Exclusive interview with The Great Family Leap

Posted on Oct 1, 2015

Exclusive interview with The Great Family Leap

The Great Family Leap has been back in the Netherlands and we had the pleasure of interviewing Taco and Petra from The Great Family Leap about their adventure.

How is it to be back in the Netherlands? “We are settling in quite well. It is great to have our own home and possessions back. We love the fact that we have a good extra long bed and the kids are thrilled with all their toys that they re-discovered. What surprises us most is the sheer amount of things that we have: so many books, so much kitchenware, so much of everything. And we miss the sun already, it is so grey and wet here in the Netherlands.”

We and our readers like to know a bit more about your trip. Can you tell us what your favourite country was? “That is very difficult as each country had its own beauty and we liked all the places. South Africa keeps attracting us and we love the wildlife and there are still many places we want to further explore, so we will return there again. We really liked Hawaii and found this the most relaxing place we visited and we will return to Kaui again. New Zealand was special and the nature splendid so well worth a visit. We have only seen a tiny bit of Australia so we will need to return there again and see more. And obviously the kids want to return to Disney Land as they really enjoyed this magical place”

It sounds as if you are already planning your next trip. Are you planning to go again? “Not in the short term, but long term travelling is addictive and we surely don’t rule out that in a few years we might be doing something similar”

So, what exactly are your short term plans then? “We have returned back to our home in Rolde. The kids are back to (pre-)school and Taco is in discussions with his employer about his next role. That might be again here in Assen, or could take us somewhere else. We will find out in a few weeks. Petra continues her coaching work and has already a training week planned in South France at the end of this month”

Okay. Let’s get a bit more specific on your trip highlights. We have prepared a few opposite questions that we like to ask you. “Okay”

What was the hottest place that you have visited and what the coldest? “I guess the hottest place was in Oudtshoorn in the Karoo in South Africa. We were there in summer and day-time temperatures were close to 40 degC and it was so hot that the only thing we could do was to cool down in our own pool. The coldest place must have been the Tongarino crossing in New Zealand. Only Taco did this mountain trek, but there just had been an arctic wind blowing freezing cold temperatures to New Zealand and he walked in snow and ice with a windchill factor of minus 10 degC. But those were the extremes. We had planned our route in such a way that in most places we visited in spring or early summer and we had nice temperatures most of our trip”

Tell us, what was the highest and lowest point of your trip? “Taking a helicopter flight over the volcano in Hawaii was definitely a highlight and also brought us literally to the highest point. Another highlight, but physically the lowest point was also on Hawaii where we took a submarine to dive100 feet deep to see the wonderful underwater world”

Which place did the kids enjoy most? “They liked any place that either had a large playground, a beach or a swimming pool. Or ideally all three of those. One of the houses they still talk about is our home in Swaziland. We had booked a large family house in the middle of nowhere, but it had a playground, a trampoline and a pool outside and a huge children playroom inside. And best of all the house did come with a housekeeper that liked to play with the kids”

Talking about playgrounds, where did you find the best playground? “We have seen so many playgrounds that it is difficult to answer this. In New Zealand both the quality and quantity of playgrounds is excellent and the kids spend numerous hours on them. Oh and of course both Disneyland and Legoland in California were one big playground for the kids”

You must have stayed in many different locations. What was the best place and what the worst? ”I think we must have stayed in about fifty different places this trip. Sometimes we stayed for up to three weeks in one place, but at other times we only stayed for one night, for example close to an airport if we needed to catch an early flight. We really liked our camper van in New Zealand. We mostly stayed one or two nights at one campground, but it didn’t matter as we had our home with us. We really felt at home in both Montagu in South Africa and in Princeville on the island Kaui in Hawaii and wished we could have stayed much longer there. The worst place was our holiday home in Hanmer Springs in New Zealand. The house was cold, dark and smelly and the town of Hanmer Springs was to touristic for us and really expensive. We liked the hot springs though, but next time we would only stay one or two nights”

Thinking about locations, what was the quietest place and what the most busiest place you stayed? “Ha ha, the busiest place was surely Disneyland on a Sunday, it was really crowded and there were people everywhere. We have stayed often in quiet places away from everything, but two places come to mind: Swaziland was really quiet and our last stay the Tomjachu lodge in Nelspruit was also very quiet”

After so many miles flying around the world, what is your favourite airline? “We have flown with a lot of different carriers this trip: KLM, Comair, Qantas, Hawaiian airlines, American Airlines & British Airways. Luckily we did not have any serious problems or issues with our flights. We were pleasantly surpassed by Qantas, they have a good personalised service, lots of attention for the kids and good spacious seats. We also love the Qantas lounge in Sydney and we were happy to spend a few hours there. We were least positive about American Airlines and their overnight flight from Hawaii to Los Angeles was the worst flight we had and we don’t think we will select them again for our trips”

What about food, have you tried lots of new exciting food? “Not really no. Because we travel with two small children we preferred to do home cooking most days and stick to familiar recipes. We have tried local specialties like shaved ice or coconut in Hawaii or a braai in South Africa. But food is important to us. We like to eat healthy and Petra has a strict gluten free, dairy free, soy free, vegetarian diet and is was not always easy to find suitable products for her. Bondi beach in Australia was like heaven, she could buy anything she wanted there; Hawaii and California were also okay, but in South Africa it was often a struggle to find the the right products”

Looking at your site we see lots of pictures of wild animals and it is clear that you love them. What is your favourite animal sighting of this trip? “For Emily it are the giraffes in Ithala. They are her favourite animal and we saw them a lot there. Lucas still talks about Houdini, the elusive cheetah in the Nambiti game reserve that we only saw for a few seconds. For us three things stand out, the dolphin trip we took in New Zealand, the good leopard sightings we had in Kruger and the green turtles in Hawaii”

Okay, we have come to the end of this interview. Any last words you want to share? “I like to thank all our readers for following us this year and for joining us on Facebook and I hope that our story will inspire other families to also take a leap in the unknown and follow their dreams”

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