Backpacking with an Infant…Yeah We Are.

Just for fun, tell other parents you’re traveling overseas with a one year old to see their reaction. It’s almost as outrageous as exclaiming “I am going to build my own spaceship to explore the possibility of an alternate universe”.

People will either respond with a horror that implies imminent doom. Perhaps shoot you a look of wonder and curiosity to suggest that whilst you may be mad, it sounds like quite the courageous adventure. Or it may be met with a doubtful smugness that suggests an expectation you will return a hollow shell of the human you once were.

The thing is, before I met my husband, I had never lived in the same city for longer than a year. I have gypsy blood and it is in my nature to explore new horizons. I love to travel and seek out adventure.

Although my lucrative career as a stay-at-home-mum doesn’t afford me the luxury of a high-flying, world traveling lifestyle, my daughter and I seek out adventure in our urban landscape on a daily basis. We love it. She was on a plane before she was three months old. So touring around Europe with a pit stop to Egypt on the way doesn’t seem that much of a stretch for us.

Granted, there is the dreaded flight and the crossing of time zones that is enough to break the toughest of adults. But I figure, so long as we are realistic in our expectations, there’s nothing we can’t handle.

However, my positive attitude has not abated the non-believers. My mum in particular was quite vocal with hypothetical scenarios. She desperately grilled me over the phone one day. The conversation went a bit like this:

Mum – What if she gets sick while you’re away?

Me – Then she will have a runny nose in Paris. It’s ok, I have done some research and they have tissues in France.

Mum – What if she is teething?

Me – Then she will have sore gums in Rome. I will take some teething solution with me and hope that the Colosseum provides a decent distraction.

This exchange went on for some time with more concerned questions being met with sarcastic responses.

I can understand my mum being concerned because she’s a mum and that’s just what mums do. (I must be missing the concerned mum gene) What I do struggle to comprehend is complete strangers having a problem with my travel plans.

Upon a friend’s suggestion, I joined a Lonely Planet forum and asked the question “Any tips for a Euro road trip with a one year old?”

I had sent the online travel community into a frenzy. People from all over the world were up in arms that I had the nerve to do such a thing. Just a taste of some of the responses; This trip sounds like my worst nightmare, Even without a kid I wouldn’t do this trip, and my personal favourite, Here’s a tip…don’t go!

By that stage I had to laugh. I actually found it hilarious that total strangers were so wound up about my intention to travel with my child and that it somehow caused them slight anxiety.

My girl turns one in a couple of weeks. We have spent every single day of her short life together. It’s safe to say, no one knows her better than me. I actually think she’s awesome. She cracks me up with her cheeky smile, gets a groove on when a tune comes on the radio, she’s incredibly curious and absolutely loves people. In my book, that’s a pretty sweet travel companion. Of course there are challenges with sleep, teething and whatever else a normal kid her age goes through. And I will deal with them as best I can, just as I do in Brisbane.

So to all the naysayers, the non-believers and the doubters, it is with great exultation that I tell you, tickets are booked, bags are packed and our incredible journey awaits. If you happen to be sitting next to us on the plane, come and say hello. She’s a hoot!

Suzi O’Shea

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