“Get out there and go!”
by Alyssa Delle Palme
An Ottawa mother, pregnant with her second child, hopes to make the most of her upcoming maternity leave with another trip around the world. It will include a baby on her back and a toddler in tow. Adrienne Labrosse, 34, and her partner Shad Passmore, 38, are quite experienced when it comes to traveling the globe with an infant. When their daughter Willow was just eight months old, the couple set off on a backpacking trip through Europe and Africa. Today, they dream of traveling to New Zealand after baby number two arrives.
“I realize New Zealand is a very long flight,” says Adrienne, “but, I think we can manage it.”
The couple were determined to travel during their first year as parents because they didn’t want to make excuses about it being too difficult to go places with a child.
“If we just packed up and went, we would know it was doable,” says Adrienne.
Over a two-and-a-half-month period, the family took in five countries including Greece, Spain, France, Turkey and Morocco. Despite being organized in the arrangement of their trip, packing was a challenge.
“We packed that morning in full panic,” says Adrienne. “This is how Shad and I pack every time we go on a trip and it’s so stressful and terrible and I don’t know why we don’t plan better, but we never do.”
For their journey, the first-time parents loaded two suitcases, one backpack, a diaper bag, a camera bag and a car seat. The family decided to continue cloth diapering while they were away.
During their adventure around the world, the trio traveled by plane, train, bus, car and boat. Adrienne says other passengers embraced Willow and encouraged them during their long treks.
“We boarded our first plane and the woman sitting in the row behind me tapped me on the shoulder and said if I needed a break from the baby during the flight, I could just pass her back. It was so wonderful. People were like this the entire trip. On the bus in Istanbul, teenaged boys spent the entire drive trying to make her laugh.”
Adrienne breastfed Willow throughout the trip and says everyone was very accepting of it.
“I had such a great experience. No one ever made me feel awkward or shamed or anything, except like a good mother.”
Adrienne has a difficult time choosing a favourite experience during her time abroad. “ There were epic times like when we climbed a mountain in Naxos or special moments like when Willow swam in the ocean for the first time or had her daily afternoon nap on the beach under the shade of an umbrella.”
Adrienne says she also has memories that stick out in her mind even though they were tiny moments in very busy days.
“Like meeting a woman wearing a burka, who had asked if she could hold Willow, and watching as she pulled her veil down so Willow could see her face and smile. I watched Willow smile so big right back at her. I cherish all of these memories deeply.”
The one experience Adrienne would probably like to forget is when Willow got sick. “When we arrived in Turkey, she had hives all over her body. She didn’t seem bothered by them, but they were scary looking. We called our doctor back in Ottawa and we were told it was probably hives caused by a virus and that if it didn’t go away in a few days, we’d have to try and find a doctor. Luckily the hives went away, but it was a few days of worry for sure.” Money can be tight for some while on maternity leave, but Adrienne says by nature you end up spending less when traveling with children because you aren’t spending a lot in fancy restaurants.
“By staying in apartments, we could buy our own groceries and cook for ourselves, which saved us a lot because we weren’t eating out for every meal. Many of the things we would do daily would be free too, like going to the park with a picnic or going on a hike.”
Adrienne says many cities also offer activities for children that are free or very low cost.
The experienced international adventurer says her must-haves for traveling with an infant are a portable crib and baby carrier.
“Babywearing worked very well for us. It meant in a pinch we could still visit a site or get something done while Willow logged some sleep.”
Her last piece of advice: There is no reason having a child should hold you back from your dreams of traveling.
“Traveling with a child is different than traveling solo, but it’s wonderful. Just go with the flow. Plans need to change sometimes, but it’s okay because something else will happen that will be equally as fun, just different. Get out there and go!” ◆