Max Smith has played drums in Rwanda, raced down sand dunes in New Mexico and rode a camel in Dubai.
Next up for the 2-year-old: Antarctica.
Max is set to become the youngest known American to visit all seven continents when he cruises into the ice-covered, southernmost continent March 1.
Carter, 42, said she is used to the confused questions from friends and strangers. How does she manage the overnight flight, the cranky toddler, the exhaustion? But mostly, why travel with her son when he won’t even remember it?
“Well, then why hug your child, why take them to the park or read them a book at this age?” she usually replies. “They learn so much right now.”
Carter, who is originally from Canada, took her first solo flight to visit relatives at age 8 and loved the feeling of independence. When she graduated from college, she backpacked around Europe and was hooked. Since then, she has visited more than 100 countries.
While pregnant with Max, Carter hatched a plan for her son to break the record for the youngest American to visit all 50 states. But COVID-19 arrived in the U.S. at the end of her pregnancy, making travel difficult, if not impossible.
Wondering if Max could break any other records, Carter did some research and learned Max could become the youngest American to visit every continent. An infant from Europe managed the feat in 2008 before her first birthday.
So Carter began making plans. A 16-hour direct flight to Dubai in May 2022. Fiji in September of that year, followed by Ireland, then Rwanda and Uganda.
Often, it’s just Carter and Max. But Carter’s 10-year-old daughter, Athena, and her husband, Cord Smith, join them in the summer as school commitments slow down.
It’s not always easy, Carter said. Babies cry. They need sleep. They refuse to sleep. They won’t sit in the stroller. They refuse to get out of the stroller.
“You have to accept that sometimes you are going to be the parent with the screaming child,” she said. “It’s part of traveling with a child. Once you’ve accepted that, you’ll feel a little better.”
Carter is now making plans for their summer travel — a trek through Europe by train.
“Nothing makes me happier than traveling,” she said. “Now is the time. He might not remember it, but I’m certain I will.”