Let me introduce you to our newest friends, Benieke and Ben from Wanderloud. Not only are they living right in the heart of a fabulous holiday destination (with fantastic local tips on what to see while there) but they have also started a great new business that goes hand in hand with our motto ‘capture the moments and treasure the memories’. Once you’ve read this then you’ll see what I mean…
Tell us about yourself, your family and of course your business Wanderloud –
My husband Ben and I met as international students in France. Our romance spanned the globe and the best part of a decade before we married in Rainbow Flat (a beautiful place, on the east coast of Australia).
I’ve been in communications and marketing, in tourism and education, on three continents. I’m a cultural-identity confused Australian with European heritage. I’ve also just completed a Master of International Business.
Ben is a self-taught British photographer who has lived and worked all over the world. He is a ‘people-person’ and understands how important it is to feel at ease with someone taking your photograph.
We’re globally mobile and keen travellers. We currently live in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia with our two delicious, young children.
We both love being in the moment on holiday, storytelling, and beautiful photos.
It was this fused passion that led us to co-found our holiday photography business Wanderloud.
The seed was planted in Edinburgh a number of years back. I left our camera in the seat-pocket of the plane in what turned out to be a pivotal moment. We fully expected to feel naked in a new place without our equipment. Instead, it taught us a real lesson about being in the moment when we travel.
Without the distraction of a device and the pressure to capture it all, we could really be there in our destination, and with each other. The icing on the cake would have been to have some beautiful photos that said it all to remember the experience by.
It made us really think about how good it would to be to have a fun, candid – professional, photoshoot on holiday. We’re travellers ourselves, ‘people people’ and with Ben a photographer, it became a fused passion.
An idea started to grow in our heads, and hearts. We are set on a move to France, you see. As much for lifestyle as to be closer to family and friends in Europe. But how will we live? Photographing holiday-makers there seemed the perfect way to make it sustainable.
It was a business we believed in, a lifestyle we dreamed of. We could already see the looks on our clients’ faces when they saw their photos.
But it didn’t sit quite right with us. It was too small. Couldn’t we do more?
Stability or passion? Predictable or risky? Comfort-zone or danger-zone?
The concept rattled around in our heads for nearly two years. Then, on a long car-trip back from a friend’s birthday, gloomy weather, our kids going crazy in the back and my mind doing overtime, I turned to Ben and said “I’ve got it! We’ll build a platform, go global, and connect travellers with local photographers all over the world”.
What followed was a whirlwind of business proposals, concept development, branding, legalities and number-crunching.
While flying solo in your own trendy space is a romantic thought, bringing an idea to life from scratch as an entrepreneur is massive and can be overwhelming.
I’m not quite sure how we got through those heady, early days – or how we found the determination and motivation to be where we are today.
Collaboration and following your heart is vital
I do know collaboration is the backbone. I’m so glad we founded the business in Newcastle, NSW. It really is an innovation hub with so many amazing and talented individuals, organisations and services. We have been able to surround ourselves with great people and networks.
It’s really important to keep your eye on the prize. We believe in this!
We’re building a brand, a concept, and a feeling – a service our target market didn’t realise they always wanted. Behind this is a slick, user-friendly platform and a complete social media spectrum.
We have values around delivering an outstanding experience, loving how travel brings out our best, being passionate and determined, communicating openly and honestly, never stopping growing and learning, and how the heart of a photograph is its story.
These are the cornerstone of what we’re doing and so important to us.
We also owe a lot of our early success to our photographers – these amazing, talented professionals all over the world felt a connection to what we were doing and agreed to work with us (sometimes I still pinch myself about this, they’re all so incredible)!
We moved our young family overseas to free up capital, and time.
One of the main things we struggled with was how to find the money and time to start-up. We played out so many scenarios and kept arriving back at the one where we moved to Malaysia.
We lived there before we got married and knew Ben had a good chance of landing a role with a stable income we could live from. The time zone is accommodating and the technology world-class. We’d keep our property in Australia, send the kids to an international school and I could focus on the business. We also saw it as a stepping-stone to France.
It was a huge, personal decision for us. But, we wanted to be true to what we believe in, so we did it.
Both of us think it’s so important to be able to live in a place you love.
In this digital age, the world of work is changing so much and it’s entirely possible to create a business you can run from anywhere. It’s something we genuinely believe in. Both of us think it’s so important to be able to live in a place you love. Starting a business like this allows the best of both worlds – and we are testament to it. Moving overseas hasn’t hindered our progress one bit.
Plus we get an amazing life-experience.
Sometimes I need to remind myself we live a life a lot of people think is really cool and interesting – and it is! Kuala Lumpur is a chaotic, wonderful city with a beating, multicultural heart. Our children have Malay, Indian and Chinese friends. They know about Hari Raya (Eid, or the end of the Ramadan fasting month for Muslims), Deepavali (the Hindu festival of lights) and Chinese New Year. They call our older friends Aunty or Uncle and go on some pretty special holidays.
