Meet the team behind Exploration Lounge

Grab yourself a good cup of coffee or some wine or whatever you prefer for chilling and join us. Great to have you here!

We are a small, nice and probably crazy hungarian family currently on an open-end travel. We are Szilvia, András, and the children, Karsa and Hanga. After toying with the idea for years, we took a deep breath, sold our house, our car, a large amount of our stuff and bought one-way tickets to Sri Lanka.

Let’s take a quick tour and see who we are and what this blog is about.

The lounge

The Exploration Lounge is a virtual lounge for travellers and explorers of all kind. Let’s make it more simple and call it a blog. This is a place to relax and read about travelling in general and with children. Other topics will cover birdwatching with and without children, babywearing, attachement parenting, unschooling, and a lot more like food, yoga, healthy living.

I created this family travel and lifestyle blog to inspire and encourage. To travel with your children. Even to wear your babies. Maybe homeschool your children, if this is really what you want. But most of all to THINK FREELY and choose whatever makes your days happy, comfortable, confident, satisfying and fun. It can be a hard task if all this means that you are living differently than most of the people around you. It means that you are thinking differently. And that requires courage, persistence and constant motivation.

I would so love to give you only positive posts, fully loaded with the now so popular positive and affirmative quotes but that’s not going to happen. Not always. It is only fair to give you the nice round whole story, which can be in part negative. Causes much less disappointment. Own experience.

This is me

Searching for Snow Leopards in Ladakh, India, 2011. Photo © András Vasas

You will find sometimes that my English is strange. That’s because I’m not English, I’m Hungarian. Or maybe because I did my best in school to notoriously skip all the English homework possible. But at least I don’t have a Hungarian accent, which is something that’s good for all mankind. If you ever heard my people speak English you know what I mean.

My name is Szilvia, full-time mom and part-time blogger. I am an ex- and future-birder. I suspended birding temporarily, because my kids started to be unhappy about the binoculars smashing their heads every time I have to bend down to them.

I am a boutique and design hotel fan. Well, mostly just a fan and rarely an actual guest. I really like yoga and psychology. Dedicated supporter of gourmet food and drink. I prefer handmade and quality. Huge fan of homeschooling and unschooling and everything in between. Postpartum depression (PPD)… had a very strong effect on my life, you may encounter this topic a few times on the blog.

I am extremely seasick (motion sick or travel sick or whatever) on all type of vehicles, be it on water, in the air, on the road… once I even got sick on a mountain road while I was driving! If you happen to be seasick too, you’ll know what this means. If not, ask someone who is also seasick, unfortunately I can’t put the most expressive attributive here… my mom is going to read this.

I am endlessly fascinated by travel.

Birding in the desert. Tunisia, 2006. Photo © András Vasas

I have a degree in Ecotourism, another one in Nature Conservation. Never really used any of them. For the jobs I had I didn’t have to have a degree and – as it turned out – the things I was willing to learn at all, were lightyears away from real life.

Already in my 3rd year in college I knew that I don’t want to work in an office full-time. On my first graduation day I was 1200 kms away from college, cruising with my family and friends in the Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve in Romania. I spent my second graduation day 5500 kms away from the ceremony, trekking with friends and my back-then-boyfriend-now-husband András, in the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda, looking for Mountain Gorillas. Just a little hint about my relationship with school and travel.

This is what birders look like when they don’t find enough target birds. Uganda, 2006. Photo © Róbert Horváth

My first job

I’ve been working in the tourism industry ever since I left college. I started as a receptionist in a 4-star hotel.

My boss was… well… we don’t send each other greeting cards for Christmas. But I’m really thankful for him being the kind of boss he was, the things I learned there were later indispensable in working to very high standards. On the other hand… don’t know how to say it… I hated this work so much. There were some highlights though, my colleagues were the best I could wish.

In the reception we had 12-hour shifts, alone, for very little money. In the nightshifts when there was nothing to do I was sleeping on three chairs pulled together. In my nice uniform. With pepper spray in my pocket. I was sometimes all alone in the whole building, at night, located on the outskirts of the city. I don’t get scared easily, but I wasn’t laughing either. When there was full house, I spent 12 hours working in that tiny cage which functioned as the reception and felt something like… maybe… canned sardines would feel… having recently joined the army. Supposing they had feelings, of course. Did I mention that I hated this work?

I quit and went back to college to chase an other career in nature conservation. Did not happen. What did happen was that two jobs found me at the same time, I could blend nature conservation and tourism in both and just loved it.

Doing what you love

After I quit my first job, I had the opportunity to experience what it is like when you are doing what you love and loving what you do.

