Japan, Ginza Street at night

Travelling to Japan With a Toddler – Introduction

Okay, I’m going to need you to be honest with me here. I’m ready for it, I can take the truth. I just really need to know…

Am I insane?

 

The reason I ask is because I recently booked a family trip to Japan… with a 20 month old child… Not to see family or friends, just because Emma and I thought it would be fun…

Even reading back over what I just wrote somewhat reinforced the slightly unnerving feeling that I may have finally spilt my lollies. However, when I really think about what we are doing and how we are planning it, I’m not so sure. Maybe, just maybe, my sanity is intact. Maybe this idea isn’t nuts after-all.

 

The Top Five Reasons I’m Not Insane for Travelling to Japan With A Toddler

 

Japan is safe

According to the OECD Better Life Index website, Japan has one of the lowest rates of homicide in the world. Excellent news!

My experience of Japan in the past has been that it is not too different to Australia for safety. Be sensible and respectful, acknowledge your place as a bumbling tourist and you should have a pleasant and enjoyable trip.

Last time we travelled to Japan, we found excellent standards of hygiene, a logical and efficient public transport system, and local people who were genuinely pleasant and more than willing to help us out with things like purchasing public transport tickets and giving directions.

Even in the massive metropolis of Tokyo, amongst the neon lights and throngs of pedestrians, there is a sense of order and calmness. Most of the population there work hard and live simple lives. There appears to be a high value placed on maintaining the peace, most likely because it greatly benefits everyone.

Amazing food is just around every corner, and thanks to Japan’s obsession with cleanliness, we have never worried about the quality.

 

Flights can be cheap

I’ll go into this in greater detail in my Booking Flights post, but travelling to Japan from Australia can be cheap. It can also be very expensive.

We made up our minds that we wanted to travel to Japan months ago. We put together a rough outline of the dates on which we wanted to travel, then set about playing the waiting game. We monitored the three major airlines that fly direct from Sydney to Japan, and when we saw the best deal, we jumped on it. It means that we are staying in Japan for a few days longer than we had originally intended, but it also means that we saved over $1000 on the average price.

Air travel prices fluctuate massively. If I were to book the same trip with the same carrier right now, it would cost me over $2000 more. It pays to give yourself plenty of time and to do the homework.

 

YOLO

Remember when people said “YOLO” (you only live once)? Well, even back then I was too old and uncool to use it in anything other than an ironic tone. But now, as with all fads, the term YOLO is old and out of fashion – perfect!

YOU ONLY LIVE ONCE PEOPLE! If we don’t go now, then we may never go. Circumstances can change rapidly and I would hate to live the rest of my life regretting the decision to not plunge in the deep end and have the experience of a lifetime. Right now, we have the chance. All of our ducks are in a row and I’ll be damned if I let that kind of opportunity pass.

(P.S. I’m so looking forward to the day when Hannah is completely embarrassed by the fact that I’ve used YOLO in a blog post… Hi sweetie, love you).

(P.P.S I really wish I had actual ducks in a row. That would be great.)

 

We Travel Light

Right now I need to offer a special note of thanks to the awesome companies that have come on board to make this experience as easy as possible for this dad and his family. Because of the products that they have provided us to test during our journey, we will be able to travel very lightly.

BabyBjorn were happy to share their excellent Travel Cot Light, which will make a world of difference to the bulk and weight that we have to lug around. This little beauty is compact enough to fit inside one of our suitcases. It is supremely light, yet still sturdy and obviously built to last. It is a breeze to set up and pack away, meaning that in the most manic, panicked of moments, of packing and unpacking, the portable cot won’t be causing and dramas.

 

BabyBjorn and Grobag for Japan trip

 

The Gro Company have also jumped on board with the perfect complement to the travel cot. The Grobags are light-weight, high quality and very comfortable. They are the same product that Hannah sleeps in at home, so the element of familiarity should be very comforting as she sleeps in a foreign environment.

 

RECARO provided a set of wheels. A good pram makes all the difference when travelling overseas. You need a workhorse, something that is heavy-duty, versatile and capable of carrying the endless bags of stuff that accompany a small child. Check out the RECARO Performance Denali Luxury stroller, it’s hard to go past.

 

RECARO

 

Finally, Antler were confident that they could help make our journey a smoother experience with their light and tough Prism suitcase. It is large enough to hold the portable cot, and there is plenty of room to spare for other essential toddler gear (nappies, clothes, toys, etc.). With Antler on board (and the convenience of in-room washers and dryers), we are pretty confident that we can limit our total checked luggage to two suitcases – not bad for two adults and a toddler for 23 days-worth of travel. This will make a huge difference as we walk the streets of Japan’s busiest cities in search of our accommodation.

 

Antler Luggage for Japan trip

 

We have been there before

Japan is no mystery to Emma and I. We both have a long-standing love of the country and we have visited before. Because of this we were able to choose accommodation locations in Tokyo and Kyoto that were familiar to us and suited our needs. We know where to find excellent food and we have in mind some particular attractions that we know will be worthwhile. Of course, we will be incorporating some new experiences and new locations, so it won’t all be the same-old stuff.

Osaka will be new for us, so figuring out the best place to stay was a little more difficult. In the end, we aimed for as close to Namba as possible. We are reasonably confident that we have found a good spot. Even though Osaka is new to us, it is not overly concerning.

 

There you have it readers, conclusive proof that I haven’t lost the plot. Feel free to disagree and provide reasons why I am most definitely insane in the comments. You know, things like a slightly unhinged near-nuclear dictator with ICBMs pointed in the general direction of Honshu… that kind of thing…

 

Disclosure – BabyBjorn, The Gro Company, The Amazing Baby Company and The Cache Group of Companies provided Blog Of Dad with free products for the purpose of review during our Japan adventure. The views expressed in this post are entirely my own views, based on my experiences with these products. For further information, please visit my disclosure page.

