This Mom And Son Duo Are Traveling The World Together One Country At A Time
By Kelsey Marie
Nyja, an NYC-based content creator and digital storyteller, began exposing Nolyn to travel during his first year of life.
Together they are traveling and documenting their journeys visually on Instagram.
In addition to traveling together, they are both vegans and manage to find plant-based options while abroad. Nyja shares their findings via Instagram.
We had the opportunity to talk to Nyja about the impact travel has had on her as a woman, her and Nolyn’s experiences abroad, and their recent trip to Kenya.
Travel Noire: When and where did you and Nolyn take your first trip?
Nyja: We went on our first trip to Canada when Nolyn was about 6 months old. Then shortly after, we headed to Europe.
Travel Noire: How do you choose your destinations and does traveling with a toddler influence your choice?
Nyja: I really don’t have a formula for how I choose my destinations. However, I do prefer to travel off-peak season, not only for the lower expenses but also because it’s not as crowded.
Traveling with a toddler doesn’t influence where I travel at all.
I look at it from a standpoint of every single country has toddlers, so why not take my toddler along to experience and immerse himself in a different culture.
Travel Noire: What is the biggest challenge of traveling with a toddler?
Nyja: Just the fact that I am not always in control or have the freedom that I use to have as a traveler before I became a parent.
It’s unrealistic to say I want to go on a jam-packed excursion with a toddler.
I have to pace myself and more importantly, I have to listen to my child — he will get tired and fussy so I have learned the beauty and importance of balance.
When I travel I like to do both tourist and local activities, so I make sure that I am able to do things that I enjoy but I will find a nearby park or take a break in between so Nolyn can enjoy the vacation as well.
Travel Noire: In what ways have you observed the impact travel has had on Nolyn
Nyja: I often feel like with growing up in America, we are taught early on that America is the best country in the world. The last thing I want my son to be is a xenophobe.
I have noticed that he has an appreciation for other cultures as a result of traveling.
No matter where we go, he will find native children and somehow they end up communicating, regardless of the language barrier.
We recently traveled to Kenya and visited the Maasai women and before I knew it, he was being swaddled on one of the elder’s backs. He was so content. Moments like that just warm my heart.
Travel Noire: How has traveling affected you as both a mother and a woman?
Nyja: Since I’ve become a mother, I travel more cautiously — especially because I am a young, black mother traveling alone most of the time with a child.
Nothing brings me more gratitude than allowing the world to be my son’s classroom. Traveling and embracing other cultures can be one of the best teaching tools.
Travel Noire: Your recent trip to Kenya looks just magical — what effect did traveling to the diaspora have on you and Nolyn?
Nyja: Thank you, it was such a transformative trip! I haven’t been back to Africa in a year and this trip was Nolyn’s first time on the continent.
It was amazing to hear my son say, “Mommy, everybody is brown like me.”
Travel Noire: Which destinations would you recommend for a first-time mom and her child traveling abroad?
Nyja: Caribbean islands are always great to visit. The flight isn’t too long and there are tons of family-friendly activities.
Secondly, I would say London. It is one of my favorite and very easy to navigate with a child. I spent over a month alone with Nolyn there and it felt like home.
Travel Noire: How do you plan your daily itineraries while traveling?
Nyja: I’m the worst when it comes to itineraries and I am trying to get better, especially because I am traveling with a child.
Normally, I like to make sure we are getting enough sleep and adjusting to the time difference. Sleeping is important to me.
I really only create an itinerary if I’m staying in a country for under two weeks in order to optimize my time.
If I’m traveling alone with Nolyn, I try to end my day as close as possible to sunset if I’m not familiar.
Travel Noire: What are the top three must-haves for you and Nolyn while traveling?
Nyja: We are vegan, so I always try to bring non-dairy staples if possible. Also, important documents and a portable charger.
For Nolyn, my must-haves are a carrier or stroller (he’s getting too big for both, so soon he will have to walk everywhere), a portable toilet seat cover and some type of interactive activity (this can be a coloring book, puzzle, iPad, etc.)
To keep up with Nyja and Nolyn’s travels, follow them on Instagram here.
Kelsey-Marie is an NYC girl who currently lives in Johannesburg, South Africa.