Family Vagabonding

Do children get in the way of traveling?

I know single guys or childless couples adventure into “vagabonding.” Most sane people abandon the idea once kids enter the picture. Not me. And Wendy and I are returning to some of our more radical ideas of our younger years.

Our "vagabonding" trip to Mt. Rushmore in 2006.

Our “vagabonding” trip to Mt. Rushmore in 2006.

The definition of a vagabond is “a person, usually without a permanent home, who wanders from place to place.” Its a rather broad term, definitions including “tramp,” “vagrant,” “without means to support oneself.” It may sound bad, but I admire the lifestyle. Freedom to explore and experience the world. That’s intriguing to me.

Children get in the way. Do they, really?

I think back to my most adventurous travels with my children, and there really wasn’t much in the way of the wonderful experience. I recall our first time “vagabonding” in 1999 and 2000 when we traveled from coast to coast in two summers. In 2004 we bought and reconditioned a school bus (called a “schoolie” in the bus renovation world) and traveled across half the country. Tournament season sets us on the road many times through the year, already to California with plans to go to Missouri, Texas, Utah and maybe another venture to California.

All with my children. I think parents use children as an excuse to divert liberty, convinced that somehow freedom was lost with family. 

Wendy and I are considering a year’s trip to Australia. We went March of 2015—just the two of us—but wouldn’t it be great to bring all the children? Maybe homeschool them for an entire year (like this family), visiting our daughter and son-in-law in Melbourne, our friends in Toowoomba, and adventure around the continent visiting Berth, Darwin, Sydney, Tanzania and “hopping the pond” to New Zealand.

Finances, planning, opportunities back home will all likely get in the way. But this excuse won’t: children.

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4 thoughts on “Family Vagabonding

  1. I agree! The best “aimless” travel we’ve done has been WITH our four kids. I can remember a couple of times as a teen, getting permission to take a vehicle and sibling and take off for some unplanned wandering in Colorado for a week or so (on my own dime). But we’ve discovered that unplanned traveling with our kids is really amazing. Our best trip was in 2007. We traveled to New Mexico (from Indiana) to spend time with my family, and when that planned part of the trip was over, I decided it was time to visit some friends, see some sights, and take the road less traveled. The kids and I spent almost 2 weeks traveling through Colorado, Wyoming, Montana and the Dakotas. We didn’t have a schoolie (just a minivan), and most nights I at least planned out a hotel for the following night (it was the height of tourist season!). But we spent time with my college roommate’s family, saw some wonderful National Parks, all decided together that Mt. Rushmore was much more impressive in the movies than in person (especially when you have to drive at least an hour in any direction through tourist-traps to get there), and generally grew closer together as a family. The picture below is the kids on the side of the road in the “middle of nowhere, Wyoming”. We’d driven up this road late the night before and I had this idea that I was missing some rather majestic scenery. So instead of taking the most logical route to get to Yellowstone, I headed back south, the way we’d come the night before, just in case. I wasn’t disappointed! The road turned out to be a beautiful drive next to this river, cutting through these amazing mountains.

    We were sorely disappointed when we were notified that NCFCA nationals would be in Oklahoma, instead of Washington this year. We had tentatively planned to attend Nationals, then spend part of our senior’s last summer with us exploring the west coast before heading home. I realize we can still do that, but it was really nice to have Nationals as a firm starting point/reason to be out there.

    I love the idea of a year in Australia! I hope you do it!!!

      • They’re quickly getting there. Ryan is a senior this year, Aaron is a sophomore. We did a waiver for Kaitlyn (12) so she and Ryan could perform a long-planned duo together. Megan has 4 years to wait, now that NCFCA has changed the competitor age (she’ll turn 13 a month after the new cut-off). Last year I was thinking I had 10 years remaining in speech and debate, but I guess it’s closer to 10 right now. Megan is enjoying competing in our region’s “junior” tournaments. For reference, this is the same four on Pike’s Peak about 15 months ago:

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