Here’s another episode of #FamiliesOutside and today we are interviewing Heidi from Wagoners Abroad.
This awesome family of four has been traveling the world (50 countries and counting) in exchange for that so-called perfect American life. Read on to find out more about them and their awesome journey.
1. Give us a short background of your family.
We are a family of 4 that is passionate about travel (50+ countries). So we’ve decided to give our kids (Lars and Anya) an experience of a lifetime In Aug 2012, we left the “perfect American life”. Without hesitation, we quit our jobs, sold our belongings and moved to Southern Spain. After nearly 2 years in Spain, we became nomadic for nearly a year. We have recently returned to Spain as our home base to travel more in Europe. We have inspired hundreds of people to visit Spain and helped many actually move to Spain as well.
2. Do you travel full time or part time? When did you start and why?
Well we have done it all! We traveled part time while in Europe with Almuñécar, Spain as our home base. For the past year we were nomadic and travelled full-time. We spent 1 month in Europe, 10 months in Southeast Asia and 1 month touring the southwest USA. In June 2015, we returned to southern Spain to slow things down a bit. We are in need of some down time from travel. We plan to travel part time from our home base.
3. How do you afford to travel as a family? Do you also work on the road?
This is a tricky questions and the answer sometimes varies. We do what we need to do, so we can keep our dream going. We have many channels of very small income which all add up. For the first 2 years we lived completely off of our savings. We were very frugal and made good choices to help make that stretch a bit longer than anticipated.
We’ve also made small investments, which help chip in to the funds. We are authors of a couple of ebooks (Live in Spain and Let the Kids Cook). We offer consulting services, assisting people with their Spanish Visa applications and we also do freelance work. We do make a small amount of money from our blog as well, via affiliates, ads and sponsored work.
4. How do you plan out your trips (and for full time travelers, are you always out or do you have days where you just stay in)? Do you particularly choose those “family-friendly” or “kid-friendly” destinations or are you flexible and just simply adapt to the place?
Wow! This is a loaded question! We often travel where the deal is or just where we want to go. The entire family does a bit of research and keeps me informed of their current destination wish lists. I often scan for inexpensive, flights, accommodation etc and see if they match any of the destination wishes. We rarely seek out a specific family friendly location. Everywhere is family friendly, if you look. We usually pick where we want to go and then see what there is to do there.
Really our daily life isn’t too much different when we have a home base vs full-time travel. We always need the “do nothing” days and we always have exploration days. Full-time travel isn’t a full-time vacation. It is just daily life in different places. Sometimes we would stay in a place longer than planned, as it was clear we were tired of moving and needed to “do nothing” for a week or two.
That actually happened in Siem Reap Cambodia. We had been traveling full speed, moving every 4-6 days for 2 1/2 months and we had planned for 1 week in Siem Reap Cambodia. We spent the entire week just hanging out at our hotel and didn’t even go out. We extended a week and did the same. Finally we extended one more week and went to visit the Angkor temples and explored a bit. It was well worth it and just what we needed. We need to read the family and travel so we are all enjoying it. After that rest we were good to go mobile again.
5. What is that one item you can never travel without when you are with kids?
I can’t think of one thing we travel with, just because we have kids. For us our laptops are our lifeline, so I guess that is what we need with 10 and 13 year old kids. They use the laptops to keep in touch with their friends and family as well as school work, research, reading, and games etc.
6. There are varied opinions when it comes to learning while traveling VS. formal schooling. What is your stand on this? Does travelling really give an advantage to your kid’s education, based on experience?
No doubt in my mind that travel makes for a very well rounded kid. Let’s just say our kids are great with their geography!
There is no way any public school alone would be enough, no matter where you live.
We have always supplemented our kids’ education from preschool on, What I mean is we always work with the kids. I remember playing the homophone game in the car in preschool. When they were finally “taught” that subject in primary school, the teachers were amazed they already knew them. You see, learning is a natural thing and we don’t always have to sit behind a desk and hear a lecture to learn. I think it “sinks in” more when there is a memory or they do it.
That said, we are by no means a role model for “homeschool”. I think we fall into the worldschool category, when we are on the move or at a home base. We don’t treat schooling at home like a traditional school, where we sit and teach them for hours. Our kids do attend Spanish public school, when we are in Spain. We do supplement with travel and games.
Let’s say the kids are supposed to be learning world history in class. Well our kids visited Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia and could see first-hand details about the Vietnam War and the impact it has had and still has. They heard so many stories from locals that experienced it as well. They could get this information from a book or someone that was in the war too, but what is special about travel is they also see where it happened and learn a different perspective. They don’t only see their home countries version of the story; they see the other version and realize they are each slighted to their own country. This lets them understand there are always two sides to a story and neither is likely to be 100% accurate. Oops, I guess I have a little to say on the topic. No matter what, travel enhances a learning experience and helps make it into a memory as well.
7. What advice would you give to families who want to start out a traveling lifestyle?
Just do it! You can’t have fear of the unknown stop us from making decisions or following our dreams. Just like any life changing decision (buying a home, having a child, getting married), there isn’t a “perfect” time. You just have to make it a perfect time and adjust as you go. It is amazing to see your family transform and become closer than you can ever imagine. Of course this doesn’t just happen without any bumps in the road or growing pains. You all need to live together and understand the family vibe, but also give each other alone space and time. All growth comes at a price, but the journey and experiences are so worth it.
Travel is just part of our life, just like the kids are. We want to be sure they are well rounded global citizens and know there is more to the world than what is under their feet at the time. Even when they were young and couldn’t possibly remember the trips, the trip or experience is still part of the fabric which as weaved them into who they are.
8. Where else can we guys read about your family adventures?
The main place you can read all about our adventures for the past 3 years is on our blog, Wagoners Abroad . You can also find us on Facebook, and we have many videos on YouTube. Lars has become a great video editor and Anya is starring in her own “Adventures with Anya” series. We may also be found on many other social media channels like Twitter, Pinterest and more.
Follow Heidi and her family at:
#FamiliesOutside is an interview series to help encourage families to go out and explore places, near or far. Bi-monthly, we feature families who love travelling – full-time or part-time – or who simply love including the outdoors in their daily activities.