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
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.
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…
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!