Nomadic Matt

The Inspiring Blogger Series: Wandering Wagars

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Our Inspiring Blogger Series continues this week with Kevin and Christina from Wandering Wagars. They write about family adventure travel, demonstrating that it certainly IS possible to travel with children! Wondering how they manage? Read on! If you want to be featured in our Inspiring Blogger Series just email our Community Forum Manager Chris at [email protected]

 

Tell us about yourself! 

I’m Kevin Wagar, and my wife Christina and I write about family adventure travel at wanderingwagars.com. I have a background in design and media. With a lot of my work being in photography, it seemed like a natural flow to start a travel site to feature some of the amazing adventures we have with our two young boys.

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How did you get started traveling/What inspired your wanderlust?

My wife is originally from the Philippines, while I was born in Canada. She traveled extensively with her family growing up, and when be started dating it became pretty clear that if I wasn’t going to travel, it wasn’t going to work. I know a good thing when I see it, so I strapped on a backpack and jumped on board.

 

How did you get started blogging? How did you go about deciding your niche?

Before we started blogging, Christina and I had already visited about 20 countries. After we had kids, we decided that it was important to keep travel as a part of our family life. It had helped us to grow as individuals, and we knew that exposing our children to new situations, cultures and environments would help them to become world citizens and avoid becoming trapped in an isolationist bubble. When we looked online, we found some really incredible family travel blogs, but few that fit our niche of adventure family travel. We dreamed of inspiring families to travel outside the box and see beyond the resorts for some truly unique destinations and experiences.

 

What struggles do you face as a traveling family? What tips do you have for families considering a trip together?

The most common thing that we hear about when we talk about family travel is that parents believe that their children won’t get anything from a trip to somewhere different. The old adage “They won’t remember anyways” is a constant. While it’s true that many of the details may be lost over the years, what remains is the growth they will experience as a person. By being introduced to new cultures, food and activities, children can gain an immense sense of self-confidence, become more adaptable to new situations and less likely to fear the unknown.

Specifically, one of the ways that we have noticed major development in our kids is in their confidence in themselves and how it has affected their desire to explore. With each new trip, they’re more often looking for challenges of their own and voicing their opinions on the types of experiences that they want to have. For example, our upcoming trip to Argentina is all about visiting penguins, which our eldest is obsessed with.

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Has blogging changed how you travel?

Our main focus when traveling is always on our children. We want to ensure that they get the most amazing family travel experiences that we can offer, and work to use it as a tool to build bonds and trust in each other. But blogging has definitely changed the way we travel. The amount of gear we bring with us that isn’t associated with simply staying cool or warm has blown-up. My passion has always been around media and content creation, so I’m constantly trying out new gadgets to help me get the perfect shot. Whether it’s a DSLR, drone, Go-Pro, gimbal or slider, my backpack is always weighed down with camera gear.

Blogging has also changed our focus when we are on the road. We are always looking for stories or angles. It’s caused us to look deeper into the destinations that we visit and find ways to bring intimate stories back to our readers.

 

Do you have an example of how "looking deeper" into a destination has led to a new angle or cool experience?

When we think of travel, it’s the destinations that spring to mind, Petra, the Roman Colosseum, Niagara Falls. But when we are actually in a place, it’s the people, culture, and personalities that make the most lasting impressions. When we were in Petra, we hired a guide who quickly became a close friend. We had tea with him in his home and our children played with his. We learned all about the recent history of the land, and how as a boy, he actually lived in one of the caves within the city. It’s an experience that none of us will forget.

 

What sort of destinations are you attracted to? 

We love destinations that mix incredible sites, culture, history and adventure. We venture into major cities on occasion but are way more likely to be getting out of large urban areas as fast as possible and into the countryside. Our travels usually mix hiking and nature with history and culture, and if we can find a destination, like Petra, Jordan, that hits them all, we’re in heaven!

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What kinds of experiences do you find the most rewarding/enjoyable?

As amazing as the destinations we visit are, what always stands out for us in the years afterward are the unique, unscripted experiences that come from meeting and interacting with locals, getting lost and discovering something new. In Costa Rica, it was getting lost on our way out of Monteverde and getting directions from a screaming man with a shotgun who didn’t speak English. In Jordan, it was being invited to our guides house to have tea with his family. In Iceland, it was when one of our boys got to captain a schooner on our way out to see a Blue Whale. Every single place we visit offers new and amazing experiences that will stay with us and our children for our entire lives.

 

What destinations are on your bucket list? Where do you plan on going in 2017?

Our bucket list is too big to measure. If everywhere was a bucket list, it would be at the top! Personally, I have been dreaming of getting to Peru to visit the spectacular Machu Picchu, while close behind that is to get a chance to see gorillas in the wild. But our travel style revolves a lot around finding the best deals and opportunities that come up. So, we often flip destinations a dozen times before we finally settle on one. We’re currently packing for a tour to Argentina with stops in Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay. Our 5-year-old son picked the destination for us. He wanted to see penguins. With Antarctica not in our budget at the moment, Argentina came in a very close second and offered a number of amazing adventures we just couldn’t pass up. After that we are looking at visiting Canada’s Northwest Territories to experience dog-sledding, kite-flying on the ice and of course, we hope to catch a glimpse of the spectacular Northern Lights!

 

What is your travel style like? Explain how it fits your personalities.

Our travel style is best described in two stages, our planning and how we travel once we reach our destination. Our planning is all about destination vs. budget. We have a list of places that we want to get to and are constantly on the lookout for the best deals that will get us there. We don’t put the destination over the budget since we fully intend to hit every place on the list eventually.

