Hi there. I’m Lauren Jane.
I guess you could say that I’m not the settling down type.
At my high school graduation I was voted most likely to move to Djibouti. I spent much of my childhood being carted back and forth between South Africa and Canada, with regular trips to Europe and the US between migrations.
At sixteen I decided I had to go to the Galapagos Islands. I got a job working in a bookstore and convinced my parents to match the money I saved so that I could complete my high school biology credit in Ecuador.
That trip changed me. From then on, I saved as much money as I could and continued to travel every opportunity I got: a working holiday at a bar in Dublin, a few weeks in London and Paris before a summer-long road trip across South Africa, a student exchange in Melbourne followed by a month exploring Australia. After I graduated from university I headed back across the world to Asia and Australia for four months of backpacking before returning to Montreal for grad school. My final project? A documentary about Israel and the West Bank that had me learning about the conflict on both sides of the wall.
But then I got pregnant.
It was no surprise that my mom’s reaction was disbelief. After about a minute’s silence, she came back to herself only to utter “But what happened to your becoming a documentary film maker?”
“I can still do that mom,” was my reply.
But could I?
For many people having kids means buying a house, staying in one place, keeping a steady job. Children mean responsibility, and running off to ‘dangerous’ places in search of adventure isn’t something many new parents are willing to risk.
But we were. When our elder daughter was nine months old, my husband, Josh, and I packed up our lives to escape the winter and spend four months driving through the Eastern US, down and across Mexico and finally back up the West Coast and home to Montreal.
We lived on the road, cooking for ourselves, sleeping in our van and visiting friends everywhere we could. The first six months of April’s life had been intense. She was born with two large holes in her heart, and had surgery at five months. Now we got to spend every day together, watch our baby grow, meet scores of new people and simply live in the moment. It was hard at times. We occasionally ran out of money. We frequently had to change our plans because of a crying (or teething) baby. But looking back, it was one of the most important years of my life.
While we did head back to Montreal, we kept on taking trips. Three weeks in Europe, just April and me. Ten days in Havana to escape the Montreal winter. And then four months in South Africa when Charlie was a baby and another six months last year. Now we’re staying put in Montreal for a while, having mini-adventures around and near the city, and daydreaming about the next big trip.
We’re not rich. (Actually, far from it!) But you don’t need a lot of money to travel. You don’t need a lot of money to live well. You just need to do it.