Solo Woman Travel
Travel Before and After Children
By Susan Griffith
After learning that I was expecting twins, my pre-natal travel plans became even more urgent. The crucial 7-month mark was approaching, after which most airlines refuse to carry pregnant women. I had enjoyed two sybaritic weeks in Italy at Easter with the father of the twins-to-be. But that was all a bit tame. Eastern Turkey had always appealed. By then fussing friends and relatives to whom I had revealed my plans had fallen by the wayside in confusion and defeat. There were only two major hurdles: the insurance company and my Significant Other. A signed form from an obliging (rather dim-witted) physician stating that my health was excellent took care of the former. The latter needed more delicate handling. (In my experience pregnant fathers always need much more delicate handling than their womenfolk.)
At about 28 weeks gestation I arrived at the loud and chaotic bus station in Ankara shortly after midnight and went to one of those soulless but serviceable hotels next to bus stations the world over. Ankara is not as dull as its reputation as a planned modern city had led me to expect, and I enjoyed exploring Ulus, the old city. The protruding abdomen attracted much attention from the women sitting on their doorsteps crocheting. I was sorry that my phrase book did not enlighten me as to the Turkish word for twins (indicating two seemed to convey that this was going to be my second child). But it was not until I was traveling back from Lake Van through Cappadocia that I experience a feeling of solidarity with my sex. I had just emerged from the underground city of Kaymakliwith some relief, since my expansive girth had made it a little awkward squeezing through the maze of passageways, some of which are so short it is necessary to bend double. With some time to fill before the arrival of the dolmus (shared taxi), I strolled through a warren of residential lanes. A young girl on her way home from school beckoned me into her house, where my interesting condition evoked enormous interest and an avalanche of sweetmeats. For once, I did not object in the slightest to being made a fuss of.
Some women might worry about traveling alone in remote places, but a pregnant profile works wonders. The only slightly dodgy encounter was with a man who clearly thought that my claim was so preposterous he wouldnt bother to verify it. When I stood up to leave the kahve (café), his jaw dropped and he apologized in confusion (though he had done nothing to apologize for).
Postscript: As every traveler-turned-parent knows, the second urgent deadline is to cram as much air travel as possible in before the sprogs turn two and start costing an arm and leg. As I planned a trip to Cyprus I looked forward to the legendary Mediterranean love of children and fondly imagined restaurant meals where our two chuckling little angels would be dandled and amused by the adoring locals. Alas, the locals were willing but the children were not. So we ended up eating and dandling at the same time.
Of course they were simply trying to convey to their stubborn parents that tiny kids (at least our tiny kids) are really much happier at home. And I am still working to overcome this preference.
SUSAN GRIFFITH is co-editor of Work Abroad and contributing editor for Work Abroad for Transitions Abroad Magazine. See Susan's bio for more information.