Tag: holidays

Ramen, Roppongi Travelling to Japan With a Toddler

Puddles and Ramen – Rainy Days in Roppongi

We had designated our second day in Japan as a rest day. We had planned to stay local and take it easy. The Gods of Weather reaffirmed our decision by providing conditions that ranged from London-style drizzle to full-blown downpour. Even with the less-than-ideal weather conditions, we were still able to have some fun. The highlights included:

The supermarket and the friendly local lady

We began our morning with a walk down the road to yet another local supermarket. We wanted to find the best (cheapest) places to buy fresh food and pre-packaged meals. At some point I will write a whole post dedicated to Japanese supermarkets and convenience stores, they are fascinating places to visit.

After some time perusing the shelves and trying to figure out exactly what we were buying, a little old Japanese woman appeared. She had a big smile on her face, and her gaze was fixed on Hannah. Emma did her best to exchange pleasantries with the lady and she seemed thrilled by the effort. She said several things to Hannah that we couldn’t quite understand, but the general impression that we were left with was that she thought Hannah was very cute.

Eventually the kind woman carried on with her shopping and we returned to our attempted food gathering. We had assumed that the old lady had gone home, because we had been taking our sweet time as we tried to understand labels.

While we were trying to work out the intricacies of Japanese sweets, a little head popped out from around a corner with a great big smile spread across its face. It was our new friend, back for one last look at Hannah. Hannah, in her usual was of communicating with everyone and everything (birds, cars, cats, buildings) waved. The lady was thrilled, and she walked right up to us. She held out her hand towards Hannah and asked her to shake hands. Hannah obliged by offering her hands and the two new friends had a lovely moment in which they shook hands and smiled at each other.

Satisfied, the little old lady turned and went on her merry way. Hannah waved her new friend off.


Roppongi Hills – raining, cats and dogs

The rain had forced us to seek shelter, so we braved the maze of Roppongi Hills once more in search of some dry-weather fun. We had vaguely seen what looked like a children’s playroom on our day 1 venture into the Roppongi Labyrinth, and we were aiming to find it once again.

I cannot stress how difficult a task that is. Roppongi Hills appears to have been designed to deliberately stop anyone from finding their way from one end to the other. On our first visit, at one point we spent a solid 20 minutes wandering around, only to find ourselves back at the exact point at which we had started.

Nevertheless, we had little option but to venture back in. The rain was pouring down and The Roppongi streets offer little in the way of shelter, which I found slightly surprising for a city which must experience a fair amount of rain.

At least we had some dry space in which Hannah could get out of the stroller and stretch her legs. We wandered along various corridors and took a few rides in lifts, all the while attempting to head in the vague direction of the play area.

It was while we were wandering along one of these corridors that we stumbled upon a place called Joker. Joker called its self a “Dog Hotel”. But it appeared to be a combination of a pet store and a grooming salon. The dog in the window was putting on a brave face as it received the most undignified of blow-dry’s, all of which Hannah found extremely fascinating.


Dog grooming Roppongi Hills
Where’s the dignity? Poor pooch


We ventured inside the pet store component of Joker and Hannah watched the tiny puppies play with each other. I think she probably could have happily stood there and watched the boisterous little animals play all day long. However, I decided it was time to go when one of the shopkeepers dropped a terrified-looking dachshund puppy in with the rest of the dogs, who was immediately set upon by the most rowdy puppy. It grabbed the dachshund by the ear and pulled hard.

We walked a little further down the path, only to discover that the next shop along was the cat version. This one had a window full of very active cats. Each one had its own little compartment. It didn’t seem like a lot of space, but the cats seemed fairly content with playing around in their own little space. I guess this is Tokyo – some of the human apartments probably aren’t much bigger!

We eventually found the children’s playroom, but by then it was time to find a place to each lunch, so we made a mental note of its location and decided to return later in the afternoon.


