having kids and the youngest kid was at least 5 years old.
But now, having survived the trip and actually enjoyed it near the end we’re thinking maybe traveling isn’t so bad. And the memories and experiences are worth it all. The more we do it, the easier it will get. We had to learn to really let go and go with the flow. We spent so much time that first week trying to get on a schedule and adjust to the new time zone. We spent a lot of time trying to recreate our home environment in a vacation environment and while that may work for some people it just wasn’t working for us. One afternoon, we spent almost 2 hours trying to get R to nap in the Airbnb. And when she finally did, it was only a 30-minute nap which wasn’t nearly long enough to get us to bedtime. So we ended up canceling our evening plans and hanging around our Airbnb so we could do bedtime on time. It was very restricting! It wasn’t until we decided to “give up” that we finally were able to get out and explore and not be confined to our Airbnb or schedule. We ended up cosleeping at night, which took a while for R to learn because she’s never coslept before. But once she got the hang of it, the 3 of us were sleeping 10-11 hours through the night! And we decided to only do stroller naps since that was the only way R would nap for a decent amount of time. Stroller naps also allowed us to travel farther from the Airbnb without having to rush back for nap time. At the time, we were so worried that all this would disrupt R’s sleep expectations and she would not be able to sleep on her own in her crib again. We kept telling her, “Sleeping with Mommy and Daddy is only in Taiwan”. Now that we’re home, and R is sleeping on her own in her crib, we realize how much energy we wasted worrying.
What got us through this trip was knowing we were mostly in Taiwan to see Cindy’s maternal grandma. Between the two of us, she’s the only living grandparent left. And it was so special for R to meet her great grandma. Cindy’s parents also visited and having 4 generations in one room together was such a blessing. Not only that, but R got to meet all her great aunts and uncles. Everyone was so happy to meet her.
It also made us so happy to see how much fun R was having exploring the new environment and enjoying the different foods. We also enjoyed all the different foods…That’s what we’re going to miss the most. All the Taiwanese food!! And how cheap it was! We’ll definitely miss being able to buy breakfast for just $3 USD for all three of us.
We are so used to packing our days full of activities when traveling, it felt like we moved at a much slower pace this trip. But looking back at all our pictures, we realized how much we did! We went on the MaoKong Gondola with Cindy’s family and walked around the tea gardens. We visited the Taipei Zoo (twice)! R was super excited to see the pandas. We went to a few night markets and enjoyed all the night market food!! We hung out at Taipei 101 a few times and went to the children’s indoor playground many many times. We visited Cindy’s family a lot and caught up with a couple of Cindy’s friends and Jake’s colleagues. We checked out the Sun-Yat Sen Memorial but R was completely disinterested. We explored the Taipei Children’s Amusement Park where R really enjoyed the bumper boats. We actually did a lot! But we also did move at a slower pace. We didn’t feel the need to see it all and were okay with going back to places that R really enjoyed. We did things like ride the escalator and the MRT just for the fun of it because those were the things R loved even if it isn’t what we would think of when we think of tourist activities.
The most memorable activity of this trip was our “Tour around Taiwan”. It was a grand family trip with Cindy’s great aunts, parents, sister & sister’s husband, and grandma! We took a train around the entire perimeter of Taiwan, stopping for a few days to stay at the southern tip (KenTing & TaiTung). We saw a part of Taiwan we’d never seen before. It’s more rural and just different from Taipei City. We got to bike around with R for the first time. But the most exciting part was the actual train ride. There was a Karaoke car, where we spent the majority of our time. R had fun dancing along to all the singing.
We struggled traveling with a toddler, but we also had so much fun. We keep reminding ourselves that in a few years, we’ll be happy we went on the trip. Those are the things you remember. Not the days you spent at home following a routine.
We’re back now, and Jake is jumping right back into wrapping up his program. He graduates in less than a month!!! Cindy and R are still reeling from jet lag. And maybe a little post-vacation blues.