Alina Ceclan, aka The Happy Kid, is one of those people who chose to put everything on standby and say YES to life. To travel without limits. I am crazily in love with such people.
Veni Vidi Amo!: Who is behind The Happy Kid? Tell us more about yourself.
Alina: I am Alina, a daydreamer and true perfectionist. The low-risk taker side of the family, I never wanted to do anything unless I knew it would work well and I would be sure to do it better than most people. This attitude often blocked my initiative, prevented me from trying things out of the ordinary and made me think of what needed to be done, instead of what I would enjoy doing.
I worked for almost 10 years in the financial area in multinational corporations. During this time I grew and learned a lot, I was highly appreciated, with great perspectives and very happy overall with my professional path. Two years ago, after my baby boy was born, I realised I’m not focused in the right direction, as I was not pleased with how I spent my time and energy. Eric showed me that life means much more than a pay-check, performance evaluations and happy customers. Through him, I discovered the small things that make you happy, the joy of living each day to the fullest. Luckily, my husband Andrei shared the same life philosophy.
So, we started planning for a break in our regular lives, to combine the absolute love for our son with our passion for travel. Two months ago we left our jobs and businesses and started a journey around the world, to enjoy our time together. We plan to spend about a year, but we try to be very flexible for now.
What determined you to write about your travels?
I was always eager to visit interesting places, experience new things or get to know more about foreign cultures. Andrei has the same passion for travel and adventure, so we managed to visit a few new places each year. As I am a real control-freak, I need to know all the details about our holiday and be able to make all the relevant decisions. That’s why we organised by ourselves most of our travels and I enjoyed this activity almost as much as the journey itself. As time passed, our friends began asking about tips and tricks regarding certain destinations, where to go, what to see and so on. This is the moment when I started thinking about a travel blog, as it seemed that others might be interested in our travel experiences.
The trigger for launching The Happy Kid was actually the change I was talking about earlier. I thought about the blog as a journal for this sabbatical year, where I would also add past travel experiences. Our main purpose in life, to raise a happy child, inspired the name for the blog. But it also relates to the kids within each of us, buried deep in our souls by deadlines and social norms, who need to escape and be free, in order for us to be happy.
What do you think are the greatest illusions people have about travelling?
Considering my blog profile, family travel, the biggest issue I see is that lots of people consider too difficult to travel with kids. Many consider it is not worth to take kids in their journeys, as they won’t remember it anyway. But kids are stronger and much more adaptable than we think. Travel is very important for them and helps to bond within the family, as long as it is scheduled to consider everyone’s needs. Yes, it is more difficult to travel with young kids, but it is extremely rewarding. I totally understand the need to take a break from parent life from time to time, we all feel that. But in 20-30 years, the holidays spend with our kids will be the most cherished memory.
Another big mistake people make when it comes to travel is that you need lots of money for it. Maybe 20 years ago it was more complicated. But nowadays, when we have low-cost flights, Airbnb and lots of information available online, you can self-arrange everything considering your budget and personal needs. We are extremely lucky to live in a period when it is very accessible to build your own vacation and plan exactly how much you want to spend.
From my own experience, I realize each travel produces transformations inside us, it determines us to constantly reevaluate ourselves, to see things differently, to perceive the people and values around us differently. At what level do you consider you have changed because of your travels? Do you regret any of these changes?
Travelling made me more adaptable, taught me to accept deviations from the original plan or even not to have a plan at all. In time, I learned to be more flexible, to tolerate and understand different perspectives and points of view.
By interacting with other worlds and cultures, I am now grateful for what I am and what I have, for the life I am living. In the same time, I understood there is no ideal, dream location in the world. No place is perfect, anywhere you go there are positive and negative aspects, no matter if we talk about climate, nature, culture or society. It is important for each of us to understand what is important to us, what we enjoy the most and not let other people opinions to alter our own perception.
I am extremely happy with all the travel experiences I had so far and the way they shaped my personality. This is why I want my son to travel as much as possible, to know that the whole world is his playground. There is no better lesson that what you learn from your own journeys!
Some love to read unusual stuff from our trips; about the experiences that rebuilt the faith in humanity, but also about the not so positive experiences – especially because there are a lot of misconceptions about some nations or destinations. Tell us about your positive experiences, but also about the negative ones and their impact on you.