Discovering puddles

The abundant rain provided Hannah with an opportunity that she had not yet had at home – the opportunity to stomp in puddles.

The first step in a puddle, of course, was an accident. Hannah had simply walked along the path as usual, and happened to step in a pool of water. However, once she had discovered the pure joys of a puddle, there was no stopping her from finding every other puddle on the path.


Tokyo Tower, rain, Roppongi Hills
Tokyo Tower in the rain


Hannah now had eyes purely for the little pools of water. It didn’t matter if they were in the direction that we were heading, or off on a completely different tangent. It didn’t matter if there was an army of people marching between her and said puddle. Hannah would reach it with a dogged determination that has to be admired in someone who has been with us for a mere year and a half. Each puddle was met with a gleeful stomp as she ran through it. I was pleased that I had purchased her a pair of high top sneakers in the days before we left. They were much more heavy duty than her previous shoes.

Ramen, the food of Gods

We set off in the direction of a local diner that we had passed while walking through Roppongi the day before. As with most restaurants in Tokyo, big pictures on the windows made it obvious what sort of food we would find inside. This diner specialised in ramen noodles, just the ticket for a cold and rainy day.


Ramen, Roppongi, Tokyo, Japan
It tasted as good as it looks – perfect meal on a rainy day!


Up until this point, we had managed to get away with bringing Hannah’s meals with us from home when going to restaurants. We liked to know exactly what she was eating and control access to things like sugar and salt. In Japan, however, we had realised that we would have to let that practice slide. Hannah was finally going to eat what we ate in restaurants.

Immediately, Hannah’s eyes were opened to a whole new world of flavour. She took to it like a duck to water. Hannah slurped down ramen noodles, she demolished gyoza, and she ate half a bowl of fried rice. Hannah was most definitely a fan of the Japanese flavours, especially the salty, umami goodness. We may try to leave soy sauce for a while yet – I have the feeling she will try to drink it with a straw.


Gyoza, Roppongi, Tokyo, Japan
Gyoza – the best dumplings on earth!


We all felt good after a warming bowl of ramen. It was time to head home for a nap. Again, Hannah took to her sleeping arrangements well and she quickly fell asleep.


Making friends with the locals

In the afternoon we headed back to the indoor children’s playroom in Roppongi Hills. We found it without any problems, I was beginning to feel like I had the Roppongi Hills maze pretty well mapped.

We parked the stroller in the stroller parking bay (yes, it was clearly marked with white lines in the area outside the playroom) and entered. Hannah walked straight past the 0-2 room and headed in to play with the older kids. There she explored some movable cogs for a while, before quickly making friends with a local girl.


Roppongi Hills playroom
Hannah loved that car, so did her mate! You can see the stroller parked in the parking bay outside


Together they played in a little wooden car, the local girl drove and Hannah sat in the passenger seat. They made an adorable little pair as they sat and babbled away to each other, each in their toddler versions of their home languages. Yet, somehow they seemed to understand each other perfectly. They had a great time together.

After a thorough play we returned home for a simple meal of smoked salmon, French bread and picked vegetables. Delicious!


Chicken on a stick

We followed the usual bed time routine for Hannah, then Emma and I settled onto the couch for an evening of reading. After a little while, Emma declared that she was feeling a bit hungry. I agreed, so I decided to embark on a mission to the local 7/11, to find tasty treats.

As is the way in Tokyo, a convenience store is never more than two minutes away. I managed to communicate my desires by pointing and profusely apologising for my complete lack of basic communication skills. The kind man behind the counter was more than accommodating and he made sure they I got exactly what I wanted.


Chicken on a stick
So tasty, so easy to acquire.


What I wanted was two sticks of delicious chicken. One was a little spicy, both were excellent. I was home within five minutes flat, which is both impressive and terribly dangerous for my arterial health.

