Travel Diary: I took my daughter to my first home country [Part 1]

Returning to my first home with my little one has always been a dream of mine. So, when I finally had the chance, budget, time and multiple reasons to fly there, I just went for it. With my daughter as the ultimate travel buddy since 2015, we flew to Rome, Italy. My first home.

My mother, who spent her entire life in Italy celebrated her 60th birthday in Rome. She’s more Italian than Filipino for spending all her adult life in Italy since she was 19 years old. I don’t remember celebrating her birthday not even once. Our Rome trip was the only time; we get to spend time with her on her birthday

Sad but true!

But, it’s also one of the reasons why we had a valid purpose for visiting the Schengen state.

Piazza del Popolo

Kerrigan watches the lady feed the pigeons near Piazza del Popolo.

What are the steps to go to Rome, Italy? And, how to get a Schengen Visa?

Unlike the Japan and US Visa, getting hold of a Schengen Visa isn’t exactly a walk in the park. Even though I was born in Italy and had a Permesso di Soggiorno for years when mine expired at 21, I had to go through the normal process of availing a tourist visa. In my Schengen Visa Guide, I shared the whole process on how to apply for a Schengen Visa for a single travelling parent with a toddler. You must secure all the documents and anticipate to submit more during the interview stage. Luckily, there is a dedicated agency, Via.ph, to handle the visa application process for you.

What was it like to receive our visas?

It took about a week before we got calls from the Italian Embassy. Usually, these calls are meant to ask more questions to the visa applicant. With our case, my daughter and I will be travelling together without her Dad. So, questions were basically about the father like why was he not coming and other questions about work. The questions were standard, and the call took about 10 minutes or less since I have submitted everything from the requirements. One little hiccup though was when they ask me to submit an affidavit of travel support along with a statement that I am allowing my daughter to travel. I find this additional document weird since I intended to go with her. So, I felt that that document wasn’t necessary, but I complied anyway.

Another week passed, I received our passports via 2GO. I went on a video call with my father and siblings to open the passports together. And there it was, the Schengen Visas were on our passports. I felt relieved because we’ve paid for Airbnb, travel insurance and airfare even before we applied for the visas. It denoted a considerable risk. It would’ve been better if my father and siblings did get their visas too.

Find out why my father who was a former OFW in Italy, a previous holder of a work permit, and my siblings who’ve been to Italy so many times got rejected from a Schengen Visa on my next post.

How did I prepare for the trip with my daughter?

In my About Me page, I shared my work background as a Digital Marketing Manager taking home-based or location-independent freelance projects. My line of work allows me to work remotely from anywhere in the world. It is the reason why I could travel anytime, anywhere with my daughter. So, by the time our travel has been confirmed all I had to do was to pack my mobile office. It meant packing my lightweight laptop, wireless mouse and Bluetooth earphones along with our three-weeks worth of luggage.

Read more about my work in the work-from-home section of my blog.

What were our activities in Rome?

After spending about 1,800 Euro getting us to Rome, I maxed out, almost. It was a case of travelling on a tight budget with a toddler. Thanks to my mother, aunt and cousin who bought the food and transportation tickets for us, my daughter and I survived the three-week vacation in Rome. The fact that my then two-year-old Kerrigan was too young to notice anything pricier than a cone of ice cream was a blessing. Fortunately, there are so many affordable places in Rome that kids would enjoy without spending too much. Parks are everywhere with decent playgrounds. Popular tourist destinations like the Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain, Via Del Corso and Colosseum are close to each other. You could walk your way around on good weather.

I’ll share my itinerary in Rome when travelling on a tight budget with a toddler soon, so subscribe to get updates.

Bringing my daughter to Rome may be only a small fraction of my goals as a mother, but it meant a lot. I have visited Rome a few times before, and it was through my parents’ help. Now that I am a mother myself, it’s now my turn to do the same for my kid, and that includes creating new memories for us.

What’s coming next?

Stay tuned for the following travel stories and adventures this September.

  • How to commute in Rome with a toddler in tow [Part 2]
  • Must-haves for traveling with a toddler in Rome, Italy [Part 3]
  • Budget-friendly Rome travel guide [Part 4]
  • What I learned from my trip with my daughter to Rome, Italy [Part 5]

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