I had a great childhood in Canada. I’m from a small town in Ontario with a really tiny population. There were a lot of lakes, really long winters and a real focus on outdoor living. But as much as I love my hometown, it felt a little closed off from the world.
As soon as I graduated high school I decided to go volunteer in Central America. We hadn’t traveled much while was growing up, so my family were just. I spent months in Costa Rica just being young and free, it felt amazing.
When I came home I didn’t feel ready to go to college. I was still trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life, so I moved back home and worked as a waitress in a diner. I planned to save as much money as I could.
The next year I decided to go to college, where I studied massage therapy for three years. But once I’d left university I felt the itch to travel again and started working in hospitality to save up.
After making enough money I traveled through Asia alone, living very modestly on my savings, before coming home, saving cash and setting off again. I spent years repeating this process.
I met my partner Harry in 2019. I was living in Toronto working as a personal trainer. He had moved temporarily from his home country Australia after being given a 12-month work contract in Canada. We clicked right away. I think he had only been in the city for a month before we were in an exclusive relationship.
In our first year together Harry and I traveled a lot. We had amazing vacations in Europe and getaways around the US and Canada. It was a different style of traveling to my previous trips, I think you tend to do more relaxed things while traveling with an established partner.
Once his contract had finished, Harry had the choice of staying in Canada or going back to Australia. Never one to say no to an adventure, I decided to take the leap and move with him to Sydney. He proposed in August of 2020.
When COVID happened, like everyone else in the world, we had to slow down very quickly. We felt it was a better time than any to start trying for a baby. It was kind of a crazy decision, but we knew we wanted to be parents.
We got pregnant and our twins, Oscar and Brooks were born in May 2021. Suddenly we were a family of four, so our life took another surprising turn!
Both Harry and I love to travel and we made the deliberate decision to keep pursuing our passion after we had kids. We didn’t want to let go of such a big part of our lives just because we were entering a new phase in our journey. We always knew it would be hard traveling with two young children, but we also knew it would be worth it.
The twins were nine weeks old when we took them abroad for the first time. We flew with them from Sydney to Toronto. Of course, I was concerned about their health at the time, whether their immune systems could handle being in an airport at such a young age, but they were both fine.
I think that first flight was the hardest one I have taken with my kids. They were so little and I was recovering from a C-section. I had weeks and weeks of sleep deprivation, so I was already struggling.
I think if I had felt rested it would have been totally different, but I was already totally exhausted. I was exclusively breastfeeding and that was really difficult to do with twins on an airplane. I couldn’t tandem feed them, so it seemed I was always feeding one of them. That was really draining for me.
Our trips are not logistically easy with two babies. Our boys are 14-months-old and eight of those months we have been abroad. They have flown a total of 17 times since their birth.
We have been to eight destinations across seven countries, some of which we have visited multiple times. We’ve flown long haul journeys, sometimes over 24 hours, at ages 9 weeks, 6 months, 1 year and 14 months old!
We have definitely been very brave and deliberate about traveling with them as much as we can. We look for places we can relax but also experience some culture. We’ve taken the kids to places like Ibiza, London and Barcelona.
When the twins were five-months-old we visited Mexico and it was just amazing. Harry and I still look back and say that was one of the best weeks of our lives. It was such a great way to reset with the kids.
The main challenge while traveling with babies or toddlers is keeping them entertained and happy when they don’t want to be strapped down in a stroller or airplane seat throughout the journey.
Feeding is another big challenge. Not having access to a kitchen while traveling can make it difficult to source and prepare nutritious food for them. Logistics of car travel can also be tough. Deciding whether you need to lug around car seats or rent them while you’re abroad, which can be expensive.
All of the stuff you have to bring is crazy. I couldn’t believe I needed so much stuff for these tiny little humans. You end up not packing enough for yourself because you don’t want to carry anymore.
But despite all the challenges, traveling with young children is 100 percent worth it. We have enjoyed every single trip and have forgotten about the hard parts within days. All the negatives just dissipate and you’re left with great memories.
Now, I make money while traveling through content creation and my husband has a really flexible company which allows him to take a pay cut for extended vacation days.
After our wedding in April 2023, Harry is planning on spending the year working remotely while we travel the world with our twins. We’re hoping to spend six months traveling around Europe, Canada and the United States and six months working our way through Oceania and Asia.
When I’m at home with my kids, I have all the comforts that make my life run smoothly. We have a routine and everything is scheduled. But I find when you’re in the swing of your routine, you aren’t that present.
There’s always an end goal or something you’re stressing about. Of course you have fun with your kids throughout the day, but a lot of day-to-day life is working on their development. I find you start to disconnect a little bit and focus too much on the routine.
When you’re traveling, you have to not care about the routine as much. I think that mentality is so important, to have those memories with your kids where you just enjoyed the moment. We very much value traveling over material objects.
If you came over to our house you probably wouldn’t be that impressed. We’re pretty minimalist people in a lot of ways, but we really value travel and put our money towards experiences and memories rather than luxury items.
We want our kids to feel like global citizens. Canada and Australia are so far away from each other, we want them to feel the world is a small place, which you can experience without being tied down.
Katie Hillier, 30, lives in Sydney with her fiancé Harry Bunton, 38, and their twin sons Oscar and Brooks. You can follow their travels on TikTok @whenkatiemetharry.
All views expressed in this article are the author’s own.
As told to Monica Greep