Monday Stumble Linky
Please follow and like us:
Summer Grobags Blog

Summer Grobags and Japan Adventures

How to Not Ruin Sleep on an International Adventure

One of my first thoughts when we began to organise our Japan adventure was how is Hannah going to sleep? At home she is a great sleeper, and I wanted to do everything I could to ensure that she brought her sleeping A-game with her to The Land of The Rising Sun. Fortunately, two of my favourite companies were quick to throw their hand up and offer a solution – BabyBjorn with their excellent travel cot, and the wonderful Gro Company.

I have written about the value of sleep bags before. For us at least they have been a key factor in a good night’s sleep since shortly after Hannah’s birth. Obviously a Grobag was going to be high on my list of things to take with us. I’d probably forgo clean underpants over a couple of Grobags if it really came down to it (don’t worry, I’m taking clean undies. There’s plenty of room in the suitcase).


Grobag label


The Land of The (Bloody Hot) Rising Sun

During our time in Japan, we are expecting to face fairly consistent daytime temperatures of around 30 degrees Celsius. A quick check of the night-time temperatures shows that we can also expect that it won’t drop below about 22 C.

On top of that, the standard of our accommodation is the great unknown. We have decided to take the plunge and go with Airbnb for the first time ever. While the places look nice in the photos and they claim to have air conditioning, we can’t be too sure about how hot they will be inside.

Of course, those kinds of temperatures are pretty standard for us Australians, so this trip to Japan offered the perfect opportunity to test out the new range of Summer Grobags, before things really heat up Down Under.

To make life comfortable for Hannah during those hot days and nights, The Gro Company sent me a 1.0 tog and a 0.5 tog Grobag. Between these two bags (and by adding or taking away clothes), we should have all of the temperature conditions that we expect to face covered. Emma and I may have to sweat our way through the night under whatever covers our hosts provide, but at least we can be sure Hannah will be comfortable!


The Two Grobags


Bright Summer Colours and Other Features

I was sent a 1.0 tog Party Animals, and a 0.5 tog Action Stacks Grobag. Both of these sleep bags are designed to be used while travelling, and can accommodate a 5-point harness. This is great for use in car seats, and even in the stroller. As our intention is for Hannah to have some of her daytime naps in her stroller on this trip, it is a feature that we may find very handy to have.


The access hole for 5-point Harness - Travel Grobags


I was immediately drawn to the bright colours of these new Grobags. They are vibrant and I instantly feel happy when I look at them. They are non-gender specific, which is exactly the way that I like such things to be. These two great Grobags are just a small sample of the wide variety of styles on offer at the Gro Store, so if these particular ones don’t suit your style, there plenty more to choose from.

I particularly like the Party Animals Grobag, because of the whimsical embroidered pictures. These always make me smile and I’m pretty sure Hannah likes them too. They add a great tactile element to the Grobag as well, and Hannah sometimes likes to feel those features of her Grobags as she is winding down before sleep, or first thing when she wakes up.


Party Animals Grobag

The Usual High Quality From Gro

Regular readers of Blog of Dad will know that I have featured Gro products several times now. To be honest, I always jump at the chance to work with The Gro Company, because I can be pretty sure that the products they send me will be made to a high standard.

They are a company that appears to be absolutely dedicated to helping babies and toddlers sleep well. As a person who absolutely loves his sleep, I greatly appreciate that! A good night’s sleep for bub means a good night’s sleep for all.

Never will that have been more important to us than on our holiday to Japan. I have read too many horror stories about overseas adventures being ruined by a toddler who refuses to sleep, to risk putting Hannah in anything that I don’t absolutely trust.


The Grobags


These two Summer Grobags live up to the high standard that I have come to expect from The Gro Company. They are cotton, they feel durable and crucially their zippers feel made to last. I am yet to find a Grobag that has worn out before it has been outgrown.

The Gro Company also provide a great amount of information on their website about how to use the Grobag properly, in order to ensure that your child is most appropriately dressed for the conditions. Again, to me this is an indicator of how seriously they value a good night’s sleep.


