Life is a journey.

A traveling family that has given up everything to build their own future, one kilometer at a time. I Like Miljian.

You have a wonderful personal and professional life story. You have met and (fell in love) in Florence, then you moved to Paris where you have lived a little while, and then you moved again in Florence. In 2015 you gave birth to your first child, Teo, and a year later your second one, Lia. In the meantime, you have created a blog about your life (likemilijan.com), you start using it as a way to communicate what you do with your friends and family, but then, after a little while thousand of people start following you, and hence this blog becomes the main source of income for your family. Then, in a warm night in Florence, seated on the floor underneath your kitchen’s window, you made the greatest decision of your life (so far): give up anything to leave for a long journey around the world, just you and your kids. Thus, you buy a one-way ticket to Dubai and on the 5th of September 2017 you leave for a very long journey (which still lasts today).

Interview

Would you tell me the reasons behind this decision? What has pushed you to leave your comfort zone and daily habits to embark yourself in such an extraordinary (though extremely tiring I suspect) project? In addition, after almost 300 days around the world, if you be able to go back in time, would you do something differently?

We were living a particular moment in our life. The idea of living incredible experience has been constantly in our minds for a long time. We have built two companies in the same period: so, working from the kitchen table, always together, with our kids running around. Both of our companies have been conceived to be “exportable”. Today Florence, tomorrow Paris, the day after tomorrow who knows. We are a new generation’s family, multicultural, one of those families you can increasingly find nowadays. Julien is French, Miki Italian. Our children do eat pizza and croissant, and they have dual citizenships. The idea of travelling was already within our veins. It was a gamble on ourselves, we thought it could have been our real work. And hence, that night, underneath our kitchen’s table, we took the big decision. Our luggage became our home. We invested all of our energy on this project. What pushes us to keep going is to always be together, the two and the four of us. Thus, the step from the sofa to the plane was a quick one.

Professionally speaking, our generation, the Millennials, is an insecure and precarious one. The idea of getting into a company in your early twenties as interns and getting out from it in your sixties as managers retired it is something which is pretty far from us. Within this new reality, there are some people who would want things to get back as they were before, or, people like you, who pick up the opportunity to build a professional future which would allow you to feel accomplished. In your opinion, which are the advantages of working within today’s job market?

Freedom. Openness. Creativity. We do live in a society where if we would seat around the table with the greatest CEOs of the main today’s startups we would be shocked by knowing how the vast majority of them comes from a past of failures. A fixed path, preestablished, as a trench where it seems impossible to escape, might allows to those who want to, and have the creativity to do so, to break free by escaping this trench through their own means and ways. The thing is that you need ideas, you have to believe in them and you must convince who want to believe in them: you might need wild awake nights but they are worth it. As it is worthy building your own CV. Nothing will be the same, and this is the most exciting thing: we have the power to build our own tomorrow.

Nothing will be the same, and this is the most exciting thing: we have the power to build our own tomorrow.

— Miki & Julien (Like Miljian)

I have a one-year-old and a three years-old kid. When we travel we have mixed feelings, starting from anxiety, amazement and fear. When I first saw your Instagram page I was admiring and envying you at the same time. I thought “How is it possible to be always such smiling, beautiful, relaxed and organised as a family?”. And I think that many felt the same. Regarding your experience, which are the 10 necessary things in order to travel the world with your family and convert this activity into a job?

Maybe there would need only one: soundness.
In terms of the couple, of course. We do everything together. Working, taking care of our kids, organising our trips, folding our clothes, unpacking suitcases, change diapers, sending quotations. You do need to be a sound couple, where people respect and help each other.

Mental soundness: No stress. For our kids we are a role model, they take inspiration from us, they look at our behaviour, our voice, our actions. If they see us stressed, they will become soon stressed too. This is logic. Calm, you can do it.

Physical solidity: you have to prepare yourself for the greatest physical effort ever seen. Traveling consumes energy. Personally, I think I lost half my hair. When I asked for medical advice, I was told, “Have you seen what you do? In your place, anyone would lose them “. Well, the surviving hair will be proud of having travelled the world, and I am proud of them. We must keep ourselves trained, know our body and take care of it.

Temper: the journey tests you. You are brought to face your intimate and deep weaknesses. It is a complete leap into the void, a space shuttle that moves away from the comfort zone to the speed of light. You have to love this feeling. You have to love that disorientation that you experience looking from the 70th floor of a skyscraper in Kuala Lumpur. We must believe in it all the way to make this our business. We no longer have a day off: no weekend, no time “now I sit on the couch and watch a movie”. No Sunday, no help (we have no babysitter), when our children fell asleep, we put the turbo. We often work in the evening and at late night, and then in the daytime we drive kilometres. We also had many moments of weakness, but we never regretted our decision.

The remaining six things?
1) Courage, no doubt, well marinated to a pinch of madness.
2) Good health insurance.
3) A family of supporters.
4) Positivity.
5) Craving. Of anything. To want. (what makes it possible to live without that “now I sit on the sofa and watch a movie”)
6) And two good and solid suitcases.

So, you are the concrete proof that one can live following his/her own dreams or passions, but to do so you need to find an expenditure scheme that allows you to cover at least all travel costs. I guess that your project has important costs. Can I ask you how you managed to make it sustainable even from an economic point of view? Have you made any technical partnerships? Do you have any sponsors? Do you keep working as freelancers?

We have turned a passion into a profession. We are travel journalists, content producers. This means that we live our journey 100%, and then we tell it with the spirit of who wants to share his/her own experiences and points of views. This allowed us to have many people travelling with us daily. We have our own production company, and we are freelancers. Writing, photography, video editing and consulting. We work whilst moving, hence we have zero fixed costs. We do not have a house, no bills to pay. It is certainly a difficult and intense lifestyle, which is why we continuously try to keep working harder and harder and to increase our work more and more. We have also become experts in spending little. We have our strategies. Besides, thanks God, we are two (often too much) perfectionists, what we do we do it well, and this has allowed us to have on our side companies that love travel as much as we do. They have become our partners, our customers and collaborators. We continue to work (even more than before), but from different desks every day. It is feasible? With intelligence and a lot of good will, yes.

You do need to be a sound couple, where people respect and help each other.

— Miki & Julien (Like Miljian)

A few quick questions

When people ask you at dinner what do you do, what do you answer (in a word)?

Travel journalists.

If you found a working time machine, and you could have one trip only, where would you like to live? In past or future times?

Miki: in the past, without a doubt. Twenties, in Paris.
Julien: direct trip to Florence in the 50s.

If there were only one thing you would like your children to remember about this experience, what would it be?

The smiles of each person they met, the colours of each place they lived, the humility with which they sat at each table.

If you could write a single word on a big billboard in the main square of a city, which city and which word would you choose?

Miki: “Invite to dinner those on your right” in Shibuya Crossing, Tokyo, the most trodden crossing on the planet. It’s not a single word, but it’s worth it. I think I’d have lots of fun watching people’s reactions.
Julien: “Be what you dream” at the Times Square subway exit in New York.

Now you are travel journalists, but when you will be back, have you already thought about what kind of job you’ll be doing?

Absolutely yes. We want to do what is best for us. The key words are travel and family. We have a couple of ideas on how to help others to get these two words and concepts together as we did (and do).

What drives you to work more? Making profit and be successful (making money) or whether your job gives meaning to your life and might positively impacts the world (making meaning)?

Up to date, we have more rejected proposals than those that we do accept. Happiness is our first priority. Money may not even be in our Top 5. Working for money is the end of freedom. And as you know, and as you can see, we care a lot about our freedom.