Bright mind talk with train travel wizard Veerle Lamoen

03 May 2023

From IT to train travels: Veerle shows you the way to totally stress-free holidays (with lots of legroom) 

No Brain Embassy member has been onboard longer than Veerle Lamoen. With summer approaching (finally!), we’re putting the spotlight on her travel agency that focuses exclusively on train holidays. “If you are looking for a stress-free holiday far off the beaten track, travel by train.”

A few years ago, Veerle radically shifted gear and gave her career a totally different turn. “I used to work in IT. After more than 10 years, I got a little bored with my job and started looking for a new challenge. I have always liked travelling. Who doesn’t? But I also enjoy planning my travels: mapping out a nice route, finding hidden treasures to sleep and eat, discovering undiscovered sights,… It would be slightly exaggerated to say that I enjoyed planning my holiday as much as the holiday itself, but it was definitely no punishment to figure out every single detail of my trip. I remember travelling to Lapland quite some years ago and thinking: ‘Hey, I could sell this trip!’ ”

“I decided to start working part-time and study tourism. When I was about to start my internship at a big travel agency, COVID-19 hit and the country went into lockdown. No one could travel anymore. My internship fell through, so I used the lockdown to write a business plan. In the summer of 2021, I launched ‘Ergens Onderweg’ (‘Somewhere on the way’).”

Off the beaten track

Ergens Onderweg focuses exclusively on rail holidays, explains Veerle. “The interest in travelling by train is on the rise. But people don’t know where to start. Every country in Europe has a few bigger airports you can fly to. That same country has hundreds or even thousands of big and small train stations. Every single one of those charming little stations is a possible destination. An endless world of opportunities opens up when you travel by train. That’s the beauty of travelling by train, but at the same time people get lost in the maze.”

“That’s where I step in. I take care of the entire organization of the holiday and I take people off the beaten track. Most travel guides and tourist offices assume that everyone travels by car. I find out which amazing spots you can reach by train. Or even by foot or by bike. That’s information you can’t just find online or in a travel guide. That’s why I have tested all the holiday packages we sell with Ergens Onderweg myself. (laughs) It’s a dirty job, but someone has to do it.” 

"It’s by far the most stress-free and comfortable way to travel"

The ultimate slow travel

If you haven’t booked your summer holiday yet, why should you give the train a chance?

“It’s by far the most stress-free and comfortable way to travel”, says Veerle. “Travelling by train is the ultimate form of slow travel. It’s not just a way of travelling, it’s a totally different mindset.”

‍“If you travel by plane, you need to be at the airport at least two hours in advance to check in, to go through the security check, to board your flight. If you travel by train, you need to arrive a few minutes in advance. Along the way, you enjoy the landscape passing by, while enjoying the legroom and the WiFi. When you arrive at your destination, you find yourself right in the center of the city instead of some remote suburb. If you include all the hassle at the airport, the train has even become the fastest way to reach holiday hotspots like the south of France.”

 “Off course, travelling by train is also much better for the planet than travelling by plane or by car. It’s encouraging that the ecological damage and the unrealistic dumping prices of plane tickets are getting more and more attention. But the ecological advantage of rail holidays is not the main trigger for most people to choose the train over the plane or the car. It’s a nice extra on top of the comfort and the low stress levels.”

Looking for the off switch

After almost two years, Veerle doesn’t regret her change of careers one bit. “Like many entrepreneurs, I haven’t found the off switch yet. I’m always on. But running my own company gives me so much freedom. That’s priceless.”

“I’ve got the feeling that I really make a difference in people’s lives. In IT, you only get feedback when you mess things up. Nobody will ever thank you for making their computer systems run smoothly. Today, my clients send me pictures and stories of their holidays. They have been saving money for their trip, they count down the days, it’s really satisfying when you make their vacation an unforgettable experience.”

The Brain Embassy Buzz

Veerle runs Ergens Onderweg from the fourth floor of Brain Embassy. “I was one of the first members, back when only the tenth floor was ready to co-work. Brain Embassy hosts a lot of people like me, first-time entrepreneurs who are working hard to grow their own business. That’s inspiring. Seeing other people work hard motivates you to go the extra mile yourself. I like that special Brain Embassy buzz.”

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