Have baby, will travel

Travelling with a child can be exciting and rewarding

Before baby, I was a traveller at heart. There’s a common misconception that once you have a baby, your life as you know it changes. There is some element of truth to that, certainly. But the person I was prior to baby still exists. I’d like to think that those almost 42 weeks of pregnancy, followed by a sudden and beautiful moment of birthing, added to and accentuated the person that is me, but not completely changed it or caused it to disappear. I believe that the person I was prior to baby has become more, not less. And as a result, my love for travel, my wanderlust and passion for adventure, still exists. But now, I want to share it with my small one.

The call to travel

The gypsy wanderer in me brought me years ago to call St. John’s my home. I had travelled solo a fair bit, sometimes joined by others, and found the ocean beckoning me in each and every place. And so with little fanfare and the basic goal of education and finding a home to call my own, I moved to Newfoundland and Labrador. Ten years later, I am still certain my decision was the right one, knowing that the space and place that I occupy are spaces and places that also occupy me. The land, the air, the culture, the history – they all have a life and essence of their own here. It is the space that I want to raise my child in, but I also want him to have the opportunity to find his own space and place that speaks to his heart someday.

Some walk, some fly, some crawl. Photo by Leisha Sagan.
Some walk, some fly, some crawl. Photo by Leisha Sagan.

The idea that I wouldn’t be able to travel with babe is one that we have put to sleep time and time again. Over the past year, small one and I have spent time exploring both the home of my heart as well as other places in Canada, as we visited and introduced him to his mainland family. Most recently, his father and I introduced him to Montreal, and as with our other travel adventures this past year we didn’t find it at all difficult. We have the most delightful, curious-minded baby indeed. He is as happy to be snuggled in the carrier, peering out quietly as we walk the streets of Montreal as he is to be exploring our small rented apartment or a park amidst the city streets. I wonder that he’s not terribly disconcerted when he wakes up in a new and strange place – a sushi restaurant, a city park, or the former public baths of the Plateau neighbourhood. But no, rather than being upset or confused at these strange sites, his eyes consistently light up as he takes in the new surroundings. He crawls about a pub floor, he eats avocado from our chopsticks, and yes, finally he howls in pain from some much-too-spicy Thai basil tofu.

But Montreal he is delighted to explore. Our curious boy crawls about our apartment, pulling books off shelves to open them up, peering around corners, and generally making trouble. On the bus he makes faces at the passengers, chatting them up and listening to their beautiful French language. I am hopeful that he will grow up to love travel, as I did as a child and still do as an adult, delighting in experiencing new things and new places. I don’t want this childhood curiosity ever to end for him, as there is so much in his world – both now and in his adult life – to discover.

From worries to wonders

Travelling with a baby, as worried as I was at times, is a wonderful and amazing experience, every day full of new adventures for all of us. The dynamics of travelling with a baby have not been difficult. Rather, having him simply adds to the adventure. Ours is what some might call a “granola-hippie” family. We grow much of our food, I knit most of our winter woolies, we bed-share and we baby-wear. But here on our travels, these things have simply added to the ease of our travels. We don’t have to worry about a crib, as babe sleeps with us. We don’t have to worry about where or when he will nap, as he’s so content and comforted to be against us – on our bodies, worn in a carrier inside my coat or with his dad – that he sleeps the day away only to wake in the most amazing places. Thus, we’re able to take the metro or the bus, or spend the day wandering the streets of Montreal with our little person, spending our time walking and talking, and showing him the amazing sights when he chooses to wake and grace us with his presence.

Similarly, as we’re still breastfeeding, our choice of food is made all the more easy. Babe often eats what we eat, and is eager to try new foods (hence the spicy basil tofu incident), making trips to a restaurant all the more easy. And when we’re not near a restaurant, but rather on the bus, in a park, or in a museum, he’s happy to reach inside my shirt and have a few gulps of milk, for both nutrition and comfort. I am his foodsource. And the sharing of this adventure with my little person, as he reaches up to touch my face while he breastfeeds, is made so much more wonderful.

Yes, instead of worrying about how babe will travel, we are enjoying doing things with him and seeing things through his eyes, thinking about the world and the history of the neighbourhoods we’re wandering, and imagining the world that our babe will come to know and grow up in. It’s this gift that I want to give him, this endless curiosity for knowledge and adventure. It’s one that I hope he’ll grow and nourish, and someday use to embrace a place he calls his own.

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