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BabyBjorn Travel Cot Light

BabyBjorn Travel Cot Light – First Impressions

It’s official – this dad and his little family are heading to Japan later this year! As if that wasn’t exciting enough, the good people over at BabyBjorn very kindly sent us a BabyBjorn Travel Cot Light, to help make our journey as smooth and easy as possible.

Stay tuned for the full review. That will be coming once we have thoroughly put the BabyBjorn Travel Cot Light through its paces during our Japan adventures. But as the cot was just delivered on Friday, I thought I would give you my first impressions while they are still fresh in my mind.

 

Wow, it’s light!

That was the first thing that I thought as the courier handed me the box. I know what a standard portable cot feels like, I’ve lugged one through the streets of Sydney and Brisbane. Trust me when I say that those things can feel very heavy, very quickly. At just 6kg, the BabyBjorn Travel Cot Light is not going to weigh you down as you transport it from one place to another.

 

BabyBjorn Travel Cot Light in bag
The BabyBjorn Travel Cot Light in its carry case

Easy to set up and pack away

The BabyBjorn Travel Cot Light is immediately intuitive to use. It comes in three main parts – the outer carry case, the main cot and the mattress.

The outer carry case is sturdy. It feels as if it can cope with the inevitable beating that it will take from baggage handlers, taxi drivers and from me as I take in on public transport. The other two components fit neatly inside. They are easy to pull out and put back in, but there is also no excess room. It’s a clever design that minimises the overall size of the bag.

The main part of the cot is beautifully designed. As I said before, it’s intuitive to use. Just lift it out of the bag, unfold it, turn it over and the legs drop down. Snap them into place and that’s it!

I can’t tell you how much I appreciate that design, after some of the wrestling matches I’ve had with other portable cots! Some of them have extremely complicated connections, that then seem to lock in place before they are supposed to, or that I’ve had trouble getting to lock at all. With the BabyBjorn Travel Cot Light, the frame is set up in a matter of seconds. Every time.

The third part of the kit that makes setup and pack-away a breeze is the mattress. This is a really clever piece, which I’ll go into more detail about shortly.

All three of these parts combine to ensure that the process of setting up and packing away is as easy and stress-free as possible, as demonstrated in the promotional video below. I’ll be sure to let you know how much my sleep-deprived-self appreciates that fact when we arrive in Tokyo after an overnight flight.

 

The mattress/base is a really clever design

If you really don’t care about clever engineering disguised as a simple mattress, skip this part. I really don’t want to bore you, but I have to share this because it impressed me so much! It seems like such a simple thing, but I took a good few minutes out of my day to marvel at the ingenuity of this mattress. It does some really key things, and it does them exceptionally well.

Firstly, it stabilises the cot. The rigid board at the bottom fits perfectly into the space provided. The red anchors slide out through small slits in the base fabric and connect the mattress to the frame – this ensures it stays safely in place.

Secondly, and most importantly, It provides an exceptionally comfortable sleeping surface. I’ll admit it, I’m slightly jealous of Hannah right now. Who knows what the quality of the mattress will be that I’m sleeping on in Japan? At least with Hannah, I know that she’s going to be sleeping in absolute luxury. The mattress actually has three components – the outer case, a rigid base board and a soft foam layer. They work together perfectly to provide exceptional comfort.

Finally, the base folds into three parts to perfectly fit and support the bag. Like I said, It’s simple, but really clever engineering. It means that the bag doesn’t need to be reinforced because it is the firmness of the mattress base which provides the shape. The frame of the cot slides neatly inside the pocket that the mattress and the bag create. It all fits together so well. Once again, no wrestling is required to put it back in!

 

The three parts to the mattress.

This is a quality product

It is no surprise to me to find that BabyBjorn has made a product of such high quality. One of the first baby items we ever purchased was a BabyBjorn Baby Carrier We (this will also join us to Japan). I was impressed with the quality and thoughtful design of that too.

After I set up the BabyBjorn Travel Cot Light, Hannah toddled over for a close inspection. She immediately tried to climb inside, which was a good sign from a kid who is naturally suspicious of new things. The other thing that she did almost immediately was wrap her mouth around the padded fabric on the top of the frame. At that point I was thankful of two things – that BabyBjorn designed all of the fabric to be removable and machine washable, and that they use safe materials that are free of harmful chemicals.

BabyBjorn seem to me to be a company that seeks to make high-quality, user-friendly gear. The BabyBjorn Travel Cot Light appears to be absolutely consistent with this. It is a product that does an exceptional job at the single purpose for which it is designed – to provide a baby/toddler with a safe and comfortable place to sleep when away from home. I’m excited to throw everything that I can at it as we travel through Japan.

 

BabyBjorn Travel Cot Light Removable Padding
All of the fabric is removable and machine-washable

Stay Tuned…

That’s it for now. As I said at the top, these are my first thoughts about the product. They are based on my initial interactions with it. The real test will come as we travel through Japan. From what I’ve seen of the BabyBjorn Travel Cot so far, I’m very excited to be bringing it with us. I don’t think I could have asked for a more suitable cot for this adventure!

 

For more information about the BabyBjorn Travel Cot, or other BabyBjorn products, visit the BabyBjorn website.

 

Disclosure – BabyBjorn provided Blog Of Dad with this travel cot free of charge, for the purpose of review during our Japan adventure. The views expressed in this post are entirely my own views, based on my experiences with the BabyBjorn Travel Cot. For further information, please visit my disclosure page.

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