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My JourneyBabe -- My Pal
travelling with my young daughter...

Annette Holden is an Australian Journeywoman who has always enjoyed travelling solo or with her husband, Mark. This year, when Mark wasn't available, her three year old daughter, Erin was. Together, Mama and JourneyChild visited the penguins in Edinburgh Zoo and stopped in at Santa's Workshop in Finland. Annette writes...

Most people I know think that I'm crazy.

"Are you mad?" It was not quite the response I was hoping for from Australian friends and relatives but their reaction was not entirely unexpected. I had announced that I intended to take my three-year-old daughter, Erin, backpacking on our own to the other side of the world.

She wanted to see Santa...

Santa's VillageMy husband, Mark and I are inveterate travellers, together and alone. Each trip has been "the last one" but each time we've succumbed. As Journeywomen know, itchy feet must be obeyed and it seems the travel bug also took hold of Erin. While I yearned but saw logistical difficulties, she said out of the blue one day that she'd really like "to go in a big plane again."

The timing was right for us girls, but not for Mark who couldn't leave work. After the death of a friend and with middle age looming, it was time for me to fulfil some dreams. Erin had her own dreams -- to return to Finland to see Santa, and to visit the penguins at Edinburgh Zoo.

Mom and JourneyBabe hit the road...

suitcases I pored over maps, timetables, fares and travel guides, wrote letters and agonised over destinations. Soon what had seemed impossible became likely, and Mark's hesitation about the mother-daughter adventure was assuaged as the travel bug took hold.

Our destinations: Scotland (from where my great-grandparents had emigrated), northern England to introduce Erin to friends, and to Finland and Estonia, long-favoured destinations.

Backpacks side-by-side (the old trusty Jansport and Thomas the Tank Engine), sleeping sheets, pack towels, Swiss Army pocket knife, Vegemite, passports and tickets -- we were ready -- as prepared as we could be!

We take care of each other...

heartsSeven weeks later and home, the time having flown, my answer to the sceptics is that we can't wait to go again. Erin says she is saving her own pocket money to go back. It was a brilliant time. And no... I'm not crazy.

We are the best of friends, as well as mother and young daughter. Without missing out on childhood experiences, Erin displayed maturity and understanding that amazed me. I heartily recommend the experience to anyone who feels their child will manage, obey them (particularly when safety and other people's comfort are at stake), and thrive in unfamiliar surroundings.

Being able to trust each other was very important. I knew that Erin wouldn't wander off nor become a traffic hazard. Daily I reminded her why it was important that I be able to trust her and she never let me down. To quote her, "we took care of each other".

The service was a great help...

Of course, I had to lower my standards and take taxis occasionally, particularly when we had luggage. Managing our belongings was probably the biggest obstacle on the trip. Our traveler's pegless clothes line (invaluable for doing landry at the hotel) also proved to be the most efficient way of tying all "our stuff" together.

HERmail.netA light umbrella stroller was invaluable. Although it was a pain on cobblestone streets, tram lines, run down pavements, in crowds and similar, it enabled enormous distances to be covered. It was particularly handy in major airports where gate lounges were miles apart and speed was necessary. Although Erin preferred to walk, she enjoyed rests in it, and to sleep during the day.

It's not true to say that we did it on our own. A fellow Journeywoman from the HERmail service helped us enormously. Having corresponded via the net just once, she was at the airport for our arrival and went out of her way to help us feel welcome and find our jetlagged feet.


kidA three year old's enthusiasm...

However, most of the time Erin and I muddled through together. When things went wrong, as they do when travelling, Erin's three year old sense of adventure and enthusiasm infected everyone around.

I was privileged to see the world through her fresh eyes and to share the bond that travelling parents form all over the world. A young child opens possibilities; strangers seem more willing to talk, and to share a little of their experiences.

Child-friendly Edinburgh...

It's not easy travelling solo with a young child but humour can ease many a situation.

We had so many experiences that it is impossible to choose one highlight. Perhaps one that encapsulates the tone of our adventures was at the Changing of the Guard at Edinburgh Castle. We had both enjoyed
touring the Scotch Whisky Heritage Centre (which surprisingly is very child-friendly) and stepped into the Royal Mile coincidently as the "Changing" began. Erin was enthralled. I reached into my bag for my
camera and suddenly a large group of tourists started laughing. Erin was trying her hardest to make the guards laugh, pulling faces and dancing.

Na-Na...Na-Na...To their credit they remained stony-faced and still.

Erin confessed later that she was glad the guards 'had been good' because otherwise the Queen might have ordered "off with their head" (as in her Alice in Wonderland storybook).

You ask --Would I do this type of mother and daughter adventure again?" My answer? --You bet! Long may our feet remain itchy -- Mom's, Dad's and, of course, JourneyBabe's!

Ed. note...

This is a copy of a note that I received from Annette Holden when her story "My JourneyBabe--My Pal" was posted. I thought it was lovely and wanted to share it with everybody. I belive that three year old Erin is possibly our youngest member of the Journeywoman Network. Her mom, Annette writes...

Thanks very much, Evelyn. I was thrilled to see our story posted at the JW site. Erin and I loved the graphics - especially 'Na na na na na', and the 'Erin' suitcase. I'll save a hard copy of it for Erin to keep. She's still saving for another trip... has her mind set on Egypt and Paris. Strange combination, I know, but she wants to see the Sphinx, pyramids, Nile, mummies, and Madeline.
Regards Annette

For tips on travelling with your own JourneyBabe, click here...




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