In my ex­pe­ri­ence Meet Betty, my two-yearold back­pack­ing baby!

Ar­gentina, Sin­ga­pore, Thai­land… Naomi Jac­ques re­veals why her lit­tle girl has al­ready caught the travel bug

Woman (UK) - - Contents -

Those early years of your child’s life are some of the most mem­o­rable – and I know that bet­ter than most. Be­cause when my daugh­ter was just 19 months old, we boarded a flight to the other side of the world, ready for an ad­ven­ture. From swim­ming in the sea in Costa Rica to horse rid­ing in China, they are mo­ments I’ll never for­get. and now, af­ter 20 coun­tries, she’s still got so much of the world left to see…

I didn’t travel much when I was younger, apart from the odd fam­ily hol­i­day. So, aged 18, I saved up some of my stu­dent loan and went In­ter­rail­ing around Europe. I ate crois­sants in Paris and vis­ited the Colos­seum in Rome, it was in­cred­i­ble. And when I got home I started plan­ning my next trip.

Ev­ery sum­mer hol­i­day I’d grab my back­pack and jet off some­where new – with a tight bud­get, I stayed in hos­tels to keep costs down. And af­ter grad­u­a­tion I took a gap year to travel even more. It was in May 2005, while on a bus in Chile, that I met Steve. Funny and en­thu­si­as­tic about the world around him, I was drawn to him straight away.

Sav­ing hard

Af­ter re­turn­ing to the UK four months later, I got a job with the lo­cal coun­cil, while Steve be­came a po­lice­man. Rather than meals out or week­ends away, we’d save up for an­other get­away. And, us­ing all our hol­i­day al­lowance at once meant we could take long trips – from Mex­ico to Sri Lanka. And, af­ter get­ting mar­ried in Novem­ber 2012, we hon­ey­mooned in South East Asia.

We’d been to­gether for eight years – and been on count­less trips to­gether – when, in Jan­uary 2013, I dis­cov­ered I was preg­nant. While we couldn’t wait to be­come par­ents, Steve and I as­sumed our days of hik­ing up moun­tains and sleep­ing un­der the stars had ended. Af­ter all, 10-hour flights and noisy cities aren’t ex­actly baby friendly.

Our daugh­ter, Betty, was born in Septem­ber 2013. But a year later, with the end of my ma­ter­nity leave loom­ing, the idea of go­ing back to work – and leav­ing my baby in the hands of some­one else – filled me with dread.

It was then that I thought back to my ad­ven­tures trav­el­ling across the world. I couldn’t help but won­der how amaz­ing it would be to take Betty to all those far-off places too. With enough plan­ning and prepa­ra­tion, maybe we could do it?

When I told Steve, he thought it sounded like a great idea, but not ev­ery­one shared our en­thu­si­asm. Our

‘OUR FRIENDS ALL THOUGHT WE WERE MAD’

friends all thought we were mad and our par­ents were wor­ried. Betty would do so much grow­ing in the time we were away – they didn’t want to miss out. But we felt cer­tain that the pos­i­tives of trav­el­ling the world – meet­ing new peo­ple, and be­ing im­mersed in other cul­tures – would far out­weigh the neg­a­tives.

Months of plan­ning

Steve and I worked out how much our trip would cost, so we sold the car, put our house in St Al­bans up for rent and planned an itin­er­ary. We were go­ing to stay in fam­ily friendly guests houses, and we de­cided not to go any­where too re­mote. I knew things like nap­pies and baby wipes were avail­able no mat­ter what coun­try we vis­ited. Apart from a few toys and clothes, all we’d need for Betty was a baby car­rier.

And af­ter months of plan­ning, in June 2015, when Betty was 19 months old, I quit my job, Steve took a sab­bat­i­cal from the po­lice force, and we boarded our first flight to Canada. As we waited for the plane to take off, all I felt was ex­cite­ment. I couldn’t wait for our ad­ven­ture to be­gin…

Back home…

af­ter 15 months away, Steve and I were thrilled to dis­cover I was preg­nant again. we re­turned to the UK to have nancy, who was born in Fe­bru­ary 2017. now we’re en­joy­ing fam­ily life in Liver­pool, but we’re al­ready plan­ning our next trip away – this time to Ice­land. I hope that trav­el­ling will teach my girls to be so­cia­ble and open-minded. Trav­el­ling with a tod­dler was a chal­lenge – but I loved ev­ery sec­ond of it. ✱ For more in­for­ma­tion visit wherenextdaddy.com or facebook.com/ wherenextdaddy/

USA, July 2015 Betty’s first camp­ing trip was in Yosemite na­tional Park. she loved snooz­ing in her sleep­ing bag. we had to be care­ful of bears though – they can sniff out crumbs from miles away.

Ar­gentina, Nov 2015 steve tried to teach Betty to skim stones at this lake in ar­gentina. she didn’t quite mas­ter it, but she loved splashing around on the wa­ter’s edge.

Philip­pines, Jan 2016 Betty loved sam­pling lo­cal food and drink. even now, her favourite food is curry and rice.

Laos, April 2016 in laos, i was thrilled to find this la­goon to cool off in. Betty be­came a con­fi­dent lit­tle swim­mer while we were away. Thai­land, March 2016 we trav­elled around thai­land on a mo­tor­bike – it turned out to be Betty’s favourite place for a nap. de­spite the lan­guage bar­rier, she made lots of friends here. In­done­sia, July 2016 at this tem­ple in in­done­sia, the lo­cals were fas­ci­nated by Betty’s blonde curls, and loved tak­ing pic­tures with her. she was more than happy smil­ing for the cam­era!

China, Au­gust 2016 we tried to teach Betty a few words of the lo­cal lan­guage wher­ever we went. she learnt ‘hello’ and ‘thank you’ in Can­tonese – and still sur­prises us with it ev­ery now and then at home!

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