Ditch That Stroller - Exploring the World with Young Kids

Ditch That Stroller

Exploring the World with Young Kids

I won’t tell a lie, travelling with kids is quite different to travelling without kids. Your holiday style will definitely change.  What doesn’t have to change is your ability to explore, go on adventures and have fun.

There is a common misconception that exploring and going on adventures has to stop once children come onto the scene.  This simply isn’t true!

I’m not suggesting you take your toddler on a pub crawl through London, or your newborn mountain climbing in Nepal.  You still have to be a responsible adult of course.  However, I am stating from experience, that you can still explore the world with young kids.

So how do you manage the Diamond Head Trail in Hawaii, or safely cross a chaotic road in the Old Quarter of Hanoi, Vietnam? How do you hike into outback water holes in Central Australia, or feel the Great Wall of China under your feet?

You will of course, need to ditch that stroller!

Jessica and Trillian (aged 18 months) hiking the 6 km Scenic Rim Trail at Kings Canyon in Central Australia

Jessica and Trillian (aged 18 months) hiking the 6 km Scenic Rim Trail at Kings Canyon in Central Australia

“Women have been carrying their babies for generations here”, our young guide informed me on my first overseas adventure.  I was visiting the hill tribes in Northern Thailand.

“The women carry their babies on their backs up and down the mountains all day while they are working on the fields”, she adds.

I watched fascinated as an older woman deftly tied a tattered looking strip of cloth around her, enclosing her grandchild who was clinging monkey like to her hip.

Baby wearing at a Hill Tribe Village in Northern Thailand

Baby wearing at a Hill Tribe Village in Northern Thailand

This beautiful image remained with me into motherhood.  When my firstborn didn’t want to be apart from me for more than one minute for the first twelve months of his life, I proudly wore him in a sling everywhere!

In recent years, there has been a revival in ‘natural parenting’, and a strong move away from archaic theories around ‘spoiling’ babies.   A lot of really well designed baby carriers that ensure your baby is held comfortable and close have come onto the market.

Jessica and Trillian (aged nearly 1 years) on a train in Vietnam

Jessica and Trillian (aged nearly 1 years) on a train in Vietnam

This is where the solution to travelling with young kids comes in, with the modern design of soft structured baby and toddler carriers.  These carriers are ideal for travelling because they fold up really small.  They are designed to distribute the weight of your child across your hips and take the pressure off your back, which allows you to carry your child, hands free, for longer periods of time.

On a recent trip to Central Australia, I carried my 18 month old toddler in the soft structured Ergo Baby Carrier on the well-known Rim Walk at Kings Canyon.  This 6km walk takes around 3.5 hours with a fairly brutal steep ascent at the beginning of the walk.  I could literally feel the pregnancy weight falling off my thighs.  The huffing and puffing is absolutely worth the view from the top, however unfortunately, there is no way of seeing this memorable landscape with a stroller.

Jessica and Trillian (aged 18 months) right before the 7.4 km Valley of the Winds Trail at Kata-Tjuta in Central Australia

Jessica and Trillian (aged 18 months) right before the 7.4 km Valley of the Winds Trail at Kata-Tjuta in Central Australia

This same carrier, now four years old and still going strong, has also carried both of my kids overseas at various ages, allowing me to see some truly spectacular sights around Oahu, New Caledonia, Vietnam and Australia.

Hard structured carriers are still extremely popular, particularly with older babies and toddlers, however can only be worn as a back carrier due to their metal frames.  They generally need to be checked in with luggage when travelling by plane.  My Kathmandu branded hard structure carrier has completed many memorable walks with me around Australia.

What if your child has outgrown a carrier, but is still not old enough to keep up?  This is where the Piggy Back Rider comes in!

Ripley (aged 3.5 years) hitching a ride on the Piggy Back Rider whilst exploring Bich Dong Pagoda, a cluster of Buddhist cave temples built into the side of a cliff, in Ninh Binh, Vietnam.

Ripley (aged 3.5 years) hitching a ride on the Piggy Back Rider whilst exploring Bich Dong Pagoda, a cluster of Buddhist cave temples built into the side of a cliff, in Ninh Binh, Vietnam.

This genius invention is worn like a backpack, with a lightweight bar that sits around your hip area.  Toddlers and young children can then, ‘ride the bar’ and hop on and off as they please.  The child has their own backpack that is harnessed into yours to avoid fall injury.

This wonderful carrier allowed us to travel from the North to the South of Vietnam, and all around Central Australia with a four year old last year.  We didn’t miss out on anything!

Travelling with kids doesn’t have to be boring.   You don’t have to be confined to stroller friendly destinations.   You can absolutely get out there and see the world just as you envisioned before children.

Trillian (aged 20 months) about to walk behind a waterfall on the Twin Falls Circuit Walk at Springbrook National Park in Queensland, Australia.

Trillian (aged 20 months) about to walk behind a waterfall on the Twin Falls Circuit Walk at Springbrook National Park in Queensland, Australia.

Take long hikes through the rolling green hills in Scotland, find hidden waterfalls in the Cook Island, and enjoy those much anticipated first steps on the Great Wall of China.  Watch the joy on your toddler’s face when he sees a shooting star in the vast night sky in Central Australia, or when he spots an endangered Langur monkey in a conservation area in Vietnam.

So please, promise me you will ditch the stroller.