I am Ognen.
I am IT solutions architect at an NGO. Part of my work is to travel in various countries and I use that experience when traveling with my family. I love technology and love to use new gadgets. I travel with a bag full of equipment and gadgets trying to catch the best moments of our trips. But often I put the camera down just to enjoy the sunset with my lovely family.
I am Maya
I work with non actors on movies, TV series and commercials. I love nature and adventures. Natural parks, flora and fauna, interesting designs and adventure activities are my favorites. Traveling with my family is my best part of the year. It’s a quality family time when I always get surprised how my boys got so mature in such short period.
I am Matej
I’m in primary school. I love IT technology and inventions. I enjoy the nature but I also like to see how other countries find modern solutions on various problems. I find amazing Tech museums, electric cars, subway systems and especially airports. If there is a wi fi around I will find it. If anything is too complicated I will crack it.
I am Luka
I’m 7 years younger than my brother. I’m at primary school. I love summer and summer activities. Love to climb, swim, play and everything that is new and fun. Sometimes I get bored while waiting and I do funny things that my parents record. I don’t like watching my self doing silly things.
Who are we?
We live in Skopje, Macedonia, a small country on the Balkans, in Southeastern Europe. If you know where it is, that means you are/were very good student or you recently read something about our interesting political issues. However we are a small country with only 2million population, but rich in history and cultural development.
However, we started with short trips (mostly to the north Greece seacoast) from our home, usually as summer destinations. Very soon we found out that going to the beach for more than a week is not our thing. We started with walks off the beaten path. We were never resort people and we don’t like hotels. They are expensive, without much privacy, with a forced timeline that at times feels like living in a communist regime (breakfast at this time, lunch at this time, dinner at this time) with an enforced entertainment program.
So we started using airbnb.com and occasionally booking.com and most of the times we were able to find fair prices for good accommodations. We plan our trips at least 6 months before the travel dates and that way we can find better deals for everything. We never know the next place we are going to travel. Usually we start from one location and than switch to another because we found a good flight deal to some other destination and miraculously happens that we don’t need an entry visa to get there. Not that visa policy has stopped us from getting somewhere, but it is that little annoying procedure that we need to go trough, that usually requires a short trip to a neighboring country where the embassy is located.
The process of planning is sometimes hard and exhausting with all the web searching, reeding of reviews and all the different kinds of booking (flights, apartments, rides, entry tickets, day trips etc.). When we’re considering a location, we have to think in advance, try to get a mental picture of how the trip is going to be. Is it going to be too hard for the kids, would they have fun, is it safe, is the transfer too long etc. But life is not predictable so we can never be certain of these things.
We have had many obstacles during our trips, but we try to keep our heads cool and find the best possible solution.As the kids are growing they have started evolving as great problem solvers. Matej has saved the day many times now.
We travel on a budget, trying to keep our expanses on minimum in order to be able to afford a longer vacation, to see more attractions, to do more activities and to have more day trips. Whenever it is possible we do a round trip trough the country in order to see more cities and to do more day trips.
You can see how a specific trip went and what we experienced while we were there in our travel blog. Hope you will find it interesting and useful. Just to let you know English is not our native language in case something doesn’t sound quite right :-).
We are happy to help if we can, so don’t hesitate to contact us in case you have more questions.
Why do we travel?
The first reason why we travel as a family are the memories. Memories last forever. We want our kids to have happy memories of us as a family. Travel time is best for building relationships, for open talks, for experiencing and sharing. It is time to connect with each other, without all the disturbing factors from the local environment.
The second reason is the eduction. For us as parents, traveling is one of the best way of learning. The kids are learning trough real experience. They can see how things work right at the spot. When traveling they face problems they could not have experienced elsewhere. They learn how to navigate, how to use complex transportation systems, how to find what they need in a foreign country etc. What is more important for us is that they meet people, different cultures, they interact with them and they learn a lot about them. They treasure a person for being a person, and they respect them no matter the background, the education, the gender, the age etc.
We go a little bit further in keeping them open minded and we try to teach them how to survive without internet by using paper maps, explaining with mime when we don’t know the language, sensing trouble when it comes and other useful tips to stay alive and well. So don’t be afraid to travel with kids, even if they are bored sometimes, it is better to be bored on a trip than in front of a TV or an iPad 🙂
The basics of our traveling is traveling on a budget so most of the times that means bad flight connections, long hours traveling, staying at apartments, traveling around with local transportation, cooking at home etc. But at the same time this way of traveling gives us a better opportunity to meet the people, to feel the everyday life and to see behind the curtains. This also requires better planing and higher common sense to stay out of trouble. The internet is very helpful when we are planning a trip. There is so much information nowadays on the internet that is really making it easier to calculate the expenses and to plan further steps. But there are still countries for which you can find very little online or don’t have information available in english.
Lucky for us is that Ognen and I were raised in the previous century and we still now how to survive without technology. We try to teach our kids to use paper maps, to know how to orient and to use their brains in case of emergency. Knowing languages is essential while traveling. Our slavic background helps us with the slavic group of languages. We are all fluent in English including Luka who is the only one speaking with a British accent. Matej is learning German while Ognen and I cope with the Spanish language. The other essential thing is to know when to keep your mouth shut, especially if you are not familiar with the local culture and customs. When you don’t know how some things work just stay behind and watch what others are doing, or simply ask for a help. Most of the people are fine with helping foreigners. And smile, smile a lot! Be positive and respectful, people react better on positive attitude. You can make friends for life even far away from home.