Twelve reasons to travel during maternity leave

There are a number of people that don’t agree with my decision to travel during maternity leave. I have learnt this through the backlash I received in the media when our story went viral in 2016. People’s concerns were always the same – “You’re selfish, this is about you, not the baby” or “What about travel vaccinations?” or “How did you finance it?” I felt I could answer everyone’s questions but essentially it’s each to their own I think! No harm came to Esmé and we had the most amazing first year of her life, all together as a family.

As many of you will know, we packed up our home when our newborn was ten weeks old, sold our car and rented out the house to travel. We started our trip off visiting Singapore first, a few months in New Zealand followed by an epic journey commencing in Australia and through a large proportion of South East Asia. All before our daughter turned one!

I know many people have envied our trip because they may have been too scared to do it themselves. It’s been so lovely for us to hear we have already inspired many others to take the leap since they’ve heard our story.

12 Reasons To Travel During Maternity Leave

 

travel during maternity leave

Let me see if I can help you to make the decision to travel on maternity leave…

1. When else will you have this period of time off again?

I just feel it’s an opportunity not to be missed. Now, I know Mums outside the U.K have different maternity leave entitlements so it makes it near impossible to do what we did if you live in America, for example. However, for the rest of us from the other places where we can have a year off, why not do something different and use your maternity leave to travel?

Travel during maternity leave

2. You do not have to maintain a household

This is something I just loved! No cl

eaning or dealing with general household administration whilst trying to get used to being a new mum.

Travel during maternity leave

3. Quality uninterrupted time as a family

We did it together rather than doing it alone on my maternity leave.

maternity-vacation

4. The second parent develops an equal relationship with baby

I appreciate there are many single parents, however as Shaun was able to be with us for the majority of the year, he has an equally amazing bond with Esmé. She doesn’t just cry for Mum, she always asks for both of us which I feel is really lovely.

Travel during maternity leave

5. When baby is exclusively breastfed it is the best time to travel

I recently interviewed an infectious diseases doctor, Dr Sarah Logan from University College London Hospital. Her opinion was it is the best time to travel with baby when they are exclusively breastfed. This is due to the amount of immunity they get from the milk as well as the reduced risk of water / food contamination. This is such a big topic that I wrote a whole page about family travel health here.

how-to-make-the-most-of-maternity-leave

6. Do it now whilst they are a little less mobile

Although we still travel extensively, I really appreciate the time we spent travelling on my maternity leave when Esmé was a baby. It is just so much easier compared to when they start walking!

Travel during maternity leave

7. … and before they cost an arm and a leg at age 2

I think I can safely say we have made full use of babies go for 10% before they are two. With most airlines, come two years old, it is almost full price for a toddler’s ticket making it more expensive for families.

family-gap-year

8. It may be more cost effective than staying at home

In our financial circumstances it was more cost effective to travel during maternity leave and spend a lot of time in South East Asia. It was the difference between having a year off and not. This is due to the cost living and a mortgage in London.

Travel during maternity leave

9. It’s harder to spend money than you think

So you would think it’s really expensive to travel as a small family for a long period of time but the truth is it’s harder to spend money because you just can’t fit in as much as one use to pre-baby. During our maternity leave travel we had to take things nice and slowly, we didn’t do all the activities for obvious reasons and we didn’t drink our own body weight in alcohol (as we would have pre-baby).

maternity-leave-travel

10. It’s character building

Many people have said to me “she won’t remember any of it, what a waste”. I agree she won’t remember anything but as we all know baby’s brains are a sponge and absorb the most amount of information in the first year of life. Why not expose them to a multitude of sights, smells and sounds? Why not allow them to interact with a multitude of different people from other cultural backgrounds? Anyone that knows Esmé will surely tell you she is the most sociable baby going. I think that may be how the experience has impacted on her the most.

maternity-leave-travel

11. It may reduce the chances of pos

 

tnatal depression

A large claim I know and I don’t have any scientific evidence to back it up. But I think if you are leading a fun-filled lifestyle alongside becoming a new mum, it can only help with reducing the blues, not make it worse. For me, I was lucky enough to have my partner with me for the year. His constant company definitely helped. I have no idea if I would have developed postnatal depression if I stayed at home, but I certainly can see how it happens to a number of new mums.

maternity-leaving

12. You will take the most amazing photos and create special memories

I think one reason the media went crazy on our story was because of the tonnes of amazing photos we have of Esmé as a baby in different environments. From sitting outside picturesque temples in Vietnam in her hippy Asian print dress, to enjoying the steepest cable care ride in the world, we are so lucky to have this evidence to show her when she gets older.

maternity-leaving

Did you find this article useful? We would be so grateful if you could give a small token of appreciation by becoming a patreon which you can check out here. What is a patreon you may ask? In this digital age there is a demand for immediate information online. Being a patreon is a new-age way of giving back for the information, which takes time to put together with no financial return. It’s the very same as GoFundMe. 

I would love to know if you would travel during maternity leave and if we have inspired you in any way to take the leap. Make sure to leave a comment and let us know!

