Updated: Feb 28, 2020
We traveled the world for a year with our baby (we left when he was five weeks old) and our ten year-old. I was happily surprised on many fronts. Here is my BEST of the Best’s:
Hanging with the kids in Barcelona, Spain
You are Parenting Anyway
You have to feed your baby. You can do that on your couch or on the Great Wall of China. Your choice.
The Connection with People
There is an implied trust between women, yes, but even more so between moms. The human experience of parenting transcends cultures. Throughout our travels, people were helpful, generous, kind and loving in ways I have never experienced before. People would want to see the baby, coo, hold and smile at him. People would speak to him in their language, whispering to him to come back one day. Parents would smile and nod in my direction and many would stop just to say hello.
For my older daughter they wanted to interact with her, teach her and show her things. They wanted to make her smile and laugh. It seemed important to people that she left with a good impression of their country.
New found friends at a temple in Bagan, Myanmar
The Scams Stop
I have seen many scams on my travels from pick-pocketing, abduction to the local ATM to trading your money for counterfeit money in a cab. Before traveling with kids, I had been given the ‘tourist route’ in a taxi whereby they brought me on a long, meandering and expensive journey to my destination.
This all stopped. I was no longer looked at as a walking wallet rather than a fellow human being. I stopped being the prey. You put a baby in the cab and that driver will take the shortest, safest route there. GUARANTEED.
I was no longer the target and I don’t think it’s my charming smile and fun personality. It is simply next-level horrible to scam a woman with her baby. Honestly, they seem to prefer a white male “who can afford to be ripped off.” Sorry guys.
I was No Longer a Sexual Object, I was a Mom
As a woman traveler, the regular stream of harassment is difficult to contend with. At best it’s uncomfortable, too often, it can be terrifying. This can quickly and easily strip the joy out of your experience shopping at a market, dancing at the local club or enjoying a meal. It is scary when you are walking down the street by yourself past a group of men gawking and calling at you. I can't count the number of times I have put my head down, walking as fast as I could, clutching my purse while also visibly holding my cell-phone out with the emergency number ready to be pushed.
This COMPLETELY stopped. No more cat-calls, no more grabbing my butt, no more unsolicited comments, no more creepy lust-filled gazes. Nothing. Instead, women, men and children look at me with respect and kindness as a fellow mom.
We tried desperately to pack as light as possible. Honestly! However, we had WAY more things to haul with the kids. Also, not all places are stroller-friendly. People constantly helped us. Thank you!
News Flash: Day drinking is SOOOO much better! Of course we are going to drink, we are on vacation. However, we are going to do the majority of it in the afternoon sun, then we go for dinner and finish the bottle of wine while watching the sun sets (after the kids are in bed). It’s a different kind of drinking. It’s a steady delightful buzz that lingers from the afternoon to dinner to bed. The next morning you feel good and BONUS: you remember everything. Brilliant.
Enjoying a mid-afternoon cocktail with my bestie in Barcelona
You Will Take Better Care of Yourself
As tourists, we often find ourselves deep in the mindset of We must maximize every second of every day seeing and doing as much as humanly possible. Then we must eat and drink ourselves into oblivion! Kids will not let you exhaust yourself. They need to eat, drink, have day-time naps and be in bed at a reasonable hour. It is in your best interest to accommodate these needs.
What’s in it for you? You get the luxury of slowing the pace and REALLY ENJOYING the moment instead of rushing through at light-speed. You have to prioritize what you want to see. It is better if it is planned as much as possible. We stuck to the ‘one major event or monument a day’ rule. This gave us time to see the big sites but also enjoy our accommodations and the neighborhood we were in. We had time to do yoga in the living room, read a book on the veranda, sit by the pool, hydrate, eat properly and get enough sleep.
Lounging at the pool in Luang Prabang while the baby naps
Early Bird Gets the Worm
Kids get up early and go to sleep early. You know who doesn’t? The thousands of other tourists you are sharing space with.
Early morning site seeing is GLORIOUS. You have the advantage of being there before the hordes of tourists strip-away the magic of the site you’re trying to enjoy.
The first time I went to Ta Prohm, (temples in Cambodia, see picture) it was the most beautiful experience. It was gorgeous and serene. The second time I went, it was in peak tourist season at peak visiting hours. It was awful. We could hardly move, being hustled through like cattle. It was impossible to get a decent picture and I spent more time navigating the crowds than enjoying the temple. I took my husband back a third time as soon as the gates opened so he could re-experience it the way I had the first time.