Overland Traveler Family: Natalia & Mariusz Interview

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Welcome to our next interview from the Overlander Interview series, where I've had a pleasure to talk with Natalia and Mariusz. They're a couple from Polandinfo-icon who I've met while traveling through Namibiainfo-icon. This couple quit their jobs after their son was born and now they're traveling around the world full-time. Learn more about their story and how they manage to continuously travel in this interview!

1. Tell us a bit about yourself, what’s your name and where are you from?

My name is Natalia, I'm from Poland, as well as my husband Mariusz and our son Maksymilian. Me and my husband dreamed about a trip around the world since we became a couple, but as a students we didn't have enough funds. Anyway, we’ve been travelling a lot in Europeinfo-icon, sometimes we’ve been hitchhiking. After buying a small low-cost car, we continued to travel with that. We usually slept in a tent, cooking our own food brought from Poland!

2. You have done some amazing world travels, how did your journey start?

After our son was born, we took him for a two weeks trip around Scandinavia at the age of seven months. This experience convinced us that travelling with a child is not that difficult as it seemed to be before. When Maks was four, we moved to Switzerlandinfo-icon and we started to save money for our long trip. Three years later, we decided to quit our job and his school to start the most precious experience in our life...

3. Please, tell us more about your traveling experiences, where did you go?

Maksymilian has been an overland traveler for almost his whole life!

Between September 2014 and September 2017 we travelled around the world.

We have started in Mexicoinfo-icon, then moved south through all Central American countries until Columbia (through Guatemala, Belizeinfo-icon, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Ricainfo-icon and Panamainfo-icon). From Colombiainfo-icon we travelled all the way down to Tierra del Fuego (through Venezuelainfo-icon, Brasil, Paraguay, Uruguay, Argentina). Then we took the way North by the Andes Mountains, passing the border Argentina-Chile many times. Afterwards we went to Bolivia, Peruinfo-icon, Ecuadorinfo-icon, and Colombia, Venezuela and Brazilinfo-icon for the second time. From Brazil we flew back to Europe after one year of travelling.

Read more: Passionate Motorcycle Overland Travelers

Because of Maks’ school, we had to pass the exams in Poland, back in our country for about a month. The second year of our big trip started in Sri Lankainfo-icon, from where we went to Indiainfo-icon, Nepalinfo-icon, then Malaysiainfo-icon, Philippinesinfo-icon, Indonesiainfo-icon, Australiainfo-icon, Singaporeinfo-icon, Thailandinfo-icon, South Koreainfo-icon, Japaninfo-icon, Chinainfo-icon, Mongolia, again China, Kyrgyzstaninfo-icon and Tajikistaninfo-icon. From there we flew back to Poland. That part of journey was 11 months.

4. How do you plan a new adventure and how do you find the ideal route?

We don’t plan a lot, maybe one week after! When we look back for our travelling, we realised that the plan was just perfect, for the weather conditions, to see many interesting spots, for the mountains… We are very spontaneous people, even in our so called normal life, we decided day by day and it is always ok.

5. When we met in Namibia, you were hitchhiking. Do you always travel like this?

No, we traveled by many possible ways: by plane, train, bus, hitchhiking, hired car, scooter, by walking, ferries, bike (we have rented from time to time). So, really all possibilities, depending on the country, its surface and the things to see. For example, in Patagonia we’ve been only hitchhiking for 3 months, because the buses are expensive there, while in Canadainfo-icon hitchhiking was not the best way, we rented a car for a month and slept in it. In Asiainfo-icon, generally public transport was ok; and we loved to hire a scooter for the three of us.

6. Impressive, how did you manage to travel so far for such a long time?

Natalia and Mariusz prefer camping in remote areas and nature.

We had our daily budget, so the price of 5 Euro for 100 kilometers road was accessible for us. In Venezuela, we travelled with very old taxis for long distances, cause it was very cheap.

Read more: Learn How to Travel Simplistic from This Overland Couple

We like our tent, but we use it rather in the mountains and spots far away from civilization. Couchsurfing was very useful, but not often, because usually, we didn’t have detailed plans. We slept in hostels, sometimes people invited us to their houses, we received the hospitality of Polish Catholic Missions in Africainfo-icon and Australia. We slept many times at airports and not seldom did we arrive somewhere in the middle of the night and stayed till the morning in the streets, coffee shop etc.

7. You travel as a family, how do you manage being so close all the time?

We were close as a family and that was a precious thing when we look at our society, so I don’t mind to be with my husband and son 24 hour per day. Of course sometimes we argue, we don’t say a word, but it quickly passed away. I think we have always been straight forward. Once a problem comes, we need to sort it immediately. Sometimes we hurt each other, but we all learn to say sorry and keep going. In our family it’s just impossible to stay angry for more than one hour.

8. You are homeschooling your son, how is this working out on the road?

Homeschooling was indeed quite complicated on the road, but we had no other choice. Sometimes the subjects were really cool, but most of the time not really. I think we haven’t been very good teachers but fortunately our son passed all his exams. The people which we met on the road taught him as well. He's been painting with a painter in Japan, playing some bizarre instrument with musician in India, making origami, different things with rope with an alpinist, speaking many languages. So, I think the travel itself was a sort of school for him. A big and open minded school indeed!

9. What are the worst things that happened to you on the road?

Our worst experience was when two guys in Colombia wanted to take our money and valuable stuff with a gun (till now we don’t really know if it was real), they hit us with some stones but we ran away. Situations for demanding more money, forced tips etc, always make us quite uncomfortable.

10. What is the best thing about travelling, what have you learned?

Traveling is all about learning about yourself on a deeper level as well as getting more insights into other cultures and people.

But anyway, travelling means for me a big lesson about myself, the lesson of patience, of not caring so much about today, of inventing something exciting, discovering my good and bad side, of appreciating every moment and being thankful for all that I have received. Discover how beautiful the world is, and know that all people are similar, even with a different cultural background.

11. Do you have any advices for people who want to follow your footsteps?

So, I tell everybody who feels this need of travelling inside-go on! It is gonna work, and you will never regret!

If you are interested in more stories from this overland traveler family, follow their journey on their website and make sure to support them on their Facebook page!

Adrian Sameli founder and editor of aSabbatical.com
Travel mindfully to meet local people around the world and embrace new cultures. Get inspired and inspire others!