Our trip to Taipei, Taiwan with twin toddlers: Part 1 (helper visa, Airbnb, EVA Air flight, travel resources)

My husband and I uncharacteristically decided to book a last minute family vacation to Taipei, Taiwan with our twin toddlers a few weeks ago. We returned from our 8 day, 7 night trip last week. It was mostly exhausting with some fun in between. In this first post, I’ll outline our trip preparation and some general advice for traveling in Taipei. The next few posts will detail our itinerary, including our favorite restaurants and attractions.

The n+1 rule

When traveling with young children, I firmly believe in having n+1 caretakers, where n = the number of children. So my husband and I decided to bring our helper along for the trip.

We applied for our helper’s 30 day visa at the Taipei Representative Office of Singapore, which is located in the PSA Building on Alexandra Road. The visa cost $65 SGD and required 2 passport photos. I also had to sign a letter stating that I was responsible for my helper during the trip. Her visa was available the next afternoon.  You may also apply for a visa online. It takes about 3-4 working days (according to online forums).

Choosing an accommodation

We only booked our trip a week before the departure date. With 3 adults, 2 children, and a relatively tight budget, our accommodation choices were limited. Our only criteria were to have two bedrooms, two bathrooms, and proximity to an MRT station.

We chose a two bedroom apartment near Ximen MRT, which had its advantages and disadvantages. We were close to the Ximending night market, countless shopping areas, and early morning breakfast spots. But our area was extremely polluted with cigarette smoke and motorbike exhaust. Our apartment was in a rundown building (government housing?) with a gambling parlor on the third floor, and cigarette smoke was always lingering in the air.

For families, I would recommend staying in a less congested part of Taipei, even if it is less central.

Flying to Taipei

Our 4-4.5 hour flight on EVA Air was relatively uneventful. Our kids were entertained by the in flight television and YouTube videos we had downloaded onto our iPhones. I also packed a small activity bag with Daiso magnetic doodle boards, Daiso stickers, crayons (ones with edges so they don’t roll off), and a homemade activity book (stapled A4 sheets of paper with drawings for coloring).

My husband and I each brought a bag of snacks, 5 diapers, wet wipes, bibs, empty water bottles (which we filled at the gate after going through security), kids’ headphones, and alcohol wipes to sanitise the airplane seats and tray.

Although our flight to Taipei was during their naptime, our kids enjoyed the flight and were relatively well behaved. They even managed to nap for almost an hour. On the way back, they had a few small meltdowns since we had to wake up early for our morning flight, but overall, they seemed to enjoy their airplane ride.

Traveling with a stroller

Whenever we travel, our twins become extremely timid and reluctant to walk longer distances, so we brought our Maclaren Twin Triumph stroller. It was a huge help for traversing through the airports and around the streets of Taipei.

We took our stroller everywhere in Taipei, since our Airbnb accommodation was about 600 meters from the MRT station. 600 meters doesn’t seem very far, but with cranky toddlers in 34 degree C heat and 80% humidity, a stroller was a must!

Taipei was relatively stroller friendly. Department stores and tourist landmarks had elevators, as did all MRT stations. But only certain MRT exits had elevators, while others had a combination of stairs and escalators. Most MRT elevators had a long queue, so we often had one caretaker fold the stroller and carry it out of the subway station, while the other two caretakers carried one child each.

Resources

Here are some helpful websites I used for planning our trip:

KKday – Offers discounted admission to tourist attractions, airport transfers, etc. We used KKday for traveling to and from Taoyuan Airport. For 200 NT (about $9 SGD), you can book car seats in advance. While booking online, request the seats in the comment section. KKday will message you requesting your child’s date of birth, height, and weight. The car seats aren’t in the best shape, but they served their purpose. The car seat fee should be paid in cash to the driver.

A Toddler in Taipei – Blog with activities categorised by age, location and occasion.

A Hungry Girl’s Guide to Taipei – My favorite Taipei foodie blog with restaurant reviews. The author also indicates whether the restaurants she reviews are child friendly.

Preparing for your twins in Singapore

This post was updated on 11 July 2017 with Amazon affiliate links.

In my debut post of this blog, I will summarise how to prepare the basic essentials for twins in Singapore. The subsequent posts will share how to manage your first year with twins.

Most twins are born premature, with 37 weeks considered full term. Therefore it is essential to have your baby gear and support system ready by 30-32 weeks. The earlier, the better.

Help

At least three months before your due date, hire a live-in helper with infant care experience. During your third trimester, it will be very difficult to get any housework done. You will need about a week to train your helper, one to two weeks to assess her skills, and some time to find a replacement if needed.

Book a confinement nanny four to five months before your due date. Ask for a nanny who is experienced in caring for twins. I hired mine through an agency (Supernanny Services, one of two official agencies in Singapore), and she was fantastic. She was an excellent cook, cared for my little ones with lots of love, fed them at night, and was easy to get along with. I kept her for two months, and we still stay in touch.

Changing essentials

You will probably change thousands of diapers during your first year. Make sure that your changing station is well equipped with quality items.

Ubbi diaper pail. Expensive but great at keeping the smell out, and you can use any trash bags (we used liners from Daiso).

IKEA Stuva changing table. There is a limited variety of changing tables available in Singapore; most locals change their babies on the bed or floor. With twins, however, a functional table is essential. The IKEA Stuva coverts into a desk .

Serta changing pad and Summer Infant changing pad covers. I shopped all over Singapore for a changing pad and couldn’t find a thick, sturdy one. The Stuva changing table can fit 2 Serta pads, but don’t be naive like me and think that you’ll be changing both babies at once! Use disposable underpads for easy cleaning. Your babies are going to poop and pee like mad the first two months.

We tested several diaper brands and liked GOO.N (buy them in bulk on Lazada on Fridays for an extra discount) for daytime and Merries (often on sale at Giant or NTUC FairPrice) at night.

Tip: Don’t stock up on newborn sized diapers. Your twins will grow out of them very quickly.

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