One Size Fits All

When you hear or read the words, “One size fits all”, what do you think of?  For most people, it’s clothing.  Typically, when I see the words applied to clothing, I scoff, thinking “They’ve obviously never met me!”.  But what I’m going to be talking about in this article is that phrase as it applies to lifestyle.  Specifically, a traveling lifestyle.

Wagoners Abroad Kilim Geoforest Park Langkawi Malaysia

There are a couple of situations that recently occurred which brought this phrase to mind:

  • A friend and fellow blogger, I’ll call her Lori (because that’s her name), wrote a post about her traveling lifestyle, and a reader commented basically telling Lori that she’s a terrible person for not having a grounded lifestyle.
  • A friend of mine wants to live in the same house while her kids are growing up for stability reasons.
  • Heidi recently wrote an article about how travel changes you.

Kilim Geoforest Park Langkawi Malaysia Hole in the wall floating restaurant

These three things happened within a relatively short timeframe, and I don’t know why, but the “One size fits all” phrase came to mind, and I thought:

“No.  One size definitely does not fit all.”

Some friends and family understand our Travel Bug to varying levels.  Some get it, and wish they could do the same thing we’re doing.  Some understand that that’s just how Heidi and I are built, but have no desire to experience international travel.  And then there’s the other group of family and friends who think we are making a big mistake by not providing a stable home environment for the kids.Country 25 for the Wagoners Abroad Kids!

As a rule, I don’t feel the need to justify what we’re doing.  For one, I don’t want to come off as offensive, and two, it’s just not worth the waste of oxygen.  But I did come up with a list of things to think about if you’re thinking about traveling, either by yourself, your spouse, or your family.

  • You can do it!  Don’t let those naysayers tell you what you cannot do.  There will always be people spouting the conformist line.  If travel is important to you, you can make it happen.  It wasn’t until Heidi and I made it a serious priority that things came together for us as a family, and we started our amazing journey.
  • Stability is a myth.  Both Heidi and I moved around quite a bit when we were kids.  I do understand the idea of having a home in which the kids can grow up.  Part of the problem with raising kids is that they’re all different.  They have different needs, personality quirks, and handle change in various ways.  Raising a kid in an environment where change is accepted and handled is a huge life lesson.
  • I don’t try to convince everyone that we meet that they should sell everything, and move away.  But when asked, I definitely think of travelling with family as a positive, and encourage and help others interested do it.

Seashells Chenang Beach dine over rice paddiesI will admit that in this long-term experiment, what Heidi and I are doing could be wrong.  I don’t think so.  It’s been almost 3 years, and the kids are doing great.  They’re learning so many life lessons, embracing cultures, and broadening their horizons, so I think we’re on the right track.  But I guess we’ll have to see how much the kids’ therapy bills are when they get older.


What do you think about “One size fits all” as it relates to your dreams?

13 thoughts on “One Size Fits All”

  1. Jeanne and I agree completely. I read a lot of travel blogs and even among travelers there is this whole notion of “you must do it on the cheap” to be worthy. You must avoid the tourist stuff and blend in like a local. Must, must, must. Fortunately, there are others like you that disagree and that you have to do it your own way. Go do the touristy stuff too. Why not? Spend whatever you can afford and/or want to. Its your money. That’s why I like the one little piece in the movie “Benjamin Button” when Brad Pitt’s character is on his own traveling the world and basically sends words of advice back to his daughter to the effect of “there are no rules to this thing…” Even though I am about as traveled as you guys and we will be living in the same city in Spain, we also do things differently. You have family and still have to address making a living. We are retired and don’t need to. You are more adventurous when it comes to nomadic travel for longer duration. We like to have a home base and explore in short bursts over many times in the year. Etc. etc. Yes…when has one size ever fit all in anything? Good post as always…

    1. Hey Ed! I’m glad we’re going to be having you two as “neighbors” pretty soon. I’m always amazed at the various paths people take to either travel full-time, or move abroad.

      Take care, and we’ll be seeing you both soon!

