This is the blog of The Family Without Borders – a traveling family. Together with our small daughter, we decided to to live the life we always dreamt about. In 2010 made a 6-months long road trip Around the Black Sea and through the Caucasus to the Caspian Sea and back to Berlin.
Then, in 2012 – already with our second daughter – we went on the Between the Oceans Tour through Central America from Mexico down to Guatemala, Belize and Honduras.
What to do with your life when your small daughter turns 6 months?
We decided to continue our lives the way we have always dreamt about. Mama: Polish journalist and papa: German photographer will take small Hanna for a trip around the Black Sea.
A six month long trip, by car, through nine countries (and four “kind of countries”: Visiting friends/journalists, big and tiny villages, talking with hundreds of men and women with different ethnic backgrounds. Listening to their stories and reporting about them.
That was in 2010. And…
…what to do with your life when your second small daughter turns 6 months?
Probably the same! Next half a year in Central America: the trip Between The Oceans, from Mexico, down to Honduras.
The Family Without Borders – for all who believe that “want” means “can”. And that having a baby widens your life, not narrows it– like traveling!
Who are we
We met in Brussels, during an international conference for young journalists. In the beginning we traveled to different places together, but quickly realized that we should spend our life-adventure together and Anna moved to Berlin to live with Thomas. In everyday life we use three languages: Polish (Anna with Hanna and Mila), German (Thomas with Hanna and Mila), English (Anna and Thomas).
Anna is a press journalist. She worked for different media in Poland during the last few years (longest with the Gazeta Wyborcza). Since 2000 she was involved in the Young Journalists’ Association Polis, then for many years, on an international level, in the European Youth Press. She organized different media projects all over Europe, ran the Orange Magazine and was part of the the board for its 50 000 person network. (Which is why she has so many contacts in different countries.) She is still not sure what she likes more: organizing and connecting people or writing.
Thomas is a partner for the Berlin based web design company undkonsorten. Besides that, he’s a photographer, leading photo and blogging workshops. He is also active in the European Youth Press, especially as a photographer for the Orange Magazine. Thomas worked as a young journalist for different media (the German TV station ZDF, the German press agency (dpa), the newspaper Freie Presse and the radio station SWR4).
Hanna was curious about the world from her early beginnings. While in the belly she visited Macedonia, Kosovo and Serbia. In first months of her life she went to Poland (of course), Austria, Belgium and Italy. She was born weighing just 1800g (she was 6 weeks early, but contractions started 12 weeks early) in August 2009 and spent many long weeks in the hospital. But after this difficult summer 2009, everything went well. From October on she was with us on the great Around The Black Sea Trip.
Mila was, frankly speaking, made on our tour Around The Black Sea, somewhere in Ukraine. Our first ultrasound pictures of Mila we have in Georgian, then in Armenian and in Turkish. So she was a big traveler, already before she was born in January 2011.
Frequently Asked Questions
/about Around the Black Sea trip/
Why around the Black Sea?
For us it was clear from the beginning that our first big trip with small Hanna should be by car. So suddenly our two backpacks transformed into a Renault Espace – a real family car – full of nappies (they took up most of the space), baby food (easier to have it readily available), baby clothes (because this kid is growing every day) and travel bed for Hanna (so she has her own castle and a safe, well-known place). This time we’re not the hitchhikers anymore, but the family who can pick up other people.
Secondly we had to choose a not too distant route in order to be able to come back home quickly, if needed. So all of Latin America will have to wait for the future.
Thirdly we were both more interested in the East than in the West. European Union countries are becoming more and more similar to each other: shopping windows are the same everywhere, people wear same clothes. So… into the East! We looked at the map and the Black Sea route came up naturally. Such a nice, complex circle. At least one of us has been in almost all nine countries before, we know the languages (Russian, Polish, Ukrainian); we have many friends on the way. And there is the sea which will remind us that it’s our holiday!
Why start now?
Because it’s the best thing ever to see how your baby starts to move, stand, walk and talk. Not to miss a second. Thanks to this trip our small new family is spending every single day together.
Furthermore the German state subsidizes the first 14 months of any baby’s life (“Elterngeld”) which encouraged us to do what we always wanted: not working, but traveling, being with our baby. So let’s go!
How can we travel with such a small baby?
We believe that what a baby of Hanna’s age needs most is: food, sleep and… happy parents. The view outside of the window can change but her teddy bear is the same, the songs in our car are the same, the way we play together in the morning is the same. She is discovering the world very intensively: her first meeting with the sea, falling in love with dirty, homeless dogs in Romania, the sound of cows, sheep and birds.
The timing of our trip is good for us – because Hanna is still cannot walk (so she cannot run away), toys and parents are still entertaining enough (so we don’t have to stop on playgrounds), and she still sleeps twice a day (we can use this time for moving forward).
Since there are babies everywhere, it’s actually no problem to get baby food, milk, clothes, Pampers anywhere. It’s just a state of mind thinking that kids make everything more difficult. A baby can enrich your travel experiences with their curiosity. People smile more and are more helpful around a baby.
Where do we sleep?
Firstly: all you need are friends. Some give you their bed, a space on the ground, others will help with emergencies like finding a hospital or dealing with the police. Fortunately we have many friends in all the countries we’re going to. So it’s possible to use washing machines or update our blog. Secondly: we prepared our car so we can comfortably sleep in it. Thirdly: we have a tent.
And in worst case scenarios, there are always hostels and rooms to rent (which may be cheaper than one night in our house – that we subleted for the time of the trip).