We are The Wondering Family, an “ordinary” family (if such a thing even exists!) that made a rather extraordinary decision. We decided to leave all our certainties behind. In the first place literally, because we left our nice home in our comfortable country behind us. But also figuratively, because we wanted nothing more than to examine our well-defined ways of thinking and to look for new frames of thought, which we felt would suit us better.
We finally wanted to start living the life we had long dreamed of, a life that fits us and our vision, a life that we really longed for deep inside ourselves.
To us, this meant that we were off on an incredibly exciting journey. An “outward” journey, out into the world to explore other places and cultures. But also an “inward” journey, looking for more connection with ourselves, our family, the people around us and the beautiful world in which we live. It is above all a journey to freedom, the freedom to take control of our own lives and to fully go for what makes us feel good.
Willem is an optimist, who goes through life cheerfully and sees the best in everything. He lives completely in the now and tries to enjoy everything that comes his way as much as possible. Willem is an entrepreneur who likes to find solutions for obstacles and who likes to learn new things. As a boardgame fan you can always tempt him to play a good board game.
Lieve is an enthusiastic and warm person. She loves people and always seeks the best in everyone. Personal growth and interpersonal relationships are topics she never gets tired of. She loves to learn constantly. She likes to be outside, in nature, where she can relax and experience connection. She likes to read, cook (and eat!), walks on the beach, being in, around, on water and having nice conversations.
Kilian. He brings the spice to life with his enthusiasm and energy! He is curious and likes to investigate everything himself, he doesn’t just take something for granted! He has a great imagination and likes to come up with solutions “outside the box”. He likes to learn and finds almost everything interesting. His favorite pastimes are playing D&D, reading books and playing board games.
Kobe. With his calm presence he brings balance to the family. He is very good at empathizing with others and is always ready to help. He has a strong inner compass with which he easily feels what a good solution is for a certain situation. He sets a goal and goes for it, not shying away from challenges. He is almost always cheerful and positive. His favorite pastimes are playing outside, actively exploring and drawing.
Flora. With her cheerful smile or giggling giggle, she brings us a lot of joy. She has a rich fantasy in which she likes to lose herself for a long time. She loves animals and gets along very well with them. We often call her our animal whisperer. She also loves people and makes contact very easily. She’s kind of a tough princess. Her favorite pastimes are crafts, baking, playing with lego and caring for animals.
Willem. Lieve. Kilian. Kobe. Flora. The Wondering Family.
The decision to travel full time did not really come “suddenly” or “out of the blue”. I think very few people who knew us well were actually really surprised about our full time travel plans….. Making that decision is more like the pinnacle of a process that actually started a long time ago….
Willem and I have always loved to travel. In the very beginning of our relationship, we went on a trip to China for a month (we were both studying Chinese language and culture at the time, that’s how we got to know each other!). It became a fantastic experience. And after this trip we knew for sure: we would travel a lot together from now on, because we would make the journey that is life together from now on!
A short time later we left for Thailand for two months. Willem had been an exchange student in Thailand for a year as a teenager, and he wanted to share his love for Thailand with me. Another wonderful experience. We realized that we really loved getting to know new cultures, meeting new people, discovering new places. We felt that traveling broadened our horizons, gave us new perspectives. We realized that there is not one kind of “normal”, that different people see different things as “normal”. We thought this was fantastic. When we got the chance to live in Shanghai for six months on a scholarship, we answered with a resounding YES.
After our studies we decided to travel around Asia for a year, before settling down and looking for a home and a job. We bought ourselves two large backpacks and two small scooters and drove happily through Asia for a year. We lived on a minimum budget and had maximum experiences.
After this year of travel we came back to Belgium. On the one hand we were sorry that our adventure had come and gone, but on the other hand we also wanted to start “real life”. So we searched for a job and a nice house that we renovated ourselves. Ten months after our return, our first son Kilian was born. Our whole world changed. We had now become PARENTS! We absolutely loved it and were completely absorbed by it. After two years that flew by, we welcomed Kobe into our family. Not long after, Flora came and completed our family.
Three children in four years: we were busy and we stopped traveling for a while….. But it didn’t take long before we got “itchy feet” again…. We started thinking about traveling with our family. We started with a few trips in Europe, to test what it was like to travel with children. We had two beautiful summers in Italy and Spain, where we discovered that there was still a lot of time left to enjoy each other and the new experiences, between prepping meals, changing diapers and comforting tired children!
The summer after Flora turned two, we decided to go to Thailand for a month with the kids. We were a bit nervous about going on a long and distant journey with three toddlers, but that turned out to be completely unnecessary. All in all, the trip turned out to be a fantastic experience. We discovered that we actually really love to travel with our kids. Yes, it’s hard at times (and like, really, really hard at times!), but it’s so much fun watching them take it all in. How they discover things, how they learn. How they make contact with the people we meet almost naturally. We probably like the feeling of great connection with each other that we always experience when we are travelling, because experiencing such intense experiences together creates a really deep bond.
In 2017 we went on a five-week trip to Panama. And during this trip, something happened. We all felt we didn’t want this trip to end. We all felt that this was actually what we wanted. Travelling, discovering things, learning, being together.
In September 2017 we made the decision: we would travel full time through Central America for a year. We started to adapt our business so that we could work remotely, we rented out our house, sold a lot of our stuff, made arrangements with school, arranged the necessary paperwork.
