Winter Travelling Tips with a Toddler to Hokkaido, Japan

by xin on July 23, 2018

This entry has been started months ago, and it’s been updated on a snail speed….and I am finally finished this to help parents who intend/hesitate to bring toddlers to winter trip.

I can assure you that, it’s all worth it! My kid was 1.5 year old during the trip, dated: 24-feb-2018 – 5-March-2018.

Traveling to a cold country might worry the tropical parents, especially when the kid is unable to express himself or speak yet. So, let’s break it down to a few important points:

Tip #1: Winter clothing – for temp around 0-10c.

As I have never been to real winter myself, I was lucky to be able to borrow the entire kid’s wardrobe from her as reference. Here’s what I brought for the kid:

Posing in with Sapporo Tower

  • A beanie
  • A uniqlo down jacket
  • 2 sets of innerwear heat tech (I wash it daily and air dry overnight)
  • 3 pairs of heat tech socks + 3 pair of normal socks
  • 2 pairs of fitting gloves (in case any of it goes missing, over-sized gloves can’t keep the little hands warm)
  • 2 pairs of winter pants+ a pair of waterproof pants
  • 4 fleece top
  • Sunnies (snow can be very glaring!)
  • Snow boots, and a pair of normal shoes
  • Thick moisturizer and sunblock
  • Optional: A fleece blanket
  • Diapers….during winter its a hassle to remove to go toilet every 30 mins
  • Good quality thermos flask/formula milk (scissors and the powder scoop!)

Basically, I dressed him up in full gear everyday as we were mostly outdoors for sight-seeing and had to be resilient to wind and blizzard.

Tip #2:  Stroller & Getting Around Places

Day to day, we rely heavily on stroller as we find it very convenient without having to kill our back from carrying the kid. Plus, stroller can help us to ferry the bags and shopping bags so it’s our essential.

Cold day out at Otaru

On our day out at Otaru for the entire day, we brought our raincover and fleece blanket out as we knew we would not have time to return to hotel for nap. So it was so cold, snowy and windy, we had to cover up entirely so he could have his nap in warmth. Otaru is open space everywhere and there’s no way to get shelter from the cold wind or snow, hence we were glad that we bought a rain cover online for cheap, it’s torn after 2 use but it’s fine as we did not need it anymore.

Going through aftermath of blizzard on the way back to hotel

We brought our huge stroller with us, and of course there were pros and cons. You will need a stroller with decent wheels to go through the snow and also the hardened snow after a blizzard. Umbrella strollers will not work for surfaces like these, but of course you can always carry your kid and fold up the stroller. For our case, we had so many shopping bags hung on the stroller and pushing it through the snow was our only option.

Up on a ski resort

No regrets in bringing this with us, although we had quite a few challenges since some of the places were staircase, and we relied on public transport, such as trains/buses to get around. We carried the entire stroller up and down through out the rides and the kid was only sitting in the stroller.. just like that.

On bus ride…in his stroller

Though this is not a compact stroller, but no regrets in bringing it as it saved us from having to carry all the shopping bags.

Tip #3:  Baby Food and Restaurants

If you are bringing an infant with you and still breastfeeding, it should be relatively easy…however, if you visit the Asahiyama Zoo and Otaru, it might be a little challenging as both are open places with no side benches around the places, and no feeding room available, your best bet will be at the restaurants.

We brought a good thermos bottle for hot water with us everyday out. It’s not light but it could keep hot water hot for the entire day for formula milk, or to add to our cold water, or to rinse whatever need be. We also brought portions of milk powder out just enough for the day. I suppose you could ask for hot water from the restaurant but it’s convenient to have it handy at anytime we needed it.

Since my boy is already eating solid and on formula milk, I was not too particular with his diet since we were out and about. At the restaurants, we would order food that he could eat with us. Most of the restaurants provide highchair, but if it’s a tiny place or the kid was napping, we brought our entire stroller in with us.

Pic from left: We had a sashimi Don fest in peace with a sleepy boy – eating ramen on a wooden highchair – a cushion booster seat was provided upon request.

Unlike what we are used to here – their highchair is mostly wooden chair without seatbelt, or the cushion booster which was not very secured for an active kid.

Nonetheless, we enjoyed ourselves at every meal and thank goodness no tantrums nor fuss at the dining table. I guess the Japanese kids are mostly well-behaved hence not needing to be belted down during meals ?

Tips #4: Choosing a Flight

The flight duration from Kuala Lumpur to Sapporo was about 7+ hours, there was only one choice for direct flight – AirAsia. We didn’t want the hassle of layover and only wanted to reach the destination as quick as possible. We booked a midnight flight there, and was easy for the kid to sleep through almost the entire flight. Easy and no fuss.

However, for the return flight, there was only day flight and it was challenging as the kid was fully recharged from his night sleep so we had to prepare all his favorite snacks, drinks, and tons of toys for rotation.

We took a few walks up and down the aisle,  no doubt it was tiring for the parents who really just wanted to plonk down to nap, but it certainly beats having to deal with a crying or running kid on board. So we took turn to play and he only had a less than 2 hour nap. Having to stay awake the entire 5 hours on board was not an easy task for the adults, but thankfully we survived! The passenger behind us even praised him for being a good boy. ^_^

Conclusion:

Bringing a kid to winter trip was not as hard as it seemed, and you just need to be well prepared and set your realistic expectation to go with your kid’s schedule. Need not worry about the cold, generally, if you are feeling cold, your kid will feel the same too. So, just trust your instincts and go with the flow! It will be a memorable and fun trip for your family.

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