So we did it! We finally packed our bags and went on our first vacation overseas as parents.
It was our kids’ first time to ride a plane, first time to go abroad, and our first time to bring kids while traveling.
My husband and I were avid travelers before getting married. We were wanderers so this shouldn’t be a big deal ‘cept now we have children in tow. We knew how much of a challenge this would be especially since our kids are still very little.
It took months of preparation and research before we finally had the courage to book that ticket. My ninja-crazed son wanted Japan to be the first country he visits overseas, especially since he has heard so many stories about the land of the rising sun from his father who has gone there a couple of times when he was younger.
I spent countless anxiety-plagued nights worrying about anything that could go wrong, and how we can prevent it, how we can prepare for it. We are traveling with two small kids! I would repeatedly tell myself. I imagined traffickers taking my children, e.coli contamination, falling into some wild animal enclosure, earthquake, typhoons and tsunami.
Most of our friends have tried booking airbnbs for their travels but maybe because of my anxiety and because we wanted to make sure there’ll be staff to help us in case of an emergency in the wee hours of the morning we booked a hotel in the city center in Kyoto.
Armed with our google maps app, a portable wifi, travel insurance, and tons of research we finally dove in an went on our Japan adventure with our kids.
We must have gotten lost more than five times during our trip. This , is despite the fact that my husband can converse a little in Japanese and feels comfortable asking directions from locals.
The transport system is so intricate that even locals find a hard time looking for buses that don’t ply their daily route.
But what we learned is that the world is still filled to the brim with people willing to help others especially parents of small children.
During our first bus ride to the hotel, our kids and luggage in tow we missed our stop. It was on a holiday rush hour so the train in Kyoto was filled to the brim with passengers. When they noticed us looking lost they motioned for us to get off at the next stop. The women at the back kept saying something in Japanese so people will move away from the aisle and let us through.
On our second day an old lady helped us with our boy. Sensing that we have our hands full because of our small child in a stroller while trying to find our way to Arashiyama, the old lady entertained our son in the bus eventhough they could barely understand each other. She hugged him so he won’t get toppled, got a seat for him and held on to him until it was time for us to get off.
There were countless of locals in Kyoto who happily took us to the right station, gave us directions, happily explained to us how we can get back to the hotel.
On our way to Dotonbori in Osaka, an old beautiful local lady who works as a professor in a University accompanied us. She spoke really good english and we had a nice time chatting with her. Then she took us to the right stop and walked us to Dotonbori in her heels! She kept asking “is she okay?” Pointing at my toddler who looked tired and sleepy.
Ofcourse we took special precautions since we were still tourists in a foreign land. But when you become a parent you just know when the other person has pure intentions and have the best interest of your family at heart.
Aside from their awe inspiring culture, delicious cuisine, and rich history what we learned from our trip in Japan is this: there is still kindness in this world. Kindness especially towards parents of small children. While there are people who may have shushed your noisy kids in public places, sneared at your kid throwing a fit, there are more kind people who understand how its like to care for small kids. People who are willing to go out of their way to help. So stop worrying and go out there and explore the world with your children!