With or Without You

Marianne and I have spent 2012 adjusting to the joys and consternations of parenthood while trying to maintain a semblance of a normal lifestyle. Other than the way in which our day to day routine has transformed, our travel routines have also had to adapt to Charlotte’s presence. Photography has also had to adapt. I thought I would share some of the ways in which we have had to evolve our travel plans pre and post parenthood.

We won’t be taking Charlotte on multi-day hikes like the Laugavegur  for a while yet!

Itinerary planning: In the past, the destination was of prime importance, the journey less so. It didn’t matter so much that we could fly from Adelaide to Queenstown via Sydney and Christchurch in one long day with variable transit times. It does matter with a young child! Now we’re looking for the options with the least number of stopovers, the least transit time and the least overall time to get to our destination. Flying to Christchurch from Adelaide necessitated an overnight stay in Melbourne to ensure that Charlotte kept some form of sleep-wake cycle in tact.

Flying and driving with an infant is a like approaching a blind bend!

I remember not so long ago, Marianne and I planned a trip to Vietnam where all that was booked was our flight in to Ho Chi Minh city, our flight out from Hanoi and the first night’s accommodation. Everything else for the two weeks in between, we chose to arrange on the fly. Sure, this ‘amazing race’ style of travel has its appeals and with much effort and enterprise, I am sure that it would be possible even with a young infant. We however, have chosen to take a safer option to make sure of three things. Firstly, that we have self catering accommodation available at each of our stops (with facilities for boiling and reheating etc). Secondly, that we stay at least two nights at any given location so that Charlotte can adapt to the conditions. It also means less overall travel and less time spent loading and unloading cars with both baby equipment and photographic gear. Thirdly, if we can find accommodation with a second bedroom, we are willing to pay extra in order to ensure a good night’s sleep for the whole family. Single room motel style accommodation (which we have attempted) still remains possible though Marianne and I feel like guilty mice sneaking away from death by mousetrap every time we try to do anything in the unit while Charlotte sleeps.

B&B are comfortable but not a great option with an infant without food preparation and reheating facilities, and without a second room.

Sight-seeing: How much joy we take in from our surroundings correlates to the mood of little Charlotte. If we plan to be at places when she is awake and interactive while rested, we all achieve one of the goals of the holiday : relaxation.

Charlotte loved the sound and sights of crashing waves!

If we arrive willy-nilly at any time of the day with a screaming baby who has missed several naps, then we achieve exactly what the holiday was trying to escape from : stress!

Charlotte did not enjoy pushing the dawn shoot longer into her morning nap time!

Our first foray with Charlotte on a short holiday was to Kangaroo Island when she was just over 4 months old. At this stage, she still needed several day time naps and unfortunately, did not adapt well to being out late on a summer sunset shoot.  Some of those evenings were very fatiguing for all of us involved as she would then be unsettled the entire night.

At 4 months, we could not bring Charlotte back here for sunset.

Involving Charlotte: I like to think that by witnessing some of the incredible sights of the world, there is some form on unconscious memory formation and sense of wonder which becomes imprinted into Charlie’s growing sponge of a mind. It would be easier to lapse into a routine of simply caring for her at home or in a hotel room. Gaining experience however, requires effort. That effort often feels unrewarded but there is always hope that the experience moulds her future personality. We were very fortunate that in New Zealand, dawn and dusk times correlated approximately with waking and sleeping time. As long as we were organised, we could all go out shooting in those conditions. More recently in Eyre Peninsula, dawns were far too early to wake Charlotte so there were less morning opportunities for photography.

One of us slept in with Charlotte for the early dawn shoots.

‘Me time’: One aspect of holidays which is ironically more tiring than daily life is that the usual additional caregivers are absent. Unless nanny, whole childcare centres,  grandma or grandpa tag along for the holiday (which is an option we haven’t chosen) it is you and the baby 24/7 ! While this may seem daunting, creating situations where one parent gets some valuable ‘me-time’ is an important aspect of travelling for us. During our New Zealand trip, I spent two nights in huts while doing longer overnight hikes to get the hiking bug out of my system. Marianne spent some time in the larger cities wandering the town while Charlotte was in my care (though I’m sure she worried far more about my ability to care for Charlotte in her absence than the other way round!) We also try to apply this principle when not on holiday.

Weekend ‘me’ time . In this case, after Charlotte’s evening routine!

The last point I would like to make is that life changes. Trying to deny that vehemently simply encourages the wrath of spouse or baby and in this family, ‘someone’ always comes off second best.  However, that does not mean that you will not be able to achieve some modified goals. Your path may no longer take the route of an express-way but may instead wind through meandering side streets with frequent detours. Allow yourself the time, enjoy the distractions , adapt to the situations and a relaxing yet fulfilling holiday is still possible 🙂

Compromise, Compassion, Care, Consideration , Cooperation for a Cheery Child 🙂


Posted on November 23, 2012, in How we..., New Zealand, Photography, Random Musings, South Australia and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. Really enjoyed reading this! What’s important is that you are still making time for your passion of travel and photography while prioritizing the baby’s comfort.

  2. Yes parenting changes everything! It’s good to see that you have adapted to include Charlotte and I think the biggest reward will be the life experiences you all get from travel and moving out of your comfort zone to enjoy the world. BTW I follow your posts but I don’t remember being so blown away by the images above – they are exceptional.

  3. It looks like the wisdom that you have already gained is making you a much better observer of life, which translates so beautifully into your work!

  4. The photos are not visible…

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