One we arrive at a destination, it’s go-go-go. We hit the ground running, and don’t stop until it’s time to head back home. Christina and I both work full-time. Between balancing workloads, side businesses, our blog, the kids’ schools and sports practices, time is at a premium for us. We rarely visit a country twice, so during our short term travel we’re desperate to experience as much of the country as we can when we’re there.

 

How often are you on the road? Do you suggest parents "dive in" and start off full-time travel with their kids or do you think some shorter test runs are a better start? What was your experience?

Travel style is a deeply personal thing. Christina and I had lots of experience travelling as a couple before we had children, and it was a natural progression for us to include our children in our lifestyle. Because we both work full time, and our children are in school, we are only able to squeeze in 2-3 big trips per year, but we pepper that with lots of smaller weekend and long-weekend journeys.

For most new family travelers, we would suggest a weeklong trip to a nearby country. Something with a unique culture and awesome experiences, but not so crazy that you’re overwhelmed. Avoid the resorts and explore among the locals instead. This will give parents experience with adapting to travel. If you come back and feel like you just didn’t get enough. Well then it’s time to try something even deeper!

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Tell us about your most memorable trip!

It’s tough to narrow down a single trip, since every place we’ve been has offered us a life-changing moment. I look back at our travel through Jordan as one of the most spectacular experiences amongst a host of amazing ones. It was our second trip with both boys, and the first in which both of them really got to let loose and experience the sights and scenery that surrounded them. They had questions about the culture and food, but loved hearing about the differences and similarities. It was a trip that opened our minds to something completely new, while giving us time to bond, share and take part in extraordinary activities.

 

Have you had any misadventures? Share some of your experiences!

It seems that every country offers its own misadventures! We’ve been cornered by snarling dogs on Mexican beaches, pretended to be dumb tourists when dealing with bribe-collecting police in Costa Rica, and driven through eastern Canada in an R.V. that was one gasp away from death. In Bermuda, we rented a boat to explore shipwrecks off the coast without realizing that it was in no way capable of handling the ocean waves we faced. To this day, our kids are not big fans of boats, especially if I’m the captain.

Misadventures make for the stories that can be told again and again, embellished a little each time until they take on a life of their own. These are the stories that people ask us to tell at parties, and before long, everyone is laughing at our misfortune and letting us know how lucky it is that we are still alive!

 

How do you stay on budget when you travel? Do you use any websites or apps? Can you share any money-saving tips?

While we don’t consider ourselves “budget travelers” per se, we try to save money wherever we can. We use points (Air Miles) as often as we can for our flights, and as I mentioned earlier, we will change our destination to get the cheapest flights possible. Our goal is to save our money so that we can have the best experiences while we are visiting.

We don’t splurge often on hotels, which are really just places to lay our head and recharge our (many, many) batteries. On occasion, we’ll splurge on a nice place if we intend to stay for a couple of days. This is a way to give our kids a break from our hectic travel schedules so that they can have some fun, play in a pool and be normal kids for a bit.

 

Why do you continue to travel? What sort of benefits have you seen in your children?

With the birth of our children, travel has become a larger focal point in our lives. It gives us time away where we can focus on each other and the adventures that we’re having. It acts as an educational tool to help our children learn beyond what is taught to them in a traditional learning environment. Travel helps to grow our children’s self-confidence by forcing them out of their comfort zone and into new, exciting experiences.

To give an example of how travel isn’t something that they’ll forget, our 5-year-old still talks about some of the experiences he had during our 18-day tour of Iceland. When he was in Iceland, he was only 1 and a half years old. Travel sticks with you!

 

Do you have any travel regrets? Things you did or didn't do?

Every trip includes at least one missed opportunity. When we were in Colombia, one of our boys got car sick and we missed out on the famous Salt-Cathedral. In Italy, we missed out on Pisa due to a transit strike. In Costa Rica, I forgot to take motion sickness pills on a boat tour, and spent an entire day tossing my cookies.

But every missed opportunity also creates a new experience. In Colombia, we filled our time meeting locals and taking in amazing art in old-Bogota. In Italy, we got to experience a magical night in Venice that blew our minds. And in Costa Rica, while swimming off the side of the boat, a Whale Shark, curious at my presence, swam up and parked itself right next to our boat for several minutes. So no, I have no regrets. Everything that I have experienced has been a blessing, and everything I have not, is just waiting to happen another day.

 

Do your family and friends support your travels? Did they always?

We are very lucky to have incredible support from family and friends. Sharing our travels with them was a big driver in launching our blog in the first place, and they continue to support, encourage, and even travel with us on occasion!

 

What advice would you give to new travelers?

My best advice to new travelers is to get out there! Do something you would never expect of yourself. Use travel as a way to challenge yourself, your pre-conceptions and your fears. It’s a beautiful world out there. Open the door and walk through it.

 

Tell us about your blog and where we can find you on social media.

We really want to thank Matt and all his partners for giving us the opportunity to share our story with their audience.

We would love for you to visit us a wanderingwagars.com. We write all about family and couple travel. We also review cool gear for both adults and kids. You can also find us on all the major social channels like Facebook , Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube. Drop in and chat with us!

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Thanks for sharing!! Many people often tell us that we're lucky that we get to get all of the travel "out of our system" (is this even possible?) before we have kids. Stories like these are always inspiring and I'm quick to send to my loved ones with kiddos who are hesitant to travel.  

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