Lonely Planet Writer

Meet backpacking baby Esmé and her travel-mad mum!

Most women spend their maternity leave enduring sleepless nights, but one travel-mad mother had a totally different plan.

Karen and Esmé in Ubud, Bali.
Karen and Esmé in Ubud, Bali. Image by Travel Mad Mum Instagram

When Karen Edwards was pregnant she admits she worried that her travelling days were over. In just seven years she visited more than 50 countries and was determined not to end her streak. She welcomed baby Esmé in September 2014 and ten short weeks later, Karen and her husband Shaun stuffed their belongings into one backpack, rented out their London home and hopped on a plane to explore South East Asia and New Zealand.

“I think parents shouldn’t be afraid to travel,” Karen told Lonely Planet. “Often it’s the getting there which is the issue but once you are there it’s great!”

Karen, Shaun and Esmé get ready to go to Bangkok.
Karen, Shaun and Esmé get ready to go to Bangkok. Image by Travel Mad Mum Instagram

To inspire other travellers, Irish-born nurse Karen set up Travel Mad Mum blog and Instagram to show the world how travelling with a young child is achievable with some careful planning and support. Esmé is a particularly well-travelled toddler, having visited ten different countries already.

Just this week the family landed in Bangkok for another adventure through Thailand, Cambodia and New Zealand. Despite her maternity leave being over, Karen has no desire to put an end to her global travels. “My own life goal is to travel to every country in the world so she will just have to come with me. If she didn’t enjoy it I wouldn’t do it but she seems to love the changing environment.”

Karen and Esmé on the way to Vietnam.
Karen and Esmé on the way to Vietnam. Image by Travel Mad Mum Instagram

Naturally, travelling does come with its own unique challenges. The family like to travel light with just one backpack between them, so Karen and Shaun realised on their first backpacking trip that although Esmé had more outfits than both of them combined, they didn’t have enough toys to keep her entertained. Travelling with a baby also brings them lots of attention, particularly in Bali, where the parents were constantly getting offers to walk and rock the baby to sleep from friendly locals.

“I feel it’s great way to develop your child socially and intellectually whether they remember it or not. Esmé is so sociable and is used to meeting people with different cultural practices and traditions,” Karen explained. You can follow the family’s backpacking adventures on Facebook and Instagram.

Esmé poses with all the family's travel belongings.
Esmé poses with all the family’s travel belongings. Image by Travel Mad Mum Instagram

Inspired? Check out:

Tips to keep your family healthy on the road

Holidays you thought you couldn’t take with kids

How to pack for travel with kids

Do you have a travel adventure to share with us? Let us know at travelnews@lonelyplanet.com