I try to take all our experiences as positive ones, there is something to be learned every time and they all create life-lasting memories or great travel stories. I cannot classify as a negative travel experience a broken car or a cancelled flight. These are just things that can happen anywhere, outside of our control and we should not allow them to negatively affect the whole journey.
Of course, we had experiences that were not really fortunate, but, in time, they became funny memories. For example, a few years ago we planned a road-trip in Switzerland; we were flying to Milan and rent a car there, but at the rental office we realised Andrei’s driver’s licence expired… more than 6 months before! Or one winter, on 14 February, late afternoon, we were returning from a ski holiday; we were in Hungary about 50 km away from the Romanian border when our car stopped and we had to wait a few hours in the cold and dark, for a trailer to take us home; it wasn’t funny at that time, but now we laugh remembering the croissants bought from a supermarket nearby, which were the most private Valentine’s Day dinner ever.
Regarding misconceptions, travel taught me to just ignore them and I promote the same attitude to everyone I speak with. After I visited several places in the world, I know there is no such thing as a hospitable or cold nation, these are just personality characteristics of various people we meet, despite the nationality. Also, I don’t think there are destinations to be totally avoided because they are too dangerous (except for conflict zones, of course); everywhere in the world, even in our hometown, there are areas where it is not safe to go unless you are from the neighbourhood. Otherwise, if you mind your own business, respect the local customs and do not disturb anyone, it is just a matter of bad luck if something bad happens.
What is your greatest accomplishment in your life until now? What about the one achieved through your blog?
I hope this doesn’t sound cliché, but my biggest accomplishment is my 2-years old son. His smile brings me the biggest joy I have ever felt. Being close to him and fully involved in his day to day life means more than anything in the world and it is more rewarding than anything I’ve ever done before. With him is the only moment I feel I am the most loved, needed and completely irreplaceable.
The blog is still a little baby, but I am very pleased to see more and more people appreciating it. Probably the greatest accomplishment from the blog will be on long-term when Eric will be excited to read articles where he is the main character.
If you could go back in time with 5-10 years, what would you say to young Alina?
Be brave, be bold and don’t waste your energy with irrelevant stuff! Do what you want, it’s your life, live it your way, and ignore what people are saying.
Myself, for example, I find inspiration and motivation in reading, movies, music, and people. They make me vibrate, they challenge me intellectually, they fuel me with energy. Where do you find inspiration to continue, to write, to do all that you have to do? What motivates you? What puts you in motion?
I find fascinating the diversity we have in this world. From landscapes and nature to people and cultures, there is a lot to explore. I just think life is just too short not to enjoy everything it has to offer and this forces me to move forward. I try to benefit as much as possible from other people’s life experience, through stories I hear from the people we met, TV documentaries or travel articles I read on various blogs. All these challenge me to document more and plan for new destinations.
Of course, my son is a huge source of energy and inspiration. When I see him happy and full of life, with childish sparkles in his eyes, I know I’m doing the right thing and that we are on the perfect track. No matter how tired or bored I am, he is my everlasting source of motivation and positive energy.
Do you have a favourite picture from your travels?
There are lots of pictures I love, but this one has a special place in my heart. It is from the first long holiday with Eric, when he was 6 months old. We took a road trip to Italy for 3 weeks that strengthened a lot of our family life. Both I and Andrei realised the importance of family time, far from the daily stress and routine, and how wonderful it is to travel with your child. I think that holiday was the trigger for all the changes we’ve done in our lives in the last two years, culminating the sabbatical year we are currently experimenting.
Let’s talk a bit about the future. What plans do you have with your blog? But personally? What is your next destination and why have you chosen it?
My blog is pretty new, but I have in mind lots of articles, development plans and collaboration ideas. But I don’t want to rush things, we take one step at a time for a sustainable, long-term growth.
Personally speaking, as I explained earlier, we are in a sabbatical year that we want to spend travelling with our son. We are currently in Southern Caribbeans, in the Dutch Antilles. We chose a small island, far from the touristic crowds that are typical for this region, where life happens slowly and we can peacefully enjoy nature and family.
We are planning to spend here another 1-2 month, then we will probably head to South America. We have a whole list of places to visit, let’s see if we are able to reach all of them.
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