Last year, when visiting the Stonehenge area, I had the pleasure of meeting up with my UK travel writing friend, Sascha Stokes. I arrived the day before she was due with her first child.
I recently caught up with Sascha to see how her life and travels have changed, now that she is a traveling mama. So, for you mamas out there thinking about going on that first romantic escape or girlfriend getaway since baby came into your life, you be inspired by one mama’s reaction to leaving baby at home.
TravelingMamas: What is your favorite travel memory?
Sasha Stokes: Stale popcorn in a forsaken motel somewhere north of Atlanta at 3am while watching a shopping channel and feeling homesick. The place stank of chlorine and cheesy feet. It seemed like the absolute highlight of my travel writing career. Not! In retrospect, it’s one of my favourite memories. Nowhere else in the world would ever again feel quite that destitute and ‘cheap 1970s TV flick’.
TM: Did you travel while pregnant? If so, what are some things you would’ve liked to have known beforehand?
SS: Nobody told me that you need three sick bags per mile in the first trimester…that’s on a good day. I drove all the way to Germany (ten hours in the car) when I was eight months pregnant and it was absolutely fine. As long as you still fit behind the wheel, go girl, gogogogo.
TM: Once your beautiful little girl entered the world, did your views of travel change?
SS: My views didn’t change. The practicalities did. Travel used to be something I would do at the drop of a hat. Now it takes weeks of planning, hand luggage the size of Mount Everest and a very good sense of humour.
TM: Have you taken her on any trips? Any tips you would like to share with other traveling mamas?
SS: Whatever it is, do it at night. It might take an ungodly amount of caffeine tablets to get you from A to B. But, HELLO! The anklebiter will be sleeping peacefully beside you for most of your journey. And that, my dear friends, is worth any amount of sleep deprivation. Most travelling mamas will agree! Oh, before I forget: an industrial strength under eye concealer should be in every travelling mama’s handbag.
TM: Have you taken a trip without her yet? How did you feel and how did you cope with leaving her at home?
SS: Leaving? I danced a dance of joy. And I sobbed at the same time- all the way to the airport. My daughter was nearly ten months old when I headed for five days in Rome. Hubs was left holding the baby. I plunged into the ultimate girly indulgence. My power friend and fellow travel writer Amanda Castleman was waiting. Fresh from Seattle with a good dose of Italian ancestry, she painted Rome for me. In VERY bright colours. We stopped traffic and started a flood of marriage proposals in mini skirts and stilettos. We didn’t sleep for espresso overdoses and fought with screaming Italianites over cheap import handbags. We flirted with Carabinieris, and wept over crying angels on the protestant cemetery. We got our heels stuck in tram lines and ran into friends on more than one occasion. We cruised arm in arm through Emperor Aurelius’s super-state and accosted students in plastic Roman solider outfits. Basically, we had a fabulous time and never crossed the tourist trail. And, yes, I missed my little girl like hell. And, no, I didn’t want to leave Rome one minute too early.