Karen Edwards, aka Travel Mad Mum, made headlines when she decided to use her maternity leave to travel the world with her newborn baby in 2015. The South London local tells us why she did it. Get ready to feel inspired, and maybe a little jealous...
Tell us about your family
I'm a nurse, and I'm married to Shaun, who's a builder and part-time stay-at-home dad. Our daughter Esme is 2 and we've taken her to 20 countries so far. We're also expecting baby number two in June 2017.
When and why did you get the idea for the Travel Mad Mum project?
When I realised I was pregnant I thought my travel days were over. Needless to say that has not been the case so far. I guess you could say Esmé has not had a typical first few years of life. She’s been around the world a few times and much of these travel adventures involved backpacking.
As a family, we have been on many other travel expeditions – several road trips, long ferry journeys, long and short haul flights, stopovers, camping trips and much more planned for the coming months. It is through these experiences that I wanted to share factual information, personal stories as well as top tips for travelling with little ones. The overall aim of my website is to inspire like-minded, travel loving parents – ‘your travel days do not have to be over’. It is all about incorporating your little person into your way of life.
I was already on maternity leave for 8 months before I thought about starting Travel Mad Mum on Instagram. I created the social channel so family and friends could keep up with our movements when we were away. I never thought it would take off like it did - we have over 80k followers!
How has motherhood affected your life and career?
My mindset about my career has changed drastically since becoming a mother. I have always been very career driven and have worked my way up in the NHS. However, more recently I have been feeling like I want to do something that fits in better with family life. I would love it if it could be my blog that I use to take a different career path of travel writing. I really love it and I can incorporate my family into the process.
I get really jealous of all the quality time my husband has with our daughter. On my days off from work I am usually so tired to do much, especially as I work night shifts and weekends. It's a tough slog but I am hoping we can change this in the not too distant future.
What's your top tip for mums on maternity leave?
Maternity leave is such a great time to travel! When else will you have this time together off work??? I blogged a list of why you should do it - check it out here.
What's the best place you've visited and why?
We fell completely in love with Bali. I love the diversity of this small island and the way of life. It is actually somewhere we have been dreaming of living since we left there in 2015. I really hope that dream can come true one day.
Is there anywhere you can't wait to go?
I really can't wait to go to central america. I haven't been there before so its nice to have a little bit of fear of the unknown.
Make us feel better about ourselves. What's your biggest mum fail?
Letting a monkey jump on my 9 month old's face. Genitals fully in her face. Total fail. Lucikly no babies were harmed in the process.
Essentially we were walking through Monkey Forest in Bali. I got her out of the buggy thinking it would be fine. I really didnt think one would literally jump on her head. (And there's even proof on Instagram...)
Where do you hang out with your family when you're at home in the UK?
We live in Crystal Palace and we love it because there's so much to do!
What's next for the Travel Mad Mum?
We're looking forward to having a new addition to our family - then we can do it all again!