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Tag: traveling with baby

30-Day New Zealand Roadtrip In A Spaceship

Compact, comfortable, cozy and convenient, that was our home on wheels for one month in New Zealand’s south island. To top it off, our ride had a pretty cool name…

Compact, comfortable, cozy and convenient, that was our home on wheels for one month in New Zealand’s south island. To top it off, our ride had a pretty cool name to go with it, “Stormtrooper” to be exact. This new concept of Spaceships on the road, essentially a modified MPV was totally foreign to us. We’ve heard of chunky caravans fully equipped with kitchenettes, a bed, sitting area and a roof tall enough for an adult to stand upright in the vehicle. Spaceships seemed a bit far fetch when it promised all the features of a caravan intelligently fitted into a drivable, easy to manuever, non-threatening, lady driver friendly MPV.

Spaceships (3)

We drove “Stormtrooper” for a whole month around the South Island, starting at Christchurch moving north to Kaikoura, Nelson, covering the west coast stretch stopping in Frank Josef, into busy Queenstown, all the way down south to Invercargill and Bluff, then back up to gorgeous Mount Cook before bidding farewell to our trusty ride back in Christchurch.

We travelled with our baby son, Seth throughout the trip and so when it came to choosing the ideal vehicle for sleep and travel, safety was of utmost importance. “Stormtrooper” came fitted with a baby seat, upon request and a small additional charge. It was snug, easy to clean and very secure. Additionally, the MPV had many compartments for diapers and other baby gear and curtains to block the sun out when Seth was having his morning and afternoon naps. The spacious luggage storage at the back of the vehicle was also big enough for us to put away a medium-size trolley bag, a 60-litre backpack and other baby paraphernalia, and still had extra space for at least one more bag.

Spaceships (2)

Cooking was a breeze. “Stormtrooper” came equipped with a full set of kitchen utensils including a pot, pan, chopping board, knives, cutlery, plates, bowls and detergent and sponge for washing. It also came with a portable stove and a gas canister but we barely used the stove since most campsites where we parked for the night also offered basic kitchen facilities minus the utensils. The Spaceship has a small fridge fitted in and we were able to store raw ingredients for cooking whenever, wherever. The kitchen gears are neatly packed into two box compartments under the bed and you won’t even guess it was there if you peered into the vehicle!

Spaceships (18)

Comfort was essential since we rented the vehicle for a month. Being Asian, we reckoned any queen-size bed would fit us, two adults and a baby, snugly. The bed in our Spaceship stretched out nicely and sleeping came with two options, indoors – inside the car or outdoors – with an extension of the bed stretching out of the booth with a cover over it. The outdoor option was perfect for warmer nights and the outdoor cover has two windows with a protective mesh to keep the insects at bay. Since it was summer, we could try both options, and both were equally comfortable. We never woke up with any cramps or backaches despite Seth sleeping between us.

Spaceships (1)Spaceship interior

The best and most sensible feature of the Spaceship was its cost effectiveness. Renting the MPV trimmed our budget significantly. It’s not a fuel guzzler and takes just about the same amount of fuel as a sedan. It gave us the option of cooking our meals and reduced our accommodation costs. We still had to pay camping fees, but it was a fraction compared to paying for a hotel room. Plus, all campsites in New Zealand are very well run and maintain with basic comforts such as hot showers, shared lounges, basic kitchen facilities and laundry rooms. Although we didn’t sleep in our “Stormtrooper” for the whole month, we spent 20 nights in the car and every few days we took a break, gave ourselves a treat and booked into a hotel or B&B.

Also since it was summer, hotel rooms were often fully booked and if it weren’t for our Spaceship, we would have to worry about securing a place to stay way ahead of time. We love the freedom that our ‘home on wheels’ gave us.

Spaceships was more than a cool modified MPV, it was a community. We had the thrill of waving at other Spaceships and receiving reciprocal waves back when driving on the road. The feeling was mutual, kind of like seeing another family member on the road. There wasn’t any need for formal introduction or awkward handshakes. We naturally made friends, swapped DVDs and exchanged stories of road tripping in beautiful New Zealand.

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Tips On Traveling With Baby

As a fairly new mom, I know how daunting it is to add “baby” to the travel equation. Before Seth came along, hubs and I spent less than 30 minutes…

As a fairly new mom, I know how daunting it is to add “baby” to the travel equation. Before Seth came along, hubs and I spent less than 30 minutes packing for trips, sometimes as speedy as 15 minutes. We seldom (never, say never) miss any essentials. We packed like pros and learnt quite a few travel hacks along the way too – for example, packing clean rolled socks into our shoes to save space, using medicine containers for jewelry and vitamins, making sure we have a pen in our passport pouch for filling in arrival cards and packing light-weight gifts for the nice people we (will) meet.

