NHS midwife spends maternity leave backpacking around the world

NHS midwife spends maternity leave backpacking around the world with her newborn to 17 countries – and says other mums shouldn’t give up on their dreams or lose their identity

  • Milly Goodwin, 30, from Muswell Hill, London, spent maternity leave travelling
  • She and partner Stu, 33,  have visited 17 countries with baby Poppy, one
  • Milly says it is ‘liberating’ and urges other parents to be adventurous too

An NHS midwife has spent her maternity leave visiting 17 countries with her newborn baby and partner.

Milly Goodwin, 30, from Muswell Hill, London, gave birth to baby Poppy on July 30 2021. 

She and her partner, Stu, 33, a civil engineer, then spent £20,000 of their savings, setting off on their full-time travels six months later. 

The trio have since visited 17 countries including Brazil, Ecuador, Monaco and Canada

Milly Goodwin, 30, from Muswell Hill, London, gave birth to baby Poppy on July 30 2021. and has taken her travelling around the world. Pictured: Breastfeeding in Costa Rica

Milly Goodwin, 30, from Muswell Hill, London, gave birth to baby Poppy on July 30 2021. and has taken her travelling around the world. Pictured: Breastfeeding in Costa Rica  

Exploring the South of France. The family have enjoyed their time abroad, even though at times it has been 'exhausting'

Exploring the South of France. The family have enjoyed their time abroad, even though at times it has been ‘exhausting’ 

Milly. pictured enjoying a dip in Lake Bakalar, Mexico. loves taking her daughter wild swimming

Milly. pictured enjoying a dip in Lake Bakalar, Mexico. loves taking her daughter wild swimming

Much of their travelling has been in coastal regions - a far cry from any office or nursery. Milly and her daughter enjoying Playa Blanca in Costa Rica

Much of their travelling has been in coastal regions – a far cry from any office or nursery. Milly and her daughter enjoying Playa Blanca in Costa Rica 

Milly said, ‘I have always been excited about having a baby and thought about travelling whilst on maternity leave.

‘I thought it would be a good opportunity to go travelling as a new family.

‘Of course, I was apprehensive and anxious about it as I didn’t know what to expect but it has been the best decision we have ever made.’

The adventures began three weeks after Poppy was born. 

Knowing the couple wished to travel full-time with her, they did a ‘test-run’ to Slovenia to see how they all coped.

Milly describes the experience as ‘liberating’ as she was given the confidence to fly further afield.

However, their travel plans were put on hold for a few months as Stu was diagnosed with a benign brain tumour.

After a 12-hour surgery and five months recovering, the couple were itching to get away, so their travel plans resumed.

The couple decided to travel light, with just two small rucksacks, buying Poppy’s essentials along the way.

The couple travel light with their daughter, buying her essentials as they go. Milly is pitcured at Redwood National Park

The couple travel light with their daughter, buying her essentials as they go. Milly is pitcured at Redwood National Park

Poppy even got to meet one of Canada's birds - a whisky jack - while on her dad's shoulders  in Canada

Poppy even got to meet one of Canada’s birds – a whisky jack – while on her dad’s shoulders  in Canada 

They have managed to keep Poppy cool in the heat and protected from the sun at Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

They have managed to keep Poppy cool in the heat and protected from the sun at Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

Stu, 33, a civil engineer, also took leave from work so he could be with his family for adventures in locations such as Costa Rica

Stu, 33, a civil engineer, also took leave from work so he could be with his family for adventures in locations such as Costa Rica 

Forget baby food, Poppy prefers to eat spider crabs caught by hand  on a trip to Pembrokshire

Forget baby food, Poppy prefers to eat spider crabs caught by hand  on a trip to Pembrokshire 

She said, ‘We feel very lucky and fortunate to be travelling after Stu’s scare.

‘At one point, I thought I was going to be a widow with a newborn baby, it was such a scary time in our lives.