The Impossible Task

The first real test for these Grobags will be the flight to Japan. We have chosen to fly overnight, with the belief that because Hannah is an excellent sleeper at home, she will just sleep the whole way to Japan… while strapped to my lap… in a strange environment… While surrounded by strangers…

Now, I’m not saying that Grobags are magical, BUT, they may just provide that extra element of familiarity that helps Hannah to get some sleep on the plane (thereby allowing me to get some sleep on the plane). They are not the only trick up our sleeve, we have the sleep playlist on Spotify and the excellent wireless headphones that will also block out most of the background noise. Together these three elements may just combine to achieve the impossible task of a sleep-filled flight. Of course, if all that fails we have an arsenal of backup activities to at least keep Hannah settled.

If there is no sleep on the plane, we have at least arranged with our very kind Airbnb host to have access to the apartment from the moment we arrive in Tokyo. The super easy Grobag, combined with the fast-to-set-up BabyBjorn Travel Cot, means that Hannah can be happily sleeping within minutes of checking in.


Ready to Party! Grobags


Ready for the Australian Summer

These Grobags won’t just be useful during our overseas adventures. Hannah will sleep in them all summer long. With the temperature in Sydney already reaching 32 degrees Celsius, now is a great time to start thinking about safe and comfortable sleeping arrangements for your child during the Summer heat. Head on over to The Gro Store and check out the fantastic range that they have on offer. While you are there, have a read of their guides to ideal sleeping temperatures to find out how to best use your new Grobags.


The Gro Company (Bloom & Grow) sent me two Grobags for on our Japan Adventures. While these products were provided for free, the comments within this post remain entirely my own reflections of my experience with these Gro products, as well as Gro products that I had purchased prior to any relationship with the Gro Company. This dad takes pride in providing honest and useful information to other parents.

Please follow and like us:
Booking flights Travelling to Japan With a Toddler

Five Key Points to Booking Flights – Travelling to…

Booking flights can be one of the most daunting tasks when you first decide to attempt an overseas adventure. When I first started looking, it all seemed a little overwhelming. There are so many websites, airlines and options to choose from. Each website presents the information in slightly different ways, which further adds to the complexity.

Prices fluctuate wildly, often for no apparent reason (I’m sure there are complex systems behind these fluctuations, but to the end user it can be bamboozling). Sometimes the airline that appears to present the best deal at first glance can end up being al less-than-ideal choice.

However, get it right and you can jet off on your holiday in the knowledge that you are travelling with a reliable airline, and that you are doing so at the best possible price! I know that I would rather spend my hard-earned on sushi and souvenirs than on a seat on a plane.

The following are the tips that I have learnt from booking our tickets to Japan. They worked for us and we ended up saving a decent amount of money. Hopefully they work for you too!


1 – Research – Booking Flights

We began researching as soon as we decided to travel to Japan. The goal was to have as much information as possible, in order to make an informed decision. We found out who the main carriers were and who offered direct flights. We compared total travel times and quickly ruled out any flights with stopovers. Our rationale was that any small savings would be completely nullified by the stress of the extra travel. Keep it simple quickly became our mantra.

Through some of the large booking sites, we found that we had three main options for carriers that fly directly from Sydney to Tokyo – QANTAS, Japan Airlines (JAL) and All Nippon Airways (ANA). Each of these carriers are well-respected and, frankly, we would have been happy to travel with any one of them. While there are differences between them (fly into different airports and different times etc.), they were not enough to be the differentiating factor.

The number one criteria that we were interested in, now that we had established that there were three good options, was the price.      

A note on research – the more time you give yourself, the more prepared you will be and the better the results you will potentially achieve. This trip had been in the pipeline for months before we decided to pull the trigger and confirm it.


2 – Play the waiting game – Booking Flights

Ah, the waiting game. Frustrating for some, pure anxiety-inducing for others. But for some strange souls (like yours truly), exhilarating! Why? Because finding a good bargain takes me to my happy place. I know the value of my dollar and I know how bloody hard I’ve had to work to earn it. If there’s a dollar to be saved somewhere, you can be sure I’ll be close by, sniffing around.

