(INTERVIEW) Meet Slovenian Active Family!

(INTERVIEW) Meet Slovenian Active Family!

Before having a family, a world traveller Mateja Mazgan Senegačnik visited over 70 countries. Some travels she made alone, some with her grandmother, and some with her boyfriend (now husband). After having two children her wanderlust didn’t run out of steam.

She currently blogs about her family trips and adventures on a very popular travel blog called Slovenian Active Family/Aktivna družina, where many great travel tips for travelling families can be found.

Well, let’s find out more!

Interview by Marijana Podhraski/Let’s Go Slovenia

(Featured head photo: Slovenian Active Family at Malič peak)

Mateja, when and how did you get so excited about travelling?

My travel beginnings go back to the time of my elementary school. As a little girl, my family used to take me around Slovenia a lot; we were also visiting the surrounding countries, especially the hills and the ski slopes.

During my elementary school, however, my grandmother and I went on our first major trip – to the Netherlands. We ended up travelling together for 17 years, until her illness.

I also used to travel with my mother and my stepfather, by myself and with my partner. Traveling is a part of who we are and we can’t imagine not traveling anymore. Naturally, our wanderlust was passed on to our children. Our five and seven-year-olds are eagerly waiting for every next (international) trip, and there are many domestic trips in between. They are spoiled in this regard, I must admit. But I don’t think it’s a bad way of spoiled. 🙂

A family trip to Haloze, known particularly as an excellent wine growing region in the North East of Slovenia.
Climbing the Krvavica Mt, Slovenia.
A day out in the nature – Robanov Kot is a valley in the Kamnik-Savinja Alps in the far northern part of Slovenia.

Looking at your website it looks like you really travel a lot … How would you say travelling impacts children?

Children are very flexible, if someone makes something difficult, it’s usually the parents. Some people wonder if it’s really necessary to take a baby on a plane and travel to some far-off place. But no one thinks that a child needs happy parents. If parents quit travelling after having children and because of them, and then end up feeling miserable, this makes no sense.

The baby will be happy spending time with happy parents, whether at home or on the other side of the world. Gradually, travelling will most likely get under children’s skin, too. Our kids can’t wait to get on a plane again. They are also addicted to trips around Slovenia.

Visiting Lovrenška Lakes (Lovrenška Jezera), a natural Slovenian pearl among the Pohorje forests.
Fun at Šmohor – a popular hiking spot above Laško in eastern Slovenia.

“My travelling didn’t stop during my pregnancy or when the kids were still babies. I see no reason to limit anything because of the children, you only need to adjust.” Mateja Mazgan Senegačnik

How do you get around Slovenia, do you also use public transport, what would you say is easiest way of travelling around the country?

We travel around Slovenia by car, with old timers (old-fashioned/vintage vehicles are quite popular in Slovenia, my husband and I happen to be fans), and sometimes on foot. Both of us also own a motorbike.

We usually drive to the starting points of the hills and caves, then continue on foot. As far as the public transport in Slovenia is concerned, we only use it as much as it’s interesting to children. Sometimes we go on a trip by train. 

Which place in Slovenia did you visit last and why?

We visited the lesser known peak of Pernice, in the Koroška region of Slovenia. Besides getting out and enjoying a sunny December day in the nature, Pernice lies near my former home, as I’m originally from Koroška . My home place is called Gortina, I often spend time there with my family.

Considering how active we are (saying we are almost extremely active wouldn’t be exaggeration), our last visited place could be anywhere, really. In a single week we can find ourselves in a cave, in a city, on a skiing slope, on some peaks and elsewhere.

Are there any places in Slovenia you keep coming back to and what makes them so special?

Certainly, there are such places. We love the Koroška region. Big part of the reason of course is myself originating from there. At the same time, we love Koroška for its unspoiled and beautiful nature, as well as its many natural attractions. We keep coming back to Mount Olševa, to Uršlja gora, and to the cave called Huda luknja.  

Gortina, where Mateja comes from.
The kids enjoying a winter day out at Pernice, Koroška region of Slovenia.
Inside the Huda Luknja cave.

What is the coolest thing you have done in Slovenia as a family?

As massive nature lovers, we are most attracted to hills, caves and other natural attractions. We like to hit locations where there are no tourist crowds, which Slovenia can still offer in abundance.

After visiting at least 300 peaks, including many other attractions around the country, it’s really cool we never run out of trip ideas. Even though it’s small, Slovenia offers plenty!

“We adore Slovenia and we think that the quality of life is very high here.” Mateja Mazgan Senegačnik

What are the best sources of travel information for foreign travellers planning to visit Slovenia with children?

We have our own website, which offers a lot of information for trips to all Slovenian regions. The website is in Slovene language, however due to today’s technology this shouldn’t be too much of an obstacle.

On our Slovenian Active Family website one can find almost everything needed for a great experience of Slovenia with children. There are many natural beauties and off the beaten track Slovenian destinations that only a few of local blogs write about. Additionally, there are some good websites with useful travel content about Slovenia (your Let’s Go Slovenia travel blog being one of them). 

At the less known Slovenian peak Mt Porezen, but the views are equally magnificent!
Ever heard of Grad Grad castle in Slovenia? It is considered to be the most extensive castle complex in Slovenia, with 365 rooms

Do you have any particular advice for people thinking about travelling to Slovenia with kids?

Slovenia is extremely safe. You are free to walk around, hike the hills, go out in the nature, visit caves … and the access to almost all natural attractions is free.

You can also walk around the cities without any worries, even in the evening or at night. When travelling with children, I believe that safety is crucial. 

Is there anything else you’d like to add about travelling in Slovenia?

I would suggest everyone to explore Slovenia beyond what is most advertised. Slovenia offers many wonderful things, you can just randomly go to the countryside, among the lonely farms or make a spontaneous hike to a peak you spotted and thought it looked beautiful … Almost every peak in Slovenia has at least one paved path to it.

Above all, you can feel safe here, which is certainly one of the great advantages of Slovenia.   

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