South America Bound

We were supposed to be heading to Singapore for a 10 day Asian cruise taking us to Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia, ending in Hong Kong. But tomorrow we board a 10 hour flight in Houston that will take us to Santiago, Chile. How’d that happen?

In September 2018, I accompanied my dad to London.* During this trip, one night at dinner, as we were talking about the joys of travel, I casually mentioned that Justin and I were saving up for a big Asian cruise trip sometime in the next couple years. I’m dying to go to Asia (specifically Thailand, to visit an elephant sanctuary, and Singapore, because it looks awesome) but it’s an intimidating place — the language barrier, culture shock, unfamiliar foods, massive jet lag and far away timezones, panic-attack-inducing crowds — so instead of spending a couple weeks in one location, I thought a cruise would be a simple and relaxing way to dip our toe in the Asian pool, so to speak. Plus, we love cruising! I’d want to go during our cold grey winter months to give us a pick-me-up. I was already dreaming of future adventure!

Well, I should’ve known that when I mentioned a trip like this that my dad would say, “Can I come?”

I just kind of stared at him. “You want to go on a cruise with us when we have a baby?!”

“I’ll help pay for stuff and take care of the Mooch.”

And that’s how we concocted the origins of this big Schwartau-Bonnema family vacation. First, I had to convince Justin, and then we had to convince my mom. Once they were both on board, I just had to have a baby and we could go from there!

Fast forward a year. The Hong Kong riots are heating up, and the trip which we’d tentatively planned for early 2020 was getting closer. But everyone was starting to worry a tad. What if the climate in Hong Kong was still explosive? How would a 10 month old handle a 14 hour flight? Would the super crowded locations trigger a panic attack for me?

My dad and I didn’t want to give up on the idea of a one-way cruise that would introduce us to many locations, and I still wanted to visit a new continent. “So let’s go to South America!” he says. “It’s summer, but won’t be as hot, so your mother won’t melt. The timezones are closer to ours so jet lag and communication will be easier. The flight is shorter. And even though you can’t see elephants, you can see penguins!”**

Everyone was on board so my dad and I picked the route and the dates, he booked our rooms and our flights, I booked our AirBNBs in Santiago and Buenos Aires and started researching the South American cities we’d get to visit.

Our adventure will begin in Santiago, Chile, where we’ll spend a few days before heading to San Antonio to board the Norwegian Star, which will be our home for 14 nights. We’ll get to stop in 7 ports, cruise through some fjords, the Strait of Magellan and the Beagle Channel, hopefully meet some penguins, and then end in Buenos Aires. I’ve been wanting to visit Buenos Aires for a long time — the Paris of South America — and we’ll have several days to explore the city before returning home.

We’ve only made a few solid plans — a penguin excursion in the Falklands, my dad’s small plane tour in Ushuaia — and are remaining open-minded and flexible. We’ve never traveled internationally with a baby, and he’s on the verge of standing so this is a different baby than the one we have traveled with already. We may have some terrible travel days, and may not have the chance to see as much as we usually would. But I’m so excited for this opportunity, for all of us. Even though Skyler won’t remember these experiences, they’ll build a foundation of travel for him so as he gets older, it’ll get easier, and we’ll be able to go on many more family adventures!

Have you ever been to any of the places we’re going? Any recommendations for must sees or must dos? Have you ever cruised with a baby? Any tips or travel hacks we need to add to your list?

* I still haven’t blogged about London! LOL It was an awesome trip, but I was pregnant at the time and have been preoccupied since. One of these days, I will post some of the pix. It was so much fun! Minus all of the vomiting. Oh, man. I don’t miss the vomiting.

**The actual conversation was probably a bit more wine-influenced and curse-word tinged.