The Chronicles of Traveling Alone With A Two-Year-old Through 8 Countries

25 days

8 countries

1 scatter-brained mom

1 2-year-old boy


Am I crazy, brave, or stupid? Thin lines between them all.

Jacob went to a conference in the Philippines and, rather than return to that country, I decided to check out more of SE Asia.


The planning went down a little more haphazardly than I would have liked. I was waiting to hear if my friend from college was coming to visit before planning-when she decided not to come, I had a week to book flights, hotels, and plan dates and activities.


Day 1

May 5


I wake up at 7 am, Jacob is telling me good bye, though Ryder is sleeping he is looking longingly at him, and it’s ok with me to wake him to say goodbye. Jacob’s flight is at 12 and he’s headed out early.

Things are, for the most part, packed. Nevertheless, it isn’t until 3 pm I sit, exhausted, on the couch, my job complete. All things have been evacuated from the apartment.

One suitcase, 23 kilograms, couldn’t be mailed because it was a holiday in Japan. A friend from Utah came to the rescue, picked up the bag, and shipped it a few days later when Golden Week had finished.

One stroller, one large backpack full of clothes, one small backpack full of toys, one diaper bag, one computer bag, one guitar, one bag of recyclables, one bag full of unopened food, one bag full of opened food, one bag full of clothes, several bags of trash.


(Side note: One item in the trash is this face mask. I have had a reaction to it unlike anything my skin has ever experienced before. Within the day of using it, my forehead sprouted ugly welts which I could feel before I saw them in the mirror. It hurt. There was even a warning on the back that such a reaction could occur. I tried Doterra oils, coconut oil, honey, and all kinds of home treatments-I didn’t really know what it was-and as the day loomed closer to departure after a week I made an appointment with a dermatologist in desperation, which I then missed due to a variety of circumstances including needing to go to an ATM to get cash when they didn’t accept credit card. Neosporin, and some mysterious steroid cream from the pharmacy seemed to help. I was hoping the welts went away on my trip and I wasn’t going to come down with some strange Japanese skin disease. I will never get a facial again.)

Apartment looks good.


Good-bye, airplane-sized Tokyo bathroom.


Good-bye, precious massive wall hangings which cannot be moved or touched

While taking some of the items down the stairs and out the door, (5 minutes max), Ryder manages to lock me out. Thinking fast, I climb over our balcony and break my way in. The next time I leave to drop more stuff off I take the key with me.

There’s too much stuff for Ryder to ride in the stroller. I’m just taking it to the trash/recycling bin at the convenience store 10 minutes away, but Ryder doesn’t want to come. I beg, coax, and cajole. It takes us 30 minutes to shuffle to the convenience store for me to discover this particular one does not have a trash can nor a recycling bin. I make a quick decision: I grab the clothes bag and the bag of unopened food, casually stroll to the other side of the street, drop them off on the side of the road, and walk back to the stroller. Then I make my way to another convenience store. I’ve forgotten I need to print all of my future itinerary.

This one, too, has no place to recycle. I print 20 pages of miscellaneous flight and hotel and visa info, then stumblingly make my heavy bag laden way to the metro. It’s a full kilometer walk. Along the way I do find a recycling bin. By the time we are sitting waiting for the train it is 4:45 pm.

Our flight is at 8:40 pm.

The train takes much longer than expected, perhaps because I take a local rather than an express train, and have to get off the train at one point-I’m not sure why. It is 7 pm by the time I’m at the airport exchanging my yen into USD and Hong Kong dollars. I then learn I have to take a bus to the other terminal. It’s kind of a long bus ride-30 minutes. We’re overdue for a bathroom break and a snack. The line is strangely and impossibly long to check in. I ask a security agent if I’m in the right line. He doesn’t speak English, but he agrees.

They’re doing final call for our flight. There are at least 50 people ahead of me in line.


The line at final call for Vanilla Air

I ask the lady behind me if she’s flying to Hong Kong. As luck would have it, she is. I agree to watch her stuff as she goes to ask someone. We’re in the wrong line. All of a sudden we are in the right line with only 5 people ahead of us. We check in, stop for a bit as I rearrange the bags a little bit-they say the guitar bag is too fat. (It’s been crammed full of diapers, which Ryder still uses at night.)

The lady at the flight desk asks, “Do you want to change your seat?” “Why?” I ask. “Because you’re surrounded by Chinese people, I wonder if you’d like to change your seat.” I’m silent in confusion. Does she think all Americans hate Chinese? “Why…?” I finally ask. “Chinese people are so LOUD,” she says, pointing to Ryder. “If he wants to sleep, I can move you to another part of the plane.” “Sure,” I say, mostly to be agreeable,  laughing inside. Japan and China are so distant from each other culturally I will never get them mixed up again. It’s time to go through security. Fortunately, they let us go through the crew line to speed things up. We make it to the terminal with minutes to spare. A full 12 hour day, and the flight hasn’t taken off yet. It’s quiet where we’re sitting, and Ryder sleeps.


Stay Tuned for Day 2…

Kalli Hiller

Article by Kalli Hiller

Kalli Hiller is a voluntary vagabond who, with her husband Jacob, has traveled full time for the last eight years.

Kalli has written 377 awesome articles for us.

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