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By | 2018-07-01T04:43:51+00:00 July 26th, 2016|Travel Tips, Uncategorized|44 Comments

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Jenny
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Jenny

Thank you!! I truly believe that baby is happiest when parents are happiest… So don’t listen to the hate, its envy…. I don’t have a baby yet, but I totally feel inspired by your story! 🙂 We also have one year of maternity leave here in Germany, so why not!
I love your blog, thank you.

Julia
Guest
Julia

Amazing story !Who said having a baby has to change your life & character and your love for travel. I don’t think it’s selfish at all,yes obviously you need to think of safety and do research and have a lot of patience but it’s a best imaginable way spending your maternity leave; it’s the same as taking a gap year from uni to what I have done the only difference it’s at a latter stage of your life and lucky enough with your family. It’s an inspiring story and for our family something we are planning to do in a… Read more »

Hannah
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Hannah

I love your blog, we are keen travellers too & have just had our son. I want to go back to Thailand when he’s going to be 1. I’m interested in the practicalities, such as injections: was Esme able to have all she needed before you left? What did she have?
What did you do about car seats?
And how was she on the flights?
Is there anything you wish you knew then, that you know now?

Thank you so much for your blog – you have really inspired us!

Valérie Canuel
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Valérie Canuel

Very inspiring! Which destinations would you recommend with a baby, considering that we like to hike? Thank you so much!

Mai2
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Mai2

Lovely!! I’d like to experience that too when 2nd baby comes out on April. It’ll be so handy that I’ll be breastfeeding and babywear. Hubby will be in charge of our 3yo then toddler as we go on a trip together.

I just feel sad that we only have 2-month maternity leave here in the Philippines. Or do you think it’ll be okay to travel before new babe gets 2mos?

Helen
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Helen

Hello

Its looks amazing but my husband and I would be stopped at the airport by the Grandparents ! lol

Helen

Filippa
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Filippa

How wonderful to read your blog! It’s nice to hear someone else having the same thoughts when traveling and experiencing are such passionate parts of ones life. Me and my partner have been having the same thoughts about traveling with babies, and it’s amazing to see how people actually have fulfilled their backpacking trip with a little one. We have no baby yet, but are hoping to do the same when it’s time for us.

Warm regards from Sweden 🙂

Jodie
Guest
Jodie

I’m 28, have travelled well over the last few years, and heading to Canada and Japan this year plus a few city breaks. My partner commented on your article and it definitely has inspired me to travel during maternity leave – whenever that may be! You have a great attitude to making the most your time with baby and enjoying yourself with your partner – rather than being sat in a house for 12 month. Also, Esme will look back at all the photos when she’s older and what a great story for her to tell to everyone she meets… Read more »

Fiona
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Fiona

Brilliant blog! It’s really reassuring (and an inspiration) to see how much you have travelled with Esme already. We are expecting our first in June and although we won’t be doing anything as adventurous as you guys, we defo want to introduce our little one to the experience of visiting new countries as soon as possible. We’ll find your blog a great source of useful tips when planning our first getaways as a family and look forward to seeing your continuing adventures!

Jenine
Guest

I have a 1 year old and love traveling, I never back packed before and would love advice where to start, planning and doing it on a budget any advice would be great thank you

Lucie
Guest
Lucie

Hi, I’m expecting my first little one this June, and one of my concerns was about traveling with my baby. I don’t believe that what you have done is selfish at all – I know we are going to love our baby with all our hearts, but and both have promised to ourselves that life will go on as normal as possible (even though I totally understand things are going to change, and we will have to adapt). Your blog had reaffirmed that traveling with a small one is possible on any budget. I’m not a big flyer at all,… Read more »

Leah Urbasik
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Leah Urbasik

You rock, good on you and your family. I grew up traveling with my Mom, and now as a new Mom myself on Maternity leave I am taking every opportunity available to do the same.

As a fellow ‘Travel Mad Mom’ it’s super inspiring to read about your adventures and philosophies on traveling with children, its still a scary concept just leaving the house some days so knowing that there are other people out there still exploring this wonderful world of ours and adapting to travelling with a child, is a huge comfort.

Thank you for sharing your journey, tips and adventure.

simona
Guest
simona

Hey Karen,
OMG! I just loved reading your story!
I am supposed to give birth soon and would love to travel with my husband and baby.
Where would you recomemend to travel for a period of 2-3 months and why?
Where would it be easiest for us as new parents?

Thanks,
Simone

Dale C Rubin
Guest

I think it’s not good to travel during pregnancy it can hurt both of the lives mother as well baby too

pnr status
Guest

I am enjoying your blog post. Thanks for sharing beautiful blog post.

Alexandria Ball
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Alexandria Ball

Hi Karen I am due to have my baby in September this year and I can wait for it all to happen. I love to travel and have lived and worked in a number of different countries as well as being a flight attendant for 8 years. This is the first time I have seen anything like this and I absolutely love reading your posts. How unbelievably amazing and what a wonderful finstead year to spend as a family. I think your posts are totally inspiring and I can with to see your next baby gap year. Unfortunately my partner… Read more »

jessie
Guest
jessie

yes you have!!!
my wife and i talk about doing this all the time.
Not for a year, but at least for a month-two months
I’m in love with your pictures and this idea! Will you be posting a blog of your itinerary from your year?

