Karen Edward was determined to make the most of her maternity leave.
Following the birth of her daughter, Esmé, Karen and her partner Shaun Bayes, packed up their home and went travelling the world – all with their 10-week-old baby in tow.
For ten solid months of maternity leave, the couple from London boarded a plane and flew across the world to explore Asia, Australia and New Zealand. Little Esmé grew as they all explored the world together.
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, a Nurse, admitted to the Daily Mail, that her family labelled them, ‘completely nuts’ when the couple first revealed their adventurous plans.
Since setting off on the around the world family adventure, the family have visited Ireland, Singapore, Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Taiwan and even Hong Kong. Karen breastfeeding baby Esmé all around the world as they travel far and wide.
Funding the trip which has cost approximately £10,000, has come in the from Karen’s maternity pay with the NHS and Shaune using his landscaping talents along the way to earn a little bit of extra cash. The majority of flights were booked months before they departed the UK, while the couple was earning a double income.
Since returning from the great adventure and spending a short time at home in London, the family, once again including Esmé (who is now 17-months-old) are jet setting off again next week to travel to Thailand, Cambodia and New Zealand.
In a recent interview with MailOnline, Karen said that the maternity leave travel was a great adventure.
“I was thinking about maternity leave and decided I’d like to take her [Esmé] 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. 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 does also admit that travelling with a baby is sometimes hard – especially when the family is sleeping in one room together or when there are lots of people around them when Esmé is having a tantrum.
Karen has also set up a blog about her travels called Travel Mad Mum and also posts photos on her Instagram account.
“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.”