#FBF: Followback Friday is a weekly interview series where we get real with some of our favorite travel influencers. We want to learn what makes them tick, their best tips and tricks, and share stories of (mis)adventures from the road.
If you ask the dynamic duo behind Traveling Canucks, they’d tell you their travel bucket list is constantly growing — just like their family. Cameron and Nicole Wears were once backpackers who traveled the globe in search of the best adventures. Now, they’ve settled down as a family of four in Vancouver, instilling the love of travel in their own children. They're still seeking out the world's best adventures; this time they just have some help tackling that bucket list. Cameron says each time they cross an item off, they simply add another. He told iExplore more about their secrets to successful family travel, why they called it quits as backpackers, and how their travel style has changed over the years.
What made you decide to live as backpackers for a few years, and what made you decide to settle down in one area?
We lived as backpackers to keep costs down, meet new people and travel to more destinations. Living at hostels is a great way to meet like-minded people, so we enjoyed living the backpacker lifestyle for a while. But traveling long-term takes a toll on you. Packing and unpacking every few days gets tiring. Not many people can sustain the nomadic lifestyle for several years back-to-back. We are no different.
We knew it was time to settle down when travel started to feel like a routine. We also wanted to start a family, so it was time to plant some roots. We ultimately chose Vancouver because we believe it’s the most liveable city in the world.
How often do you travel?
We try to travel at least once a month. Sometimes it’s an international trip, sometimes it’s a weekend getaway a few hours from home.
We do at least two big international trips per year and we usually do a few short flight destinations in either Canada or the United States.
The rest of the time we load up the car and take road trips around the Western Canada. We now live in Vancouver, so we’re blessed with an abundance of amazing destinations within driving distance. Some of our most memorable travel experiences have happened without even boarding an airplane.
How would you describe your travel style? How has it changed over the years?
Absolutely. We wrote a blog post about this back in 2012 when we welcomed our baby boy. Having kids is the ultimate game changer.
We’re much more conservative now that we travel as a family. We used to be the biggest penny-pinchers; now we see value in comfort and convenience. We used to stay in hostels; now we stay at nice hotels. We used to just show up to a new destination and let serendipity take over; now we plan months in advance and book all hotels and transportation ahead of time.
Times have certainly changed.
How do you balance a growing family with traveling and full-time jobs?
Balancing family, work and travel is not easy. We have to be flexible with our schedules and we accept that sacrifices will need to be made. We wrote a blog post about this a few years ago.
Sometimes travel has to take a back seat so that we can focus on our boys and our careers. We’re okay with that. Travel is important to us and we’d feel a big void if we couldn’t travel often, but there are other aspects of life that are more important.
We take advantage of holidays and we always use our vacation days. We work at great organizations that value work-life balance, so we’re fortunate to get five weeks of vacation each year. Now that our oldest has started kindergarten, we have to also plan around his school schedule. This year will be the first time we travel for Spring Break — we’ll let you know how that goes!
What advice would you give to other families who love to travel?
If travel is important to you, make it a priority. Don’t accept that travel has to be put on hold because you have kids. It doesn’t. But you have to make sacrifices and you have to be flexible. You must accept that you cannot travel the way you did before the kids arrived. And that’s okay. Traveling with your kids is awesome.
What’s the best travel advice you’ve ever received? How do you apply it to your travels now?
The best advice I received (and continue to share with others) is that the world is not a big scary place and people are all basically the same. The media has a tendency to focus on the negative, so it’s not surprising that many people are fearful about the big bad world.Travel has taught us that the world is actually not scary, it’s incredible and should be explored often.
What are your top five travel memories to date?
- Hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu
- Witnessing the Moai Statues on Easter Island
- African safari in Kenya’s Masai Mara
- Swimming with sea lions in the Galapagos Islands
- Trekking in the Annapurna region in Nepal
How do you decide where to go next? And, what are your plans for 2017?
I have a goal to visit 100 countries by my 50th birthday. Because of this goal, I try not to visit the same place twice. I also have goals to visit every national park in Canada and the USA and to go snowboarding at every ski resort in British Columbia (there’s 40 on the list). These three goals have the biggest impact on where we decide to go next. (Editor's note: Cam has been to seven of the 61 U.S. national parks and 11 of Canada's 38 national parks).In 2017, we’re going to Aruba and Curaco in February and in March we will visit two new ski resorts in British Columbia’s Rockies (Panorama Mountain Resort and Kicking Horse Resort). In the summer, we plan to visit Iceland for the first time. The rest of the year is still wide open. We might also visit Panama or Honduras.