Backpacking round Europe with a 4 year old…Am I mad??

Around last Christmas I started to feel like I needed a challenge, like I really needed to give my life a huge kick up the bum!

I tweeted, ‘Some times you have to scare yourself a little just to remind yourself you’re alive’. 

By New Year’s Eve, when I was doing the obligatory (and depressing) year’s reflection, I vowed that I would not allow my life to be the same in 2013 as it was in 2012.  I needed to step out of my comfort zone.  A plan began to form.

The year Bear Cub was born was both the best year of my life and the worst. Best because he was, and continues to be, one of the best things that have ever happened to me bringing me an unending source of inspiration, joy and love.  Worst because it is the year my marriage broke down.

When I fell pregnant (after much deliberation) I could never have dreamed in my worst nightmare that I’d end up a single mother before my baby was 18 months old!

It’s been a hard few years.  My friends and family have been amazing and I feel as though I’ve been propped up, carried and cheered along by them all.  Somehow I got through the worst of it and somehow I’m surviving though it’s particularly tough financially, often tiring and sometimes lonely.  But that is all it has been in some ways – survival.  I’ve only had the strength to just about do what I needed to in order to provide for Bear Cub, make sure he is ok, get to work and back and complete the daily logistical nightmare that is the life of a single, working, parent.  It was New Year that I realised that although I could not say I am fully healed, I am standing on my own two feet again and I have run out of excuses to continue to just coast along.

Ruth and I started MTAM because we both are big dreamers who desire and believe we can have the lives we truly want as women even if we’re mums!  I’ve always been passionate about wanting to encourage people to go for their dreams, to be the best they can be and not settle for anything less.  Understandably, and possibly forgivably, I’ve not had the strength to live life in this way this last few years but now I want to take up  the challenge again for myself.

After all, how can I inspire and encourage other women to do what I’m not living out in my own life?

It’s true to say I’m at a cross roads in my life and with Bear Cub starting school in September it will finally be my time to fully concentrate on my own ambitions and dreams again.  However, sometimes fear and life experiences bury those dreams down pretty deep and it takes some real digging around to resurrect them again and it takes even more courage to dare to believe you can achieve them.

I realised I was on a journey and I realised I needed to get off the merry-go-round of life for a while and to find some space and time to hear, to think, to know and to plan.  I needed a sabbatical and I needed an adventure.

What better way to realise a spiritual journey than to go on a physical one – so I decided I would go travelling with Bear Cub.

What started as visions of travelling for a year in Bali, Thailand and other exotic places was scaled down to a three-month road trip across the West Coast of the U.S and finally has been reduced to 6 weeks backpacking across Europe.  Throughout the planning I have faced numerous obstacles, let downs and disappointments but the revelation I received was that it was not so much the destination that was important, but the journey itself.  Furthermore, the length of time initially felt like  a bit of a cop-out but then I realised that you can change your life in a day let alone a few weeks! Six weeks is what I have so six weeks will have to be enough.

So there you go, that’s what I’m doing.  I’ve never done anything like this in my life let alone with a four year-old in tow so I am both excited and terrified in equal measure.  But I’m much more scared of not going at all.  Experiences will be had and experiences change you so I will come back changed – or at least clearer in terms of the direction I want my life to go in next.  That is my only agenda – that and having a really special, bonding, adventure with Bear Cub!

I never want to be one of those people who hear about people doing amazing and exciting things and then says, “I wish I could do that!’ The answer is we all can.  We just have to have the guts to do it.

We’re on a mega budget and I’ve not booked anything yet and we plan to leave week of 22nd July so if you have any travel tips (particularly with little ones), places we should visit, friends we can stay with or equipment we can borrow (I’m serious!) or potential sponsors, then please do get in touch.

I hope to blog once a week for MTAM while I’m away so I’ll keep you up to date on our adventures (and mishaps)!


  • Absolutely fantastic, I look forward to hearing more. Good luck.

  • You are not mad. You are doing something seriously brave that will help and inspire both of you the rest of your lives. So glad to have found out about your journey and good luck!

  • That’s a brilliant idea and I’m sure you’ll both have an amazing time! I look forward to reading all about your adventures. I’m going to have a think and see if there’s anything I can do to help and come back to you. Good Luck! xx

  • Kat

    GO FOR IT!! When I was a Mum of one I went to work in Cyprus for the summer. It was amazing and taught me so much about myself and the type of person I am. Everyone thought I was mad/brave/crazy but it was amazing and I wouldn’t have changed any of it. I am now a Mum of three and working out a new adventure as I am a newly single Mum again. Live the dream lady, you wont regret it xxx

  • I think this is a wonderful plan, I was in a very similar position to you with my now teenage son (even to the point that I’d been a single mum from when he was 18 months old). He was due to start school and I wanted some time with him first, so we went backpacking round New Zealand for 2 months. It was amazing. It was hard work at times, it was full on and I never got a break but it was so good for the 2 of us. It brought us so much closer and we are still incredibly close. Go for it, I don’t think you’ll regret it!

    • morethanamummy

      That is really encouraging, thank you. What are your top tips for backpacking with a preschooler?

  • You might like to take advantage of the couchsurfing system for some free lodging.

  • I love this idea and hope you have the most amazing time – can’t wait to read all about it. (Do you know about AirBnB? Similar to Couchsurfing, I think. Have used them twice and they’ve been brilliant.) Good luck!

  • What a fun experience for you both to share. What is your route? Monique x

  • AussieMum

    Your not Mad. Im looking at doing it when my kids are 4&3 with a good friend of mine. It’s somthing I have always wanted to do and my husband refuses to drag himself away from work. So I am going it alone before my oldest starts kindy when she is 4 and half. However I am looking at going for a year. lol Am I crazy?

  • Natalie

    Good for you, I’m also looking into doing this with my 9 year old boy so it was good to read your plans xx

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