Interview with Shirlene Lim, Family Traveler and Blogger

When I heard about another Asian family who is passionate about traveling and blogging about it, I knew I had to interview them…Meet Shirlene Lim who is the mother of a one-year old son, a working professional in tech, and a blogger on her and her husband’s travel site, Idelish (which has some great tips and incredible photography). She and her husband have traversed the globe over the years and haven’t let their son stop any of their travel plans. They actually have already been through parts of Europe, the USA, and Asia with their son, all in the past year or so.

Shirlene, ViennaTo start things off, here’s a self-introduction of Shirlene and her blog:

My name is Shirlene. Along with my husband, Jeremy and my son, Liam, we are the three musketeers behind our blog, Idelish! We love to travel, take beautiful photographs and explore hidden corners of the Earth. We share our stories, experience and tips with the hope that YOU can do the same! Often, people ask those who are in their circle of trust for advice on travel. We hope that you’d get to know us through our posts and travels and include us in your circle of trust when it comes to travel advice. You won’t be disappointed!

The experience of being outside their comfort zone and their familiar surroundings stretches your kids’ ability to adapt and acclimate to change.

1. You guys have traveled to a lot of exotic and off-the-beaten-path destinations. What were a few of your favorite destinations and why and how did you choose to visit those places?

We actually make it a point to include one ‘off-the-beaten-path’ destination or unique activity on every trip we go on. For example, when we went camping on Victoria Island a few years back, we signed up for cave spelunking to spice up the trip. When we went to India with my family, we added a stopover in Leh. On our visit to Spain, we added a stay in a cave hotel. Those were some of our favorite destinations because they were unique and, most importantly, memorable.

2. Since you and your husband both work full-time in tech, how do you find time to continue to make travel a lifestyle for your family?

We have been very fortunate that we both work in an environment that is very flexible. We are able to do our work no matter where we are. I must say, though, that it does take careful planning. We make full use of long weekends and holidays, adding on a short getaway to our work trip (by staying the weekend) and taking short trips over the weekend. We also sometimes leave in the middle of the day and catch up on work once we arrive at our destination.

Khardung-La, India

Khardung-La, India

3. Now that you have a son and are a family of three, how has traveling changed for you?

Our travel destination choices and activities have changed since the arrival of our son. If anything, it has shone a new light onto many of the places we’re visiting. We are discovering new activities to do even at our usual travel spots. For example, on our recent trip to a highland resort in Malaysia, we spent a large chunk of our day at the indoor theme park that we’ve never noticed/explored before.

Another example of how traveling has changed for us is that we both have noise canceling headphones that we used to carry on our flights. Now we just carry on one pair because one of us will be “on duty” watching Liam even while he’s asleep, as with the noise canceling headphones, we might not hear him cry.

4. You recently came back from Malaysia and Indonesia for a month…How was that like with a little toddler?

Our recent trip to Indonesia and Malaysia with a 1-year-old was definitely very interesting. It took more energy, of course, keeping up with a high energy toddler but was wonderful, nonetheless. It was exciting to see him “grow” throughout the trip. He experienced eating durian, keropok and nasi lemak for the first time – and he liked them! He had many different people speak to him in different languages and had to adapt to different sleeping arrangements. We were always on the move every few days (even going from city to city in Malaysia by car and by plane).

We are very lucky that Liam has learned to adapt to new surroundings fairly quickly. I truly believe that his ability to adapt is because we’ve taken him traveling since he was 100 days old!

Vienna, Austria

Vienna, Austria

5. What is your advice to parents with little babies/toddlers who are hesitant to take them traveling abroad?

Do know AND expect that yes, travel will not be as easy or go as smoothly as you were used to without kids. Yes, it will demand a lot from you and it will take lots of planning, patience and flexibility on your part. But consider this…That little bit of inconvenience is worth it when you think about the benefit it brings to your kids. The experience of being outside their comfort zone and their familiar surroundings stretches your kids’ ability to adapt and acclimate to change. It also opens their eyes and minds to what the rest of the world is like – weather, language, food, culture, architecture, music and the list goes on. Some experiences may even give them the appreciation of what they have at home.

We also find that traveling with kids is one of the best ways for parents and children to bond outside of the usual limits when we’re at home (no work, no classes, and no usual routines that get in the way). Your focus is on each other! Traveling together is the ultimate definition of “quality time with family” in our eyes!

Shirlene, Stockholm

I can go on and on about the benefits travel brings to your kids but I am sure you see our point by now. Trust that over time, your little ones will grow up to be great little travel companions! Give it a go and you too will get hooked!

Let’s say we’ve convinced you to give this a go…are you still concerned about some of the challenges you usually hear about? I’d say first identify what your worries about traveling with your young ones are and then take specific actions/preparations to address it.

Worried about ear pressure? Ensure that your babies/toddlers are breastfed/drinking milk/drinking water on takeoff and landing. The swallowing action helps reduce the pressure. This has worked every time with Liam, breastfeeding when he was younger and drinking water now that he’s a toddler.

Worried about meltdowns/crying/fussiness? My favorite advice to parents is to not board immediately when they allow you to (airlines usually allow those with young children to board first). If traveling with at least one other adult, I always advise that the other adult boards first at that opportunity and brings on the carry-ons and sets up the car seat while the other parent waits at the boarding area with the young baby/toddler. Use that time to let the child explore/run/walk around. The goal is to tire him/her out! Board last. By the time you’re on board, your child will be ready to rest/nap and the plane will be ready to takeoff soon after (you just skipped having to hold onto an energetic baby in a cramped space while waiting for hundreds of people to board the plane). Here are some of our tips about flying with a young child.

After that, you just need to be prepared with lots of “distractions” to entertain your baby/toddler if they’re not asleep. We share our favorite baby/toddler entertainment ideas and items on our recent blog post.

Cliff Hsia is a writer, husband, and father, who is determined to live a better than normal life by traveling the world, slowly and purposefully, with his wife and two young daughters. His writing has been featured on MSN, TODAY, The Huffington Post, The Good Men Project, and other publications. He writes about travel, parenting, and lifestyle design.

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  • Never seen that picture from India before! So cool.
    Wonder when it’s time for Q & I to join the Asian-American travel family club. =P

    • idelish

      Soon!! Thanks for connecting Cliff with us G! We’re looking forward to hearing about your awesome wedding and the news of you guys joining the Asian American travel family club 🙂

    • Gerard, Your time will come soon enough…hope wedding preparations are coming along well!

  • It’s always great to hear how new parents are adapting to family travel. We’ve been doing it for 11 years and it’s all worth it. Awesome to find your site and other Asian families exploring the world.

    • Mary, Thanks for visiting our site! Your travel blog is great and it’s awesome that you’ve continued to give the gift of travel to your two kids. Looking forward to keeping up with your travel experiences and tips…