When Seth came along, the checklist quickly extended and so did the packing time. Seth made his first overseas trip to Cambodia at three months old, the first of the many trips to come. Since then, I’ve learn quite a few things about traveling with a baby and I’d love to share it with you. I understand how overwhelming it can be to see the checklist perpetually growing by the minute, how scary it is to be uncertain of how your baby will fair in a new environment or how clean and sanitized the destination will be. All of which are valid concerns and really, all you want is a good fun holiday minus all the unnecessary worry. Here are some simple travel tips I’ve learnt:

1. It’s all in the mind. The first step to getting out of the door is saying ‘yes’ to traveling with your baby. I’ve heard parents say, “I’d travel after my baby turns one.” The reasons: “It’s too troublesome”, “Way too much stuff to bring”, “My baby won’t even remember it. What’s the point?”, “My baby has to stick to a strict schedule”, “What if… what if… what if…” I’m certain Seth wouldn’t remember his first trip to Cambodia when he slept in a hammock in a village among cows and chickens while we chatted away with village folks – but photos will tell and more importantly, I learnt that babies are way more adaptable and versatile than we think. So let go and allow your baby to try new things and venture to new territories at a tender age.

Seth in Cambodia Village

2. Travel checklist. Here’s my basic baby travel checklist, mainly for tropical destinations. Depending on the type of travel and the expected weather conditions, I will add to this list as required.

On the body:

  • Onesies / Rompers
  • Pants / Shorts
  • Pajamas (usually long sleeve onesies to keep warm)
  • Hat
  • Shoes and socks
  • Baby lotion
  • Sunscreen
  • Sudocream – Essential for nappy rash, heat rash and it even works on insect bites.
  • Mosquito patch – Doubles up as protection for you too if you’re carrying little bub.
  • Bibs – Yes! You will need more than one because meal times can become messy.
  • Diapers
  • Wet wipes
  • Small plastic bags for soiled diapers – And keeping the smells at bay.

For the tummy:

  • Bottles – Usually one would suffice, but for long haul trips, I bring two just in case.
  • Sippy cup – After Seth turned 6 months, I added this to the list.
  • Milk powder – After 7.5 months, Seth went fully on formula milk. If you are still breastfeeding, you have less to carry!
  • Food & Snacks – Read No.3 & 4 for a variety of travel friendly food I love to have with me.
  • Portable blender – A friend gave this to me and it’s the handiest tool. I’m not selling the brand, but you will probably find similar products in the market that blends baby food without the need to be electrically powered. Failing which, a fork would do the job too!
  • Thermos – One of the most essential items to bring along. Hot water on the go anytime, anywhere.
  • Small container and spoon for feeding
  • Washing detergent for bottles
  • Bottle brush

To keep him happy:

  • A toy and a book – Something to keep baby entertained. Don’t go overboard with toys, one is really enough for comfort sake. What I found interesting was, Seth loved travel brochures and magazines and we often read from these, making up stories of places and people. Tip: Improvise. Almost everything is entertaining to babies.

Baby toy and book

On the go:

  • Baby carrier – Best invention ever. Believe it or not, Seth has never used the pram since his birth. I just found using the carrier a lot more convenient and hassle free. A good one like an Ergo keeps shoulder and backaches away. Get a lowdown on the best baby carriers at Babble Out before you purchase one. It’s a worthwhile investment!

Baby carrierJust in case:

  • Medicine – For extended trips (more than a week) I usually stash the basic flu, cough and fever meds with me and a syringe. Thankfully I never had to use the stash, but it’s wise to have it with you to avoid hefty medical bills or hunting for a pharmacy.
  • Thermometer

3. Food. Depending on how old your baby is and how long you are gone for, the food selection can vary. At six months, everything that Seth ate was bland, bland, bland. After eight months, the taste experiment started and since then, Seth has been pinching from our plates every time we eat. I will feed him till he’s almost full and then leave room for tasting.

  • Must have – A small container of rice cereal to mix with veggie or fruit. Weetbix works too.
  • Purees – I make these ahead of time, store them in small containers and pack them in freezer bags with ice packs. I carry the freezer bag with me on the airplane if I’m flying. At the hotel, I transfer them into the fridge. But if I’m camping or there’s no fridge available, I will bring mashable food items such as bananas, papayas and avocados.
  • How much food to bring? I will bring anywhere from 4-8 serves and spread it out throughout the trip. There is no point in bringing more than 8 serves as you want the food to be as fresh as possible. When my supply depletes, we order baby-friendly food such as steamed veggies on the side, porridge or stews.

Baby puree_travel

4. Snacks. The last thing you want is to feed your baby some Twisties because you don’t have anything at hand. And when your baby starts teething, that’s also when they start snacking the most. Seth loves cucumber and carrot sticks, especially when they are chilled, healthy rice crispies and water crackers are great too and assorted whole grain cereal with dried fruit.

