Explore The Netherlands with The Road Trip Club
Nijmegen-born Sabine van der Voort and Andrea Zaalman were both living in China without knowing about one another. They came into contact through an organization for expats. On their return to the Netherlands, they dreamed about the idea of starting a similar organization here. They wanted to show The Netherlands to expats and bring people from all over the world together. Their company became The Road Trip Club.
Helping expats find their way
“It can be quite difficult to meet people when you come to a foreign country. You might not know the language, the people, you don’t know where to go… That is why, when we were in China, we joined a group for locals and expats to meet. We did all sorts of fun things and got to know the country and other people. We figured The Netherlands could use something similar!”, Andrea and Sabine say enthusiastically.
It turns out that many expats tend to feel lonely in a place away from their homeland. “We often hear that expats run into the Dutch having their agenda fully booked months in advance. That makes it hard for expats to get to know them and make contact”, explain Andrea and Sabine. “But once they have established contact, expats find the Dutch very friendly and helpful. It just takes a while to really make friends when you are an expat.”
That is why The Road Trip Club introduces expats and locals in fun ways to the most beautiful places in the Netherlands. Sabine and Andrea promote their organization via their Instagram account and Facebook groups targeting expats from Arnhem and Nijmegen. “We want to include both Dutch people and expats on our trips. That way, we can let them all meet and interact in a fun way.”
Since February, they have been planning paid day trips: an outing to a treetop adventure park and the Drielandenpunt, or a scooter trip to National Park the Veluwe. As soon as restrictions allow indoor activities, cheese tastings, cozy dinner evenings or even celebrating carnival together will be added to the program.
Building a community
There has been plenty of enthusiasm for their plans: their first trip was fully booked within moments. And people who joined their activities, signed up for new trips right away. That was exactly what Sabine and Andrea were hoping to achieve. They are beaming when they say: “We want to build a true community, a group that can discover the Netherlands (and maybe later Belgium and Germany) and keep in touch. Kind of a family, really. We’re not guides, for sure. We’re here to take expats and locals on a trip, bring them together, and have them support each other. That personal touch is what makes us unique as a company.”
Their approach seems to work: “Many expats, who join one of our day trips or visit our events, mention that they weren’t aware that there are so many other expats in the area. That immediately eliminates part of their loneliness.” In addition, The Road Trip Club is one of the few companies that takes care of everything, down to the last details. “Participants arrive at Nijmegen Central Station and board a minibus that will take them straight to the right place. From there, we’ve got it.”
So, are there enough beautiful places in the Netherlands to continue planning new outings? “Oh, sure”, says Sabine. “We regularly visit places we have never been before. So, us too, we continue our journey of discovery. As a Dutchman, you tend to go abroad to see places, but now we realize there is so much beauty so close by. That is why our trips are so much fun for locals, too.” The women do online research, ask for advice from friends and family, and ask the expat community what they want to see in the Netherlands.
Dreaming without borders
And of course, Sabine and Andrea are thinking about the future. “Our ultimate goal is to plan trips from various locations and to be able to divert to Belgium and Germany, as soon as Covid-19 restrictions are lifted. We want to create a team, so we can have several colleagues take small groups on trips. By keeping groups small, we can still guarantee the personal experience element.” But what would really be amazing, they say, is when people come to Nijmegen just to join their trip. “Just imagine someone saying: ‘I want to go to Nijmegen, because that is where The Road Trip Club is.’ That is the dream!”
In this blog series, The Life Net and StartUp Nijmegen like to show what an attractive region Nijmegen is to start and establish as an entrepreneur. It spotlights various internationals or companies that attract internationals. They like to share their inspiring story about how they started and grew with their business. Check StartUp Nijmegen for how they pay attention to this.