/ˈmetrik/ a system or standard of measurement.
Talk to any athlete or businessman, and somewhere in the conversation, they will mention somebody or something that they measure themselves by. In a very noncompetitive way, the Wagoners are the metric for us. I happened upon them on YouTube, when I was researching full-time travel in Spain. This family traveling full-time with kids the same age as our own intrigued me. Their story incited me to join my wife in her dream of packing up the family and traveling full time. Pursuant to this, we reached out to the Wagoner family to get some insight and they in turn have been there to answer many questions we have had while preparing for our journey. Below are some of those answers to some of our questions.
\ˈmer-ē-ˌmā-kər\ a person who gaily or enthusiastically takes part in some festive or merry celebration; reveler.
Every party needs a life and that’s what a merrymaker brings. We read many blogs and travel websites, and there is a handful that truly put smiles on our faces. Travel with Bender is one of those sites that consistently does. They are our merrymakers. On some occasions in which I question our decision on full-time travel, their stories put us at ease. Just like that life of the party, that introduces himself to you when you’re feeling a bit out of place at an occasion. We asked them a few questions and here’s how they answered:
First up: The Wagoner Family.
As a family, what was your day to day function like before becoming long term travelers?
Our day to day life was like the proverbial hamster wheel: Get up early to get the kids ready for school.
Take said kids to the bus stop. Work Pick up kids from school. Get dinner ready. Help with homework. Get the kids ready for bed. Go to bed. Rinse and repeat. I’m sure it’s a common thing for a lot of people.
What was the impetus, the link per se, that led you to break that chain?
We just sort of got sick of it. Heidi figured out we could do the travel thing from a financial standpoint. It also meant changing our consumer-based lifestyle to something much more sustainable.
Do you miss your old lives? If so, what parts?
We don’t miss our lives…at all. We are much happier individually, and as a family unit.
Decisions like long term travel, are ultimately a family decision; but whose idea was it truly?
It’s all Heidi’s fault. I’d like to place the “blame” on her for all of the amazing things we’ve done and seen over the last 3 years. Once Heidi convincedme that we could handle this financially, that got the ball rolling, and it led us to get rid of a lot of our junk, and that led us to embracing a lifestyle of simplicity.
What was so convincing about that person’s argument that the rest of the family agreed?
For me, the biggest thing was the finances. She routinely showed the family some inspirational websites from other traveling families, and showed us some of the fantastic things they were doing. She can be quite persuasive.
As parents, what are your favorite parts of the day during your journey? What are the kids’ favorite part of the day?
I enjoy just seeing how other people live. Going to the grocery store, or checking out the local food stalls/market is a great way of seeing what’s important to the locals. For example, when we were in Southeast Asia, in many of the stores we shopped at had an entire row of ramen. Yeah…ramen. Another cool thing for us was meeting other traveling families. For the kids, it’s trying out new foods or fashions. My son Lars, tried all manner of strange foods while traveling.
I’m not a Foodie at all, so for him to be so experimental is fantastic, even if the things he’s trying are a tad on the disgusting side. (Think scorpion, snake, or tarantula to name a few.) My daughter Anya was tickled to get the latest hair accessory, or item of fashion. She’s also a bit of an animal nut, so we saw a ton of animals up close that you wouldn’t normally see in the U.S. (Elephants, tigers, and geckos. Lots and lots of geckos.)
Does your family have a favorite place? And why?
That’s a tough question. We’ve just finished an 11-month journey throughout Southeast Asia (Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia, Singapore), which included a month-long stopover in the U.S. I would say our favorite place from this journey was Chiang Mai, Thailand. It’s very green, clean, and has a great low-key vibe to it.
When looking at our entire travels, our favorite has to be Almuñécar, Spain. It’s where we initially moved, and it’s a lovely town. The kids went to school here for two years before our nomadic Southeast Asia journey, and the kids made a lot of friends. It’s where we call HOME.
Is there anything you would have done differently?
The only thing that comes to mind is doing it sooner. Although, that said, I think we did this at the perfect time for Heidi and I, as well as the kids.
If there was one piece of advice you can give any family that is pursuing this lifestyle, what would that one thing be?
One thing…I guess it would be that you CAN do this. With proper planning, and a change in attitude, it’s very doable. Don’t listen to the Naysayers. If a travel lifestyle is truly important to you, visualize it, and then make it happen! I guess that’s more than one…
How long have you been at this journey to date? Where are you currently? And if you don’t mind, can you share what a day in a life is out there as a family?
We’ve been traveling, or at least away from our traditional lifestyle for about three years. We’ve recently returned to Almuñécar Spain. We’re right on the Mediterranean, and it’s an idyllic place. A typical day for us when the kids are in school is we make breakfast. It’s not the rush affair that it was in the U.S.
We live within walking distance of the school, so we can actually chat with the kids in the morning. Once the kids are at school, we may walk along the promenade, and stop for a superb coffee (or hot chocolate for me). Once we get back to the apartment it’s time for some work on the blog, or latest Wagoners Abroad project (say our next travel destination), with breaks here and there to marvel at our sea view.
Around 2, we pick up the kids from school, and talk about their day. Once home, it’s time for lunch (and siesta), and then homework. With homework done (or nearly done), the kids go out and play with their friends until it’s time for dinner. After dinner we may relax with a movie, or head to the beach to kick around the soccer ball, and maybe, just maybe, get an ice cream from our favorite vendor. 🙂
If you were to create a soundtrack of your journeys, what would the lead song on the album be?
Wow. That’s a tough one! This would be a very eclectic album, but the title song would most likely be Bohemian Rhapsody. Let me explain. Bohemian Rhapsody is like many songs in one. It starts and ends slow. It has some “operatic” moments, an excellent head-banging part (a la Wayne’s World), and the entire family can sing it on road trips.
Where is the next destination?
The next destination will be Northern Spain. We’ve covered a lot of Andalusia, and now we want to see Santander, the Basque region (Bilbao), and the coast on the other side of Spain.
Bio: Heidi and Alan Wagoner are passionate about travel (50+ countries) and both authors of the popular travel blog Wagoners Abroad. In Aug 2012, they left the “perfect American life”. They quit their jobs, sold their belongings and moved to Southern Spain, with their 2 kids (Lars and Anya). After nearly 2 years in Spain, they became nomadic and explored Southeast Asia for 11 months. They have recently returned to Spain as their home base to travel more in Europe. They are a true source of inspiration and proof you can make your dreams come true. Follow them on Facebook, or many of the other social media channels.