Get to Know the Wagar Family
Kevin and Christina Wagar were your typical Canadian couple. They loved to travel and share their stories. When they married and started a family, they made the bold decision to not only continue to travel at every opportunity but to reach for even richer and incredible destinations.
9 years after their first son was born these family travel lovers have explored over 20 countries, 9 Canadian provinces and territories, and 14 U.S. states.
They focus their travels around culture, adventure, and education. Finding, with each new destination, another piece of the puzzle that makes up humanity and the planet Earth.
Along the way, the Wandering Wagars have had their eyes opened to just how diverse and beautiful our planet is. And they’ve made it their mission to share these experiences with other parents.
Let’s meet Kevin now
My name is Kevin Wagar. I run a website called Wandering Wagars Aventure Family Travel. Myself and my wife, Christina, along with our two sons, a six-year-old and an almost nine-year-old, and we travel as often as we can.
Why did you start Worldschooling?
Before we had our children, my wife and I discussed whether we were going to continue traveling after they were born and whether we would make it a part of our lives, and get our children involved. We both agreed that yes, that was important for us to do. So we’ve made it a priority, and we are using that as a platform to help teach our children about the world, about politics, and culture and adventure, and experiences, and using all of those things to build a larger platform so that they can grow, and gain knowledge and experience more of what the world is like. It’s more than what they could experience in a standard classroom. There are things that you can learn from travel that you could never learn from a book or a school or from staying local.
We’re lucky enough to live in a destination, in a place where we have a very high level of immigrants, and that makes for a unique experience. But all of those interactions with new friends and people that the children grew up with are all painted with that Canadian brush. You don’t get to experience that life where you’re the outsider, and you’re the one looking into the glass, and I think travel is really what helps take that position of self and make it into an understanding where you are a much smaller piece in a much bigger puzzle. That brings forth a level that humbles you, and it takes you into a position where you’re more willing to learn from other people, and you’re more willing to take their experiences and accept them at face value versus trying to instill your own painting on top of that.
What does Worldschooling look like for your family?
My oldest son has now been to about 21 countries. We travel as often as we can. My wife still works a full-time job. My job is now our website, as of about eight months ago, and since then, we’re just increasing every year and more and more travel all the time.
Our children are in school full time, they’re in a French immersion course, here in Canada. And we use travel to supplement that. There’s no issues with us taking our children out of school for a week, two weeks, three weeks at a time to go to a destination and experience it. We are tethered here in Canada, we’re limited to the amount of time that we can take, so what we try to do is make sure that those destinations we visit, encompass as much experiential learning as we can.
Everything’s hands-on, we’re getting out into nature, and if we’re doing a tour, we’re learning about the animals. We’re learning about wildlife, the nature of the people, the culture, the food. Hopefully, every trip that we have, we come away with a deeper understanding not only of the destination that we’re visiting but also of ourselves.
How often do you get to travel?
According to the people who are around us, constantly. It’s really hard to say because we juggle travel between long term, long-distance and local experiences and I think everything is part of that travel experience. So if we go away for a weekend, which is close to most weekends of the year, if we’re home, chances are that we’re probably gone during the weekends, and we’ll have local travel experiences, either here in Ontario, or we’ll take a quick flight for a three or four day weekend or something like that. And then probably three, four times a year, we’ll head off and go somewhere bigger and make it a larger travel experience. Lately, now that my children are a little bit older, my kids play hockey during the winter, and they love it. So our winters tend to be a little bit calmer, but then during the Summers, for example, last summer we were traveling almost continuously from the end of June until the beginning of September.
How old were your kids when you first started traveling?
My son was four months old when we made our first trip down to Mexico, and he still talks about it all the time. I’m kidding. Obviously, he doesn’t remember that trip, but it’s not about remembering the experiences and all that, it’s about having the experiences, and then the personal growth that you gain from it. He was four months old when we went to Mexico, six months old when we went to Portugal, and then trip after trip after trip after trip after that, and each one opens up something inside you. It’s kind of the idea that it’s not about remembering the journey, but remembering the personal growth that you had while you were there.
Is it worthwhile traveling with young kids? Will they remember?
I love that line! I think I saw a meme or something on Facebook a while back, which summed it up perfectly. I think it was, “they’ll never remember the books you read to them as a child, so why read to them until they’re old enough to remember?” Travel works along that same vein, where it’s not about remembering those experiences in detail, it’s about personal growth, it’s about remembering the moment that you overcame a fear, or when you remember the moment that you had to rely on your family because you were in a strange place and things felt weird. Or remembering that time that a stranger came up to you and did something nice to you, and it’s those moments that build up that personal confidence and growth and self-worth that travel really brings to the table.
How did you guys discover Worldschooling?
It’s only through being involved in online communities like Worldschooling Central that we really started to understand the term, and we had a chance to sit back and look at what it was that we were doing and said, hey, we’re using travel to teach our children.
What would you say are some of the benefits of Worldschooling?
