Gearing up for the holiday

Okay, so I know you’re all waiting for the photos of the places we went and things we did but I thought it would be kinda fun to first torture you and make you wait blog about the steps we took to prepare for our holiday and first airplane trip with the kids! In signature iwonderbee style 😉

Step 1. Time to listen, time to talk
Talking to lots of people helped tremendously in planning a realistic itinerary. What would be achievable and what would be downright plain suicidal, the definitely-must-visit places, and the “yeeeeah, we’ll pop by if we have time” stops.  What to expect. What NOT to expect. 😉

We ended up keeping pretty close to our scheduled itinerary…which I thought was great!!  Although I have to say that the estimated driving times provided on the official WA driving maps site are really quite UNDER-estimated if you are keeping to the speed limits. *hmm*

Step 2.  Surf’s up
We trawled the internet with a fine-tooth comb. We searched every link that people sent us and the links from those links and the links from those links from those links twice over! Yes, I’ll be posting the links we used over the next few posts covering our itinerary!

Step 3. Baby, you can drive my car
This site was by far the best and most detailed in breaking down the individual costs involved in the overall booking. 

Our search parameters for a seven or eight-seater to accommodate two kids and four adults typically turned up “Toyota Tarago or similar”. So off we went, two weeks before our trip to the Toyota showroom here in Singapore, to see the Previa model which is the closest match in terms of size and features.

Ideally, we were hoping for a test drive, but they didn’t have a test drive vehicle on hand, so DH and I just clambered all over the showroom model trying out controls, pushing levers, lifting seats and compartments. That exercise gave us a pretty good sense of the passenger seating capacity, boot space, car features and functionalities.

Test drive

Step 4. One planner to rule them all!
Ooh, this is my favourite part. DH always leaves this to me because I just totally relish building Excel tables every time we plan a trip or a new project. Heheh 😀

Planners

One Excel spreadsheet summarising our itinerary details – where we are on what day of the week and what date that is, staying where, costing how much, booking reference, additional items requested, address, phone and email contacts, driving directions, places of interest in that location, special event timings if any, opening and closing times, admission costs, driving route, approximate driving timings between stops, meal stops, and free-text field column for additional notes.

One Excel spreadsheet with the main column listing all the barang-barang we’re carrying, categorised by each individual’s items, cross-referenced to identify the luggage bag it’s packed into and then subsidiary sections for general items, and hand-carry items. With sufficient columns to the right hand side for each day of the trip so I can tick off the items when we pack to mitigate the risk of leaving something behind.

Printouts of our e-tickets and flight booking details.
Printouts of our booking confirmations.
My little handy dandy note book! With columns all drawn out ready to document monies expensed on the trip and lists of items purchased.
All filed neatly into my trusty travel folder that has extra clear folders to hold brochures, tickets and leaflets collected along the way for scrapbooking purposes. 

*GRIN*  Can you tell this is so totally my pet project because it has the longest commentary in this whole blog entry? LOL!!

Step 5. “I want to see the big big aeroplanes!”
We made a couple of trips to the viewing gallery at Changi Airport to let the kids see the planes taking off and landing and loading. We talked about where we were going. And about sitting in an aeroplane to get there. And what we would do onboard the aeroplane. We talked so much about it that DD woke up every day for two weeks asking if today was the day we were going to Australia!

Step 6. Everything but the kitchen sink
Based off the Previa’s boot space, we knew we couldn’t have so much luggage it couldn’t fit in the back of the car. So after lots of packing and repacking (and stuffing and sitting on top of suitcases!), we ended up with four cabin bags, three hand carry bags and the requisite backpack for DD to carry her inflight toys/activities/snacks, etc etc etc.   And then…we came back with MORE bags!! OH! 😛

Step 7. Holiday = taking it easy ≠being unhealthy

babyplane-2

What I’d heard from others about the post-weaning meal I wasn’t too crazy about…so I googled various search strings because I wanted to know exactly what goes into the post weaning meal.

I mean, wouldn’t you want to know if they added salt or sugar or worse, some funny kind of preservatives to keep it looking like that? Why is it prepacked and sealed instead of prepared fresh? So in light of that, how far ahead is this prepared and stored? What’s its shelf life? Who QCs it for taste?

What the airline’s travel consultants described to me about the children’s meal didn’t exactly inspire confidence either. I quote what I was told “…usually nuggets or burgers, with other items that children will love to eat, such as chocolate, candies and ice-cream…” -_______- or maybe 😯  would be a closer approximation to the expression on my face.

But DH was not keen on changing their orders to standard meals because he said standard meals were generally very salty. So we brought our own food for the kids on the flight to Perth. After calling the CAAS hotline to check on the restrictions on hand-carry liquids. And stopping by the Changi Airport Information Counter to enquire with two separate counter staff about the restrictions again so DH and I could cross-reference their responses to our questions. Oiii…I heard that. Who’s that in the back who said neurotic??  

Anyway, after all that, the child’s meal on both flights wasn’t so bad. After removing the nuggets, juice box, chocolate sticks, candy…er…hm…that’s practically everything isn’t it? Heheheheh…

DS only took the post weaning meal on the return flight. It was minced chicken in tomato sauce. For what it’s worth, I found it TOO tasty for a child by my standards. But our departure timing was at 7:35am so even with the best of intentions, I wasn’t staying up the night before to cook!       

Step 8: Scrapbooking for kids!
DH created activity scrapbooks for the kids, with a page allocated per day of the trip to record down everyday what they did and saw!! It was a mini project in itself thinking up the activities, and…I’ll tell you more about it in the subsequent posts. 😉

Step 9. Fasten your seatbelts…
Passports? Check. Visas? Check. Bags? Check. Tickets? Check. Kids? Check.
Sounded like a daunting process? Yes it was. But I think every step incrementally built up momentum to the point of boarding the plane. This has been such a long post…if you read till the end, I really appreciate that! 🙂
Next few blog entries – our actual itinerary itself!

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