Irish woman spends maternity leave backpacking in 9 countries - including Singapore - with baby daughter

Ms Karen Edwards with her baby daughter Esme, seen here holding her passport, at the airport.
Ms Karen Edwards with her baby daughter Esme, seen here holding her passport, at the airport. PHOTO: @TRAVELMADMUM/INSTAGRAM
Ms Edwards and Esme on the cable car in Langkawi.
Ms Edwards and Esme on the cable car in Langkawi.PHOTO: @TRAVELMADMUM/INSTAGRAM
An over-friendly monkey jumping on Esme in the Monkey Forest in Bali's Ubud.
An over-friendly monkey jumping on Esme in the Monkey Forest in Bali's Ubud. PHOTO: @TRAVELMADMUM/INSTAGRAM
The family managed to travel to Ubud despite nearby Mount Rinjani on Lombok erupting.
The family managed to travel to Ubud despite nearby Mount Rinjani on Lombok erupting. PHOTO: @TRAVELMADMUM/INSTAGRAM
Esme feeding her dad ice-cream in Taiwan's Taroko National Park.
Esme feeding her dad ice-cream in Taiwan's Taroko National Park. PHOTO: @TRAVELMADMUM/INSTAGRAM

Most new mothers spend their maternity leave recuperating, but Ms Karen Edwards is not your ordinary stay-at-home-mum.

After their baby daughter Esme was born in late 2014, Ms Edwards and her partner Shaun Bayes - both avid backpackers - sold their car, put up their house in London for rent and stored their belongings.

With Esme, who was barely 10 weeks old then, in tow, they fulfilled their wanderlust by embarking on a 10-month trip to explore the world.

"Both Shaun and I were keen backpackers before I fell pregnant and everyone thought we were completely nuts when we said that we were going to take Esme when she arrived," Ms Edwards, who works as a nurse, told the Daily Mail in an interview.

So excited to let you know I have my travel blog up and running. Please check it out at travelmadmum.com This day next week we leave New Zealand to embark on a seven week backpacking trip through SE Asia with our ten-month old girl. Needless to say, many people think we are a wee bit nuts to do so much travelling with a baby. Whilst our friends without children funnily feel the opposite. Classic comments so far include: “So good your not letting your baby rule your life” “My friend can’t even go for lunch but the baby is loosing his …. for a sleep” I guess from my perspective this backpacking trip is going to be quite different to the one I did when I was 25, young single and care free!..I think she will rule it, well a bit anyway!… All I want to try and do is incorporate her into our way of life. We both love travelling and can’t see why we should stop or change our lives. I am confident the different sites, smells and sounds will stimulate all of her senses. She gets stir crazy just as much as I do when we sit around the house for too long so I am sure this can only be good for her. Time is closing in on us, so we are trying desperately to get all three of our belongings for the trip into ONE BACKPACK!! Yes just one. I have to say not one person I have spoke to believes we can manage travelling with one backpack. I really want to prove them wrong (awful personality trait) so I must do it! I have a few tricks up my sleeve which I will share later, not many, so on that note: What are your magical tricks for travelling light and compact?? #travelmadmum #backpacking #travelingwithababy #southeastasia #excited #travel

So excited to let you know I have my travel blog up and running. Please check it out at travelmadmum.com This day next week we leave New Zealand to embark on a seven week backpacking trip through SE Asia with our ten-month old girl. Needless to say, many people think we are a wee bit nuts to do so much travelling with a baby. Whilst our friends without children funnily feel the opposite. Classic comments so far include: “So good your not letting your baby rule your life” “My friend can’t even go for lunch but the baby is loosing his …. for a sleep” I guess from my perspective this backpacking trip is going to be quite different to the one I did when I was 25, young single and care free!..I think she will rule it, well a bit anyway!… All I want to try and do is incorporate her into our way of life. We both love travelling and can’t see why we should stop or change our lives. I am confident the different sites, smells and sounds will stimulate all of her senses. She gets stir crazy just as much as I do when we sit around the house for too long so I am sure this can only be good for her. Time is closing in on us, so we are trying desperately to get all three of our belongings for the trip into ONE BACKPACK!! Yes just one. I have to say not one person I have spoke to believes we can manage travelling with one backpack. I really want to prove them wrong (awful personality trait) so I must do it! I have a few tricks up my sleeve which I will share later, not many, so on that note: What are your magical tricks for travelling light and compact?? #travelmadmum #backpacking #travelingwithababy #southeastasia #excited #travel

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The couple toted a single backpack - and Esme - between them as they visited Ireland, Australia, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Malaysia, New Zealand, Taiwan and Vietnam.

Their epic journey included a short pit stop in Singapore, where a photo on Ms Edwards' Instagram account, on which she documents her travels, showed Mr Bayes and Esme enjoying themselves at the Marina Bay Sands' infinity pool.

The entire trip cost them about £10,000 (S$20,160), which they funded with Ms Edwards' maternity pay and the extra money Mr Bayes earned while doing some landscaping work in New Zealand. 

While she admitted the going was tough sometimes as she had to endure cramped rooms, take turns doing activities like snorkelling and breastfeed Esme on the go, the experience was priceless.

"Esme has had so many new experiences. She's very sociable. She really loves being outside," Ms Edwards added.

"At times, I felt sad for her that she didn't have other kids to play with.

Among some of the more memorable images of Esme included her taking an underwater family selfie in Langkawi, posing on the steps of the ancient city of Hoi An in Vietnam and trekking through Ubud's famous Monkey Forest strapped to her mother's back.

Ms Edwards has also started a travel blog, where she hopes to inspire other parents and let them know that having a baby does not spell the end of their travelling days.

And after a brief hiatus since returning home in September last year, the trio are embarking on yet another adventure to Thailand, Cambodia and New Zealand, the Daily Mail reported.