Wand'rly Magazine on I Love Family Travel

Tell us a little background about you and your blog.

Wand’rly Magazine is more than just a blog, though we certainly do that too. I have spent the past six and a half years traveling full-time with my family and wanted to provide an in-depth resource to help others who are interested in doing the same…thus, some 1000 articles and posts on the site that do just that: from how to make cash while you travel to figuring out what to live in to our insights on great places to go. There’s everything from hitchhiking to Airstreams on there, and we’re just happy to be able to share what we’ve learned in an effort to make the whole full-time traveling thing easier for others, too.

What is your number one family travel tip?

Make time for naps.

And don’t rush kids down the trail, better to go 1 mile where everyone has fun than 10 where you teach them to hate hiking.

Where was your favorite destination to travel to and why?

I can never answer this question. The best I can say is “as far away from civilization as possible.” I love the Sierras and Cascades for their lush mountainous beauty, the Tetons and Rockies for their rugged jagged peaks, and the Pacific Northwest in general for all of that rainforest undergrowth life that can’t be repressed no matter how many loggers have tried to do so. But at the same time I long for the West Texas deserts and saguaro forests in Arizona. I just enjoy being in places that are largely untouched by man, where my boys and I can disappear into the forest, where you can see how nature works so perfectly together when we don’t plow it down and replace it with strip malls. Traveling around the US, we’re so lucky, because there is so much to see without even needing a passport, and if you stick to the two lanes and largely stay out west, you can go for days or weeks even without needing to bump into pavement America. That said, there are some towns I really love, too, namely Bisbee, AZ, Terlingua, TX, Ten Sleep, WY and Astoria, OR.

Do you have any favorite sites, blogs or magazines you read to help plan your travel?

Lately I’ve been using National Geographic’s “Guide to State Parks of the United States” to help us figure out where to generally point our noses. We pay attention to where other people are going on Instagram, too.

But when we’re not sure where to go, and just want to explore somewhere new, I just rely on Google Maps. My system goes like this:

1. Pick a national park or forest we’ve never been to before.
2. Look at the small towns around it.
3. Google Map them to see if they have a McDonalds or a Walmart.
4. If they don’t, they’re probably a good bet.

That’s how to find the most authentic little towns, the ones that haven’t been completely synchronized to the American collective that seems to have made parts of New England and California, Kansas and Florida nearly identical.

Do you have any favorite travel apps or gear?

The main apps I use are Google Maps and Instagram. Maybe Yelp! if we need to find a good restaurant that can work for our family on travel days.

An atlas is the best app you could ever have, though, and it’s fun to follow along (if you’re not the driver!) as you go, looking at a bigger picture of what might be around the bend if you take a turn you weren’t expecting.

As for gear, I try to live by the minimalist mindset, but also have what we need to save a little money. We spend a lot of time sitting around fires at night, so a lantern and an ax are essential for us. We also bring bikes along so we can get out and explore without our van.

What got you into travel blogging? How did you start?

I’ve always loved to write and take pictures, and had run a blog about web design before I began traveling…so blogging about our family’s travels just seemed obvious I guess. I don’t think I ever thought I wouldn’t do it. I’ve had a few sites over the years, all of which have been combined into Wand’rly, so there is some 6 years worth of random wandering around on there.

Do you have any advice for family travel bloggers who are just starting out?

For bloggers specifically? I guess, “Don’t expect to make any money, just have fun with it.”

Where do you plan to travel to this year?

We’re currently on our way out of Florida and headed to Texas. This summer we’re planning on playing around the PNW as we’ve never been there in the sunshine, always over the winter months, so that’s exciting for us. Until then we’ll just float around the southwest deserts.

This fall we’re headed to Europe to live out of a VW Bus and vacation rentals for a few months, too, so that’s a big one for us as we’ve never done international travel as a family before.

Is there anything else you would like to share with our audience?

Traveling together as a family is a surefire way to bring everyone closer. That may also result in more bickering (at least at first while you settle into your new space and roles), but very few other lifestyles will allow dads to spend their days with their kids, and the family to have so many opportunities to do things together. When there’s always something new around the bend, it’s harder to get board and stuck in ruts.

We’ve rented vacation houses now and then for a month or so at a time, and it’s so easy to get into the “I work in the day, watch TV all night” kind of pattern. When you forego television (either by boondocking / staying places without TV or just not owning one) and the comforts of huge houses for a small one on the road, you are forced to figure out things to do, and you do them together. It’s a beautiful thing.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not paradise. It rains and it’s cold and people get on each other’s nerves, but that’s all part of the building process that families today so often miss out on by teenagers losing themselves in their rooms or their phones, two parents at work, the young kids at school or day care. I’m not knocking that stuff, people do what they have to in order to get by, but I firmly believe that this lifestyle is cheaper than living in a normal house, and is a great escape even for those who think that they could never do it because they wouldn’t be able to afford it.