Profile of International Medical Clinic Singapore’s Dr June Tan. As a family doctor based in Singapore, Dr June Tan sees a lot of families with medical questions relating to travel with kids. As a mother of two kids herself – Jade (2) and Pierce (8 months) – she has also experienced a bit herself. In the past June lived in Berlin and took advantage of that time to travel around Hungary, the Czech Republic and Latvia. She’s also visited places like Nepal, Egypt, China and Taiwan. These days she does 2 to 3 long family holidays with the kids and jokes that despite having been to multiple parts of Europe and the US, she is still yet to see much in her own backyard of Southeast Asia. She shares her family travel experiences with suitcases&strollers.
Before you had kids, where was your favourite destination to travel to?
Verbier in Switzerland is better known for skiing but in the summer plays host to the lovely Verbier Music Festival which showcases lots of young talent as well as the top names in the world of classical music. For me there is no better holiday than to enjoy as many concerts as one wishes, held in halls or churches sprinkled across the mountains, in between quiet walks in alpine forests.
How has travel changed for you since having kids?
I used to love travelling alone but that doesn't work these days! We now do most of our travelling to the US to see family. Our kids are tiny and our priorities are safety, access to healthcare for emergencies, distance and minimising disruptions to schedules and routines.
How frequently are you travelling now?
On average twice a year to the US – east coast and west coast – and always with the kids who really are the ones that people want to see!
Is it important for kids to travel?
It is important for my kids to spend time with and get to know their family in America, and that's why we go even though it's never an easy journey.
As they get older it's definitely important that they get to see more of the world they live in and we absolutely wish for our kids to enjoy travelling like their parents do.
What do kids get out of travelling that they don't get staying at home?
Just like with adults, the fun of experiencing different places, cultures, languages, food, climates.
Where is your favourite destination to travel to now?
A year and a half ago we travelled with Jade to Cottesloe Beach in Perth, Australia.
Our wonderful trip to Perth makes it our firm favourite. It is a short flight (just over 4 hours), in the same time zone so there was no disruption to schedules (Jade slept through the night in her own room from day one in the beach house we rented) and it's Australia – that means good produce, good food, wine, coffee, it’s child-friendly everywhere and lovely people.
Where has been the most surprising destination you’ve been to?
Istanbul which I found to be a fascinating city full of contrasts – ancient yet modern, religious yet secular, traditional but progressive. I was there alone for the greater part of my trip and felt it was a very liveable city with a real heartbeat – truly an eternal city.
Do you have a regular family holiday destination?
Washington, D.C. where the doting grandparents, aunts and uncles and cousins are. We visit about twice a year and also go to the winter home in Palm Springs, California.
Where is the one place in the world that you want to take your kids that they haven’t been?
When they are ready, I'd like to take them to a performance at The Met Opera in New York. There is nothing like watching it live at The Met. I'm sure Jade will love it as she's such a drama queen herself! There's also plenty else in NYC for families.
Where is the one place in the world that you want to go to that you haven’t been?
Bhutan. There must be a reason why the Bhutanese are the happiest in the world. Also before the kids came along I was planning a trip to India on a train circuit through the main Buddhist pilgrimage sites including Bodhgaya and Varanasi. The trip did not materialise!
What are your top 3 tips for planning a successful and memorable family holiday?
For families with very young children like mine:
1. The fewer base camps the better – plonk yourself at one place for the whole trip instead of changing accommodation too much. This makes it more relaxing for everyone and least disruptive for the babies. Choose to stay in a part of town that has a supermarket where you can buy baby things instead of bringing them (such as formula, nappies). I think this is a great travel tip I first came across on suitcases&strollers! Also be aware of where to go in case of medical emergencies.
2. Plan an easy going itinerary with lots of flexibility. Babies should not be rushed! When the kids are relaxed, there's a better chance the adults can too. You don't want to come home feeling like you need another holiday to recover from your holiday!
3. Bring along a domestic helper or a parent or a sister or sister-in-law – extra help with kids and especially someone to babysit for that one night out with your spouse while on holiday is worth paying for that extra ticket.
This story was sponsored by International Medical Clinic Singapore