AN INTERVIEW WITH TINA FROM SINGLE MUM TRAVELS
Tina is 28, Joshie is 6 and together they travel the world, they’re planning to cycle the world in 800 days, and they’re doing all this as a single parent family. Based in London where Tina works in product development, they travel for fun but also to lea
HI TINA! THANKS FOR TALKING TO US... TELL US, DID YOU ALWAYS WANT TO TRAVEL?
Absolutely, yes! For me, travel is like breathing, it’s what truly makes me feel alive, it helps me recollect my thoughts, heal and feel strong. It’s about learning about myself as much as it is learning about others.
To me life isn’t about possessions, it’s about experiences, travel humbles me.
HOW DID YOU AND JOSHIE START TRAVELLING?
I started travelling during my teenage years, with road trips during college breaks. My uncle drove trucks on the European continent - once we drove from London to Milan, through five countries!
My first trip with Josh was to Oman. There was a lot of negativity in the media about Islam and I felt anxious about it all, so I reached out to find the truth. I found a family who would host us in Muscat, Oman’s capital city and after an eight hour flight, we were warmly welcomed into their home. Even though our children didn’t speak the same language, they played like old school friends. I spent time learning what Islam was for them and met many wonderful and kind families. What I learnt from that experience was if something is strange and unknown then we should embrace it.
Our next big adventure was to South America. I had a random daydream of green rolling hills, heat and sunshine during lunch at work one day, so I went back to my desk, Googled until I found what I was looking for and booked flights to Peru then and there!
DO YOU TRAVEL INDEPENDENTLY OR WITH A TOUR GROUP?
100% Independently! I like the freedom and making it my own experience. I don’t see travel as a holiday, it’s an adventure and a learning
experience. You have to push yourself out of your comfort zone to really appreciate it and experience personal growth.
When I booked our flights to Peru it left me just 7 weeks to plan the itinerary which was actually a really major project. Using an agency isn’t a bad thing, but what I paid for our adventure to Peru would have been more than double through an agency.
HOW MANY COUNTRIES HAVE YOU BEEN TO NOW?
Not half as many as I wish! Hahaha… so far it’s been; Oman, Jordan, Egypt, Turkey, France, Germany, Luxemburg, Switzerland, Italy, Belgium, Poland, Greece, Peru, and Russia. I think next we want to venture out to Japan where Josh wants to ride the bullet train.
WHAT’S BEEN YOUR FAVOURITE EXPERIENCE?
Visiting the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve in Northern Peru. We took a motorised canoe to a nature reserve and saw a wealth of animal species from macaws to three-toed sloths, squirrel monkeys with babies, weird dragon creatures up in trees, pink Amazonian dolphins (which I swam with!), rodents, bees nests, we heard howler monkeys, gazillions of birds including the hoatzin, poisonous snakes and many creepy crawlies. I even held a poisonous dart frog, yep and I didn’t die!
WHAT ABOUT JOSHIE’S FAVOURITE?
I’m so glad you asked this question! Without a doubt it was Piranha fishing in the Amazon River! He was 4-years-old and caught the very first piranha fish that day, it was also the largest. I think that was our proudest moment thus far; he still talks about it. We went back to the lodge that afternoon with about four or five red-bellied piranhas, the chef prepared them and we ate them for supper! I was surprised at how delicious they were; they tasted like salty chicken!
Overall, travel for Josh has been a really positive thing; I’ve seen his confidence grow tremendously.
ARE YOU EVER SCARED TRAVELLING WITH JOSHIE ON YOUR OWN?
Fear! Fear can make you or break you. I was really nervous travelling to South America. You hear lots of stories about drug gangs and getting kidnapped or robbed, but you just have to have a flexible plan that’s based on research, research, research! Make contacts before you fly out, even if it’s just with hotels and talk to people who have been who can offer first hand advice.
When I went to Jordan last year I travelled to the Dead Sea and to Petra to see the Treasury where Indiana Jones was filmed. Some of the online forums were talking about sleazy men who’d harassed women in the area, so I talked to the hotel staff about it. They then arranged my transport and suggested a guide who was great. I felt much more confident. Wherever you’re travelling, just trust your instincts and listen to your body, how you feel is very important. If you feel too nervous to do something or go somewhere then don’t until you’re ready.
I WOULDN’T HAVE EXPERIENCED ANY OF IT IF I HAD LET MY FEARS OVERTAKE ME
WHAT ARE YOUR TOP 5 TIPS FOR TRAVELLING SOLO WITH A CHILD?
1. Let them have their own camera! Invest in a semi decent one too, you will never regret it. Your child will capture things you wouldn’t have given a second glance.
2. Apps! There are heaps of Apps for the travelling child. Load up your device, get them learning, playing and exploring during those “boring” road trips.
3. Medikit. Take a compact zippered polyester pouch preferably with a waterproof lining and top it up with hand sanitizer, pain relief and Hydralyte sachets, travel sick pills, tweezers and thermometer, antiseptic wipes, Bandaids and a folding mini travel cloth.
4. A travel journal. Get one from any good book store, cover it with wrapping paper of a world map and let them take pride in writing about their adventures. They get to practice essential handwriting skills and tell all their friends about their adventures.
5. Contact! Write your contact details inside your child’s shoes and on a piece of paper in their pocket. Use an easily identifiable backpack or brightly coloured hat in super busy places and teach them how to dial your mobile number and the local emergency code. Always let them keep some cash, you never know when they (or you!) will need it. Another thing I always do is take a few business cards whenever I get to a hotel, one for me and one for Josh, that way we have the phone numbers and address so if we take a taxi and can’t speak the local language we just show them the card. That’s saved us a lot of time and hassle trying to convey the details to the driver.
IS IT DIFFICULT FUNDING TRAVEL ON YOUR OWN? HOW TO YOU SAVE FOR YOUR TRIPS?
Yes, it sure is! I became a single mum at 23 (after 6 years with Josh’s dad) during my finals at university. I still finished my studies and then took a job selling toys in Harrods for experience. When Josh and I first moved out, I slept on the floor because I couldn’t afford a bed, I remember times when I couldn’t afford to buy food for myself or even a bus ticket. I couldn’t afford a TV either so we walked everywhere and spent the days out and about exploring the local parks.
Eventually, I managed to get a job working in a small design company and I now manage my own projects, I’ve worked on creating products for luxury brands and a variety of global financial companies. So now, in short I work, save a lot and travel.
YOU’RE PLANNING TO CYCLE THE PLANET IN 800 DAYS. TELL US MORE!
Oh yes! I really enjoy cycling and after reading biographies of people who have cycled around the world and seeing how enriching the experience was, it’s urged me to venture into the world too, so we’re planning to cycle around the world when Josh turns 12. We’ll take touring bikes and cycle through countries including South America, Asia, China, Vietnam, Australia and Africa.
If the Englishman Phileas Fogg went around the world in 80 days, I’m sure we could manage it in 800 days on a couple of touring bikes, you never know we might even go tandem!
YOU CAN FOLLOW MORE OF TINA AND JOSHIE’S TRAVELS AT SINGLEMUMTRAVELS.COM
Jordan Grand Masjid, Muscat
Red Square - Moscow
Red Sqaure - Moscow