Mya
Guest
Mya

So lucky you are to have a so long maternity leave & the possibility to travel. Here in France we just have 8 weeks! That’s not enough to learn bein a mom and benefit from Baby !!!

Richard Shuler
Guest

travelling during maternity leave is a bit of a no-brainer for me. If you love travel it’s the perfect excuse to squeeze a whole suitcase full of adventures in. Whether your workplace offers a generous twelve months of paid maternity leave or the bare minimum statutory pay, there’s no denying it’s a unique period in your life when you can escape the office for a decent chunk of time.

Auzzi
Guest
Auzzi

The idea of traveling on maternity break is just sooooooo brilliant. It bugs me a lot that a mother ends up ruining her career for raising a person for our future society. This is a fantastic idea to make the most out of it for all sides. Every mother should do that. Discover the world and use this as a positive opportunity rather than a burden.
Best wishes for the second baby!

Iveta
Guest
Iveta

Amazing!!! I am fed up with people saying that once you have a kid,you can’t travel as before…with all the critics of the world (and which i didn’t care at all) we visited with our little princess around 25 countries in 4 years…incredible how this made of her an independent, open minded,flexible and extremely curious little global citizen always asking when will we be flying again? ?

ukRache
Guest
ukRache

Hi karen, its sounds amazing im trying to convince my boyfriend that we should do this. How many weeks old was your baby when you set off ? Did you have to take out any specific insurance for any medical issues that could occur whilst there? Do you recommend doing it as soon as possible or waiting until the baby is about 6 months old? I think i would only travel for 6 months so that our parents didnt get too upset about their new grandchild not being around, were both of your families supportive ?

Mary
Guest

Totally inspired. Looks amazing. And as challenging as it would be with a baby, its going to be that little bit more challenging when you have two or three of them. Well done!

Olja
Guest
Olja

We are doing almost the same thing. As I am on maternity leave and my partner is made redundant, we took an advantage to take a time off and travel all together and enjoy our time as a family. We started our journey when Mila our daughter was only 3 weeks old with a short trip to Brighton for a weekend and then first trip abroad at 5 weeks to Budapest, Hungary and then a night train to Belgrade Serbia where we spent 2 weeks with family. At 9 weeks done the camping and retro festival in Uk, next trip… Read more »

Kim
Guest
Kim

Hello! Yes. I am inspired to travel during maternity leave. I’m pregnant with my first baby and plan to take a full year off of work. We have a February due date and already plan to move our base from our home in Hertfordshire, England to Porto, Portugal for five months between May-September. This is an opportunity received through my partners job. I’m inspired by travelling families’ blogs and have begun my journey to consider how to make the most of this break from my full-time job in London and continue my love of travelling. I’ve considered starting a blog,… Read more »

Brandi
Guest
Brandi

Absolutely inspiring! I’m Canadian and just started my nursing career at the age of 33. Because of that we have only been able to travel the last few years (I’ll be 36 this year) as I’m finally no longer a starving student. I’ve struggled with whether or not to have children because I don’t want to “give up” the life we’ve created and we have to make that choice soon as my clock is ticking. I first read your story last year and both my hubby and I instantly knew it was the perfect solution! I can get a full… Read more »

Hannah
Guest
Hannah

This is beautiful. I actually can’t believe people would bash you for something so amazing you did as a family…. I see nothing but love in this blog post and it is truly inspiring!

http://www.chausadventure.com

Dave
Guest
Dave

Enjoying the Blog. Thanks! My wife, daughter (7 weeks old) are planning on “traveling” for two months. Rather than back packing or touring too much we were thinking of stationing ourselves in a cool place and living and exploring the culture and surrounding areas. Of all the places you’ve been we’d love to hear about where you’d go live if you had two months off. We’re thinking 1,2, maybe three destinations. We’re from Toronto, Canada and have done lots of traveling. Similar to you we like things off the beaten path but also enjoy the city life comforts (wifi! etc).

Kayla
Guest
Kayla

Thank you for sharing! I’m a travel maniac and it brought me to my Nicaraguan partner, we are excited and awaiting the birth of our first child in October 2018! Due to visa restrictions he is not able to be in Canada with me for about 10-12months after the baby is born which means I’ll be heading back to Nicaragua at around 10 weeks aswell! I would love to take the year to travel as it will be the only paid time off I will ever have with only one child!! Though I am concerned mostly about the baby being… Read more »

Neli Baptiste
Guest
Neli Baptiste

I enjoyed reading your story and I wish I could do the same. We bought a house shortly after our baby was born and our mortgage is more than I get during my mat leave (not 100% of salary). My husband wouldn’t be able to take such a long leave which means he would still have to rent if I went on my own for the majority of my mat leave. I am going back to my country of origin for a month with the baby and I am attending a wedding there. I look forward to reconnecting with friends… Read more »

Anna Gawn
Guest
Anna Gawn

Thanks for this! We’re going away for 3 month with a 3 month old and 3 year old. Geeky question but did you have any kind of routine or structure for the baby when so young to get her sleeping well etc. whilst on the move? If yes, how / what’