Families on the Move
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 Van Waardenburg Family
1 World, 2 Kids, 4 Suitcases & 10 Months
My name is Craig Van Waardenburg and I would like to introduce you to my family.
May as well start with me.
I’m 53, Australian and currently a full time traveller. Back home my interests are competitive Masters Athletics, boxing and fitness. My future plans include learning Spanish, the guitar and becoming a writer. I’m also a part time teacher of an anti bullying programme called Rock and Water. It’s primary target is boys 6 to 16 but I’m finding girls get a lot from it as well. I also developed a programme to include parents and their children which was working a treat. I may want to develop this further when I get.
Christina is 41 and a partner in travel. Her passions are of the culinary sort and anything in the homecrafts department. She is the master planner of the trip and the walking encyclopaedia of where we were and where we’re going. She also must take the full credit as chief photographer. God only knows where we’d end up if we had to swap roles.
Callum is 12 and probably a future Nobel Laureate in something or other. A clever kid, very curious and warm hearted.
Charlie is 9 and a potential future performing artist of some kind. Handsome, goofy, affectionate and a bundle of mischief and fun.
Where are you now, where have you been and how long have you been traveling?
We’ve been on the road since January 17 2013. Our first stop was S.E Asia. Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Thailand. That was a bit of a whirl wind six weeks but we did some great stuff. Our five day Elephant Stay at Attuythaya Thailand was a highlight. You get an elephant, a mahout and a shovel. We shared two gorgeous girls, Rosukon and Jumpee.
Other highlights through SEAsia were visting the temples at Ankor Wat and the city of Ankor Thom. The food markets tour and cooking class is Hanoi was a real eye opener. We’ve never seen so many dead and quartered toads before. A few nights on the Calypso Cruiser in Halong Bay and a lonely kayak paddle through some of the islands in search of monkey was a peaceful moment.
Playing beach volley ball on the South China Sea beach and watching the boys splash in the ocean was special for me. Swimming and jumping off the falls and the rope swing at Kuang Si waterfalls outside of Luang Prabang was a total hoot. Christina loved Ok Pop Tok. A live in craft centre in Luang Prabang where she spent a day learning silk weaving and dyeing.
There were so many fantastic things about SEA but the total experience as a whole was highlighted by the beautiful people, the amazing food and the crazy as a cut snake driving.
New Zealand was our next stop and after six weeks of go go go we were looking forward to nine nights at a friends stunning A frame house on the shores of beautiful Lake Hawea. Kayaking on the lake, skimming flat rocks, walking parts of the lake, driving the stunning Crown Ranges, home cooking. A treat to be in the same bed for so long. After nine relaxing wonderful nights we flew to Rotarua where we stayed for five nights. Being a big Tolkein and LOTR fan I had to say my personal highlight was a trip to Hobbiton, I’m pretty sure the rest of the family enjoyed it to. It is amazing. We swam in the hot springs at Waikite Valley. 41 degrees of hot soothing water straight from the belly of Mother Nature. The pools are emptied every day and topped up afresh. The Waitomo caves and glow worms were interesting and worth a peek.
From New Zealand we flew to South America. Santiago, Chile was our first stop. We did the four hour guided walking tour through town. Definitely worth it. You tip what you feel it’s worth at the end by which time you have a great feel for the city, what to come back too, the places the locals like to eat etc. We had our first Pisco Sour on this tour. Visiting Chiles Noble Prize winning poet, Pablo Nerudas, crazy house at Valparaiso was a lot of fun. Vina Del Mar we found to be a pretty little seaside town. Off to Peru and a quick stop in Lima on our way to Iquitos to catch the boat down to Ceiba Tops, our lodge on The Amazon. Night walks in the jungle, fishing for Piranha, breakfast of fried Palometa, pulled from the Amazon that morning and St John The Baptists head at a local village market, there were many highlights here. Then to Cusco on our way to the Sacred Valley to experience the incredible salt ponds of Maras, the the Inca ruins at Ollyantaytambo, the giant agricultural amphitheatre of Moray and the colourful markets of Pisac. We took the train trip to Auguas Calientes and stayed at The Andina Luxury with the raging Urabamba river literally flowing under our window. We had perfect weather the next day to visit Machu Picchu. Even knee deep in tourists the place was that big it was possible to find a quiet place and contemplate what once was.
Back to Cusco where we caught the El Senor de los Temblores procession from a second storey balcony over looking the Plaza de Mayo.
Next stop was Ecuador and The Galapagos Islands and five days aboard the Galapagos Legend to explore some of these amazing islands. Diving and playing with the sea lions and swimming with the giant Green Back Turtles were the definite highlights.
Back on land we headed to the Bellavista Cloud Forrest Reserve for a couple of days of bird watching. It wasn’t really my thing but the forest is worth the visit alone. There were plenty of hikes through misty and muddy terrain. It was a great experience.
