By Beth Treffeisen
Two Boston brothers, Troy Santulli, 15 and Tristan Santullie 13, traveled to their 100th country this past summer when they landed on the island of Ternate, Maluku in Indonesia.
“Travel has been a big part of our lives,” said Dave Santulli, their father. “For the learning experience and not for the luxury.”
For this family, travel has been about meeting the local people and experiencing the different cultures.
Dave continued, “We always tried to have the most local experience.”
The brothers are now official members of the Travelers Century Club, a nonprofit social organization representing world travelers who have visited over 100 or more of the world’s countries and territories.
“I like to travel because it’s a great experience and you learn about the different places,” said Tristan. “You learn a lot more when you go to the place than at school.”
Troy and Tristan are both students in the Boston public schools. Troy has started the tenth grade at Boston Latin School and Tristan has begun eighth grade at Boston Latin Academy.
The boys traveled all of this past August with their father. Their mother came to visit for part of the journey.
One of their favorite places to visit was to North Korea because it was very different. During their time there they where met with warmth and friendliness but saw an entirely different ideology.
Many of the North Koreans said they did not approve of the United States government and policies and at various points they stuck out in the crowd because they tended to be a lot taller than a lot of the locals.
Another experience they really enjoyed was in the country of Brunei, a tiny nation on the island of Borneo. It is surrounded by Malaysia and the South China Sea.
There they got to meet with a local family who offered to show them around the city of Bandar Seri Begawan. For lunch they got treated to delicious Bruneian fare, where they learned to use candas or attached wooden bamboo chopsticks.
“We got to experience and taste the great food,” said Dave. “At lunch they where ordering food for about five minutes because they wanted us to try everything.”
Brunei is a Muslim country that is the world’s largest water city that is built on stilts. Dave continued, “It is nice to be building these bridges across cultures to show a common humanity.”
Now, that the boys are back in Boston and starting a new school year, they are now looking ahead to April, when they will be traveling during their spring vacation from school.
But, since they are still soaking in their experiences from their previous trip they are unsure where they want to go next.
“We are just enjoying the experience back home,” said Troy. “We know so much more than if we just stayed here.”
To save money for their future trips they try to save as much as possible. The boys said they try to get only what they need at the grocery store and Tristan plays the violin on the street to make some extra cash.
When they do travel, the biggest expense usually is the international airplane ticket, and the rest they try to save by staying at cheaper hotels. As well, the money exchange in the various countries they have visited tends to make it very affordable.
“We focus on the learning and not the luxury,” said Dave.
At school and throughout Boston they show off the various t-shirts that they have collected from the countries that they visited, which Dave said is a great conversation starter.
Many times Dave said that he runs into people who have family or heritage from those countries.
“Traveling helps us understand our home,” said Dave. “Boston is made up of a very international community.”