We have been blessed to connect with many amazing families online, all of whom have adapted a travel lifestyle in one form or another. We wanted to take the opportunity to introduce you to them here and highlight the positive aspects travel has had on their families. Welcome our interview series called Families on the Move. Miro & I are honored to a part of this global community we consider our extended family.
Meet the Amazing Family Behind ActofTraveling.com
We are a family of four and live in the Netherlands. The little VandenBoomens are aged 7 and 10. Our son and daughter both are totally into sports (soccer, tennis and volleyball). Our daughter is always experimenting in Picnic, Photoshop and Paint so I guess she will be a graphic designer! My wife works as an Office Manager at a Marketing Communication Agency and is interested in design (mostly interior design). I myself like photography, writing/blogging, movies and next to all that I work as a Marketing Communications Manager.
Where are you now, where have you been and how long have you been traveling?
We are now home based in The Netherlands and we are definitely not a long-term traveling family. We prefer to travel 2-3 times a year and return home, providing our children roots and wings at the same time. At the same time we have to admit that we are also kind of restricted to this traveling lifestyle because of the strict Dutch Education Law. This law doesn’t allow homeschooling or traveling long-term after a child turns 5 (only in exceptional cases). We could and might give it a try someday but for now we travel during school holidays. This year we take the maximum of 6 weeks during summer holiday to go and travel to Asia.
In the meantime we have traveled with our kids to Morocco, Bali, Thailand and New York City.
Why do you travel as a family?
Why we travel as a family? Why not? My wife and I were passionate travelers before we got kids. It all started when I spent a couple of months in Japan back in 1996. Right there we got caught by the travel virus. Within 4 years we traveled to India, Nepal, Vietnam, Cuba, Peru, Egypt, The Gambia, Brazil, and lots of cities in Europe, before we started to travel with our kids. Travel is in our blood. All year long we talk and read about traveling, busy preparing for the next trip. We always have a clear answer to the question many people ask us: “Do you already have plans for the holidays?”.
What are some of the benefits of family travel?
Just like traveling in general, family travel offers lots of benefits. For us parents, travel is important to take us out of the daily routines. For kids (and actually for us as well) traveling is one big adventure. Having fun, seeing places different from our own, meeting people with different habits, it’s one giant class room! How can you learn about India in a class room without smelling the Indian air, tasting Indian curries, listening to exotic languages and just be overwhelmed by its existence?
What inspired you and your family to incorporate travel into your lifestyle?
Mainly my own international lifestyle. I have always been learning languages, reading international news, making international friends and working at international companies. Holland is a small country and history proves that we were born to be international traders. We speak our languages and we always strive for a good position of our country in the European and global market. The thought alone of being restricted to only Holland makes me shiver. That’s why we travel. The stories of our world are out there and if you can, never limit yourself to your own backyard.
Next to that I am a big fan of cultivating serendipity. What do I mean with that? Serendipity is the art of unexpected discoveries. Sometimes you walk the streets of a small village, without actively searching for something. Suddenly you discover something great (a certain place, an event or people) and these kinds of discoveries make travel unforgettable. I’m trying to cultivate serendipity by consciously spending more time at the same place, creating the opportunity to discover things not described in all the travel guide books. That’s my way of traveling. I can sit on a bench in a park for hours, just watching local life passing by. I call myself a sentimental idiot, but through traveling I learned that the world is full of undiscovered territory. We need to go out and observe!
How do you and your family experience being global citizens?
I notice it when we talk to our children about events in the world. They know about places and countries and luckily they also talk about it at school. They talk about the revolution in Egypt, the earthquake in New Zealand, President Obama and the Oval Office, etc.
On being a global citizen, our daughter last year prepared a list of countries we wanted to surely visit as a family….the list ended with Namibia in 2017!
Can you share one of your families most memorable experiences?
Our most memorable experience as a traveling family? I don’t believe it’s just one experience. Travel grows upon us and our children. With every trip and every destination our children become more aware of the world around them. With every trip their travel memory is expanding.
My blog is a kind of memory back-up of all the smaller events and happenings, the small pieces of that giant travel jigsaw puzzle. If you look at it like that, I can think of lots of nice memorable experiences.
For example that beach on Koh Phangan island in Thailand. It was a small beach on the northern part of the island, quite far away from the main town. But we didn’t care. We were just there, on that half-moon shaped beach for a couple of days. It was really a feeling of being totally disconnected from the rest of the world. No worries, no itineraries, no nothing. Only us and the beach (and some food and drinks of course!). For me this is enough for a memorable experience.
OK, one more.
That time on the beach in Essaouira in Morocco. We arrived at the beach where camels were waiting for us. We booked a camel drive. Our son was only 4 at that time and he was quite afraid of these majestic animals. You can see on the picture that it was quite an adventure for him! After 10 minutes however, he was smiling…”Look mommy, I’m on a camel!”.
Can you share one story from your travel experiences when you and your family had an “aha moment”.
I believe that must be the moment our youngest son experienced differences in religion. We were traveling to Morocco and had to spend (lots of) hours at the airport of Casablanca. We were watching a man who prepared himself for his prayers. A piece of carpet was put on the ground, facing Mekka. As he started praying we watched silently from a certain distance. Many times his forehead touched the ground, rested there for a couple of seconds before he sat straight up again. Suddenly our son turned to us and asked his famous question: “Mom, dad, is there a hole in the ground where this man is peeking through?” A-ha! Now we know the world is one giant classroom and we are our childrens teacher!
This year we take it slow. We have booked our flights to India and Thailand and will use 6 weeks to travel slowly from one place to the other. If we like it in one place, we stay longer. If people advise us to go to another interesting place, we might go there. Slow travel is all about experiencing a place more consciously. Not jumping from one must-see attraction to another, but just trying to get a grip on local life. New Delhi, Jaipur, Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Pai…I know that 6 weeks is already far too short…