Parents on the Go: A Walk on the Wild Side

Parents on the Go: A Walk on the Wild Side

2015-11-17 - In this series we get to know some adventurous families who are teaching their children about the great outdoors from day one. First up are Tim, Marieke and Polle, who walked the Camino de Santiago with their Bugaboo Buffalo earlier this year.

When Rotterdam-based entrepreneur Tim (35) and psychiatrist Marieke (28) welcomed their son in April 2015, they were determined to keep their adventurous spirit in the family. So, a few months later, they packed their bags for Northern Spain. Their goal? Walk 450-kilometers of the renowned Camino de Santiago route with their 3 ½ month old son in a stroller, in just two months.

Before becoming parents, vacations for the couple usually meant adventures in the outdoors. From the snowy highlands of Tibet to the jungles of the Philippines, Tim and Marieke traveled the world. “It’s all about that moment when you steer away from the path, when you set off on your own with the few essentials you need strapped to your back. We tend to feel comfortable in the most uncomfortable of situations. That’s when we end up in places that are right out of a National Geographic magazine,” says Tim.

When their son Polle was 3 ½ months old, they decided to get back out there, taking advantage of maternity and parental leave (for her) and a flexible vacation schedule (for him). They chose Northern Spain, a place where they could speak the language (Tim had traveled around Spain and spent time in Barcelona while Marieke had lived in Portugal), where medical care was in close reach, and where the weather would be pleasant enough for all to enjoy.

More specifically, they chose to walk the Camino de Santiago, also known as the Way of St. James, the pilgrimage route that hundreds if not thousands of people walk every year to reach the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, Spain. While many undertake the journey as a religious pilgrimage, others take on the challenge for the adventure, the scenery and the conviviality of meeting strangers on the way. “The Camino de Santiago was one of Europe’s first cultural routes and has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. There’s so much history, it was incredible to spend some time there,” says Tim. The couple decided to walk the primitive branch from Cantabria to Galicia, which was a little rougher in terrain but more moderate in climate.

While Tim and Marieke are seasoned hikers, they had to get used to a new pace with their young son in tow. No longer were they ahead of the pack, they stayed behind with the older folks. “Walking that certain pace, we were lucky enough to befriend those who walked alongside us. We were known as the couple with the baby – Polle was even crowned the youngest pilgrim to walk the Camino de Santiago (laughs). But this definitely helped when it came to finding places to pitch our tent – we were offered to sleep in peoples' backyards, were lead to safe campgrounds by a police officer, and even given the key to a nearby café in case it were to get too cold during the night,” explains Tim.

No regrets for this young family. Polle enjoyed the ride from the comfort of the sturdy Bugaboo Buffalo, and his parents couldn’t have hoped for a better vacation. Tips for others attempting a similar adventure? “Trust yourself, and your baby. Give yourself time. And be willing to settle for an alternative in case it’s just not going the way you planned.”

Thank you Tim and Marieke for sharing your story! Have you recently been on an adventure with your family? Be sure to share your experiences with us.

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