Most people wouldn’t even consider packing up their home and travelling the world, let alone do so with an 10-week-old baby – which is exactly what Karen Edwards, 31, and partner Shaun Bayes, from London, did following the birth of daughter, Esmé.
Boarding a plane when the tot was not yet three months old, the family flew across the world to explore Asia, Australia and New Zealand, for 10 months during their time off from work.
The family flew across the world to explore Asia, Australia and New Zealand, during their time off from work
Packing one backpack between them Karen Edwards, partner Shaun Bayes and little Esmé boarded a plane
Esmé and Karen take a look at the view from the steepest cable car in the world on Langkawi island, Malaysia
Pictured together in Ubud, Bali, the family managed to travel to the island despite Mount Rinjani erupting
Packing just one backpack between them, the family boxed away their belongings, sold their car and put their house in London up for rent – and Shaun left his job as a landscaper.
Karen, who is a nurse and grew up in Ireland, said her family thought she ‘was completely nuts’ when she revealed her plans.
She said she stored the family’s liquids and lotions in empty baby food pouches to make extra room in the backpack.
Since they first set off, the family have visited Ireland, Singapore, Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Taiwan, and even Hong Kong – with Karen breastfeeding Esme – who was given travel vaccinations before they left the UK and in New Zealand.
Karen said they were able to fund the trip – which she estimates costed about £10,000 – thanks to her maternity pay with the NHS, and Shaun doing landscaping work in New Zealand to ‘earn a bit of extra cash’.
The tot, who has already travelled to Ireland, Singapore, Australia, Malaysia, Indonesia, New Zealand, Vietnam, Taiwan and Hong Kong, pictured with her first ever passport when she was just a few weeks old
Esmé smiles as she sits in Hoi An – a city on Vietnam’s central coast known for its well-preserved town
The family pose for a picture in Rotoura, New Zealand – which has geysers and thermal mud pools fuelled by the area’s geothermal activity
Karen says the most challenging bit so far is entertaining Esmé, who is now 17-months-old, back in the UK
Pictured boarding a plane at Brisbane Airport, Karen said she has no regrets taking her daughter travelling
Karen also said that they booked most of the flights months before departing the UK, while both parents were earning a full wage. Karen added that the cost of the trip was made more palatable by the fact that she uses air miles and was giving a BA companion pass, which saved them £2,000.
After returning and spending a short time at home in London, which Karen says has been the most challenging bit so far as they’re having to find ways to entertain Esmé, who is now 17-months-old, they’re set to jet off again next week to travel Thailand, Cambodia and New Zealand.
Speaking to MailOnline, Karen, who first took Esme travelling in November 2014 and returned in September the following year, said: ‘I was thinking about maternity leave and decided I’d like to take her travelling.
‘Both Shaun and I were keen backpackers before I fell pregnant and everyone thought we were completely nuts when we said that we were going to take Esmé when she arrived.
‘She was really well behaved and because she was small it was easy enough to keep her in the harness when we were on the move.
‘We have no regrets, she got to experience new sights, scenes and smells as she grew and that is incredible.
‘The only time I felt Esmé was missing out was not having much socialising with other children.
Underwater family selfie: Karen has learnt things from her daughter, including how to be fearless and go under the water, something she was afraid to do before
The family took a water taxi to get around and see the beautiful snorkelling sights in Nusa Lembongan
Karen, Shaun and baby Esmé take a selfie in the sea during a visit to Langkawi in Malaysia
Shaun holds up his daughter aged 11 weeks in Singapore on the roof top of Marina bay sands (left) and the duo pose with Karen (right) aboard the longest cable car ride in the world in Hong Kong
Esme sits wearing her tiny rice hat during a heat wave while visiting Vietnam on her travels
When in Brisbane, Australia, the family got to hang out with the kangaroos (right) and emus (left)
‘However the libraries always have free rhyme classes if you need to socialise your child a little.
‘The weirdest part of the trip was actually coming home. Esmé hasn’t lived somewhere for a long period of time because we were always moving around hotels and rooms.
‘It’s also harder to find her things to do in London – well, compared to travelling anyway.
‘People say having a child ruins travelling, but it really doesn’t. Obviously there were times, like at night in the hotel room when you fancy a beer and the baby is asleep, and when you crack it open she wakes, that makes it harder. But it’s worth it.
‘You can still do everything, including snorkelling and diving, but you just take it in turns. I can’t imagine having spent my maternity leave any other way.’
Karen said her family thought she ‘was completely nuts’ when she revealed her plans to travel
Esmé sits with a napkin on her head in the crystal-clear water at Mushroom Bay in Nusa Lembongan
The travel-mad trio went 45 minutes by fast boat to the south east of Bali, which is renowned for its diving, snorkelling and surfing
Not a bad place to have your first ever bike ride! The mother and daughter duo pictured exploring Hoi-an
The family take a selfie at the big Buddha in Hong Kong during their travels which saw them visit Asia, Australia and New Zealand
Speaking of her trip with Shaun and little Esmé, Karen said: ‘I can’t imagine having spent my maternity leave any other way’. Pictured, the family en route to Ireland for Christmas
Karen does also admit that travelling with a baby is sometimes hard. The main issues include the family all being in one room together when Esme needs to sleep – as well as having lots of people around them while travelling, and while their daughter is having a tantrum.
Karen also said that not having enough toys around can be a problem, and not being able to enjoy dinner – hurrying in a bid to ‘prevent cranky time’.
Karen has also set up a blog about her travels called Travel Mad Mum and also posts photos on her Instagram account. Writing on her blog she said: ‘As relatively new parents, we have already been on many travel expeditions with our baby: several road trips, long ferry journeys, long and short haul flights, stopovers, camping trips and much more planned for the coming months.
‘It is through these experiences, I want to share factual information, personal stories as well as top tips for travelling with little ones.
‘The overall aim is to inspire like-minded travel loving parents – “your travel days do not have to be over”. It is all about incorporating your little person into your way of life.’
KAREN’S TOP TIPS ON TRAVELLING AROUND THE WORLD WITH A BABY
Karen Edwards, 31, and partner Shaun Bayes and their daughter, Esmé, on the Gulf Harbour Ferry
1. Plan ahead – Check out the areas you’re planning to visit. Especially for things like malaria. We purposely visited countries that were low risk for that reason.
2. Pack less – Whatever you’re considering taking, cut it down. There are things that we took that we could have done without. Also bring clothing like harem pants and dresses, they’re comfortable and take up less space.
3. Bring a harness – You will definitely need some kind of baby-wearing contraption if you are planning on taking a young child abroad.
4. Take new small toys –Load up the iPad with apps for little ones on plane journeys.
5. Pack enough supplies – Bring lots of baby’s favourite snacks. There’s not a great selection in Asia in comparison to the UK. We ran out.
6. Don’t over do it with nappies – You can get them when you get there.
7. Try and breastfeed – I think breastfeeding is really important. It is not fully known if mum passes on immunity from travel vaccinations. However with all the other benefits you would think it does something.
8. Don’t miss out on experiences – You can take turns with things such as diving and snorkelling.
9. Never be scared – Let your baby try local foods to develop their pallet.