While most new mums would argue just leaving the house can be an adventure with a new baby, one globetrotting couple have revealed how they’ve used two periods of maternity leave to travel the world with their kids.
Nurse Karen Edward, originally from Ireland, and husband Shaun, from New Zealand, first set out to Asia, Australia and New Zealand when eldest child Esme, now three, was just ten-weeks-old.
And when Karen, 33, gave birth to her youngest child, seven-month-old Quinn, last year, the family decided to up sticks again and use the allocated leave to visit Canada, the US and Central and South America.
So far, Karen and Shaun, a landscaper, have racked up stamps galore in Esme’s passport – and Quinn, currently in Peru, isn’t far behind.
The seven-month-old can say he’s been in England, Mallorca, Canada, America, Belize, Guatemala, Jamaica, Bahamas, Cayman Islands, Mexico, Nicaragua, Ecuador, Peru, El Salvador, Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica.
Four go to Peru! Karen Edward, 33, and husband Shaun, have used both periods of maternity leave with their two children, Esme, 3, and Quinn, 7 months, to see the world
Karen, who works as a nurse in London, decided to save up to fund the adventurous trips – and the family’s latest adventure began when Quinn was just nine weeks old (Pictured: Karen and Quinn at Lake Banff, Canada)
Bring on South America! The first maternity leave when little Esme was just ten-weeks-old saw the family head to Asia, New Zealand and Australia…but this time they’re focusing on the US, Central and South America (Pictured in Cartagena, Colombia)
That’s a lot of passport stamps! Esme negotiates a high-rise bridge on the family’s latest adventures. Right: The couple made a recent pit-stop to Walt Disney World in Florida
Currently based in Peru, the intrepid family are on their second time travelling the world – and say they’re enjoying every minute of their newest adventure.
While some of their trip is funded by travel companies willing to pay for them to stay in return for promotion on the couple’s social media accounts, they’ve also had to rely on savings.
Says Karen: ‘It’s costing us a lot despite getting sponsorships. Transport from place to place, South America is expensive to get around and we started off in Canada and the US so the cost of living is expensive. I would say so far [we’ve spent] £15,000 with sponsorships.’
Baby Quinn was just nine-weeks-old when they set off from their home in London and older daughter Esmé was three-years-old.
The cultured family come from different corners of the globe – with Karen from Ireland, Dave from New Zealand and the children born in England.
Karen and Shaun, 32, had previously set off around with globe when Esme was just 10 weeks old and took the chance to set off on another family adventure after Quinn was born.
Despite the sometimes hectic nature of travelling, Karen thinks that this lifestyle is easier.
She said: ‘If I was at home in London, it’s harder to keep the kids entertained all day; I think this lifestyle is actually easier.
Ticking off Ecuador: Karen, who took a second job to fund the family’s travels to South America, pictured in Banos, Ecuador
Beats working nights: Karen says she’s not looking forward to the prospect of going back to work but says juggling nappies and seeing the world is a great combination. Husband Shaun works as a builder and is in the lucky position of also being able to take time out of his job
Karen says despite being together 24-7 on their travels, the couple are kept busy by life on the road with two small children, with little time for date nights
‘People think I’m crazy but our kids are constantly entertained, Quinn is so quiet – I know he won’t remember it, but I think he’s taking it in in his own way.
‘Esmé loves it, she really enjoys going to new places – she’s always asking “where are we going now?” she tries to say the names of the countries and she’s obsessed with maps.
‘Maternity money has given us that extra edge and because I’m the higher earner of both of us, it means we can go. It’s a huge factor for us. Most husbands have to go back to work within two weeks.
Working as a landscaper means Shaun has flexibility to take bigger chunks of time away from his job.
A lot of the trips we centre around Esme, lots of museums, outdoor space and kids play areas. A big thing is being able to socialise her with other kids – we try to meet up with other families who travel…
The family have now been to: Canada, USA, Belize, Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, Panama, Columbia, Ecuador and the Caribbean.
Nurse Karen reckons that the family won’t ever stop their travels completely – even if they aren’t doing it full time.
‘This time we’ve been to Canada, trekking the Americas and now we’re currently in Peru.
‘I don’t see us ever stopping travelling – the kids are so young; I’m holding back on some of the places we want them to remember vividly. Even at home we travel about once a month.
‘One of the places I want to take them is the Antarctic, but I’ll wait until they’re at least 9 or 10.
Karen says that one of the best things about travelling whilst on maternity leave is the time she gets to spend with her children.
‘The best thing is being with the kids all the time –it’s a year with my baby, not having to worry about going back to work.
‘The three year old tantrums are not fun – but it’d happen anywhere, and there’s the issues of limited clothes supply and managing tiredness.
‘A lot of the trips we centre around her, lots of museums, outdoor space and kids play areas. A big thing is being able to socialise her with other kids – we try to meet up with other families who travel.
Despite the amount of time she and Shaun spend together, Karen says that dates still seem to fall by the wayside.
‘Every time we go to date night something comes up, so as much as we see each other all the time – we don’t get to talk much. I think the chances of a third child are slim to none.
The family, currently in Peru, say they’ll be sad when their latest adventure is over. Karen says she thinks the experience has been a hugely valuable bonding experience, even if the children won’t remember their earliest jaunts around the world
‘I’m not really looking forward to going back to working nights, seeing kids less and missing them – although it makes financial sense for me to go back to work.
On their first world travels, Karen started the blog to help her deal with being a first-time mum and to capture the incredible memories they were creating.
‘I think because we’d travelled so extensively before, it was an easier decision to make than it might have been otherwise.
‘While we were travelling first time around, I started the blog to try and stimulate my brain over nappies. The blog has grown into such a huge success since – it’s been great.
‘I don’t think my kids are the youngest travellers out there, but I think Quinn has to be the most intrepid baby.’