Before my children were born I had my little enterprise organizing and guiding birdwatching and nature exploration tours in Hungary. In the same time I was working as a guide at the most prestigious stud of Hungary, Máta Stud, located in one of Hungary’s most famous World Heritage Sites, the Hortobágy National Park. I spent most of my time in the vast plain, sometimes all day on horse carriages, both in 42 degrees Celsius and in 8 and couldn’t imagine a better workplace. Nature was my office and I met around a hundred thousand people yearly, from all over the world. Except Antarctica. Even when I wasn’t travelling, I was exploring the world. Sometimes it was hard work, but it was so worth it.

In the last 5 years I’ve been exploring a totally different world. A world I was not prepared for and that I had very little information of. A world that became almost like a battleground. Until everyone around me started to accept that I like to do things my way. Even if it is a way that is not automatised, not outsourced, not popular and not prescribed by the doctor. The ever fascinating, concious, brave, empowering and exhausting world of being a mom.

Croatia, our absolute favourite destination. Ciovo Island, 2015. Photo © András Vasas

My fellow explorers

My husband, András. World traveller. Dedicated father. Birder and conservation enthusiast. Loves ornithology nearly as much as psychedelic rock.

Another way of searching for Snow Leopards. Ladakh, India, 2011. Photo © Szilvia Molnár

Our son, Karsa. A 5 year old dreamer who is very keen on everything from trucks to tractors, container ships and all other machines possible, the bigger the better. He is a restless soul and the kindest child I’ve ever met. I know, he is my child, but still. Loves his sister and to travel. You should see him drawing.

Our daughter, Hanga. A multiple reincarnation of the most talented actresses ever. An absolutely typical shouting, screaming, big-brother-beating 3 year old amazon. She can scare me. Loves her brother and to travel.

The little explorers at the “Greeting to the Sun” installation in Zadar, Croatia in 2016. Photo © András Vasas

Us… now

This is a very interesting time of our lives. There will be a post answering the questions we get asked all the time, the “Why and how did you decide to give up your life at home and do what you do now?” type of questions. A lot of times I can see on people’s faces that the question they really would want to ask is more like “And when exactly did you guys loose your minds?”

We are looking for adventures and exploration, maybe even a base in South Asia for longer term, so we can explore more of this region. It is going to be slow travel, this fits our children’s needs best. I’ll write more about this in the upcoming posts. At the time of writing we are based in Sri Lanka, the country that came first on our “where to move” list. We have 6 months here. Will this be our home for the next few years? Will we check out living in another country in the region? Will we just pack everything and run home screaming? You can find out if you follow us along the way and visit the Exploration Lounge regularly.

What to expect

Honesty. Do know, that this is not just a travel diary. This is a project, with different goals. One goal is to inspire and encourage, you’ve read about that in the beginning of this page. Except if you were only checking the images. That’s fine too, don’t worry.

Another goal is to push this blog so far that it becomes a professional travel blog generating some income and contributing to our family’s goals of location independent living and working. This means you will find different affiliate links on our pages. Using these costs you – the reader – nothing extra, but if you make a purchase somewhere using our links, we can get some commission. We will place ads on the website.

A third goal is to share some useful information. You will find reviews of restaurants, shops, accommodation, even some products all based on our own personal experiences. At some point we will share birding trip reports too, I just hope it will happen sooner than – let’s say – 15 years. Ever tried to do serious birding with small children? I’ll write about that, you can find it right here, when the post goes out.

The author of the posts and the whole blog is me, Szilvia, so if you read ‘I’ or ‘me’ it means Szilvia Molnár. The others are contributing with their irresistible personality. Sometimes I ask for their opinion and use my husband’s photos.

Expect to find only a few photos with my face shown fully. Have you seen people turning away immediately when someone’s finger touches the shutter button near them? Same condition here. I was born like this. It was extremely difficult to find enough pictures for this page alone.

Get social

You are welcome to get social, whether you want to contribute with some useful info, your own experience, or just feel the need to say hi to someone, you can comment here or get in touch on social media.

We are based in Sri Lanka at the moment, a beautiful country with regular power cuts and only the hope of unlimited broadband internet connection. So if I’m not responding for some time it’s either because of this, or the kids are playing sabotage.

You look away for one minute… Zadar, Croatia, 2016. Photo © András Vasas

Instructions to reading this blog

I’m trying hard not to take myself too seriously, please consider this before, during and after spending your time on the Exploration Lounge.

Happy reading!

Szilvia x

 

Life without a selfie stick. Sutivan, Brac Island, Croatia, 2016. Photo © Szilvia Molnár