The Arrival, Traveling with a Wife and Baby: The Journey Begins — “It is a big adjustment when you realize that you have a little person telling you what to do all the time.” -Chaya, my wife, about our new role as parents The Arrival A woman walked out of the Airtran terminal and into [...]
The Arrival, Traveling with a Wife and Baby: The Journey Begins —
“It is a big adjustment when you realize that you have a little person telling you what to do all the time.” -Chaya, my wife, about our new role as parents
A woman walked out of the Airtran terminal and into Phoenix, Arizona. She looked to the left, quickly looked to the right, nervously looked down at the baby that was slung in a papoose over her shoulder. She was looking for someone. She did not see me watching her. I think she was looking for me.
It was my wife and baby.
Phoenix, Arizona, Southwest USA, North America
Thursday, October 22, 2009
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My wife finally noticed me standing in front of the arrivals/ departures TV monitors in the arrivals terminal. I was trying hard to look cool. She smiled. I did too, I think I looked cool enough. With a big hug we said hello to each other again.
“Lets never do that again!” Chaya exclaimed.
I looked into the papoose at my baby. She was sleeping in a twisted odd sort of shape. She looked like me. She was twice the size of the newborn that stayed behind in Maine when I departed for Arizona a month and a half ago.
“Where did my wife trade up for this baby?” I thought, “and what the hell did she do with the old one?” Petra is now a baby, the newborn stage has been tossed behind for the vultures of time to gobble up and send to the land of never-again.
“You are going to make so much fun of me for all the stuff I brought,” Chaya, the light packing budget traveler, spoke with a big smile.
When I saw my newfound load come spinning around the baggage line I cringed. My wife, much to my dismay, pointed out the two largest bags on the entire luggage rack. In a flash of a moment I became the inheritor of two very large military issue sized duffel bags full of baby travel gear.
I took my marriage smoothly, I took the birth of my child with a fresh sense of cool, but as I tried to lift up those two 60+ pound duffel bags I knew that my life had changed. Wow, you are on a different road now, Vagabond, now this is a new horizon.
I had not seen my family since I left Maine seven weeks ago. I traveled by car from Maine to Albion, NY to St.Louis to Arizona. I have been working on archaeology sites around the Southwest ever since — without my wife, alone, sometimes lonely, sometimes mad at my wife for not leaving Maine with me, sometimes enjoying my desert solitaire. Always missing my wife and wondering what my little baby was up to.
Now my wife is back with me and I know exactly what my baby has been up to: laughing, crying, farting, smiling, pooping, sucking on titties. We talk to each other in coos, bird calls, and gurgles. She remembers me.
It is not difficult to travel the world. In fact, it is a pretty easy way to live a life. In my experience, traveling is vastly easier than being sedentary: working everyday, being around the same people everyday, holding your ground as a regular link in a chain (any chain), deferring to well worn respect structures, hanging your hat on the same hook each night, and not being able to just walk away whenever you do something stupid.
“I travel because I am lazy and it is the easiest way to live,” once spoke the traveler Loren Everly (Interview with Loren).
As far as I have experienced life, these words are right on: traveling the world is not difficult. It is the life of the freebooted romantic, a lazy fellow with small ambitions and big dreams. Anybody can do this.
Though I must assert, traveling the world on my own is not difficult. But to travel with a wife and baby, well . . . this may prove to be a bit more of a challenge.
Chaya and Petra have arrived in Arizona.
The journey has begun.
The most interesting thing about this journey is perhaps the fact that I don’t know that I can pull it off. As I carried 120 pounds of baggage, a wife, and a baby out to the little Subaru at the Phoenix airport, I smile, shrugged, and chuckled:
“Heaven is above and Beijing is far away.”
I learned this saying in China, and it is usually used prior to commencing a deed whose outcome is uncertain.
For ten years there was no conflict in the plot — I simply traveled from foreign land to foreign land as I chose, I worked jobs only when I needed money to keep traveling. Looking back on this journey, its ease of operation now stands out as sharp as a freshly knapped flake of obsidian.
Now, the journey begins.
There is now a ridge of conflict — an ongoing challenge — in the plot. I know that no story can be called as such without conflict, without an underlying challenge.
The path that I have just began walking is clod with brambles and briars. I see that this path has been walked before, there is a scant sign of footprints and a few broken twigs — Craigy from Travelvice.com has been traveling with an infant for almost two years, I have known many travelers who were raising families on the road, as well as grown adults who were themselves raised in a world of perpetual motion.
The plot line has now taken a challenging turn, a turn towards excitement, perhaps. I have stepped out of the pages of my formative traveling influences — Franck, Halliburton — as they never wrote about making the traveling life pan-generational.
There is now a much higher possibility for surprise: more than any other time, I have no idea what is coming around the next turn in the road, I can only imagine what lays over the next hill.
If I wish to keep my plot the same, I need to change my strategy to fit my changing circumstances. I can’t continue singing the same words, as the band is playing a different song. If I wish to keep singing, to keep traveling, I need to learn the new song: my new plan must meet my newfound needs — I need to water my newfound seeds.
Read about Petra’s birth at, Traveling baby Petra born at home
Read about Petra’s name at, Introducing Petra Hendele Adara Shepard
Vagabond Journey series in traveling with a baby
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About the Author: VBJ
I am the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. I’ve been traveling the world since 1999, through 90 countries. I am the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China and have written for The Guardian, Forbes, Bloomberg, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. VBJ has written 3679 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.
VBJ is currently in: Papa Bay, Hawaii
November 1, 2009, 2:24 am
Oh yeah — you’re in for it now!
( BTW, a little contrast adjustment to the ++ will really make those photos pop! Try this: http://www.irfanview.com/ )
November 1, 2009, 11:27 pm
Great read, Wade.
Can’t wait to read the stories involving Petra! She’s such a poppin.
I hope you’ll enjoy this new path. I’m sure you will.
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