This was our first out-of-the-country trip with Tristan. As you know, we take our little guy with us everywhere we go (we have never left him home alone with a nanny/yaya). It is a decision we’ve made from the start since I usually breastfeed direct (it is easier for us this way), our yaya is stay-out (we only call her when I have work or we are going out), and we simply love having Tristan around (we have peace of mind when he is near us). Prior to this Hong Kong trip, our little guy already rode a plane to Cebu and Bohol, and we’ve taken a few long car rides to Baguio and Batangas, so you can say he is pretty much used to traveling. We haven’t done a long-haul flight yet, but we will be going on one in October, so I’ll let you know how that goes.
This Hong Kong trip was for work, which made it a little more difficult for us. We had to follow the schedule of my travel/lifestyle show, Trending Now, which meant we had to constantly move from one location to another. Thankfully, Tristan wasn’t too stressed with our busy schedule. But then again, he is a relatively easy baby to take care of and he had his dad to entertain him when I was working or unavailable. Also, we were there for a good four days so the pace was a little more relaxed than usual and the show hired a segment host to split the work with me. I was actually both pleased and surprised when I found out we had pockets of free time to explore and shop on our own (usually we are required to shoot the entire time). But more than anything, I was happy my husband and baby were able to come along. This is almost never allowed, especially for shoots. I couldn’t be more grateful to the kind producers of the show who allowed me to bring them (THANK YOU, Tita Kelly and Reynold).
I lived in Hong Kong for a few years during my modeling days (on and off from 2004-2012). Once upon a time I worked as a commercial/print model and Hong Kong was where I got the most jobs (I also travelled to Singapore, Thailand, China and Malaysia), so naturally I would come back every year at the start of their peak season. I was obviously still single then, and I only had myself to take care of. So this recent trip was a very different one because I was with my husband and we both had to take care of Tristan, who was 10 months old at the time. I thought I knew the city quite well because I had lived there all those years, but after this trip I realized it is so different when you’re traveling with a baby. You kind of have to find ways to make the trip as easy and comfortable for your baby and for yourself, which can be challenging. Here’s what I learned on our first family trip to Hong Kong.
1.) Invest in a lightweight, foldable stroller. This is number one on my list. Right before going on this trip, Carlos and I got ourselves an Aprica Luxana Light stroller, which is really super light (it only weighs 5 kg) and is so easy to fold. This made our life so much easier! We were thinking of bringing our big and bulky stroller, and I’m so glad we didn’t do it. Hong Kong is not really stroller-friendly, especially when you’re in the shopping/business districts like Central, Causeway Bay and Tsim Sha Tsui. Those places can be crowded, and people walk fast so your stroller has to be compact, light and easy to fold. You can’t take your sweet time when you’re folding or parking your stroller, especially when riding a cab. People will tell you to move or get out of the way. Folding a stroller has to be quick and easy–something you can do with one hand and I’m so happy our Aprica stroller does just that. Oh, and you will definitely need your stroller to be shockproof and comfortable, because your baby will be sleeping in it. Tristan never missed his nap time because he was able to sleep in the stroller while we explored the city.
2.) Dont forget your baby carrier. Mommies and daddies, make sure to pack this in your hand carry, because if anything happens to your stroller, you are in big trouble. You wont be able to use your hands to carry/roll your luggage as you will be carrying your baby with two hands. The baby carrier is a lifesaver! Also, some babies are not used to strollers so using a baby carrier is the next best thing. You can travel and explore the city at ease and even go shopping, because your baby is safely snuggled on your chest. The one we brought is also from Aprica (it is called the Colan CTS), and it is compatible with our Aprica Luxuna stroller. This means I could transfer Tristan from the carrier to the stroller without waking him up. The baby carrier itself seamlessly attaches to the stroller, which I think is the smartest invention, ever. No cranky baby with this duo.
3.) If you intend to use public transport, get an Octopus card. You can get this at the airport when you land. This is the only card you need when going around Hong Kong–you can use if for the MTR, bus, mini bus, tram, and even to buy snacks at 7-11. You’ll be able to cut on waiting time as you wont need to queue at the MTR station to buy your passes and no need to dig through your purse or wallet for bills and coins. Babies are free and they do not need an Octopus card. However, children aged 3 to 11 will need a Child Octopus card, which has a discounted rate. You can easily top up at any 7-11 store, which can be found in practically every corner in Hong Kong. Plus, the card itself doesn’t expire, though it would be a good idea to finish all the credits before going home.
4.) Bring your nursing cover. One thing about Hong Kong is there aren’t enough family/nursing rooms. You will most likely need to breastfeed in public, so I suggest you bring your nursing cover. I am super shy when it comes to these things so I really bring my cover with me wherever I go. But if you’re not, you may need to cover up anyway. Hong Kong can be pretty conservative when it comes to breastfeeding without a cover so it’s better to adjust to their norm. I nursed in restaurants, waiting areas and department stores without a problem. I would’ve preferred to do it in a breastfeeding station/family room but the only one I found was at the airport.
5.) Rent a pocket Wi-Fi. We discovered this in Japan and loved how convenient it was. We were able to use our apps (hello, Waze, Google Maps) as well as post photos on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter in real time. So when we got to Hong Kong, this was the first thing we looked for. We immediately found a stall at the airport (it was called Wi-Fi BB) and rented a device for four days. Having Internet was awesome–we were able to contact our family and friends with ease as well as the Trending Now crew when we went off on our own. One thing you have to remember: on your way home, find the stall in the airport BEFORE entering immigration. You will not be able to go back through immigration anymore and these service companies do not have booths at the other side of the airport. We desperately tried to find a way to return our Wi-Fi unit after going through immigration and it was impossible. We just had to send back the unit via courier with additional late charges.
6.) Make sure to bring comfortable shoes. We don’t really walk a lot in Manila (except in malls) so it’s hard to say if your shoes are comfortable enough for walking around in Hong Kong. Well, that’s what happened to me when I brought a pair of sneakers I thought was good for walking but ended up hurting my feet. I had to buy another pair in Hong Kong, which was okay, because really, I’d give any excuse to go shopping haha. Seriously though, you need super comfortable shoes when g0ing around the city, especially when you have your baby with you!
7.) Relax, and try to have fun. I am generally a chill momma, but when I am tired I get super cranky. Thankfully, Carlos is a hands on dad and he can take over before I get to that point. I really wouldn’t last a day without him, and I am not ashamed to say it. I mean, of course, we can all go on super mama mode, but you are on vacation. So try your best to relax and have fun. Remember your baby feeds off your vibe, so if you’re unhappy/worried/angry/sad/etc, he feels it. Sightsee, shop and indulge, you deserve it.