Q&A - Our answers to your questions - First chapter
What’s your job? How do you manage to travel so much? Is this your job or does your job allow you to work so much?
We are two freelancers since before we started travelling. We’ve been working from home before: Julien is specialized in hospitality and hotel marketing and Miki has always worked in the fashion industry: her blog became her job almost immediately after she launched it, a couple of years ago. Through the years we acquired competencies that allowed us to travel today and to melt our job with our passions. Miki is a writer and Julien takes care of the visual content (video and photo) other than taking care of the marketing for Like Miljian.
When we decided to be travellers and leave our home and habits behind, we made the brave decision to work with what we love the most. It’s a poker game with life. :) Tenaciously and bravely we can say we’re on the good path. The 90% of our work is focused on Like Miljian, a part from this is only marketing consultancy by Julien. All we need to work is a good WiFi connection and our laptop, so we can work from anywhere in the world. We’re authors and creators of content, travel journalists.
How do you organize your suitcases, your summer and winter clothing?
We left with two big suitcases. We explored Asian South East so far, which has never been so cold and we knew it before leaving. So, a suitcases was full of summer clothes and the other one carried accessories, documents, medicines and that’s it. The other half was empty (you never know what you’ll find along the way!)
How can you travel so far with two kids?
You can, of course you can! The secret is not about having kids or not, but it’s about your attitude as a parent. You need to be very flexible and patient, and that’s enough. Kids feel when you’re stressed and therefore they behave accordingly. As long as you know your children you’ll find a way. For instance, your son likes to play, run and be active? If your flight is long just make sure you’re travelling at night. If you’re wondering about the jet lag we have the same answer: flexibility. When we came back to Paris from Hong Kong we had 7 hours jet lag. The european morning was our afternoon. In the evening we were all so tired and the kids got up a 5AM for a week. We just adjusted to their rhythm, going to sleep and getting up with them. After a week we were not jet lagged anymore and we all got up at 8AM (yuhu)!
Your kids and their picture contribute a lot to your success, aren’t you afraid to share their image online? Have you thought about their opinion as adults when they’ll realize they were on the internet without their consent?
Teo and Lia are on our pictures as much as any other children from any other family living in our times, with a job on the internet or elsewhere. Our job doesn’t focus on them, we’re just a travelling family. Thinking of them in our pictures online never bothered us and they never got annoyed with the camera. On the contrary, Teo loves seeing himself in our Instagram stories. We take pictures of them and of us as a family in order to have a great deal of amazing memories in the future. Also, we never embarrass them, but we are careful of what we post online and we make sure to value them. Always.
Regarding the kids. Are they always willing to travel, to eat anything? Do they take naps? Are there more difficult days or it’s always so charming as we see in the pictures?
Oh, no. Absolutely. Our kids are just like any other kid. They throw tantrums and cry like the others. And we as parents would never start taking pictures of them during the hard times, but we’re all focused on making them feel better and on their wellbeing. They have their favorite activities and we try to involve them in every thing, also less kids friendly activities. They never refused to do something. They get their daily sleep everywhere: in hotels, at home, anywhere we’re staying in the world. Julien and I are trying our very best to balance work and life and often we end up working at night. Often they were tired and fell asleep outside. You can see them sleeping on Bali in a bar on the Tegalalang rice fields or in Thailand on big pillows on the beach. They’re amazing for this, they get used to everything. When Teo is tired we hold Lia and he sleeps in the stroller. For now this all worked out easily. Some days are more complicated, it’s true. And the fact that we don’t get any help makes it harder (we never had a baby sitter, never!). But bad days always come to an end. We’re pretty positive :-)
Isn’t it tough to eat at restaurants every day? Especially with kids? How do you manage to take care of their diet?
It is tough indeed! It’s way more pleasant to cook following your needs and taste, that’s why we love staying in apartments. It wasn’t always possible and it’s okay: we love staying in hotels too. Asiatic kitchen is very healthy by the way: rice, vegetables and fish. Also at the restaurant. It wasn’t that hard to keep a healthy diet for each of us :)
You give us so much joy, how can you turn anything into the best thing ever?
Thank you so much for these words. We’re truly honored. I think we like to keep life funny and light and be relaxed about situations. We’re not the anxious type of parent, we like to be free and to let our children feel free as well. We talk and share a lot and this helps us solving any issue. And we keep it very positive!
What about vaccines: yes or not? Have they ever got sick? Weren’t you worried to be in Asia, where hygienic conditions are usually scarce?
The kids NEVER and I repeat NEVER got sick during these 5 months in Asia. They’re both vaccinated, but no additional vax except for those who are provided for this particular area of the world. Anyway, we’ve always been careful: we’ve never been in areas with a higher risk and we never ate in ”shady” restaurants.
Do you have any sponsor?
