Life in Laos through the lens of a diplomatic wife raising twin toddlers.

Ending 2012 in Bangkok

When I first learned that we would be living in Vientiane, Laos, for two years, I excitedly thought “Great! We’ll be able to zip off conveniently to the many wonderful destinations of SEAsia!” Well I was sorta right and it is sorta easy but not at all convenient or cheap. There are not many direct flights coming in and out of Vientiane requiring us to first fly to a major hub, primarily Bangkok. This not only adds costs for an extra flight but often times costs for an overnight stay in a hotel before connecting to our final destination. The added cost, the extra days of travel on top of the usual hassle of traveling with kids can be a big deterrent to going anywhere, but as our recent trips have shown, it hasn’t deterred us from satisfying our itchy feet. Big improvements in traveling with our children have certainly helped ease the pain.

It is SO much easier to travel with our 3-year olds now for many reasons. (For intrepid parents of younger kids, there IS a light at the end of the pack-a-caravan travel phase, YAY!)

The kids have gotten the hang of our international flight travel routine: play with the zippy lane dividers while mom and dad are checking in; go up and down the escalators as many times as possible before mom and dad drag us to the immigration check and lift us up to the ridiculously high counter to greet a grumpy-faced officer who takes our picture with the plastic camera eye with the red light before we dash off to the other side when mom and dad haven’t been allowed through yet; and then it’s on to security check where we try our bes to get our fingers caught in the x-ray machine conveyor belt which even our favorite-companion-polar-bear has to ride on in a basket with dad’s phone and belt even though we cry and scream about it; after getting through security we have permission to run as fast as we can to where our airplane is parked but there is always lots of lots of toys within our reach along the way that slows us down a bit; finally we see our plane but for some reason we don’t want to run around anymore and dig into mom’s backpack for a drink and a snack and after we finish them mom and dad ask us so many times if we have to go pee pee before we get on the plane that it drives us crazy and we can’t wait to get on the plane and to our seats so we can get our iPads and be left alone in peace.

Yes, that’s pretty much how it goes. And it works.

And no more car seats on planes, no more strollers anywhere, no more diaper bags, fewer emergency drinks and snacks to pack since the kids will eat anything we can get along the way, and we’ve never really traveled with a lot of toys anyway and even fewer now (admittedly, small electronic tablets do come in handy but at least they’re multifunctional).

On the Chao Praya River in  Bangkok.

On the Chao Praya River in Bangkok.

Being much lighter when we travel has really allowed for more flexibility and ease, particularly when visiting crowded cities. In Hanoi, we were able to spontaneously jump onto rickshaws for a ride to lunch without dealing with a bulky stroller that would have had to ride alone in a third rickshaw. During our recent trip to Bangkok (more photos below) on our return from Bali, we hopped on river ferries and rode on the sky train maneuvering through the crowds unencumbered except for my backpack of wet-wipes, extra clothes, water, wallet, camera and a city map.

Riding the Bangkok sky train.

Riding the Bangkok sky train.

The best part of all for my husband and I is traveling with only three carry-on bags. Yup, no check-in luggage to be lost and no waiting time after landing when the kids are ready to bolt out of the airport. SO nice to travel light once again. Our travel system really works for us (Patagonia MLC® Bag for my husband and a small day-pack and Osprey Shuttle for me) – for summer travel we even manage to pack our kid’s bulky swim vests, which we hope will free up sufficient room for raincoats and fleeces for cooler destinations. The only drawback is no extra shoes. For souvenirs we strap them onto the Shuttle’s external compression straps or use an extra small tote we always pack with us.

Still, traveling with young children is rarely easy – as you can see from some pictures below they’re not always smiling – but I’ll take the ease that’s come with being much much lighter on the luggage scale and having less bulk to carry around.

View of Wat Arun from the Chao Praya River.

View of Wat Arun from the Chao Praya River.

River views along the Chao Praya.

River views along the Chao Praya.


Tha Tien Pier entrance from the market side.

Fresh strawberries and delicious pomegranate juice at Tha Tien Market in front of the pier entrance.

Fresh strawberries and delicious pomegranate juice at Tha Tien Market in front of the pier entrance.

Lots of dried fish and squid for sale at Tha Tien market.

Lots of dried fish and squid for sale at Tha Tien market.

Two kids about to lose their patience for the river ferry.

Two kids about to lose their patience for the river ferry.

It was such a long hot wait.

It was such a long hot wait.

We are sure to see a lot more of Bangkok having to transit through there over the next year for most of our upcoming trips. These few days on the way back from Bali was a good introduction for what we’ll be able to plan with the kids in the future. I definitely aim to eat well on each and every visit. (The recommendation made here for Soul Food by Dani was superb. We loved the pomelo salad and flank steak, and will definitely be going back there to try the rest of the menu.) Ooooh, I just remembered someone telling me about an overnight train from Vientiane to Bangkok, a good way to add variety to our transit routes out of Vientiane – must get planning…

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7 comments on “Ending 2012 in Bangkok

  1. Mariska (coralynx)
    March 4, 2013

    You are so lucky, I love Southeast Asia. I never been to Laos though. But Bangkok is such an amazing city full of life and activities. But then you walk in to a Buddhist temple and the crazy city life outside is all forgotten.. 🙂

  2. Esperema
    February 22, 2013

    Great post! Am very keen to read more about travelling with children. I also travel with my 3 year old .. am yet to master the packing super light thing! What on earth do you fit into carry-on? I guess in the tropics you don’t need much in the way of clothes (we were just in Thailand) but my concern is trying to pack light when heading to far northern Europe… any suggestions appreciated!

    • Wanderlustress
      February 25, 2013

      Yes, for tropical travel we fit 4 mix and match outfits each, pj’s, night diapers, swimwear, books, toys, cameras, gadgets, toiletries, and even foam swim vests for the little ones. It’s pretty tight but it works. For cold weather it will definitely be more difficult to stick with carry-on but we will try!

    January 8, 2013

    Absorbing & Engaging writeup. And very amusing too.

  4. edgarrovdyr
    January 6, 2013

    Epic temple! And so colourful market! I shall dream about Thai strawberry! 🙂

  5. allthingsboys
    January 5, 2013

    And let me say, your kids are so dang cute…

  6. allthingsboys
    January 5, 2013

    Looks like you had a great time! It does get easier when you can get rid of all the “stuff”. I have always given the boys their own “carryon backpack” for them to keep their stuff in. In the beginning it was a tiny Thomas the train backpack just big enough for their own snack and some coloring supplies, or a game boy. Then as they got bigger, the backpacks got bigger, and they slowly figured out what they wanted to carry and how much weight they wanted. Of course them being starving boys who want to eat constantly, food is always a requirement. But the one thing I insist on since they got big enough was one change of close and one or two extra pair of underwear, and a bathing suit. I think they’ve always found this a little weird but never said much until the other day when a friend of theirs took a cruise and the luggage never made it. I asked it he had spares in his carryon and he said no. Then the lightbulb went on, so to speak. Now that they are teenagers, traveling with them is super fun. But you are right, it only gets better as each year passes!

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This entry was posted on January 5, 2013 by in Thailand and tagged , , , , , .

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