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Meet The Family Without Borders


Everyone dreams of traveling the world: plunging headfirst into the unknown, visiting places that TripAdvisor doesn’t recommend, eating weird food you can’t pronounce the name of.

But for some people it’s not as simple as clicking a few links online and hopping on a plane. There’s that thing called money; there’s that day job staring at a screen all day long; there’s that family, those friends, and in some cases, that marriage and those kids. Your life somehow builds a wall between you and your adventures.

But that’s no excuse for not pursuing your dreams, says Anna Alboth, co-founder of The Family Without Borders (literally a travelling family). She, her husband Tom and their two kids are living the nomadic dream. And don’t think they’re millionaires; they’re not. Some trips, Anna tells me, cost them less than what they would have spent living at home in Berlin.

This week Anna is speaking at Thursday's Travel Massive event – Travel Massive are a global travel organisation with over 120 chapters worldwide – at Generator Berlin Mitte, primarily about the different lessons she’s learned while travelling the world with her kids for the last five years. Ahead of that, I spoke to her about the appeal of the nomadic lifestyle and why taking her kids to Iran was not as risky as you might imagine.

Can you explain what you do as part of The Family Without Borders?
Well, first of all we travel, and second, we report on it. We are journalists – I’m a press journalist and my husband is a photographer. What started off as a family holiday changed into something much bigger. Because when we started to travel, we started to run a travel blog – in English only at that time – and it just got more popular every year.

What’s the appeal of the nomadic lifestyle?
We just realised that travelling is what makes us happy, and it was beautiful to see that it can also inspire other people. When we started the first trip, when our daughter was three years old, we went around the Black Sea. We really did it because we felt like doing it, and then we realised that people in 130 countries were reading the blog, because it turned out that people who are travelling and who like this kind of nomadic lifestyle are afraid that the moment you start a family and you have kids, it will be over. I think they like the idea that they can watch us to see that it doesn’t have to be like this. We fill some gap between adventurous traveller and responsible parent – because I don’t think that they have to be opposites.

Most people think you need lots of money to travel the world. Is that a valid excuse for not traveling?
I think there are many good excuses for not travelling, and having kids is a very good excuse because you can always say, "Oh I want my kid to have a stable life and always the same food and not be put in any risks." I hear from many parents telling me that. But when we go on holiday with kids, actually we never rest. For us, holidays are when we leave the kids with grandparents and go alone and do something. And I always feel a bit sorry for them, because we like spending time together.

What’s it like being on the road with kids? How does it compare to when you travelled as two?
I think there are only two disadvantages to travelling with kids. One is that we’re really scared at the most dangerous places on our way. For example, we didn’t go to Tajikistan with them, because at that time it was not safe – without kids we would have gone there. So we didn’t go to some places just because of the risk.

The second thing is that we don’t have this evening life much when we travel. Of course we might meet some nice people and make friends, but not so close friends that we would leave our kids at night for them. So this we have to skip. Other than that, there are only advantages because we raise trust in people when we travel with kids. Like in some villages, somewhere in the Pacific maybe, people see us and they think, "Oh my God, they bought the most important thing in their life to our village, we will show them that they will be fine here, they will be safe, and it will be beautiful." The travelling is slower with kids but I see it as a positive: they ask a lot of questions. For me as a journalist especially, it’s really nice because it’s not only my questions, I see what other questions can appear on different topics through them.

And you took your kids to Iran? 
Not at all, actually. I knew the situation in Iran and I knew it was not a dangerous place. It was challenging from other perspectives because people are not very used to seeing little blonde girls, and we didn’t have a second of freedom. All the time people around us wanted to spend time with us and touch the hair of my kids. And it was the first time my kids had had too much of people and they wanted to run away.

What is Travel Massive for you?
It’s a very nice idea of networking in all the tourism markets. So people coming for this type of meeting in so many cities in Europe are people who have just one thing in common, which is travelling or tourism, but from very different perspectives. It's for tourism professionals: it can be tour operators, it can be hotels, it can be agencies, travel bloggers, very different companies, restaurants and so on.

t’s interesting to see that every time the Travel Massive meetings have some main topic, the organisers find people who do very short presentations and afterwards, for one or two hours, most people just talk with each other. I was in meetings like this in Berlin and Warsaw and I see what things happen after the presentations. When you let people meet like that, suddenly the travel magazines cooperate with bloggers or other companies, things you wouldn’t even think could come together.

What would you say to someone thinking about travelling but feel trapped by their job?
I think people should first think whether they really want to travel or not, because I think it makes sense to travel if you really want to, not just because you think it’s a nice idea and you think it will make you free and happy. Because if people don’t like it, they don’t feel comfortable meeting new people or getting dirty or waiting for trains; when this is annoying them, the travelling will not be nice.

And the second thing is that, all these excuses people have, the money factor; we’ve been to almost 50 countries with these kids, and the main thing is when people comment on our travelling they always say that we are millionaires and that we must have a lot of money because other wise you cannot travel. And when I explain to them and show them the numbers, that when we travel we spend less money than we spend in Berlin at home, they just open their eyes. So I think with all these excuses people should really think, "Is it really like this? Is it really like this that with my girlfriend I cannot travel? Is it really like that this that I cannot quit this job?" I think if you want it, it’s really not a problem to travel. Maybe if you had a very serious disability, but even then I also know people in wheelchairs who travel the world.

Where’s the most exciting place you’ve been to?
I think the most exciting time was, we found a boat and we hitchhiked a yacht on the Pacific between Tonga and Fiji. We basically found some people who said it was okay to jump on their boat … It was the first time in my life that, for many days, I had only seen just water – just the ocean – and somehow then you feel this world.

Join an Evening of Inspired Conversation

On Thursday, Travel Massive and Digital Nomads communities come together to mingle and talk about travel and nomadic lifestyle at our Berlin Mitte property. Join us for an evening full of inspiring conversations, interesting people and great Berlin vibe! RSVP here.