  2. Hi Alan, Well, purely by coincidence, I just wrote a post about why my kids love our travel lifestyle. 2 years on the road now, 40 something countries for me, 20 something for them and no desire to stop. I just wanted to say that I grew up in a very stable environment, same house from birth to the day I left for university and same school from 4 to 17, just in case people think you and Heidi made choices based on your mobile childhoods. Travel has been in my blood for a very long time despite my terribly normal, education focused roots, I love our life, long may it last. Take care x

    1. Great to hear from you Alyson. I do enjoy seeing how the kids react to the various places, cultures, and food. I guess if you’re a Traveler, it’s in your genes, no matter how you were brought up.

      Safe travels!

  3. Cascadian Nomads Bethany

    My childhood changed for the worse when my parents gave in and settled down. I certainly don’t blame them for doing what they thought was best for their kids- a stable home, the same schools and city. But surpressing their wanderlust stressed their marriage and a suddenly stabel life in the suburbs for a kid who had seen so much more was surprisingly difficult. All that aside, I love your one size fits all analogy. I have mulled over such a post for a while. Whenever I mention that I travel with my pets, people start talking about pet friendly airlines and hotel chains. But that’s not my travel style, er, size! I’d rather be on the road and in a tent. Everyone does it differently. There is no right, wrong, or one size!

    1. It’s funny, when you mentioned pet travel, the first thing I thought of was the hotel chains that are pet friendly. That’s great that you’re finding your own way to travel with your pets. I’m glad you’ve found your “size”.

      Thanks for commenting!

  4. Brenda Tolentino

    Alan, we found your family on YouTube about 9 months ago while we were researching maybe moving to Spain. We’ve since decided that we wanted to see more of the world than we already have and are following your lead in traveling full-time with our daughter starting this summer. Your family is a huge inspiration for us to take this plunge into the unknown. I see how Lars and Anya are and they give us the confidence that Bailey will also do very well. We relate to you and your family because we don’t find many American families with children the same age taking on this lifestyle. Thank you for being that inspiration. In this case, one size does kind of fit but I’m sure not exactly.

    1. Brenda, that’s so nice of you to say. Besides all of the interesting places we’ve been, and people we’ve met, I have to say my favorite thing is seeing how the kids have grown and matured in their view of the world.

      I look forward to hearing about your travels, so stay in touch. Thanks for commenting!

  5. Great post, Alan! Your family is an inspiration for so many and I can attest to the fact that Lars and Anya are two of the most well adjusted, secure, and open minded kids I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting. Randy and I are two of your biggest cheerleaders and are proud to call you friends.

    1. Hey Lori. We had such a great time with you and Randy. I think Anya is your biggest fan. I’m hoping our paths can cross again one of these days! A big hug to you, and a firm handshake to Randy.

  6. Yes! I normally don’t comment but Heidi’s post and yours really hit the nail on the head for me. We are doing this for a finite time – thought it would be just a year, but have managed to extend it to 2. We have 2 kids who are happy-go-lucky but our eldest is more resistant to change. He says he would like more stability and claims that when he grows up he will stay in one place forever. And yet, before we came here we moved a couple times and he went to 3 different schools in one 4-year span. He always made friends easily and adjusted fine. Now he is at his 4th school, absolutely loves it, and is seeing places you can’t go on a daytrip from Brooklyn. So despite himself, he is (and has been for a long time) building his own flexibility and resiliency. If he really does grow up to stay put, it’s fine with me and then I feel like we’ve given him a tremendous gift he wouldn’t get otherwise. More likely, we are helping him learn to push his own boundaries and become a stronger and more confident person. Either way I think he wins. People have expressed their doubts to us, too, but I can’t understand how they don’t see the richness we’re adding to our kids’ lives.

    1. I’m glad to hear there’s another family out there doing the same thing we are. When we started, I was worried that we were making a big mistake, but having seen how the kids have responded makes me wish we’d started sooner.

      Thanks for your comment Amy!

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