Time to slow down a bit and unpack the cases so we got an apartment in Buenos Aires for five nights where we did very little before heading to Iguazu in Argentina. For anyone who has seen the falls they know it is difficult to describe. You cant see it all at once so you have no idea just how big it is. It continues to surprise and reveal itself one startling vista after another. The Iguazu Falls should be high on everyones bucket list and it is worth seeing it from both the Brazilian and Argentinian sides.
From here we farewelled South America and headed to Orlando, Florida. For the next eighteen days we lived in an apartment and beat down the door of just about every theme park they had. It was exhausting. It would be easier to run the Inca Trail with a 50lb back pack. But seriously, it was a huge ammount of fun and good to be in one spot for more than a week.
From Orlando it was off to Dallas Texas to catch up with one of Christina’s girlfriends. I liked Dallas. Friendly folks and some really interesting architecture. I found the whole JFK conspiracy/ murder very interesting. From here we flew to Sacramento, Northern California to catch up with another friend who kindly sheltered and fed us. We all love California. We toured a bit of the Napa and a bit of the city before hopping in our hire car to drive to Yosemite. Although it was bleak and drizzly the natural beauty of the place shined through like a big bold rainbow. In any weather, it is a remarkable place. But here we are now in stunning San Francisco, feeling very much at home and loving it.
Why do you travel as a family?
The timing was perfect for us. We sold our business at the right time and the housing market in Perth is booming so we are getting a good rent for our house. Callum our oldest goes to high school next year so for us this was the perfect year to go exploring. The memories we are making together, the experiences we are sharing as a family will last us all a lifetime. No matter what we do from here we’ll always have this.
What are some of the benefits your family has experienced as a result your travels?
A first hand look at how other cultures live is the most prevailing thing. Particularly through SEAsia and South America where what people have that makes them happy and what makes them upset or angry is so different from Western cultures. To visit some of the great and ancient monuments and natural wonders of the world, to see them, smell them, touch them and hold the wonder of them right before you is an amazing privilege. For me it has given me a thirst and a curiosity to see more, to learn and experience more.
What inspired you and your family to incorporate travel into your lifestyle?
Well it started as just being the right time in our lives to do it. We’ve been travelling regularly for twenty years but never had the opportunity to do extended travel. Now we do. Having now met FOTM has opened up a whole new range of thought and possibility. The shape of the future now seems more fluid than ever before.
How do you address education while you are traveling?
Well without realising it we have probably been doing our own version of unschooling. We started with some maths plans and some english assignments but the only real constant is our journalling. Every night I write stories for our blog, Christina cuts and pastes into her written journal and the boys write in theirs. We talk about the day, what we saw, what we did, what was exciting, different, freaky or interesting. We discuss what we want to do the next day or upcoming days and try t make sure it’s not just theme parks and candy stores. It seems to working ok for now.
How do you and your family experience being global citizens?
Hhhmm, that’s a tough one. Well, we try to help where we can. We bought a whole bunch of books and pencils everywhere we went in SEAsia and took them into schools or gave them to kids a long the way. We used to bundle up piles of the free toiletries you get in the hotels and give those away to anyone who needed them. That always went down well. We’re respectful of other cultures and try to take a little of them away with us and hopefully leave a little of ourselves with them.
Can you share one of your family’s most memorable experiences?
I think if we had to choose a common denominator it would be the Elephant Stay in Thailand. I think we were all surprised by the bond that we developed with these amazing creatures. So very powerful yet so gentle and sweet. So intelligent and playful. It was a privilege to be able to wash them, ride them to the river and bath with them, feed them, “put them to bed” at night and “wake them” in the morning and shovel the enormous mounds of steaming poop they produced every day. I think we all had a lump in our throats the day we gave their thick powerful trunks a final hug, held their gaze and said goodbye.
Can you share one story from your travel experiences when you and your family had an “aha moment”.
My aha moment came when I realised that growing a Hemingway beard did not make me write like Hemingway. I shaved it off and dropped five years.
My other, and Christina shares this with me, was when I realised I don’t need a big house, a fancy car and to be surround by “stuff” to be happy. Less is more.
For Callum there hasn’t been one particular wow moment, there have been many which is not really surprising considering the things we have seen and the places we have been. He says he did have a haha moment when he ” dacked” Charlie in Main st Dallas, i.e pulled his shorts down to show his jocks.
Charlie’s moment was looking over the edge of the observation deck of Devils Throat at Iguazu Falls and being amazed at how awesome and powerful Mother Nature can be.
From here it is another two months wandering the States and then over to Europe for three months finishing of with Egypt and South Africa. While a fair bit is arranged a lot of that is still to confirmed.
Name: Craig Van Waardenburg
web site : cvw-rtw.blogspot.com