I find it easiest to explain really special moments in my life in relation to travel. A lot of times those favourite events have been actual travel experiences; the moment the sun finally broke through the clouds after we’d trekked the Inca Trail and made it to Machu Picchu and those first few minutes where we realised the lakes in Jasper National Park in Canada really were that beautiful rather than an Insta filter.
A lot of those momentous occasions have also been a bit of both, like the amazing day we had in Barcelona exploring Montjuïc, ending it by watching the sun set over the city. That scored pretty highly in my books, but it was blown out of the water when Jay unexpectedly proposed to me as we sat on those steps enjoying the view.
Travel and Babies: The Same, but Different
This time round there’s no particular tie to travel, but my love to wander and explore new places is the only way I can think to explain it.
My first major adventure was way back when I was 20. I went on a five-month round-the-world trip. I was the cliché backpacker, visiting the east coast of Australia, Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and a few more places.
I had all of the gear and no idea how to use it. I devoured guide books and forums for tips on what to take (despite what seasoned travellers say cargo pants are in fact not essential), what not to (what a mistake it was to leave my straighteners at home), where to go and how to ‘do’ the trip. I had a huge backpack that weighed a tonne and nearly toppled me over every time I strapped it on.
I had no clue, much like with my first baby to be honest. I wasn’t one of those people who had always known they’d be a mama or that had spent lots of time with little babies. And just like my first adventure, I set out to learn as much as possible beforehand. I went to NCT classes, read every baby book going, downloaded a pregnancy app and spent a lot of my time trying to remember all of the tips and tricks on various blogs.
The countdown to my first big trip was also much like the countdown to my first baby. Every single day was ticked off. The waiting was agonising and every milestone – three months to go, two, one – was celebrated.
Now that travel features so heavily in my life, the time just seems to fly by. I usually always have at least one trip booked in the diary to look forward to and sometimes even more. I lose track of the days. I mentally make notes to research X, X and X and then before I know it I only have a few weeks to go.
This second pregnancy has been very similar. Admittedly by the end I did feel like I’d been pregnant forever and couldn’t remember what it felt like to be ‘normal’ Char, without the aching hips, waddle and breathlessness. Yet at the same time the nine months whizzed past. With a toddler to look after there was no time to indulge in reading up on what fruit my baby was compared to for each given week.
More than that though, just as you travel more and become more confident in your own abilities, likes and preferences as a traveller, the same can be said for parenting. Each trip I’ve been on has taught me something, even if it hasn’t been completely obvious at the time. I know what bits to pick out of guidebooks and which bits of expert advice to ignore, even if said museum is supposed to be the most fascinating one in the world.
I know what I like. I know how I prefer to travel. Sure, every now and then I’m surprised and they were right. After all, I’m still evolving and growing, my tastes change and you can’t know it all without having had the hands on experience for yourself.
This second pregnancy has been like that. Of course, I’ve been super excited but a strange sense of calm, a little bit of denial and a lot of contentment has carried me through it. From having Nova I have most of the equipment that I know works for me. I’ve given the stuff that all the books told me I’d need, but never used to various charity shops.
A little bit of me was worried that I wouldn’t remember how to change a nappy or how many layers to dress my baby in, but it all floods back. I did it the first time round and I had no clue, so things can only be better. It’s just like visiting a city for the second time round. From your first visit you know how the subway works and so the next time round even if it does seem scary at first you figure it all out again.
And I suppose I guess that where the similarities end. It’s rare for me to visit the same place twice – it’s a too many new adventures, not enough time kinda thing.
When it comes to babies though, I haven’t waited that long to do it all again. It’s just too amazing, rewarding, exciting and all those other clichés not to. There’s a 22-month age gap between my two mini-explorers. Travel is my passion, but this little 2.2 Taylor family is my true love.
Thanks, but No Thanks [Yes, I will keep travelling with a family]