It became a daily habit to jump online and check the latest airfares. It was really interesting to see just how much prices can change from day to day. Had we rushed in, or needed to book in a hurry, the difference to what we finally paid could have been in the thousands of dollars. That is a significant amount of money – money that could be far better spend on food, accommodation and experiences.

When an attractive price finally appeared, we were ready to jump on it. By midday the same day we had confirmed our leave with our employers and booked our tickets. The price stayed the same for a couple of days after, but soon enough it was on its merry voyage back up. I have continued to watch the price every week or so, just out of interest, and I am yet to see a better price than the one we secured.

It is worth remembering that some credit card companies offer a “price guarantee” policy on their card, which means that you can claim a refund of the difference if you find a lower price, so it may be particularly worthwhile to you to monitor prices after you have purchased your tickets (they have plenty of terms and conditions, so make sure you are aware of these before wasting your time).

…just don’t wait too long. At some point, the prices may start to go up. Even worse, they may sell out completely. If there are only a few months left until you intend to travel, you may be better off just booking whatever is available.


3 – Check carrier websites, as well as the aggregators and online booking agents – Booking Flights

When we first started looking, we spent most of our time on a couple of trusted booking-agent sites. It appeared to be the best use of our time – access to several airlines at the same time and promises of low prices. While those websites certainly are useful (we have booked through them before), they may not always be the best way to get a good deal.

When we visited the ANA website, we realised that it had the option to search for flights in a seven day grid. Straight away we could see that by adjusting our search dates, we could save a fair chink of money. This was not so immediately apparent on the booking website.

We ended up booking our tickets directly through the ANA website. It was easy to do, and a massive rush to realise that we had taken the first massive step of our Japan adventures!


4 – Be flexible with dates – Booking Flights

As I mentioned in the previous point, flexibility with dates can save you a large amount of money. Of course, some people have no choice but to travel on certain dates or within particular windows. If, however, you have a degree of freedom in your travel plans, then I highly recommend thoroughly checking a range of dates and booking accordingly.

The below screenshot provides an example of the savings that can be made by slightly adjusting travel dates (prices based a search for two adults and 1 under-two years old, with the toddler travelling on a parent’s lap). When we booked our tickets, those differences were even greater.


Booking flights on the ANA website


If you can extend your holiday for an extra day or two, or alternatively shift the intended dates of travel, there are most definitely savings to be found. Even if you have to pay for an extra night’s accommodation, it can still end up cheaper, plus you get a whole extra day of holiday – who could argue with that


5 – Cheapest isn’t always best – Booking Flights

In the research phase of our flight booking, we quickly narrowed our choices down to the three mentioned carriers. There are other options out there, and some of them are cheaper. They may be a viable option for you, and if so, great! Just make sure you are aware of all the fine print that can make the difference to your experience. Is checked baggage extra? What about meals? Or entertainment? What is their cancellation policy like? How do they treat their customers when there are delays or cancelled flights? Is the flight direct, or does it involve a few hours of waiting around in a third airport? Can you choose seats to ensure you sit together, or does that cost extra?

All of these things matter. They matter even more once you throw an active toddler into the mix. A flight may initially appear to be more expensive, but once you factor in time spent and inclusions in the ticket price, you may just come out on top (mentally and financially).


These are my five key points to booking flights. If you have had your own experiences, drop them in the comments so that everyone can benefit from them.

Remember, these are the things that worked for me on this particular occasion. There is always an element of luck when it comes to such endeavours, and I may well not be so fortunate next time it comes to booking an airfare. Neither may you. Even though we chose to fly with ANA on this particular occasion, this post does not constitute an endorsement of them over any other carrier. I have no affiliation with any of the airlines mentioned in this post. I will provide my honest recount of our experience with ANA once we have completed our flights. Stay tuned.

