Hi, I’m Sam Ozer and I run the family travel blog, Growing Up Two. I’m originally from Birmingham in the UK but, having travelled extensively on a solo and budget basis around much of Central America, Europe, Asia and the Middle East, I finally chose Oludeniz on Turkey’s beautiful South West coast to call my home. It’s here that I’m based the majority of the time with my Turkish husband and young twin boys
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1. Where has been your best travel destination and why?
Fethiye in Turkey. Many people ask me why I settled in Turkey. I wouldn’t say it’s the most stunning destination I’ve ever visited, I think Costa Rica, the Bay Islands off Honduras, and some parts of Indonesia would take credit for that. What I would say is that there was something about Turkey, be it the friendliness of the locals, the food, the history or the diversity, that kept calling me back. It’s a country that’s easy to get to from the UK and the cost of living is far cheaper. Fethiye town is centered around a harbour, backed with mountains and packed full of life and energy. There’s all the necessary amenities for an easy family life but in less than 15 minutes I can be in a mountain village watching the old men in beanie caps playing backgammon, or eating traditional pide and watching a shepherd heard his goats. A few minutes in the other direction and I find myself in the heart of Kayakoy, a deserted former Greek town. Here we enjoy exploring the fascinating little cobbled streets and roofless ruins of old churches. Or, when we have friends visiting and want to get out and amongst the tourists, Calis is home to some great nightlife and sunsets, and Oludeniz is a wonderful bay famed for its blue lagoon, beach and crystal clear waters. Fethiye is simply a beautiful place to be.
2. What’s your favourite thing about travelling?
There’s nothing quite like the feeling of exploring a new place or meeting someone new. Travelling is an education that everyone should embrace. Experiencing a new culture, learning that we are not all the same and to accept those with different ideals, religions and backgrounds helps us grow, it opens our eyes to the reality of what’s around us. Each country, town and village has its own tale to tell. It’s fascinating to spend time getting to know new places or experience cultures very different from our own.
3. If a traveller was to visit your country, what’s the one meal that shouldn’t be missed?
A Turkish village breakfast. Forget a bowl of Cheerio’s or a round of toast, a true Turkish breakfast is more like lunch! Black and green olives, two or three types of cheeses, cucumber, tomato, eggs, bread, borek (Turkish pastries) and no end of jams and preserves all laid out in-front of you in little bowls and dishes. This isn’t a scoff it down affair – everyone gathers around the table and grazes – all chatting for hours over endless little glasses of tea. It’s a great start to the day and a ‘must eat’ in Turkey.
4. Do you get home sick, and if so how do you overcome this?
I think everyone that spends time away from family and friends get’s homesick. The likes of Whats App and Skype have certainly made life a lot easier over recent years.
5. What is your travel style?
I don’t really have one! It used to be budget travelling, now it’s more practical I guess as I have twin five year olds in tow. We still travel but I plan more in advance.
6. Do you have any travel tips?
Just get out and travel – stop making excuses. Don’t keep putting travelling off, especially if you have kids as it’s easy to use them as an excuse not to head off and explore. Kids love new experiences and, although you may need to plan a little more and be prepared to slow the pace down, kids will learn a great deal from meeting new people and seeing new things.
7. What inspired you to travel?
I was always interested in different cultures so naturally wanted to travel after school and university. Once I started travelling, there was no stopping me. Although I am pretty settled in Turkey, I am still planning family visits to Thailand and Cambodia in the near future.
8. What has travel taught you?
To never take anything for granted and to appreciate all that’s around me. It’s easy to get stuck in a rut revolving around a 9 to 5 job, bills and family duties. If you want to travel, save and make it happen. Forgo some of the material goodies, the new kids Nintendo or iPhone, and spend the money making memories. Material goods will break or be forgotten quickly, experiences, photos and memories will last a lifetime.
9. How does travel make you feel?
I know it’s corny, but travelling makes me and my family happy (most of the time!). Although we may not be rich materially, my family is rich in life. We have all seen some wonderful things, been to great places and met some terrific people on our travels locally and abroad. These times we look back on fondly and that in itself is priceless!