Have maternity leave, will backpack

[words and photograph © Christopher Herwig / The WideAngle]

Maternity leave should be a time for caring for your new bundle of joy, feeding him, changing his diapers and rocking him to sleep. But nowhere was it written that this could not also be a time for bit of adventure. So when our second child was born and my wife, Malin, had maternity leave for seven months, we sublet our New York apartment, took our three year old out of daycare and the four of us hit the vagabond road for a six-month, 11-country round-the-world trip.

The plan was that there was no real plan. We would buy our tickets as we figured it out and if it seemed like it wasn’t working out, we would take a break or just end it and fly home. Taking baby steps along the way, we tested the waters rather than diving in headfirst with two kids on our backs.  When our baby four weeks old, our first stop was a two-week trip around Sweden for a family wedding – a good safe and familiar test. Next we headed straight to a bungalow on a quiet beach in Thailand, with all the comforts of home including an international hospital nearby.

Over the next six months our 11 pieces of luggage slimmed down to a large backpack and a carry-on as we slowly explored the wonders of Vietnam, Cambodia, Burma and New Zealand – by train, boat, car, tuk-tuk, foot, bike, elephant and horse. We learned a great deal by trying to overcome some of the challenges that came with travelling with two young kids, some of which were scary, some frustrating but mostly fun. We learned what to pack, where to go next, how to get there, how to make a three year old happy, how to keep all of us – especially the baby – safe, while also have a bit of fun ourselves. And we proved that life does not have to change completely as soon as kids arrive.

 

Canadian photographer Christopher Herwig has worked from some of the most remote places on earth, from the Pamir mountains in Tajikistan to the rainforests of West Africa, and his work has been published in titles including CNN Traveler and Lonely Planet. He’s also been published in a number of books, and worked extensively for the United Nations.  A long-standing member of The WideAngle photographer’s network, Christopher is now based in New York.

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