Early on, when I started my website, I set together three platforms that I wanted to build on, and the three platforms that I decided that were the core of our travel experience were adventure, culture, and education. I thought that any destination that we visited, if we could nail those three things, then we had an experience worth remembering. You can go in you can build yourself through the adventure you can build an understanding of others through the culture and then you can use your experiences there to learn more about yourself or about an experience or about wildlife or nature or landscape or geology or culture or whatever because there’s just so many things to learn. There’s a limitless amount of knowledge out in the world. Early on, even before I understood the term Worldschooling, it was set up as one of our principles for traveling.
How did friends and family react when you started Worldschooling?
Luckily for us, nothing but positive reactions. We have never had a situation where anyone looked at us and said, oh my gosh, you’re taking your kids out of school! No, it’s always been, wow, that’s incredible. I really wish I could do that with my children, or we might have heard, are you sure you want to go to that destination? Is it safe? We have had some of that, but usually, a few words of explanation will cull that off. Our family is incredible, they’re super supportive, in fact, as often as we can we try to get them involved in it, we’ll travel with my wife’s parents or her family, my mom’s been on a few trips with us, and we’re looking at maybe getting my dad out on a couple of trips. We’ll see how it all goes. I think that all becomes part of the fun.
What questions and fears did you have about Worldschooling before you started?
I had all the concerns. I still have concerns all the time, and I think that’s natural. If you don’t have concerns, you’re probably not a parent because I believe parenthood is just a whole ball of concern. Luckily we had traveled a fair bit before we had our children, so we were experienced enough to understand what the world was like when we first started traveling. We overpacked and did everything because you never knew exactly what was going to happen. Then luckily as life goes on, you change your habits, and now we’re flying off to Egypt in four days, and we’re doing 18 days in Egypt with a couple of carry on bags.
There are always concerns about safety, cleanliness about food, and valid concerns, especially in many places. Luckily, experience comes into play when you’re dealing with it so you can understand what is safe and what is not, what will make you sick, and what might make your children sick, and also, how many diapers you might need to carry. It’s always more than you think. We tapped into communities like Worldschooling Central to say, hey, we’re going to this place is there anything that we have to worry about? And back when we first started traveling, I think Facebook and all that really wasn’t the network of humans that it is now. But there are always people who have been to that destination, chances are someone who’s been to that destination with a child at the same age as yours, and it’s pretty awesome to think that, we don’t live in a world where you’re the only one doing something, you might be the only one doing it your way, but there are other people who have knowledge that you can tap into. So we’ve been lucky that way, but the concern is natural, and don’t be afraid to ask the questions because what concerns you might not be the same things that concern other people.
What hints and tips do you have for travel with young kids?
Traveling with little kids is a very different ball of wax than traveling with older children. We do a lot of outdoor stuff, so hiking and exploring have always been a big part of how we travel. We’ve learned a lot about pace, making sure that the destinations that we visit, and the pace at which we visit them is accommodating to them. So if we go for a hike, the whole idea, or the rules I put in place, are that I’ll never hike farther than I can carry my kids back, because it’s happened and I’ve had disasters.
I was interviewed on a radio station in Canada because I had such a horrible, disastrous hike that was completely awful. The hike was incredible, the view amazing; I have some of the best photos I’ve ever taken from this hike, but I should never have taken this hike. It was a terrible idea. But basically, we went on a 10-kilometer hike, and it was great for five kilometers to the destination and then the last five kilometers back. We got there just in time to watch the sunset. Except we were supposed to have started the hike at about 10 o’clock in the morning. Instead, we started at about six o’clock in the afternoon. We weren’t supposed to be there at sunset, and so we weren’t prepared. We had no flashlights, we had nothing, and then we ended up having to hike back. Luckily there was a full moon that night, but my mom was with us, and she wasn’t in the best health, and we didn’t end up getting back to the car until one o’clock in the morning. My youngest son was three years old. As soon as we turned around to walk back, I put him up on my shoulders, and he fell asleep. Luckily my oldest son, who was five and a half at the time, managed to do the whole hike thankfully. I don’t think I could have carried them both because I almost had to carry my mom back, but pace, preparation and making sure that you understand the outcome of every situation before you get into it is always big.
But I think the real value of traveling with younger children is understanding their openness to other people and embracing that because children are often the best in-roads that you can have to meet people when you’re traveling. I have never had better conversations than I have traveling with young children because most people love them, and they want to meet them, and meeting the children allows you to meet them. Embrace that connection, embrace that, love that people have of young children because it will make for some of the best memories you’ll ever have.
How do your kids learn through travel?
Education on the road is all about the experience. It’s about letting them have as many experiences as possible and getting as deeply involved in them as possible. Every year we’ll take a trip that they have chosen for themselves, something that they’re passionate about, this year it was Egypt. Last summer we went up to Churchill, Manitoba to see the polar bears. A couple of years before that we went to Argentina because my youngest son really loves penguins. So we went to visit the world’s largest continental population of penguins outside of Antarctica. So that’s all part of it.
We find out what they’re passionate about, and then we’ll build something around what it is that they love, and because of that, they get so much more out of the trip. They’re part of the planning. They’re part of the experience, and they also have the ability to learn what they want to learn, something that they’re really interested in. If your child is engaged in something, they’re going to soak up absolutely everything.
