This Mom Of 2 Is Spending Her 9-Month Maternity Leave Traveling The World With Her Family

by Grace Sisto
Grace Sisto is a writer, undercover unicorn, and lover of music and beautiful soulful things.

When most women think of maternity leave, they think of spending sleepless months in stretch pants with their newly born baby attached to their hip.

Karen Edwards thinks about maternity leave differently. She envisions thumbing through colorful textiles in Guatemala, catching some sun alongside surfers in Hollywood Beach, and getting cozy under a cabana in Belize with her husband and two children in tow.

And that’s exactly how she’s spending her maternity leave right now.

This is the second time the London-based mother has used her maternity leave to embark on an adventure of a lifetime: traveling the world with her family.

She’s documenting their journey on her blog, Travel Mad Mum, which offers travels tips, anecdotes, and beautiful family photos of their travel experience.

As you would expect, she and her husband’s Instagram accounts are packed with breathtaking photos from their travels, which you can see below.

[H/T: People]


Karen and her husband, Shaun Bayes, decided in 2014 that they would keep traveling after their daughter, Esmé, was born. So, they left London to travel to Shaun’s home country of New Zealand, then to Southeast Asia — just 10 weeks after her birth.

“We’re both just really keen travelers. Were kind of a little bit selfish in the sense that we didn’t want to give up on our travel days,” Karen shamelessly explains.

“Esmé was a bit of a surprise for us. We had some travel plans already… so we just thought we’d incorporate her into it.”


They found that their daughter got to have a unique experience, since she was surrounded by attentive parents who weren’t distracted by things like work, worrying about bills, or running errands.

“The most enjoyable bit was just having unlimited time for Esmé and seeing her developing without having many distractions,” Karen told ABC News. “We didn’t have a house to maintain, and we didn’t have errands to run, so it was just her and us two parents being parents.”


This time around, Karen packed up her family just nine weeks after giving birth to her son, Quinn, to travel to Spain, Canada, then down through the West Coast of the US to Belize, Guatemala, and El Salvador.


“I try to explain to people… it’s actually easier than being at home because at home you’ve got so many more things to do in just running a household,” the 33-year-old mother said.

“We’re really happy with what we’re doing.”


Karen gets nine months of maternity leave, six of which are paid. The family rents out their home when they are traveling to cover the rests of their costs. And Shaun works in construction, which offers him a flexible schedule.


That means Karen’s days are filled with surf lessons, browsing local markets, and volcano sightseeing — as opposed to playdates and cooking dinner.

Her family has been spending nights in camper vans, beach cabanas, hotels, and with local families.


For Karen, the safety and well-being of her children always comes first. To do that, she makes sure to take “all necessary precautions” when it comes to their health.

Plus, she’s a nurse, so she knows what she’s doing.


Karen feels that traveling helps build culture and character in her family. Baby Quinn has already visited seven countries in the four months of his life, and Esmé has seen almost 30 by age 3.

“This is the thing, we were already really into traveling,” Karen said. “If it’s something that you really enjoy anyway, you want to pass that onto your kid in some way.”

You can find tips from Karen on how to travel with your children on a budget at Follow her family’s travels on Instagram @travelmadmum.