Absolutely not. No sponsors. No one gives us money to travel, it’s our personal choice.
I read that you make a living with your blog and the partnerships, but I think you were independent workers before and you’ve been working anywhere in the world with a good internet connection and a laptop?
LikeMiljian started not a long time ago when, coming back from Paris, we decide to create a blog. A diary of our family life in Florence. The idea was to keep the grandparents posted, all four of them living far away, and to share our story as neo parents. We are perfectionists, we did not launch a blog out of a template but we bought a domain, we created our own logo and style and spent a whole afternoon only choosing the right colors (we’ve always done it by our own). People appreciated the project right away: the format was new. Within the time frame of a couple of months the traffic grew and grew and eventually it became a real job. The subject is Florence, our italo-french little family, our trips, our life. When we left for our journey around the world LikeMiljian is already well known, that’s why we embarked for this adventure. However, realizing this dream was incredibly hard, we’ve been working sooo much, day and night. Our heads started smoking from all the work, we compromised and sacrificed a great deal. We were all in. Always kept going, non stop! Sometimes it’s so very tiring, we have no idea what “weekend” means anymore. A break, a holiday: what’s that? We’re travelling, it’s true, but that’s our job, it’s not a holiday. We have no schedule and our brain never stops. Anyway, the memories we’re collecting as a family are worth every wrinkle, and this is all that matters.
Where do you buy your clothes?
It depends. During our trip we didn’t buy much for logistic reasons. Brands often contact us to give us pieces of clothing for free. Sometimes we buy in shops, sometimes online, but we never abuse with the shopping. Especially while we travel, we just buy what we strictly need.
Do travel agencies help you or you just travel on your own?
We choose and plan our trip 100% by ourselves. We love the real travel spirit, getting lost to discover. We like to use public transport and to live like real locals do! And we love being free to decide and shape our own experience.
How long does it take to organize a trip? Does it happen that you’re just going with the flow and improvise? What do you suggest to prioritize in the organization?
Of course we improvise! It happened we had to buy a flight ticket for the day after, to book a flat or a hotel one hour before check in. If prices allow it we suggest to go with the flow. First things to take care of are prices and availability. If you’re travelling during peak season you risk that availability is scarce and you will spend more money for less quality. It all depends on the destination.
Did you ever have the feeling that it was all a mistake to leave it all behind? And if yes, how did you manage this feeling?
We had moments of hesitation but we never missed our home (Florence yes, every day!). Sometimes it’s been pretty stressful too, but we never thought we made a mistake, ever. What you get from it it’s so beautiful and rich you cannot have doubts. The experiences remember us why we did this every single day. And also, it’s not a choice for forever, someday we’ll settle down again. We got out of doubts and crisis with thinking and sharing and feeling and brainstorming. Our bless is that we’re very united. Be united, not divided!
Do you plan your trip in detail or you’re just going with the flow?
We go with our feelings a lot, especially when we are in a part of the world that we feel we belong to. We changed our plans several time to follow our guts. But of course there’s always an initial idea, a program.
Don’t you miss stability, a house, habits?
Everyone has its comfort zone and lifestyle is a very personal matter. Our comfort zone is to not have a comfort zone. We like to discover, to explore, we like being every day somewhere new and never stop. This is our daily routine. :)
When will you stop travelling? When will the kids start the school? How do you see your future?
We don’t know yet when this journey will end. We set as a deadline the day Teo will start school, but it might be before. We will stop the moment we realize it’s time to stop. In our future we see a home, school and work. A normal life. Only difference: our home will be full of crazy pictures and memories from all around the world! :)
What is a must see of Asian South East?
Our next destination is super incredible guys! We’re working right now on a new adventure, a real dream. We won’t reveal it until everything is decided. When we’ll stop travelling we will settle down somewhere but it won’t be Italy. Florence will be in our heart forever and we’ll come back often, as tourists :)
What is a must see of Asian South East?
Our very favorites are Vietnam and Indonesia, for very different reasons. If you’re travelling to Asian South East make sure to visit one of them at least :)
How do you deal with such small creatures? Can you enjoy them among all this fuss? How do you deal with their simple needs?
The real challenge for us is to balance the work life with our private life as parents and as a couple. There’s nothing harder than being full time employed and full time parents. However, what really helps is that we’re both working on the same things: put them to sleep, change them, feed them. We can split the work and coordinate like a team! And we really really enjoy them, so very much! We’re all together all of the time and we didn’t miss a bit of their growth. We’re aware our life is exceptional and not ordinary and we’re thankful for all this time we have to spend together. We’re there for them, every single minute. And they know it.
Isn’t it too difficult to travel with two children?
No, not at all. It all depends on your attitude as a parent. We love seeing how well they adapt to any circumstance while we travel. We love seeing them playing with kids from all over the world. We love their curiosity. It wasn’t difficult at all with them.
