WANDERING THE WORLD WITH TWO LITTLE ONES IN TOW // adventures of a jet-setting family

For most of us, just getting two toddlers fed, dressed and out of the house is cause for celebration. So what must life be like when you’re a ‘Digital Nomad Family’, travelling the planet with two little ones in tow?

I discovered NAPPY NOMAD on Instagram a couple of years ago and was instantly captivated by this impossibly gorgeous couple who seemed to be effortlessly exploring the globe with their adorable one-year-old daughter. Then they announced baby two was on the way.

Surely now they’d be forced to put down roots… right? 

Wrong. In fact, they returned to their original home of Berlin, Germany, at seven months pregnant to have their second daughter, then hit the road again as a new family of four.

Today the family (which chooses remain anonymous to protect the children’s privacy) continues to travel the planet, documenting their picturesque nomadic lifestyle on Instagram, and also on their NAPPY NOMAD blog. The girls are now three and 20 months old, and have seen and done more things in that short time than most people manage in an entire lifetime.

I spoke to Nappy Nomad to find out more about their incredible globetrotting lifestyle, and how they coped travelling the world with babies.

What first gave you the idea to start travelling as a family?

‘We always used to travel a lot but we usually travelled during our holidays or in between jobs, and never for more than two months in a row. My husband had been self-employed for a few years, but I was one whose job meant we were stuck in one location.

When I got pregnant it was clear to us that we wanted to make the most of my maternity leave and spend some time abroad. Since we had no clue how life would be with a baby we didn’t make any long-term plans and booked apartments just a few days or a week in advance. Over time we figured out that we wanted to travel the world.

 

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How old was your daughter when you set off on your travels? 

‘Our first baby was seven weeks old when we left our home.’

What was the reaction of friends and family when you told them about your plans?

‘As we did not make any long-term plans ourselves, we never told our parents or friends we were going on a world trip with baby – we just said we were driving to southern France. Then we continued driving further until we got to Spain, and so on…

When we told our paediatrician back in Berlin that we were planning to drive to Spain with a newborn baby, he advised us, very seriously, to reconsider. When we arrived and visited a Spanish physician for a follow-up vaccination, he laughed: “What’s wrong with Spain?” he replied. “We have healthy kids who get more sun than the Germans!”‘

How did you prepare for your trip, and for travelling with an infant?

‘Firstly, we sublet our apartment with the possibility to cancel the contract with six week’s notice. We packed one bag for the whole family, which was absolutely sufficient (including a first-aid kit for the baby), and made a note of all the vaccinations and follow-up visits we needed. Once we arrived in France, our new destinations were researched and decided on the road.’

 

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How were you able to fund your trip along the way?

In Germany, we are entitled to maternity pay, but that only partially pays for expenses and especially not the higher expenses of travelling. My husband is self-employed, so this was our main income. We also had some savings (which we barely used). Since then, we have designed and launched our own baby carrier brand called ROOKIE BABY which also provides us with some income to continue our travels.

Did you have any doubts before you left?

‘Yes! We left home just as we had settled into a daily routine with our newborn. Destroying that new routine was kind of scary.’

Did you find anything easier than expected?

‘Yes, two things: it was way easier to travel with (one) baby than we thought it would be! Also, I thought that my husband and I would fight a lot since we were seeing each other 24/7 without an outside social life. Surprisingly, it turned out to be very harmonious.’

Did you find anything harder than expected?

‘Having two kids under two turned out to be MUCH more work – more exhausting and much more difficult to travel.

Have you had any awkward experiences?

‘One time a bartender was holding our eldest daughter and dancing with her when her nappy started to leak, soaking her shirt. Another time I was walking with our baby in the carrier in Italy when a man began openly flirting with me. Italians are known to be a bit macho and flirty, but it was very awkward – what was I supposed to say? Errr… I have a husband… and a baby (if you can’t see it) AND another kid?’

 

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How did people react to you travelling with such young children?

Most people were helpful, some were surprised. We didn’t meet anyone who was shocked – or if they were they didn’t tell us!

How long did you travel for?

For our first trip we just wanted to drive through Europe and head to the beach for a few weeks. When we realised it was actually quite easy to travel with a baby, we kept on going – through Thailand, Indonesia, Australia, New Zealand, and finally Reunion and Mauritius in the Indian Ocean. All up, our travels had lasted for one-and-a-half years.

What are your favourite memories from the entire trip?

‘The first time at the sea with baby number one, and baby number two.’

And your worst memories?

‘When we were in Thailand our eldest daughter caught a stomach infection. She was throwing up all the time and I was really worried she would dehydrate. We went to two doctors and the nurses were taking selfies with our sick baby!’

How long had you been travelling when you discovered you were pregnant again?

‘Seven months.’

Did this change your plans at all?

‘No, not much – we just had to avoid countries that had a Zika risk (a virus that can cause abnormalities in unborn babies).’

What were the challenges of travelling while pregnant?

‘I was quite conscious about getting the routine screenings done. Each country has its own health care system and you need to adapt to it. It is difficult to get the exact same screening as you would back home.’

Were you able to earn money from digital journalism while you travelled?

‘Not much. It was more of a hobby since we did not push it professionally.

 

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How does travelling benefit you as a family?

‘We spend A LOT of time together as a family. I think at this young age kids really do benefit from having their parents around all the time… probably not so much when they’re 13, hahaha!’

How do you keep in touch with family and friends while travelling?

‘Family and friends have visited us occasionally, and we’ve come home to visit our families a few times, too.

Did your child reach their milestones in unusual places?

‘Absolutely! Our first daughter reached almost all of her milestones abroad as she has spent almost all of her life outside her home country. She learned to eat in Thailand (and got a stomach infection), she learned to crawl and walk in New Zealand and she learned to swim in Australia (well, some kind of baby swim).

Are you looking forward to sitting down with your child when they are older and showing them all the photos of your travels?

‘Oh yes, while they are bringing me a glass of wine and massaging my feet… ‘

Are you planning any more trips?

‘Yes! Last year we were in Cape Town and did the ‘Garden Route’ in South Africa. After that, we visited Israel, Italy and Spain, and – most recently – the Maldives.’

If you’re not quite brave enough to take YOUR family on the road, live vicariously through Nappy Nomad by following their escapades on Instagram. 

 

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Nappy Nomad’s Top 5 Tips for Travelling with Babies

1. Pack as little as possible – then halve it! Our total luggage weight is 23 kg for all four of us.

2. Enjoy slow travel. Don’t collect countries- spend less time on the road and enjoy more quality time.

3. If you have a toddler, try to find local daycare.

4. Share your travel plans with family and friends as early as possible, so they can arrange to visit you.

5. If you need to calm down a crying baby on a plane, do knee bends with baby in your arms

 

• READ MORE: if you experience feeling of dread and sadness while breastfeeding you could be suffering from D-MER.

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Travelling with babies - read about the reality of life on the road when you're a digital nomad family (a Q&A with Nappy Nomad)

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