‘By December 2021, he was feeling better and restless, so the idea of travelling with our baby emerged again.

‘We went on a small trip to Madeira, Portugal before heading to Rio, South America in January 2022.’

The couple then travelled around South America, stopping off in places like Argentina, Ecuador, Peru.

They then camped in a tent along the west coast of the United States before heading north to Canada.

Milly said, ‘We hate carrying stuff when the baby is heavy, and we’ve realised she doesn’t need so much stuff.

‘She just needs food and clothes which we buy along the way.

‘Initially we brought toys with us but after five minutes she gets bored and throws them away.

‘She is excited by new experiences and places.’

The family have been travelling on a budget, staying in Air BnB’s or camping in a tent and van along with staying at family friendly hostels.

And Milly says the best thing has been building such special memories – from hiking in Patagonia, Argentina to picking mangoes from the trees in Rio.

And she said Poppy has adapted to most places, even taking to eating unusual foods.  

She said, ‘It has been fun introducing Poppy to food in exotic places.

‘She loves seafood and isn’t fussy at all.

‘She basically eats the same as us, I just ask for no salt and sugar to be added to her food.

‘She doesn’t like chillies but that is fair enough.’

The trio are currently in their self-converted camper van travelling around Europe.

Milly, pictured breastfeeding Poppy in Guatemala, says that being a mum shouldn't take away your identity but add to it

Milly, pictured breastfeeding Poppy in Guatemala, says that being a mum shouldn’t take away your identity but add to it 

The trio have maxed-out their time in nature, be it in Wales (pictured) or Canada

The trio have maxed-out their time in nature, be it in Wales (pictured) or Canada 

All wrapped up in Canada: They have bought Poppy essentials along the way, such as warm clothing

All wrapped up in Canada: They have bought Poppy essentials along the way, such as warm clothing

Chilling out: Baby Poppy enjoys seeing a glacier with her mum and dad visiting El Calefate in Argentina .

Chilling out: Baby Poppy enjoys seeing a glacier with her mum and dad visiting El Calefate in Argentina .

Beach time at - Cocovado National Park in Costa Rica: Most kids play with a bucket and spade, but Poppy makes do with whatever she can find

Beach time at – Cocovado National Park in Costa Rica: Most kids play with a bucket and spade, but Poppy makes do with whatever she can find

And they have no desire to come home in a rush – even though sometimes the travelling is exhausting. 

Milly said, ‘I think travelling is just as hard as being in my flat with Poppy.

‘When she was a newborn, it was much easier as she slept a lot whereas now she is up during the nights.

‘It can be tough going from one place to another when I am sleep deprived.

‘We also found it difficult to keep her entertained during long journeys such as flights or night buses.

‘But we have much more control over that now as we can stop off whenever needed in our van.

‘It’s small and just has a bed and fairy lights but it does the trick.’

Poppy has still managed to make the most of play parks wherever she's been. Here she is enjoying the swings on a trip to LA

Poppy has still managed to make the most of play parks wherever she’s been. Here she is enjoying the swings on a trip to LA 

In total the family have managed to cram in 17 countries, which include Slovenia,  Portugal, Spain, Brazil, Argentina, Ecuador, Peru, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Belize and Mexico. 

They’ve also visited Monaco, the US, Canada, Wales, France and Italy. 

Milly, who has documented her adventures on social media under @wildtravelchild, says she hopes her story will encourage other parents to travel more while on maternity leave.

She said, ‘I was apprehensive about travelling with a baby but as soon as I arrived, I realised it is an amazing thing to do as a family.

‘If you have maternity leave, then you are already off work so there’s few times in life that you get a huge travelling opportunity.

‘Stu has taken unpaid time off, but we saved as much as we could before his last day.

‘I’m so glad that I’ve made the most of the time.

‘Poppy has our undivided attention and experienced new people and cultures.

‘It is liberating to do the things you love whilst being a mother and it is a fantastic feeling for the baby too.’

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