Monday Stumble Linky
Please follow and like us:
Puro Sound Labs BT2200 headphones Blog

Puro Sound Labs BT2200 Headphones – First Impressions

The more I talk to people about travelling with a toddler, the more one thing becomes apparent. The flight from Sydney to Tokyo has the potential to make or break the whole adventure.

That is pretty high stakes! It’s no small sum of money that we have invested in airfare and accommodation, not to mention the annual leave that we have both taken. When I think that the first ten hours have the potential to set the tone for the next 23 days, I start to look at it pretty seriously.

So how do we go about ensuring a smooth flight? I posed that question on Twitter and the results were conclusive – snacks and entertainment (for the toddler, not me). And a key part of that entertainment? Headphones.

Puro Sound Labs BT2200 headphones… The Box

Why is it that so much of the quality of a technology-based product is reflected in the cardboard packaging in which it arrives? The box for these Puro Labs BT2200 headphones headphones oozed class – it felt sturdier and longer lasting than some of the actual headphones that I’ve owned in the past! The glossy, white cardboard opened invitingly after a small amount of pressure released the magnetic clasps.


Puro Sound Labs BT2200 headphones
The box


I felt like a kid at Christmas as I opened it up to reveal a solid black carry-case. The carry case feels as if it is built to last. It is the perfect accessory to include with a set of headphones like these, as it offers great protection for the valuable equipment inside and an easy way of keeping the three important components together.


Puro Sound Labs BT2200 headphones protective case
The protective case


The Puro Sound Labs BT2200 Headphones – First Look

I unzipped the carry case and opened it to find a brilliant white pair of headphones. A brief wave of jealousy washed over me as I realised that my 18-month old child was now the proud owner of a far better pair of headphones than I had ever had the luxury of owning. However, that jealousy soon turned to joy. If these are a key piece in the puzzle of a successful ten hour flight, then let her have it… (okay, I may have gone straight back to the Puro Sound Labs website and eyed off an adult version for myself).


Puro Sound Labs BT2200 headphones in case


My immediate impression when I pulled the headphones out of their carry case was that they are built to last. For a journey like this, I wasn’t prepared to gamble on a cheap plastic pair that ran the risk of falling apart half way through. I can just imagine how enraged the little one could become, should she be denied The Grand Old Duke of York for the 31st time at 30,000 feet. The Puro Sound Labs BT2200 headphones are light-weight, but still feel very sturdy – perfect for long periods of time on a toddler’s head.

The padding around the ear is soft and comfortable, and the headband is also padded. Again, these elements should make for longer periods of comfortable wear.

The left earpiece houses all of the controls – on/off, Bluetooth and volume control. It also has a micro USB port for charging, and an auxiliary input for wired connections.


Puro Sound Labs BT2200 headphones connections



The Puro Sound Labs BT2200 headphones charge via a standard USB to Micro USB cable. It is the same type of cable that is used by my phone, so that is quite useful. It took about 1 1/2 hours to fully charge the first time, when plugged into a USB port on my PC. An indicator light turns from red to blue, to let the user know that the headphones are charged and ready to go.


Connecting to a Device

Puro Sound Labs BT2200 headphones are wireless. They use Bluetooth to pair with compatible devices and my experience was that it worked well. I paired the headphones with a Nokia 1020 Windows phone, a Moto G3 Android phone, an iPhone 7, a Windows 10 PC and a Windows 10 tablet. Each time the headphones were discovered by the device and paired on the first attempt. The connection was never lost during the time that I tested the headphones, even when I walked to the next room.



While Bluetooth connectivity is handy to have, it may not always be practical. Many home stereo systems, for example, don’t use a Bluetooth connection. Also, when flying there can be certain limitations to the types and times when a broadcasting device can be used. Some parents may also worry about using a transmitting device close to their child’s head for extended periods.