Do you have any suggestions for those who would like to do something similar?
Think it through ahahah! If you are millionair go ahead, if you want to do it as a job spend some time thinking and evaluating whether you have the cards for it or not. Are you ready for an extremely stressful, tiring adventure? Are you ready to compromise it all and constantly prove yourself? Are you ready to give up on weekends, breaks, holidays in name of an incredible experience? If yes, perhaps this is the right path for you.
Have you ever thought about going back home?
Of course we had several moments of stress and weariness but we never thought about going back “home”, especially because we don’t have a home anymore. Everytime we felt tired we thought of what could help us feeling better, for instance we have our own little rituals such as drinking coffee in a Starbucks just to feel that “west” vibe for a while. But always keeping an eye on going onwards and not backwards.
You’re in Europe now, is your trip over?
Absolutely not! The travel just begun! We’re in Europe to visit our families, for a health check up, for work and for a clothing change (really necessary). Now we’ll stroll around Europe for a little while then to the next incredible adventure!
If I want to travel to Asian South East, what starting point do you suggest?
If it’s your first trip to Asia and you’d rather start in a smooth way, start from Thailand or Indonesia. If you like adventure Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. If you are real nature lovers don’t miss Philippines.
How did you choose where to start from? Pointing fingers on your map?
Exactly. ;-) On the big map on our bedroom wall. We’re very fond of Asia, it felt natural to start from there.
Is there something you felt you could not offer to your kids during the trip? How did you manage it?
Yes. The grandparents. That’s why we came back to Europe for a break, before taking off again. We’ll spend Teo’s birthday all together in Paris.
Are the kids okay with sleeping in so many beds? And the jet lag?
The kids have some quite impressive adaptability skills. They sleep anywhere. Together with us in the big bed, on mattresses on the floor, in their cribs. Regarding the jet lag, once we’re moving around Asia, jet lag is 1 or 2 hours. Totally doable.
What about education and school? Do you help Teo with writing and coloring?
When the time comes Teo will go to school, in the meantime he’s enjoying the school of life. :)
While travelling, have you ever been in a place that made you feel home so much you actually thought about settling down there?
Oh yes, some places made us think about it. Then it all depends from the job opportunities, we haven’t decided yet. There’s still so much to discover!
How do you adapt to a completely different culture? Do you have tips?
The wonder. There’s nothing better than being open to surprise and wonder in front of the difference. No judgement, no expectations, just observation of a spectacular new stage of life.
Did you have everything in your suitcases or some clothes have been sent to you from Italy?
We had all in our suitcases. When we needed something we bought it (see Hong Kong, it was way too cold there for our equipment, and we only had flip flops!)
Do you have a daily budget? Were you able to keep up with that?
Yes, we have a daily budget and it wasn’t always possible to keep up. Sometimes we saved, some other times we spent more. In Asian South East life is very affordable, we tried to live like locals and not like tourists, this helped.
Did you ever pick a spot because of the accommodation?
Yes, sure! Sometimes we wanted to visit places so tiny that availability was definitely an issue. In some cases we had to give up on the visit.
How could you order food from a foreign menu? Especially what to order for the kids? Did you have problems with this or could you communicate easily?
Never a problem with the food, we’ve always found great offers. Of course we were careful, especially for Teo and Lia. Menus are often written in english, otherwise we asked for help to the waiters.
If you have to pick just one thing: the most beautiful and unique experience of the whole trip?
Wow. This is a tough one. Too many great things, it’s too incredible we cannot make a choice.
Was it difficult to keep up with the rhythms of Asia? Was it difficult to understand some aspects of their lifestyle?
Asian South East is incredibly welcoming. Streets are safe, people are open minded, smiling and friendly. Their lifestyle really matches ours. We had an amazing time there.
Was it difficult to build partnerships with the hotels there? Have you always had good opportunities or sometimes it was hardly possible?
We’ve kicked in the travel industry from scratch. Initially it’s been quite hard to understand the dynamics, but every time we talked about our project they liked it. People appreciate who is brave enough to follow their dreams. In the beginning we contacted our partners directly and we made our way. After a while they started contacting us. They see how much heart and passion we put into our work.
Is it possible to sustain the costs with partnerships exclusively or not?
It can be possible but it’s very uncertain. Uncertainty is not suggested if you want to realize this kind of job. Also, never underestimate the value of a cooperation. Nothing is for free, a partnership is a job.
Have you ever been travel bloggers before leaving for this adventure? If yes, where did the idea come from?
We don’t define ourselves travel bloggers. We can give suggestions on the places we visited (you can find our guides here), but Like Miljian is a travel journal, a diary. We don’t think of it as a blog. We’re the main characters of what we’re doing. And we’re also travellers. We’re looking for adventure, authentic experiences. And then, we tell stories. :-)