I’m making my way around Tibet as we speak — but this time, I’m traveling without my husband Alberto and our two-year-old daughter. After spending the last three months traveling Southeast Asia with them, I’m sad to bid farewell, but it’s time to hit the road once again on my own.
This isn’t the first time I’m traveling without my husband or baby. In fact, since Kaleya was born two years ago, I’ve traveled both solo and with friends to Cape Verde, Ghana, Togo, Benin, the Faroe Islands, Latvia, Ethiopia, Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan. Some of them were work assignments, others were just for the fun of it.
On each and every one of these trips, a barrage of questions would ensue when I told someone that I was traveling without my husband. It often resulted in wide eyes, puzzled looks, and endless questions. It usually got worse when I threw in the fact that I had a baby back at home.
Many people can’t seem to fathom why anyone who’s married and have a baby would travel solo. Some can’t understand how I find the time since I have a family, others wonder how any mother can bear to be away from their babies at such a young age (I started traveling when she was four-months-old.).
These are some of the questions I face most often when someone finds out I travel without my husband and baby.
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Why Doesn’t Your Husband Travel with You?
My husband Alberto loves to travel too, and I’ve traveled a lot with him: we’ve been to 80 odd countries together and have shared some truly epic travel experiences together.
But he’s got a job at home in Spain and so his vacations days are limited to 23 a year. We still travel at least four or five times a year with Kaleya these days, but I’m not going to wait around for him. With the flexibility of my job and the perks I get for being a travel blogger, I’m used to traveling at least 10 or 15 times a year.
Mind you, traveling without Alberto doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with our relationship. In fact, I believe that time apart strengthens our marriage and makes us appreciate each other more. Distance really does make the heart grow fonder.
Besides, I believe that marriage shouldn’t dissolve your individuality or halt your passions. We are individuals and we ought to lead our own lives, even when we’re married or have kids.
Why Would Your Husband Let You Travel on Your Own?
I get really pissed off when I hear this sort of remark. And you’ll be surprised that I get it more common than you’d imagine. I’ve heard it most often in highly patriarchal countries, especially in Iran, where people seem to think that a wife always needs to be with her family.
Let’s be clear about one thing: I’m a grown up, I’m my own person and I make my own decisions. I don’t need anyone’s permission to travel, not my husband’s, nor my kid’s. I choose to travel because I want to and because it’s who I am.
Alberto knew this about me from day one and he’s always supported me in everything I do, whether it was pursuing travel blogging, or building a career in writing. He even left his job for two years so he could join me and travel the world full-time. But it turned out that he actually prefers having a home base and his stable job, that’s why we returned to Granada and settled down here.
Don’t You Miss Your Baby?
I’m not going to lie — it’s hard, very hard, to be away from my baby. There are times when I would ask myself what I’m doing and why I would be anywhere other than by her side. There are times when I get so guilt stricken and I can’t help but feel like the worst mother in the world. Sometimes my heart aches when I think of Kaleya and I miss her terribly.
Most mothers I know can’t bear to leave their babies even for a day, especially not when they’re less than five years old. I absolutely understand and it can be painful to be away from your own child.
So why would I still travel if it’s that tough to be without her?
Feeling guilt and missing my baby are some of the sacrifices I have to make as a traveling mother. Good things in life don’t come easy — and if you want a life that is fulfilling and rewarding, then it comes with its challenges.
Even before Kaleya came into our lives, I was globetrotting solo around the world to places like Antarctica, Bhutan, Brazil and Zimbabwe. So why does having a kid have to change that?! Traveling with a baby is fun and fulfilling and we do that a lot too (my 2-year-old daughter has already been to 15 countries on three continents) — but it isn’t quite the same as traveling solo.
Travel is my biggest passion in my life, in fact, travel IS my life. It’s my job, it’s my hobby, my everything. I cannot imagine a life without travel. Alberto understands this and while he may not like it when I’m away, he knows this is what I have to do.
Who Is Looking After Your Baby?
I’m very lucky to have such a great husband who’s an awesome father. Not everyone has partners who are this involved in raising their kids. I also have great in-laws who are understanding and who are always happy to help.
When I was traveling in West Africa, the reactions of people were bordering on bewilderment when I told them my husband was taking care of our baby at home. Men (and women alike) there couldn’t understand how any other men was capable of taking care of a baby.
Societal norms still dictate that mothers stay at home and take care of children. People don’t seem to understand that the roles can be reversed and that fathers are just as capable of caring for their babies as mothers.
In fact, when Kaleya was just born, Alberto took on the parenting role so naturally that he taught me how to be a parent. I really think fathers aren’t getting the credit they deserve.
Mums Can Travel Too!
Traveling without my husband and baby gives me the opportunity to learn more about myself and get acquainted with a different side to me. It make me feel strong, independent and confident. I’m reminded that I’m not just a mother and wife, but also a self-reliant and brave individual with plenty of goals in life.
Ultimately, I won’t be the same person if I gave up my passion for traveling. I’ve always traveled, even before I met Alberto and had Kaleya. Travel helps me get more in touch with myself than anything else. If I ever stop traveling, I would lose myself and my identity.
I love travel almost as much as I love my family, and I don’t see why I need to choose one over the other. I believe you can be a mother and wife, and still travel.
So stop waiting around for your kids to grow up or your husband to have time off work — just go and explore.
You’ll come back a better wife and mother, and most of all, a better person.