A Conversation with Momaboard Founder Kaamna Dhawan
In the midst of six international moves, Kaamna Dhawan gave birth to two children, who joined her journey around the world. They have also served as inspiration for Kaamna’s website, Momaboard, a family trip planning service that seeks to “remove the fear, panic and stress associated with family travel and to help parents discover the world with their kids.” It was a pleasure learning more about Kaamna, her travels, and her business.
Tell us about yourself! What do you do when you’re not traveling the world? Where are you from? Where do you currently live?
I am not sure I do anything when I am not traveling the world!
I was born and raised in Bombay, India. I moved to the U.S. for college and graduate school and then spent a year working in India after that. In 2005, I got married in San Francisco, and my husband and I decided to move to Sydney, Australia, where we had our first child and spent two glorious years. In 2010, we moved back to San Francisco where our second child was born. And just when we thought things were getting settled, we had the opportunity to move to London, which we took and where we’ve been for the past two years.
What made you decide to move abroad? How long did you live there for? Tell us about how you spent your time in your new destination — whether you worked, studied, traveled, or did something else.
My husband works for a global company and our opportunities to move have come through him. I run Momaboard, a travel website and trip-planning service that gives me both the flexibility and the motivation to move. I can work from anywhere and today, our trip-building service offers custom itineraries to over 30 cities around the world because of my global presence. At every stop, I’ve made partnerships and grown the business.
What were some of the biggest challenges you experienced while living abroad? What were some of the greatest highlights?
For someone who moves as often as I do, it’s easy to underestimate settling-in time. I’ve learned that it really takes six months to get to know a place and how it works, and then you can start to enjoy it. My last two moves have been with children, so I’ve really had to focus on making their transitions seamless–from schools to activities and friends. With social media luckily, it’s easy to keep up with old friends and to connect with new ones to keep loneliness at bay during those early days.
There have been so many highlights–Sydney and London in particular are spectacular cities. We have traveled around the regions and take every opportunity to explore.
What do you wish you knew before you moved?
Take less. You’d be surprised at how little you need. Resist the urge to ship everything you own and use the move as an opportunity to spring-clean. Throw a garage sale and donate a bunch of stuff to charity. You wont miss it, I guarantee it.
Any favorite restaurants/events/sites that you’d like to recommend from your travels? Tell us what made them great!
The Sydney Festival that takes place was a highlight. It’s a gigantic street party with musicians, dance acts, theater, open-air movies at venues all over the city. Never seen anything like it!
Are there any tips you’d give someone else considering a similar move?
It’s much easier to move when your kids are little (mine are four- and six-years-old). As they get older, they form deeper attachments which makes uprooting them harder. But if the time is right, do it! Living in another country opens up your perspective in a way nothing else can.
Is there anything that women specifically should know before they move abroad?
Women in particular should be careful to consider health and safety. I could never live in a country in which women and men did not enjoy the same liberties. Similarly, I was pregnant overseas and have two little children, so reliable and good healthcare is important to me.