Confessions of a Traveling Mom

Ryder is almost 17 months old now.

Here are some things I have to confess about being a traveling mom after 10 countries and 3 continents of being with this little fella:


Breastfeeding in Public

I don’t particularly enjoy doing this in public. I’d rather do it in private, obviously. But baby comes first. And fortunately for me, most countries aren’t nearly as squeamish as the States about mothers breastfeeding openly. See another nomadic mama’s take here. I figure people would rather this than hear Ryder scream, which is what he will do when he wants milk and doesn’t get it.

Leashes or Harnesses

I feel no shame about keeping Ryder on a leash. He will dart away from me in a crowd the first chance he gets and he won’t look back. He doesn’t mind the harness at all, either. Win-win. I frankly don’t even understand the judging and don’t care to.Exploring in Adelaide:




Dairy is a really conveniently packaged snack and Ryder loves cheese. Maybe because that’s all I ate when he was pregnant. However, I try to keep the portions down because it seems to make his nose run sometimes.


I do not sanitize Ryder’s bottle. I just wash it. And he’s really almost never sick. So I continue. Also, I only use cold, not hot water.


Sleeping through the night

I don’t know how many times I’ve taught Ryder to sleep through the night. This is, hands down, the hardest thing about traveling nomadically with a baby. When we  change time zones, beds, climates, and familiar surroundings, it means Ryder will no longer sleep a full 10-11 hours as he is wont to do. I have to go through the whole process all over again. Cry it out, set the routine, get his body used to the new time the sun rises, etc etc. Only a crazy travel lover like myself would want to put up with this scenario, probably. More sane people would choose to stay in one place until their kid was semi-stable in the sleep department. Luckily for me, Ryder did learn how to sleep through the night quite early, so it was possible to re-teach him each time, it just meant lost sleep for me (and him) in the process. And it means that the saga is not yet over, because we will continue to frequently change time zones and locations.


In the past, no. No schedules. And it hasn’t been a problem. We are flexible people. However, here in Guatemala we’ve fallen into somewhat of a routine and it does make life a little easier. I have my tutoring in the morning, put Ryder down for a couple hour nap at midday while I catch up on emails, visit a town on the lake in the afternoon, eat dinner at a yummy restaurant for $3/plate in the evening, grab some groceries from a tienda, put Ryder to bed, watch Breaking Bad with Jacob.  I think my soul has been craving routine and it feels good.


Ryder doesn’t have many toys. When I do buy him toys, he loses interest in them within days (hours?). He seems to prefer “playing” with what we use around the house, or being outside. He has an utter fascination with my camera case:


We have used vitamin bottles for rattles, hair curlers for blocks, and containers with lids for endless enjoyment. He does like to be taken to friends houses and playing with their toys, however. ‘Playing’ usually involves picking them up and throwing them down stairs. Ryder’s favorite toy, by far, is a ball.


We only use women for babysitters. It requires trust to leave your baby with anyone and we don’t always have a lot of time to develop trust. Thus we have not used babysitters frequently: we had one regularly in Tahiti, once in Guatemala, New Zealand and New Caledonia, once in Australia when my parents came, and a full time nanny in Bali. Our way of finding a babysitter has often been at the recommendation of the apartment owner, usually one of their employees. Really, really miss family for this kind of thing. This means, for lack of a babysitter, I sometimes take Ryder with me to places where normally babies don’t go, like a pub, because I want to do something fun, like watch a rugby game.




Constant climate and cultural changes means I don’t always have appropriate clothes for Ryder. In Mexico, they are big about babies always wearing socks and a hat. In Guatemala, it seems they think rain gear is important. In any event, I often don’t care to match expectations because…I know I will never see these strangers again. Weather changes are often quite difficult to plan around. As for my clothes, they are in a constant state of mess because of having a toddler and being on the move and not having a washing machine. It’s really something I just try to forget about because otherwise I will be annoyed.


On long car/boat/bus rides, I am not above bribing with candy. I know. It’s terrible. But sometimes it’s the only trick up my sleeve when it comes to screaming from having to sit in one place for so long. I feed Ryder what I eat, what I have, and sometimes it’s not as well-balanced as I would like, but that’s the diet of a traveler, sometimes. The good side of this is, Ryder will eat pretty much absolutely anything, from wasabi-flavored seaweed to nasi goreng. He also can eat more than me, and I am not a bird eater. Here we are with canned chili and tortilla chips in our campervan in Australia:



Man, I am a disposable diaper buyer. I feel awful about it actually, it’s horrible for the environment, but I have not been able to potty train Ryder yet—he hates sitting down for ANYTHING let alone waiting for some mysterious bowel movement to take place—and moving around constantly often without a washing machine makes disposables a necessity.


OK, that’s all I can think of to confess for now. Doesn’t make traveling with a baby look quite so glamorous does it?

Kalli Hiller

Article by Kalli Hiller

Kalli Hiller is a voluntary vagabond who, with her husband Jacob, has traveled full time for the last eight years.

Kalli has written 371 awesome articles for us.

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