What accommodation do you prefer while traveling?
We’ll stay pretty much anywhere. For us, accommodations are generally an afterthought. They’re something that we need to sleep in-between experiences. So as long as it’s clean and has a bed, it’s usually okay with us. What we do love, though, is when an accommodation is an experience in and of itself. Those are the ones that we will really go all out for. One that comes to mind right now is Inkaterra, Machu Picchu Pueblo; it’s a beautiful hotel just outside the train station below Machu Picchu. The hotel itself is beautiful. It’s really nice grounds, nice restaurant all that, but that’s really not what makes it special. What makes it special is they have all these activities that make the hotel an experience itself. They have scavenger hunts for children where they can go, and they can learn about the local plants, and the hummingbirds, and the flowers and the tea. They have their own tea plantation. You can go out, and you can learn to pick and grind and dry your own tea. They have a rehabilitation facility for spectacled bears, and you can go there, and you can see the bears that they’ve rescued, and they are trying to figure out if they can release them back into the wild or not. All of this at the hotel and that’s something you don’t see very often.
So if we can stay at a hotel, that’s an experience in and of itself, that’s amazing because there are so many awesome learning opportunities, but if it’s just a place with a hotel, that’s fine, we’ll just sleep there and get up and leave in the morning.
How do you afford to Worldschool?
The way I look at travel is, and my wife is completely on the same page as I am, that it’s all about what you prioritize. For us, travel has always been a priority, so we don’t buy a lot of stuff, we don’t eat out a lot, we budget for things as best we can in order to ensure that we can have those experiences that we want to have. Everyone is obviously very different, and generally, I find that the people who can’t afford to travel are the ones that have prioritized other things in their lives. They may not realize that they prioritized those things, but they have prioritized them.
Travel doesn’t have to be in vast uncharted lands; it doesn’t have to be a trip to Egypt or the Bahamas or Disneyland. It could be to a new city; it could be a new hiking trail, it could be a new food experience or something in your own hometown. It’s all about what you make it, and if you start with the small things and find that you love it, then you’re going to want to try to do those bigger things. And so it’s again, it’s just about priorities. Introduce yourself to it, introduce your family to it, and your kids and see what happens.
Do you choose to buy travel or trip insurance?
I don’t think we would consider traveling without travel insurance and health insurance. The downside of not doing that is a) very expensive and b) it could be incredibly devastating. We’re lucky enough that we have insurance that covers us when we travel, which is great. Generally, we’ll look at travel insurance itself, and for flights and things like that, we’ll take that as a case by case basis, but we would never travel without having supplemental coverage for our health because it could just be a horrible experience.
What medical needs have you had while you’ve been traveling?
We’ve been lucky enough not to have any major injuries, and hopefully, it stays that way for the foreseeable future.
What’s next in your Worldschooling Adventures?
The next immediate plan is our travel to Egypt. We’re leaving this coming Friday and going for 18 days. It’s going to be absolutely awesome. It’s our first dip into Africa, our second time in the Middle East, and we’re so excited. It’s going to be absolutely awesome. Our kids are now listening to the audiobooks the Rick Riordan audiobooks, the new series he has is all about the Egyptian gods, which is pretty cool.
Beyond that, for me, at least, it’s navigating this new structure where I am looking at my travels not only as an experience but also as something that I need to do for my income. So I’ve been navigating, how to build my website and continue to make money on it, and working with destinations and navigating all that structure that was, at one time, just something I never even quite realized existed.
I also started up a group here in Toronto that requires attention. So four of us started up a group of content creators in Toronto that is all about taking people like myself and them and building a community around it where we can help each other grow and learn and work with destinations and things like that. And then speaking more often with people like you where we can talk about family travel and educate people on the fact that it’s a way bigger thing than a lot of people recognize and I find that can be a super incredible thing to do to be able to share that message and say, Oh yeah, there are not only people that are traveling, but there are people that are traveling with children and not just bring them to Disney World or, Cancun or something like that. Not that there’s anything wrong with those destinations. But there’s a whole wide world of incredible places and incredible experiences out there that will not only hurt you to visit but will inevitably make you a better person.
Where can we find you online?
I run a website called Wandering Wagars Adventure Family Travel (www.wanderingwagars.com). On it, you’ll find inspiration and resources, a lot of resources for traveling to destinations, and what to do, what to see, what to eat, where to stay. We tried to take that discomfort that you were mentioning earlier and ease that by showing you that a) people have done it and b) this is how they did it. You don’t necessarily have to do it that way. But it’s something to go by. We’re on all the major social channels as Wandering Wagars, and you can find us there, and if you do, please say hello, because we’d love to talk to people.
What would you say to someone who is considering Worldschooling?
I would say try. Find something that interests you and make it a priority. Because if your kids see you following your passions, then they’re going to learn that they can follow their passions too.
Your travels don’t necessarily have to be the passions that they have, but it sure instills in them a sense of trust and honesty in themselves that they can go off and do the things that they’ve always wanted to do without being afraid.
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