In April of 2011 we excitedly welcomed our daughter into the world. 2 weeks later the movers arrived to box up all of our belongings, and 2 months after that we were living in Morocco. It’s not the average story of bringing home your newborn, but it was our story – and we loved the adventure we embarked on!
While on our 2 year sabbatical living overseas we took full advantage of this unique opportunity. We spent about half our time in Rabat, my husband studying while I learned to manage a household with a newborn in tow and only slightly more language skills than her. The other half of the time we were traveling, and we did it all; or at least tried to. We traveled Africa, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. We traveled by car, train, plane, ferry, and more. It was a dream come true…
We were grateful to have had our daughter right before embarking on this wonderful adventure knowing how much extra time we would be able to spend with her. What we didn’t know was how lucky we were to be starting the parenting process in such an atypical fashion. Never having been parents before and not having any other young kids in the family my husband and I started the journey with very few preconceived notions; and living so far off the beaten path from Western culture we were able to learn much more organically. Don’t get me wrong, we shed a tear over our lack of dishwasher and clothes dryer every now and then; but over all there was a lot more to be gained than lost.
What we gained, among other things, was a daughter who was bred for travel; and two parents (us) that were masters at improvising and adjusting so that anything was possible. Our ultimate test was 3 months of traveling throughout Europe with 2 backpacks and a stroller. Our daughter started the adventure at 15 months and was the ripe old age of 18 months when we arrived back home. It was a once in a lifetime experience that couldn’t have gone smoother if we tried. It also brought my packing and organizational skills to a whole new level. That trip was the first step towards what is now Sidekicks Travel.
The next step was the new challenge of traveling with a toddler. A baby was easy, but a toddler has opinions; a toddler needs activities, challenges, and space. This was true both traveling and at home. While toys were available locally the selection was low and the prices were high; and ordering things online was possible but not immediate or even quick. So I casually started making her toys with items around the house or materials I could find locally. After several months of largely being at home playing happily with her homemade toys we headed off on short trips. The packing process was effortless at this point until I found myself standing over her collection of toys. Her toys would have entertained her but were not in the least bit travel friendly – they were either made of breakable pieces, bulky, or unable to be easily packaged. So as my husband packed the car I ran around the house with small bags and containers grabbing anything that might replicate one of her toys. Silicon cupcake molds became color sorters; pompoms became restaurant safe building blocks, popsicle sticks became musical instruments, and so on. Little did I know this frantic gathering resulted in the original line of Sidekick Travel toys.
Needless to say we’ve come a long way since then – in both the activities themselves and in the best way to organize, store and travel with them.
I hope you enjoy some of the activities that made so many of our adventures and memories possible!