Mom travels the world instead of staying home for year of maternity leave

November 17, 2017 7:11 am Last Updated: November 18, 2017 1:41 pm

Karen Edwards loves to travel. In the eight years since finishing university, she has visited over 60 countries. When her husband Shaun Bayes arrived on the scene, the traveling continued; the two sharing many an adventure together. But then she became pregnant.

“I instantly thought ‘that’s it, travel days are over,’” Edwards wrote on her blog.

But, when baby Esme arrived, Edwards realized that, actually, now might be the perfect time to travel.

Rather than face being stuck at home with a baby while on her year’s maternity leave, Edwards and Bayes packed their bags and left London for Bayes’ home country of New Zealand when Esme was only 10 weeks old.

“It’s easier to be away and have quality family time together than it is to be home cooking and cleaning and maintaining a household,” Edwards told ABC News.

After a few months in New Zealand, they headed off for seven weeks back-packing through Southeast Asia enjoying each other’s company and the hospitality of the locals.

Esme is now 3 years old and has visited nearly 30 countries in her short life, traveling somewhere new when mom and dad have breaks from work.

Now Edwards is on maternity leave again with baby Quinn, and they’re off on another adventure.

This is one of the cute villages around late Atitlan… Those little tuk tuks rip around the streets, up hills and along dirt tracks. It’s pretty impressive.. The streets are lined with little stalls, all of them have oodles of colourful textiles. Not to mention the cute cafes and many tortilla stalls. Latin America eat your heart out!!.. it was such a pleasure to collaborate with @hoteltoliman whilst we were there. They give SO much back to the community. Like so many things. They have a house for women fleeing domestic violence and they allow kids with physical disabilities to have their weekly therapy in the pool. The lady that owns it is the most intriguing Guatemalan women. She has done so much voluntary work in her life .. I can’t wait to do the write-up.. 💜✈️🌎 would you visit Lake Atitlan?

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This time, when Quinn was just 9 weeks old, the family headed off to Central and South America via Spain, Canada, and the United States.

Now at 5 months old, Quinn has already been to seven different countries.

Just like the family’s passports, Edwards’ Instagram account documents exotic countries including Belize, Guatemala, and El Salvador.

Edwards documents the family’s adventures through her blog, sharing colorful family photos and travel tips.

How do they manage to fund the travel? Edwards is a hospital nurse manager and gets nine months paid maternity leave. Bayes works in construction and has a flexible schedule. The other three months of traveling are funded by the rental of the couple’s London home.

Using all the traveling know-how the 33-year-old has accumulated over the years, they are able to make their money stretch a long way.

We are kinda loving this #vanlife 💜✈️🌎🚍#jucyusa hosted

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Their travels are beautiful and adventurous, but the best part about their first maternity leave adventure was seeing Esme grow, Edwards says.

“The most enjoyable bit was just having unlimited time for Esmé and seeing her developing without having many distractions,” she said.

“We didn’t have a house to maintain and we didn’t have errands to run so it was just her and us two parents being parents.”

They hope this trip will give them a similar experience with Quinn.

Edwards has inspired other moms to travel

The family has faced critics for exposing their children to foreign countries, but being a nurse, Edwards knows what she’s doing. Aside from the few naysayers, she gets positive messages.

“Most of the [reaction] is positive and heartwarming, that we’ve inspired them to do something similar,” Edwards told ABC News.

“I had an email from a lady a few months back. She sent me a picture of herself holding her little girl up in the air in Sydney,” she shared with Today.

“It reduced me to tears.”

She said, ‘Thank you for inspiring me. I didn’t think it was possible to travel with a baby. I wanted to come to Australia to see my sister, and all my friends and family thought I was crazy.’ She told me when she saw my blog, she just booked it. That was so heartwarming,” said Edwards.

“I still can’t believe sometimes that I went through with it, but I am so glad, as we have inspired so many people with our story.”