Kaamna Bhojwani-Dhawan – Founder and Chief Mombassador of MomAboard
ExpatFinder had the chance to talk to Kaamna Bhojwani-Dhawan, who founded MomAboard about a decade ago. Priding herself as the “Chief Mombassador”, she manages about 60 mothers worldwide, who curate trip itineraries or move plans and sometimes, even guide clients around the city in person.
MomAboard’s unique selling point lies in their child-friendliness and local expertise. They meticulously looked into playtime, naps and jet lag; list of paediatricians and babysitters; nearest playgrounds, schools, family attractions, and so on. The ultimate goal is to help parents pursue their wanderlust with their little ones without turning it into a nightmare or breaking the bank.
Read on to find out how Momaboard works, Kaamna’s thoughts on the expat lifestyle, and a special promotion just for ExpatFinder’s readers.
Category: Travel assistance
Established since: 2015
Geographical coverage: 60 cities around the world
Q: Tell us more about yourself and the inspiration behind MomAboard.
A: I’ve been travelling with my two kids since they were three months old. We have family all over the world and my husband and I both love to travel, so I knew that we would be on the go a lot. What I didn’t anticipate was how difficult it would be to find good, reliable information for parents travelling with kids. There were two problems: too much un-curated content, and too many unreliable sources. You can find 300 recommendations for kid-friendly restaurants in NYC on TripAdvisor but sifting through them to find the ones that apply to you takes a long time and you could still get it wrong.
I wanted to find a way to make it easier for parents to access information that was reliable and relevant to them when planning trips for their families and it was obvious that the source of that information is local moms. No one knows better than a mom the best places and how to navigate a city with kids. MomAboard was born out of that need. Today, we plan trips and moves to over 60 destinations around the world by connecting families with local moms.
Q: How does MomAboard take away the headaches from travelling parents?
A: We offer two types of services: trip planning and move planning. Both center around tapping into the wisdom of the local mother (our “Mombassador”).
Our biggest value-adds for parents are time and confidence. Our research shows that the average trip takes eight hours to plan. That’s an eternity in our busy lives, time we could be using for so many other things.
Secondly, each recommendation we make is tailored to the family’s interests, budgets and needs. So if you have a baby and a toddler you will get a completely different itinerary from someone who is travelling with teens. If you are looking for off-the-beaten path finds, you won’t be sent to tourist attractions. Knowing you have reliable information means you can enjoy your trip without worrying about ending up in the wrong place, which is every parent’s nightmare when travelling with kids.
This is even more relevant with our move planning service. I am a third-time expat and I know that housing and relocation companies don’t have the insights and nuggets that local parents do: Which are the best playgrounds and recreation centres? What’s the inside scoop on the best schools and neighbourhoods? What are the unspoken norms and expectations? Having this information is the difference between a long-drawn settling in period and a swift and seamless one. We also offer the opportunity to meet the local Mombassador for more information or just to make a friend, both of which are equally important in a new city.
Q: What are the crucial elements that a kid-friendly itinerary should have?
A: What sets MomAboard apart from the other trip planning services out there is that our recommendations are not generated by an algorithm or crowd-sourced, they are made by a human being, a mom no less, who has a clear understanding of the needs of a moving or travelling parent.
As moms, we know that kids cannot move at the same pace adults can, so we slow down the itineraries. We know that kids get restless, so we factor in breaks, play time and naps. We plan dinners close to your accommodation because we know that the last haul home is the toughest at the end of a long day. We factor in jet lag, and fussy eaters and the fact that kids are slightly unpredictable and that travel may throw them off. All these elements are taken into consideration when the Mombassador builds the plan.
For trips, each custom-made itinerary includes restaurants, activities and transportation recommendations. For moves, we offer the inside, unbiased scoop on neighbourhoods, schools, recreation and culture. Both plans include a list of trustworthy service providers from paediatricians and emergency services to babysitters and pet-sitters.
Q: Any unique or challenging request that is particularly memorable?
A: Every itinerary we do is unique, so it’s always interesting to see how people want to spend their holidays or what they worry about most when relocating. We recently helped an American family move from New York to Abu Dhabi, which was a huge cultural change, and the feedback from the mom reveals that our service played a critical role in the success of the move. What she found most valuable was the Mombassador’s advice on how to connect with other local moms, online and off. Once the mom found her community, she was much more able to help her family through the transition. This is exactly the impact we hope to have on more people in the future.
Q: How big is the “Mombassadors” network, and how are they screened?
A: We currently have 60 Mombassadors around the world and are adding more every day. Mombassadors have to fill out an application form, provide a sample itinerary and go through an interview with me. I am looking for knowledge of their city, passion for helping people find their way around, and a deep understanding of the experience of travelling with kids. Many of our Mombassadors have relocated themselves, so they know what it’s like to move to a new city and try to make it home. We also have training and checklists for the itineraries, so the Mombassador remembers all the things she needs to consider, and I personally review each plan that goes out to ensure that it’s of the highest quality.
Q: What is your take about letting young children join the expat lifestyle?
A: My kids have been expats all their lives. My older son was born in Australia, lived in San Francisco for a couple of years and now we’ve been in London for three years. I can see how moving has opened their horizons - they are undoubtedly more adaptable and are developing a genuine appreciation for diversity in the way people who’ve lived in only one place their entire lives can’t. But there are also cons, particularly as kids get older and form attachments to people and places. Moves are unsettling and ensuring that children feel heard and understood is key to getting them through emotionally.
Q: What are the factors taken into consideration in a quotation?
A: Our pricing model is quite simple: Trip plans are £50 for itineraries of 0-7 days and £100 for 8-14 days. Trips longer than this will be priced based on the length and the number of cities/Mombassadors involved.
Move plans are £360 flat with an additional fee to meet the Mombassador, which varies by city.
Q: What lies ahead for MomAboard?
A: We want to truly be a global company, which means offering our service in all the major cities in the world, and we are well on our way to that goal! We also want to be the default resource for any parent around the world planning a trip. We know that our fee is small compared to the value we provide and our existing customers see this first-hand. I would like to get this message out to as many parents as possible.
From a company philosophy, MomAboard is committed to making moms’ lives better. We are an avenue for moms who have stepped out of the workforce temporarily and are looking for some flexible work or to gain/refresh their skills. I currently have five moms on my team; all-working remotely and on a flexible schedule and it’s going brilliantly!
Get a 10% off any MomAboard service upon checkout with the exclusive coupon code “EXPATFINDER”!