I’ve always found it annoying when parents use a number of months when referencing the age of their spawn. “Little Bradley is 13 months old.” I wanted to be like… No, dude. Brad is One. And then he’s Two. Or mayyyybe he can be one and a half, but enough with this 18 months bullshit. I already have to pretend to care about your offspring. Expecting me to also do math is really pushing it. That is, until I had my very own travel baby. (And no, I didn’t pop out a kid during my time abroad. My stance on childbirth remains the same: uninterested until it becomes legal to sell tiny humans to the highest bidder…I mean… a good home. But seriously, PM me if you’re interested in the other thing.)
I now understand why those obnoxious parents spew out months in relation to the amount of time their kids have been alive. When something happens that changes your entire life, a month seems like an eternity. If something that consumes every second of every day has been doing that for even three months over a year… That gives you the right to specify. 15 months, people. That’s how long I’ve been traveling and the last three months have involved way too much shit to just round down to a year. And now that I’m in this new ‘gauging time by months’ club, I can confirm that a lot of it has to do with bragging. Apparently, babies are suppose to do certain things at certain ages. So when you’re dealing with whether or not Bradley is rolling over or crawling, there’s a big difference in a few months and you’d better be exact so that the other parents can size up your kid and judge you accordingly. Samesies.
When I meet new people, one of the first things they ask me is how long I’ve been traveling. Before I passed the year mark, people were surprised, but seemed to be generally supportive and excited for me. When I say “a little over a year,” they have never failed to ask me how long specifically. So hence forth, this trip will be known as my travel baby and it is 15 months old. Moms, if you’re wondering if I’m seriously comparing your toddler to my trip… yes. Yes I am. The similarities are actually pretty spot on. The negatives for instance… No sleep. No money. Language barriers. Adjusting to new surroundings. Trying food for the first time and getting sick. Getting sick in general. Learning that having a plan is completely useless. The world seems big and scary. And of course the good things… Although I don’t view children this way, I’ve heard they give people’s lives new meaning and joy and expand their hearts and minds etc. That’s what this travel baby is doing for me. I’d say the biggest difference between my trip and your baby is that one has me clocking in at 50 countries and the other is probably preventing you from taking a shower at this very moment. See, that highest bidder thing doesn’t seem so bad now, huh?
Not one thing about my life is the same as it was 15 months ago. With every new country and every passing week, I find it harder to relate to the person I use to be and the lifestyle I use to have. The only people who seem to understand this thirst I have to keep going are other travelers, because they feel the same way. Much like parents seem to feel mostly the same way about their kids. The reason I am not worried about parents being offended by my suggestion to pawn their kids and hit the open road is because hopefully they procreated because they wanted to. Traveling doesn’t thrill everyone. And not all women want to be mothers. A lot of people say I’m lucky to be able to take this trip and see the world and they’re right. But what I do isn’t easy. Making all of this work with my budget and safety in mind takes incredibly detailed planning and very long and exhausting travel days. Not everyone is cut out for this life on the road.
I don’t tell people I meet that they just aren’t living until they travel like I do. That they can’t possibly understand the highs I experience traveling with a mere explanation. I don’t say that I think they are only living half a life, going through the motions, wasting time until they wake up and decide to have a fulfilling life of travel, like mine. Wouldn’t that be a dick move? Now replace “travel” with the word “baby.” How is that any less offensive? I don’t assume everyone wants to do what I do, and I certainly don’t think people who aren’t traveling the world are just shells of humans with nothing to live for, so why is it ok for mothers to baby shame women who simply don’t think their lives would be enhanced by child rearing. I’m always shocked when someone has the balls to say something like that to my face. “You will never know true happiness and love until you have a child.” The fuck? Are they serious with this shit? If I talked to people that way about traveling I’m sure someone would knock me out. Maybe that’s why these women wear their babies on their bodies, to deter people like me from punching them. They’re like little built in defense pads for people who say incredibly stupid and offensive shit.
This leg of my trip has been unique because I’ve had a lot of friends from home join me in progress. The first year I was basically all alone, but the last few months I’ve been able to see my trip through other people’s eyes. What I’ve discovered is that long form travel is not for everyone. It’s not even something most people would want to do, even if they could. That seems insane to me because it makes me SO happy, but I don’t judge people for not being into it and I’m just looking for the same amount of respect from the procreators of the world.
Happy 15 months, travel baby!