I’ve been thinking a lot about how I was going to introduce Emiel’s beautiful story, there is so many experiences to tell, places to name and messages to share that few lines wouldn’t be enough…I get to read many stories from a lot of wonderful people, and each time I found something in each of them that speaks to me. Emiel’s story gathers all these little diamonds I had the chance to discover in those stories because when I close my eyes at night, I wish I could live his dream. His story just touched my heart and I’m sure it will touch yours too.
I am a story collector. Stories to me are valuable assets, memories of places and people visited. The first travel stories I collected are from Japan. I lived in Japan for about 3 months after which me and my current wife traveled the country from North to South. I still believe this stay in Japan someway shaped me for who I am today.
I am a storyteller. Stories collected while traveling with my family I share with readers around the digital campfire. Some call it a travel blog.
But let’s first take a step back. I am honored to be featured here on The Story of Us, big thanks to Caroline! She asked me to share my story, being a Dutch family of four that has created a habit out of traveling the world. We are not a nomadic family, we don’t travel continuously. We have a secure home base from which we fly away to encounter people, places and cultures that we can learn from. As parents we want our children to become global citizens and by traveling this way we trust to provide our children roots and wings.
Kids in Morocco
From our home base Holland it’s only a 3 hour flight to a completely different world: Morocco. In 2008, when our youngest son just turned 4, we decided it was THE moment to start traveling again. At the age of 4 kids start to understand and remember things more clearly. My son still vividly remembers that camel ride on the beach of Essaouira, just look at the picture!
Close to home, yet so different. In Morocco our kids learned about a totally different culture, religion, modes of transport, poverty, etc. Their travel wings started to grow….
In order to explain why we spend much of our budget (and time) on traveling I want to share a quote by a famous Persian poet, Rumi:
“Do not be satisfied with the stories that come before you. Unfold your own myth.”
You have to work on your own story: create your own amazing adventures. I believe that’s the message here. My myth is the way I write down my stories. They can be sentimental, inspirational, practical and sometimes even poetic.
When I travel I long to find the hidden story behind people I meet or places I visit. I call that slow travel: don’t rush by jumping in and out a particular place (like ticking boxes of must-see places), but consciously spend some more time and observe. My motto is: let Serendipity surprise you!
“What is the value of travel and these travel stories anyway?” “Why spend so much money on traveling?” – I get these questions a lot. Well, the great thing is that travel experiences (and stories) are yours and yours alone. Your neighbor can think his car is bigger than yours which might make him believe he is more important (duh..), but travel experiences are a league of their own. They carry a lot of personal emotion and therefore cannot be compared to others. There are no winners and no losers. Experiences are people’s most valuable asset. That neighbors car can break down, your travel experiences are here to stay.
In the fellowship of travel story tellers the world is our playground and classroom at the same time. Every new experience is different, even when you travel to the same place twice. The world keeps turning and people keep moving, no place stays the same.
For our children the world is also a teacher. I strongly believe our kids would learn more from one year of traveling than from one year in the same classroom!
Our favorite spots
Our favorite spots…hmm. Ok, let’s talk city versus nature to start with. Some don’t like megacities like Bangkok or New York City, but we love it as these places offer the best insights into how people act and behave when they live and work together. In megacities serendipity lies just around the corner, waiting to be discovered. We travel the subway like crazy in these kinds of cities. I believe they are the veins of a city, almost a parallel world.
We love Asia! The food, the culture, the friendliness of people draws us year after year. We have already traveled to Japan, Vietnam, India, Nepal, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia. But we keep on coming back. India is a surreal place, a country you will love and hate because of the extremities in way of living, climate and transportation. Some will never return after one visit. We will return this year after our first trip back in 1998.
Manhattan by night as viewed from the top of the Empire State Building is magic, almost surreal. Our kids loved NYC and so did we! Lying on the grass of Central Park during just a couple of hours before our flight back home….we would have given much to be able to stay longer. Who is going to invite us??
Europe is a gift for travelers: all countries are easily accessible and not too far away from each other. Rome, Budapest, Barcelona, Paris and Amsterdam: all so different! We still have lots of great cities to show our kids, this month we will be in Berlin.
We have visited Peru, Brazil and Cuba (without our kids by the way). In this part of the world there are places I still long to visit as a family: Bolivia, Colombia and Belize. I really hope to share stories of these places within the next 3-4 years!
Crush those travel fears
I hope the travel stories of our family offers you and many others inspiration to start traveling. Follow my blog where we will share our upcoming adventures in Asia. If you like to read about travel beyond factual guidebooks, my blog is for you. But for now, enough with the self-promotion: here’s to Travel!!
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