Mommy Korean trip with toddlers! Stressful? Maybe, maybe not?

Last month in April, my dear friend Priscilia and I embarked on a adventure like no other. We braved ourselves and travelled to a foreign country, along with our excited, restless and irrational toddlers who can’t stop bickering like two little old husband and wife over rubbish, like literally “rubbish” that we were about to throw away in the rubbish bin, with no husband muscles or any type of help for 10 days. Wow that was a long sentence!

Would I say it was easy? Hmm maybe. Was it hard? A little. I don’t think it was undoable if you have the guts to try and be willing be get tired. I mean what’s travelling without a little hiccup along the way? What’s travelling without getting lost or having sore feet by the end of the day? That’s what travelling means to me. If there were hardships during the trip, at the end of it you will have a story to tell amongst your friends. There you go, a perfect ice breaker!  Let’s start from the beginning.

Flight

The flight was a breeze. However, Singapore Airlines decided to change our seat at the last minute (I have picked our seats and received confirmation for it) which was extremely annoying. But I won the battle and got our original seats back. Aurora slept like an angel throughout the 7 hour red-eye from Melbourne to Singapore. Singapore to Seoul flight was filled with in-flight entertainment and filling her little belly that has been empty the last 10 hours or so. I tend to save Aurora’s in flight meal and put them in the airsickness bag, so when she’s awake and hungry, I will have that spare meal that I can provide for her. When we reached Singapore, she was still too sleepy to eat, but was ravenous when we boarded the Singapore to Seoul flight. If we had to wait for the take-off and in flight meal etc, she would have been starving. So while waiting for the other passengers to board, I gave her the meal from the previous flight. I ate mine too. She was so hungry that when the in-flight meal arrived, she gobbled that up too.

Arrival

When we arrived in Seoul, I have to say it was a little chaotic. Aurora left her koala in flight, which we didn’t end up getting. A lot of hand-gestures and over enunciation of words “KOALA. Like a TOY. A DOLL”. We queued up for immigration twice.

Searching for our non english speaking driver (booked online through Klook) was not an easy task either. Luckily I had a pocket wifi from the airport (very important! Book before departure) and was able to text him via Whatsapp. Getting a SIM card is good too but you have to activate it with a wifi. I sent the driver pictures of where we were at and he finally found us.

Accomodation

We stayed both at an AirBnb and a hotel. For Priscilia and I, it is safe to say that we will not be staying at another AirBnb in Korea. I don’t know if it was just that particular AirBnb. There were a lot of rules to follow and a lot of cleaning up to do omg. When it was time for us to check in our hotel, I can’t describe the feeling. Relieved, happy and comforted at the same time. It felt like a home away from home. I left my phone at one time and the person was kind enough to send it back via courier. Having the concierge there to receive my phone back while I was still away was convenient. I did have to pay a small fee, but it is nothing compared to the annoyance of having to bring both toddlers back in a taxi to our previous spot, paying the taxi fare, getting them back in the taxi to go again etc etc.

Transportation

It is fairly easy to take the public transport in Korea IF you are not lugging strollers, your shopping, toddler necessities and the toddlers themselves. Some train stations do not have elevators. You can fold up the stroller, carry it on one hand and hold the toddler on the other (which we had to do a couple of times). It can be a little stressful and tiring, especially when you have to exchange between different lines within one trip, and having multiple trips during the day. So we opted for taxi rides. Although not a cheap as public transport, definitely much cheaper compared to Melbourne, and worth the money. It does come with a slight hiccup. We had to supervise both toddlers on the side of the street while both of us take turns to fold each person’s stroller. It’s much harder at the end of the day after we go hard on the shopping and bags have accumulated on the stroller handles, therefore you know… I’ll let your mind wander what steps we had to take to safely get in and out of the taxi. P.S. Korean drivers are EXTREMELY impatient and rude 99% of the time.

Toddler friendliness

On the scale of 1-10, I’d say Korea is around 7.5-8 judging on the places we have visited, food, toilets, activities, lift availability and cleanliness. Here’s a list of where we took the kids and suggestions of how long you can spend during each one.

  • Lotte world (1 -2 days or more if you want to go to on all the rides and explore different areas of the park)
  • Aquarium – at Lotte world  (A couple of hours. The Beluga is the main attraction, and boy it was amazing!)
  • Everland (1-2 days. So many things to do!)
  • Sheep cafe (1-2 hours including meal time)
  • Cat cafes (1-2 hours, if your kid even wants to leave. We went 2 cat cafes. One in Myeong Dong and another one in Insadong. The one in Myeong Dong was much better. It was cleaner and not as packed. The cats in Insadong seemed like they were needing their space as it was packed and everyone just kept touching them)
  • Hello kitty island (45mins, right next to Seoul tower so you can drop by. Girls will love this and it can be interesting for boys too. It’s like a Hello Kitty house, complete with a kitchen and dining table full of food, etc)
  • Parks (1-2 hours. We went to Yeouido Park to see the Beotkkot, Korean cherry blossom, and had a small picnic session)

So would I do it again? In a heart beat. Priscilia was an amazing travel partner. So flexible and strong. She can keep up with me, walking around 15000-20000 thousand steps per day, half of them carrying kids, bags, chasing whoever or whatever is getting away: trains, toddlers, taxis.

One thing to keep in mind when you travel with kids, it will not be a perfect trip. I made a full 10 day itinerary. Extremely detailed. Weather forecasted, English and Korean translated, opening hours included, and a summary of each destination blah blah blah. I also fully planned daily outfits for both Aurora and I each day (I’m weird like that. Things have to match, even my bra and underwear or I will feel incomplete). But you know what, we switched things around after day 2 because the weather did not match the forecast. It was ok, even for a control freak like me. You know what, it will be unforgettable. Like this trip was. I will be back. Maybe earlier than expected. As I have mentioned in my previous blog, this year will be my year of travelling before Aurora goes to school next year, so I will make it memorable. Don’t be afraid to travel with kids, it’s the best!

Enjoy the pictures below.

Follow me on Instagram for daily feeds: @nickagunawan

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Full team!

 

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I’m not usually this sweet
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So cheeky

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Aquarium with my baby

 

 

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