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...
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.
to see Santa...
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.
JourneyBabe hit the road...
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,
(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!
care of each other...
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".
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"
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.
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.
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.
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!
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,
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,
For tips on travelling with your own JourneyBabe, click here...