If we can do it, anyone can!
We’ve come a long way, geographically and figuratively. We made the move overseas last year to free up time and resources to work on Wanderloud.
While I’m still immensely scared that I’m a nearly-40 mother-of-two doing this, the excitement and satisfaction of taking control lifts me up. In another two years’ time, we want to have a scalable, profitable business we can run anywhere in the world.
What is a recent or favourite trip you have been on with your family?
We live in a holiday destination!
Kuala Lumpur is an incredible blend of Malay, Chinese and Indian culture in modern city which gives it a beating, multicultural heart.
Hawker stalls under a leafy canopy of banyan trees offer some of the best street-food in South East Asia. In the best of both worlds, they jostle for position against mogul-style domes and skyscrapers.
What type of holiday accommodation did you stay in or do you recommend?
When friends come to visit always suggest they use Air B’n’B to stay in our condo (condominium).
Our place is called Kampung Warisan (which literally translates to heritage village in Malay). It’s very traditional and set in 15 acres of jungle right in the heart of Kuala Lumour.
You can rent anything from a studio to 3-bedroom apartment. The pool is amazing and it’s great for families.
We are linked by pedestrian bridge to the LRT (light rail transport) and six stops from KLCC (Kuala Lumpur City Centre) which is excellent for sight-seeing.
Share a travel tip for your destination –
Here are 5 ideas to get great family photos that say “We’re in KL!” (and have fun along the way).
1. Have fun with the kids
There’s nothing worse than telling your children to “smile” and getting that ridiculous, cheesy grin from the little ones, or nothing but goofy poses by your teenager.
Choose a location that is iconic to KL – and take along some props or activities they love. If your little one has a favourite toy, get it in the picture! They’ll giggle away holding bunny up in front of the twin towers.
Bubbles are good, too (there’re usually bubble-blowers touting their wares amongst the monkeys and Hindu temples at the Batu Caves). But, this also depends on your level of expertise with a camera!
2. Go out for street-food
Who doesn’t love to makan (eat in Malay)? Kuala Lumpur is renowned for its street-food. You’ll find nasi lemak (coconut rice), young coconut water, sizzling satay and countless fruits.
Head out for a stroll around Central Market and Petaling Street – there are tons of angles for fun, candid photos in a setting that has Kuala Lumpur written all over it.
3. Head to KLCC
The twin towers are synonymous with Kuala Lumpur, and the jungle-green of the park at their base with soft light filtering through it is a photographer’s dream.
This one is an easy add-on to your day. You can have some fun playing around in the park, and grab something to eat in Suria KLCC after.
4. An early morning trip to Lake Titiwangsa
Take a breakfast picnic and make a morning of it. Lake Titiwangsa has incredible skyline views of KL and in the early-morning they make a stunning, back-lit scene.
You’d ideally have a tripod to let as much light as possible in to the photos. Of course phone-shots are okay, too. They’re just not as good at playing all the different colours and light off against each other in a sweeping cityscape like the one at Lake Titiwangsa.
5. A “proper” photo shoot
This is a trend on the up – trusted, local (professional) photographers in a global network. They shoot holiday-makers celebrating milestone birthdays, honeymoons, anniversaries, family reunions, farewell to a place that was home, or just a really special trip.
No one gets left out, and the photos are excellent. We founded Wanderloud for just these reasons.
We’re a friendly start-up run by an expat husband and wife team who totally get it – we have two photographers in Kuala Lumpur. They’ll use a mixture of these ideas in your shoot, or take your lead. It’s actually a lot of fun (and perfect as a gift, too).
What is a memorable moment on that trip?
Our three year-old making it up the 272 steps to the Hindu temple complex inside the limestone outcrop of the Batu Caves!
Share the best part about travelling with your family –
I get a lot of pleasure out of the joy in my kids when we travel as a family. Everything is so exciting for them – their wonder gives me a sense of wonderment.
What tips do you have for families that want to travel?
Just do it! That may sound simple but it really is key. We are always saying “when I have enough money” or “when there’s time”. You can make anything happen if you really want to. Save a little each week, put a world map on the fridge to daydream about, whatever works for you. Travel is such a special experience for everybody – especially the kids. What are your fond memories of childhood? I bet they’re of holidays.
Where to next?
We’re off to the UK in their spring. I’m looking forward to walks in the woods, cosy pubs and a nice, cool glass of Pimm’s!
They are pretty cool new friends to have right?! I think so. But wait, there is more…
We are so excited to announce that we will be partnering with Wanderloud and working together to give clients the amazing opportunity to create memories that will last a lifetime.
If you have a trip marked out on the calendar but haven’t started planning it yet then let me do it for you! My Family Travel Planning Service is just what you need to take the pressure off and get that dream trip planned and booked.