While we were planning our travel year, something inside us changed. Everything suddenly felt so good. So naturally. It felt like we had finally stepped on the right path. And so our plan to travel for a year turned into a plan to travel indefinitely. And so we became The Wondering Family…
Why travelling makes us so happy
We have known for a long time that we like to travel. But for some reason, we always felt that traveling belongs in the category of “leisure”, “escape from real life”. Something we could enjoy for a little while, if we had shown enough commitment in the “real world”. We saw travel as a time to relax, to recharge. The energizing breaks in a busy life.
After our travel year through Asia, we decided to go all out for “real life”. And so a year after coming back we had a car, a house and our first child. We both searched and found work and we went all out for “real life”. We had goals to pursue: we converted our home into a very light, spacious, open-plan house that we felt very comfortable in. Willem built his own business as a consultant, and I started working in the business together with Willem. We worked together from home and had a good work-life balance. The children went to a nice school and had many friends. And in the summer we went on a long journey with our family. It’s been that way for a few years now. We were happy and enjoyed each other and life.
And yet… Something felt off. And when our house was renovated, and our business was successfully expanded, and Willem said with a laugh: “now we can start thinking about a swimming pool in our garden”, we both realized that this was actually not what we really wanted. We started to think about this. We talked about this long and often. We felt like we had created “the perfect life” and yet it didn’t feel perfect to us. We realized that somewhere we were “missing” something, that somewhere in ourselves we had a longing for something we didn’t have in our lives….
We felt a bit trapped in the little life we had created ourselves. It felt like we had been following the “how do you create your dream life” script, and now that we were pretty much done with that, we felt a kind of emptiness, a feeling of “is this it now, this dream life?”. We started to realize that this was because we had been following a script that just wasn’t our own. We felt that we had pursued goals that were not actually our own. And we realized that in this process we had lost important pieces of ourselves… We wanted to feel more connected again. Connected with ourselves, the people around us, the world around us. And we also wanted to feel more freedom. The freedom to live that life in connectedness…
Although we had a pretty good work-life balance, we felt that we couldn’t spend enough fun time with the kids. Hasty mornings, packed evenings, busy weekends, lots of obligations, hobbies here and there,… We felt it was very difficult to find time for relaxing family time. We really really wanted to be able to spend more time with our children. We also felt that we had lost touch with ourselves and with our deeper values in the busy, hasty lives we led. Yes to making sustainable decisions, but it’ll have to wait until we have more time, we’d rather have it easy for now, because I still have to fold the laundry, iron it, do the dishes and check the school diaries… Yes, we want to eat healthier, but we have to leave for soccer training soon so I quickly prepare something easy…
It just didn’t feel right anymore. We wanted to live more connected again. Connected with ourselves and our core values. Connected with our children. Connected with the world around us. We felt like the 9-to-5 script wasn’t working for our family. We didn’t want to spend most of the day alone, sitting behind a desk (us at work, the kids at school). We all felt that we would rather go exploring together, out into the world, to discover new things, to learn with great enthusiasm. Just like we always did in the summer holidays.
So when we were on vacation in Panama in 2017, there was very fertile ground in our minds to welcome the thought “what if we did this for a lot longer, what if we went on a permanent trip?” with open arms. Once this idea entered our minds, we couldn’t get it out. At the end of September 2017 we decided to take the plunge! In the summer of 2018 we wouldn’t just go on a trip, but to go on a trip for at least a year (fastforward: meanwhile, we like this new lifestyle so much that we want to do it for much longer!).
What followed was a busy and chaotic year of preparations. But despite all the business and chaos, it was also a great year. Because from the moment we made the decision to organize our lives differently, a weight was lifted off our shoulders. We felt for the first time in a long time that we were walking on the “right” path, the path that felt “right” to us. We learned a lot and expanded our comfort zone. We felt we were finally writing our own script. And that felt really good!
Of course, writing your own script is sometimes quite difficult, sometimes even a bit scary. There are chapters where things don’t go the way you want. Not at all. There are obstacles to overcome. Outer obstacles and inner obstacles. Sometimes it takes courage and perseverance to continue on a fairly uncertain path. It requires a lot of letting go, surrender and trust. Because no, we don’t always know in advance how things will turn out, sometimes we just have to jump and trust that we will end up well. But that’s all okay. For all difficulties and setbacks are our own. They suit us, they suit our path. They help us to continue on the path we choose. We are no longer so afraid of setbacks, we are not so easily discouraged anymore, because we just love the whole process of finding and walking our own path.
And walking our own path feels really good. It feels light, joyful, right. When we wake up in the morning, we get up full of energy, ready to start the new day. Because we know it’s a day full of things we really want in our day. And when we go to sleep at night, we are happy and grateful for the day that has passed. We are full of energy, we feel connected to ourselves, our family and the world. We enthusiastically learn a lot and we constantly expand our comfort zone. We are increasingly taking up our core values again and translating them into concrete activities in our day.
For us this meant, among other things, making time every day to do something with the children, eat healthy, take up meditation and yoga, being outside a lot, being active, reading a lot, trying many new things (surfing, SUPpng, bodyboarding, paragliding). , diving, snorkeling,….). All these things make us energetic and cheerful. We are therefore very happy that we have started living our lives in line with our deepest desires. That we now live in freedom.