Puro Sound Labs BT2200 headphones bluetooth
Buttons for Bluetooth connection and on/off


Puro Sound Labs have thought of all this and they have included the ability to use the headphones with a wired connection. Simply plug in the auxiliary cable, turn the switch to “off” and you have a premium pair of corded headphones! It’s simple things like that, that make the Puro Sound Labs BT2200 headphones such an attractive option for parents of toddlers.

A final advantage of the auxiliary cable is that even if I forget to charge the headphones, they are always usable. We will never be without music (unless I forget to charge the devices…).


Sound Quality

Forget all the other features, there’s not much point in spending money on a set of headphones if they don’t sound any good. I tried these out before I put them anywhere near my daughter’s ears (yes, they do just fit my head) and I liked what I heard.

Even on the standard Spotify stream, the songs came across clearly. I’m no audiophile, so don’t expect me to wax lyrical about the finer points of music listening, but I was suitably impressed. Keep in mind that these are volume-limited headphones, so don’t expect to be blown away by big sound. This, of course, is an excellent feature for tiny, sensitive ears.


Puro Sound Labs BT2200 headphones


I listened through a few of my favourite songs with these headphones. Alicia Keys‘ voice in Fallin‘ was as stunning as ever, and each instrument was clear. Bob Dylan’s Duquesne Whistle was a pleasure to listen to. Every intricate quirk of Bob’s (love it or hate it) voice came through in a way that reminded me of the last time I saw him in concert. My amateur ears were pretty impressed with what they heard, and it left my finger hovering ever closer to the ‘buy’ button on an adult pair of Puro Sound Labs headphones!



Protecting children’s hearing is obviously something the people over at Puro Sound Labs take very seriously. As I mentioned above, these headphones are volume limited. This is an extremely important feature for tiny, sensitive ears and frankly, I wouldn’t buy a set of headphones for my little one that didn’t offer such protection. Hearing is a precious gift and it can be too easy to lose.

The Puro Sound Labs BT2200 headphones manual states that “85 dBA of sound can be listened to for up to 20 hours at a time without the risk of hearing loss”. This certainly helps to provide me with some peace-of-mind if Hannah decides that she wants to listen to a lot of music on our flight.

When I first started looking for a pair of headphones for this trip, I read some parents complaining about 85dBA limited headphones as being too soft to hear. At the time I found it strange that parents would opt for potential hearing damage over a safety feature, but I guess the point is valid. What is the purpose of headphones if the user can’t hear the sound? Once again, the technicians at Puro Sound Labs have thought of this, and they designed the headphones to block out 82% of background noise (according to their website). What is even more impressive is that they have achieved that passively, without the need for battery-draining, active noise cancelling.

That means that 85dBA is just fine for listening to music, even in a potentially noisy environment like a plane or transit lounge.


Stay Tuned…

That’s it for now. The Puro Sound Labs BT2200’s will be given a proper work-out on our travels to Japan. I’ll let you know how they perform out in the real world…


Disclosure – Puro Sound Labs provided Blog Of Dad with these headphones 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 Puro Sound Labs BT2200 headphones. For further information, please visit my disclosure page.

Please follow and like us:
Japan, Ginza Street at night Blog

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.



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.




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.

Please follow and like us:
BabyBjorn Travel Cot Light Blog

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.

This post is linked with

DIY Daddy Blog
Please follow and like us:
Brisbane river holidays travel visit tourist Blog

Brisbane With a Baby – Part 3, top 5…

Brisbane was an amazing city to visit and I feel like we just scratched the surface during our four-day visit. As we had a child under one and no car, we chose to focus on activities around the centre of town. We found that, with an apartment strategically located in the Brisbane CBD, near the river, we could easily walk to all of the places and activities that we wanted to. Perhaps on our next visit we will venture into the suburbs.

Read more “Brisbane With a Baby – Part 3, top 5 things to do in the CBD”

Please follow and like us:
error: Content is protected !!