Vagabonding Case Study: The Wagoners

Alan (Dad), Heidi (Mom), and Lars and Anya (Kids) Wagoner

Wagoners Abroad  Wagoners Abroad Sunparks De Haan Belgium

Age: 45, 49, 12, and 10, respectively

Hometown:  I grew up in Nevada, Heidi grew up in California, and we started our family in Apex, North Carolina, so I guess I’ll use that as the “Family Hometown”.

“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page.” – Saint Augustine

How did you find out about Vagabonding, and how did you find it useful before and during the trip?
Once you start the life of travel there are certain “go to sites” that we all use and this is one of them.  Great for networking and useful information.

How long were you on the road?
I’m glad to say, we’re still on the road!  While we originally were happy at the thought of living in Spain for 12-18 months, we are now approaching 2 1/2 years! We switched continents are are now exploring Southeast Asia.  We’re currently living in Thailand, and we’re about to explore Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia and more over the next 6 months.

Where did you go?
The answer is a long one.  We were able to visit many places within Spain, but also visited Italy, France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Andorra, Belgium, Portugal, Morocco, England, Hungary, Gibraltar, Slovakia, Sweden, and the Netherlands to name a few, while we were in Europe.  Now that we are in Southeast Asia, we will have many more great destinations in our future. 

What was your job or source of travel funding for this journey?
Our source of travel funding has been a combination of savings, and money from our blog, books, etc.  That in conjunction with keeping a reasonable budget while still doing and seeing some amazing things.

Did you work or volunteer on the road?
While we don’t work in the standard 9-5 sense of the word, maintaining our blog and generating great content is definitely a full time job.  We do a bit of freelance work as well as some consulting for those interested in moving to Spain.  We have written a couple of eBooks too!

While we don’t officially volunteer, we do like to spontaneously volunteer when an opportunity arises.  For example, we were able to run an English class, while staying in the jungles of Northern Thailand for a couple of nights.

Of all the places you visited, which was your favorite?
Tough question!  We couldn’t come to a consensus, so Lars liked Paris, Anya loved Spain, Heidi’s favorite is Amsterdam, and mine is Porto.  I guess it’s great that we have so many favorites from which to choose.

Was there a place that was your least favorite, or most disappointing, or most challenging?
I will say at the outset that we’ve had very few disappointing travels.  If you’re going to pin me down, I would probably say that Koh Chang, Thailand was the most disappointing.  We had some great food there, and were able to walk on the beach, but it was just a bit too touristy for us.  The monsoon season didn’t help either, with daily rains and rough seas.

Which travel gear proved most useful?  Least useful?
Our most useful travel gear is definitely the computers.  Without some sort of computer setup, it would be very difficult for us to update our blog, or scout out information on our next travel destination.  This is also how we keep in touch with family and friends, as well as homeschool activities.

We’ve loaded up the kids’ laptops with movies and other activities, so that helps keep them occupied during downtime.  As far as least useful, I would probably put down those “I might need this…” clothes.

When we moved to Spain, all of us brought a lot of clothes that we did not need.  As we’re continuing our travels, and being more mobile, we’re really starting to get down to the absolute minimum clothing.  Pack what you think you need, and then remove about 1/4 of it just before you go.

What are the rewards of the vagabonding lifestyle?
Experiencing the various cultures, and people, and sharing that with the kids.  We have met so many different people and families during our travels, and it’s that human element that’s very rewarding.  We’ve run into our fair share of bumps along the way, but the kids are learning life lessons that Heidi and I hope will help them throughout the rest of their lives.  We are also making good friends around the globe.

What are the challenges and sacrifices of the vagabonding lifestyle?
Sometimes not knowing where you’re going to be living or what you’ll be doing the next month can be challenging.  But it keeps things interesting.  I think our biggest challenge as of late has been handling the kids’ education.  If they were in the U.S., they would be in a public school, but we’re new to the homeschooling scenario, and we’re in the midst of getting into a rhythm with that.

As far as sacrificing, perhaps we’re missing out on having the latest phone or gadget, but we’ve grown accustomed to having a minimal footprint, so it’s not such a big deal.

What lessons did you learn on the road?
Keeping calm when adversity sets in.  Coming together as a family to make decisions about a particular course of action.  When traveling in different countries, you would be amazed at how far a little knowledge of the local language will get you.  If you make an effort to use native words or phrases, the locals are very receptive and helpful.

How did your personal definition of “vagabonding” develop over the course of the trip?
It’s funny you ask this.  Lars and I were walking to the store and having a discussion about our definition of what and where “home” is.  As a Vagabonder (is that a word?), we came to the conclusion that wherever you are is home.  Time allows you to shed some of the layers of what you have been taught as “normal” and realize you get to make your own reality.  Also with time, we have become more relaxed and don’t feel the need to plan for everything unexpected.

If there was one thing you could have told yourself before the trip, what would it be?
Go with the flow.  A lot of times, people build up expectations about a particular place or activity.  And there can be apprehension or disappointment when those expectations are not met.  Being flexible in the moment can help alleviate that stress.  It’s but a moment in time.

Any advice or tips for someone hoping to embark on a similar adventure? 
Go for it!  It’s definitely something you can do.  It takes a lot of planning, and in our case, we went from a consumer/gatherer attitude, to a lifestyle of simplification.  We are living on less than half of what we were in the USA and we are living the life of travel and experience.

When and where do you think you’ll take your next long-term journey?
We are going to be exploring Southeast Asia over the next 6 months to a year.  The plan was to return to Spain, but then we kind of have our sights on Australia or maybe Indonesia.  Who knows, we are leaving all doors open for new opportunities.  Our goal is to travel as long as we still love doing it.

Read more about The Wagoners on their blog, Wagoners Abroad , or follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

Website: Wagoners Abroad Twitter: @WagonersAbroad

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Posted by | Comments (1)  | January 23, 2015
Category: Vagabonding Case Studies

One Response to “Vagabonding Case Study: The Wagoners”

  1. Eric Says:

    Always love to hear about more digital nomad families … kills the “but I have kids!!” excuse 🙂