Haha… It seemed a step back in time that I’m writing a post on trip planning after Dear2 had already written a post on the trip itself! Oh well, I wanted to document how this trip came about.
Planning for this trip started back around Sept/Oct 2010. At that time, we had already booked our Royal Caribbean Cruise for Dec 2010. At the same time, we were already considering plans for Baby2. To make the story short, we decided we shouldn’t travel with both Baby1 and the bump of Baby2, which meant we had to travel before conceiving Baby2.
We first explored the option of going to Malaysia for a relaxing resort holiday. But that plan soon went out of favour because we had wanted to visit somewhere slightly more adventurous. At the same time, we wanted to go somewhere modern such that medical facilities were available should we need to visit a baby doctor. Seoul was one of the options. And Taiwan came into the picture too.
We decided on Taiwan as we would both prefer a place without communication barriers for safety reasons since we’re traveling with Baby1.
Direct or transit?
While searching for cheap tickets to Taiwan, we decided that budget airlines was out of the question as we wanted a larger plane and proper service (again for the sake of Baby1). Most direct flights were pretty expensive. Eventually, we stumbled upon this Cathay Pacific promotion in conjunction with HSBC. For Singapore connecting to Hong Kong then Taipei, it was around $515 inc taxes per adult. Great price, but with a few disadvantages. First, Baby1 would have to endure 4 flights which meant 8 take-offs/landings. Second, there will be time wasted for connections. Third, this promotion did not allow for infant fares.
After calculating, we found out that it was still cheaper to buy a seat for Baby1 using the promotional rates than to pay full price for adults and infant price for Baby1. And so we took up the promotion.
The next thing that happened was, we decided to do a stopover in Hong Kong, partly to visit Disneyland, partly to visit the places we didn’t visit the last time we were there. It was quite a challenge. We had never done a stopover itinerary before, and this time we’re doing it with Baby1 in tow. Well, we like being adventurous, so off we went.
Date and time
Last thing was to decide on the dates. The promotion pretty much limited our choices to Jan – Mar 2011. We decided to visit in Jan 2011 despite going on a cruise just 1 month earlier. This was because Feb was Chinese New Year which meant travel havoc and Mar was clashing into our Baby2 plans. So Jan 2011 it is.
Since it’s our first time traveling with Baby1, we decided to keep the itinerary simple and flexible. We decided to spent 4 days in Taipei and 4 days stopover in Hong Kong. We stayed within accessible areas (i.e. within MRT network), and took taxis to and from Taoyuan Airport instead of the bus. We took airport express train and taxi from and to HKIA respectively.
We also selected flights that were extremely comfortable. Our flight times were typically around 11am to 2pm, and arrives no later than 6.30pm.
Planning a trip with baby certainly isn’t the same as planning a trip for 2 adults. Overall, we tried to make the trip as convenient as possible with minimum walking (except night markets) and minimum transfers. It was still very very tiring but it worked out well.
Here’s the overall cost breakdown.
Airfare: We paid a total of SGD1464.40 inc tax for 3 seats by HSBC credit card required by the promotion.
Hotels: We paid SGD81.91 partial deposit for CityInn (booked direct from hotel website) and SGD330 full payment for CityView (booked from Jetabout website) by Manhattan card for the rebates.
Local spendings: After conversion, we spent SGD523.30 (based on 1:TWD22.4) in Taiwan including all the airport transfers and hotel balance, and SGD446.12 (based on 1:HKD5.8) in Hong Kong.
So in total, we spent 1464.40 + (81.91 + 330) * 0.95 + 523.30 + 446.12 = SGD2825.13. The factor of 0.95 there is for Manhattan card rebates. It’s not the cheapest around but I’d say it’s a good price for a 7D6N trip considering Baby1 had a seat on the plane. :)