Carrot sticks

I’m sure you have your own baby travel tips too. Care to share? I’d love to hear yours. Share them in the comments section below.

Now giddy up, plan the next trip, pack away and have a fab time exploring the world with your little one!

Read also:  Baby in a Spaceship.

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Two Adults, A Baby, Four Bags & An Address To Golden Grove B&B

It was late. Not midnight late, but late enough. The sun was no more and the neighbourhood silent. We arrived in MacDonaldtown station from the airport, after an 8-hour flight….

It was late. Not midnight late, but late enough. The sun was no more and the neighbourhood silent. We arrived in MacDonaldtown station from the airport, after an 8-hour flight. The place is dead quiet. With us are four bags, a baby in the pouch and an address to ‘No.30, Golden Grove Street, corner of Abercrombie Street.’

The train roared on leaving a thunderous echo on the tracks. We exited the station and decided to let our instincts lead us. Thankfully, our instincts weren’t put to the test (I fear, we would’ve been walked for ages!). We stopped a cyclist that was zooming by and he accessed his google maps to give us directions. Bless him!


We arrive at No.30, a prominent stair canopy rising up from the street and a glass door at its entrance with a Kookaburra image etched on it. We led ourselves in and Lloyd Suttor, who had been waiting up all night for us greeted us with a warm smile. He briefly showed us around and excused himself so that we can retire for the night.

The apartment is beautiful, tastefully decorated. It was warm and cosy and instrumental music piped in the background. It felt like home. Famished and a little disoriented, going out for dinner was not an option. Thankfully, Lloyd had stocked the kitchen with bacon, eggs, bread, yoghurt, juice, cereal, fruits and cans of soup.

Dinner satisfied our hunger and it warmed our soul to know that Lloyd planned ahead and anticipated our need. It’s one of those moments that you will remember a place for – like how you remember home. There’s always food, anytime.


The spacious self-contained studio apartment is a split level unit with the bedroom and lounge rising up from the kitchen. The stylish modern décor is splashed with green, grey and white hues and refreshing floral elements. On the walls are intriguing art pieces by Tony Twigg, an Australian who draws inspiration from Asian cultures in Singapore, the Philippines and Malaysia. The art pieces on display in the apartment are made up from recycled elements collected from these countries.

Golden Grove Tony Twigg

Golden Grove B&B was nothing close to stylish when Lloyd bought over the property in 2010. Previously, a dilapidated student accommodation providing shelter to nearby university students, the building was quite worn out. Lloyd took on this retirement project with gusto.

Hospitality was never on his portfolio, until now. Lloyd was more of a creative person, one with lots of ideas and ways to make magic happen. He was one of the brains and actors behind the well-known Flying Fruitfly Circus, the only Australian full-time circus academy for young people. His retirement project had one condition – it had to involve people. He enjoyed meeting new faces and sharing stories.

We sat around the breakfast table over morning tea as Lloyd told me more about how Golden Grove came to be. Right next to us beyond the glass shutters is a pretty roof top garden and a turbine spinning away. “Sustainability wasn’t quite on my list when I first started tearing this place down. It was Duncan Bond, my architect who introduced earth-friendly elements into the reconstruction,” said Lloyd.

Golden Grove

“I’m sure glad he did! Now the apartment is self-warming and cooling as a result of perfect ventilation. Hot water is powered by solar panels, the garden roof top provides cool to the apartment below and there is plenty of sunlight flowing in from the glass window.” Guests may even overlook these elements, but Lloyd made sure he made a mention in the apartment compendium as a way to educate guests.

Rooftop garden

Golden Grove has two studio units for short-term and long-term rental. “The units are often filled up with people working in Sydney for short stints, parents of students from the university and academics.” It is no surprise the B&B receives repeat guests, as it really feels somewhat, like home.

Located in lively Newtown, one of Sydney’s flourishing precincts, there is always something happening round the corner. Known for its shopping strip, vibrant coffee culture and creative spaces for contemplation and ideas, Newtown attracts both young and old, free-spirited artisans and young families. We had time to stop by Carriage Works, one of the many community galleries in Newtown. This former railway workshop was the hub for Australian-made carriages. Its external red bricked walls and clouded glass windows makes a for a perfect photo backdrop and its high ceiling interior is suitable for any kind of art installation.

We saw the installation by Christian Boltanski called “Chance”. A giant film reel filled with photos of babies whirling from one end to the other on a massive steel structure. Each photo represented a life. At the end of the steel structure was a giant LED board with numbers ticking by – in green are the number of births and red the number of deaths, at the current time. A reminder of the rhythms of life as it unfolds.

Carriage Works

A meaningful installation and a timely reminder to life live to its fullest. This was the chapter that kick started my one and a half months travel to Sydney and New Zealand. Thanks Lloyd for such a warm, welcoming stay.

More stories to follow…

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