Solo Woman 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).
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 was
the co-editor of several editions of the Work
Abroad book and contributing editor for Work Abroad
for Transitions Abroad Magazine. See Susan's bio for