I found Facundo via his Instagram @footnpaw_pieypata – his account is filled with beautiful photography of his family’s travels, with their young son and dog along for the journey. So many of the family travel blogs I’ve seen are written by women, so it was refreshing to get a Dads perspective on the pros and cons of mixing travel, work and family together.
I caught up with him to find out more about their journey to date:
Tell me about your family & work situation and how travel fits in with it?
We are a family of 4: my girlfriend, our 2-year-old son (born in 2015), our little black dog, who is 6 years old, and me. Right now, we are fully dedicated to the blog so that is our job, even though it does not bring any income for the time being. I have an extra job in social media for a Spanish company. We started the blog in February and since then we´ve been to Spain, Portugal, France, Italy, Iceland, Austria, Germany, Switzerland and the Czech Republic. We will soon go to Poland as well.
Spain is the country in which we have spent most of our time, so we practically know it by heart. But it was Iceland that won our love. Being there for 2 weeks in a camper van was one of the greatest experiences of our lives. The landscape we saw there were something that we could have never imagined.
What did you both do at home before you left? How long did it take to make the decision to go on your trip?
I was an agent, working with actors, which I did for 11 years in our family company. I did really well. My girlfriend worked in a non-profit organisation for mentally disabled people. It took me quite a while to make the decision to leave because I was living a very comfortable life with no boss, no schedules, no routine. But there was something missing. The creative area of my brain was kind of stuck, it needed to come out and play. I guess we made the final decision when our son was born, but we left when he was 1 ½ years old.
What were you hoping to gain from these trips?
First of all, I was hoping to gain some independence because I had been working in my father´s company since 2006. Secondly, I wanted to give my son an unforgettable childhood. I also wanted to give myself a chance of doing something I was passionate about: photography and writing.
What were friends / family’s reactions when you announced you were going? Did they support you / have objections?
My parents were supportive from the start. They are two fantastic people who have always wanted what was best for me in the sense of “what made me happy”. My friends were supportive as well. Some, of course, thought that I was going on a long vacation, and some still think that I´m just traveling around the world having fun, not knowing what it actually means to run a blog. I guess not everyone knows the work that is needed in order to make this happen, and I´m not going to fight against that.
I´m happy for what I´m doing and I know I´m working hard and that´s more than enough. My girlfriend was always there for me, leaving everything behind to help me follow my dream. So, I have only words of love for her.
What in particular do you think your son will get from the trip? Some people argue that young children won’t remember the experience
For those people, I have three different answers, so they can choose the most suitable for them:
1) You don´t remember the day you were born, do you? Wasn't that day the most important and magical day of your life?
2) Our son will not remember if he stays at home either. So, we might as well take him on a journey and enjoy family time together, while playing and knowing the world around us.
3) Life is not all about remembering. It´s also about living and experimenting and learning.
During the first 3 years of a child´s life his/her brain is functioning at a marvellous speed, connecting all the time. Each stimulus your kid receives is one more brain connection generated. So, I guess he receives more of these while traveling than while staying at home, every single day at the same place, with the same toys, with the same routine.
How did you make the big trip happen?
We rented our home to a very good friend, so that became our first income. I offered myself for the job I´m doing right now in social networks, and it really paid off because they are very happy with what I am doing. When you start traveling you begin to realise you just need to move, eat and sleep. The rest is just decoration.
How did you go about organising the specifics of your trip?
Organising the trip was not that hard. We decided to go to Europe first, because it is a marvellous continent with countless places to go and it´s easy to move around. We started in Spain, because we are from Argentina and it was nice to have our first experience blogging in our own language.
I´ve been traveling since I was 6 years old so I´m used to planning trips. Some of our travel was planned ahead, including accommodation, but some, like the one we are doing now with a motorhome, were not planned at all and we go where the wind blows.
Budget wise, we tried to offer the hotels and rural houses our work in exchange for our accommodation. We normally offer them photographs so they can use them in their brochures or websites. We also had an agreement with a car rental company. They gave us a free car in exchange for a banner in our blog. For our medical care, we managed to do the same thing we did with the rental car company. We offered them a banner as sponsors in exchange for full year coverage for the three of us.
So, at first, we didn't earn money, but we also didn't need to spend it. But, in order to achieve that, we had to work for many hours on the project presentation, and we also had hundreds of people saying “no, thank you”. If you want something, you have to insist on it. We know that one day we will have an income with our blog, but it isn’t something that is taking away our sleep. You just have to have faith in your project and things will come.
What were your must have packing items?
1) Toys (not a lot, just the favourites... you will always end up buying more during your trip and new favourites will be born)
2) Diapers, kid´s clothes, medical things
3) Some clothes for you if they fit
When you arrived in a new place, how did you go about finding your feet and organising the basics?
As I've said before, we are very used to traveling, so arriving in a new place is not something new for us. We are together as a family so we never feel strange anywhere.
We always start the trip with a good amount of diapers. Then we buy them in a big supermarket chain, where we also buy food. For our mobile phones, we have been traveling around Europe and we can use our Spanish sim card all around the European Union with the same charge, so we haven’t needed new SIMS. In Iceland, we bought a SIM card from our car rental company for around 15 euros, so there was nothing to be worried about.
What kind of places did you stay? Pros and cons of different options? Any tips?
We have stayed in lots of different places, from parking lots with our motorhome to really nice hotels. But what we enjoy the most is staying in houses. We normally rent through AirBnb and we love to have our own house to cook and feel like home. Now that we are parents we like to have our own privacy, but between the walls of a local home, rather than a hotel, which may be a bit colder. Living in a house gives you the chance to live like a local and really breathe the place.
But, the most unique experience has been the motorhome. Feeling at home all the time, having your clothes tidy and hung, eating when you want to eat, sleeping when you want to sleep, and where you want to sleep. It has been a travel changing experience.
How did you travel? Pro’s and cons of different options? Any tips?
We always travel by car (or motorhome in this case), because it gives us the freedom of going to places that can’t be reached by any other means of transport. And also, as a parent, it gives you the ease of going at your son´s rhythm. Now that we have a motorhome, we feel it´s the best option because you have the real 100% freedom of traveling at your own pace. And having a pair of bicycles also helps because you can do really nice short trips. When I was in my twenties I loved traveling by train. I think it is the most beautiful means of public transport.
How did you manage feeding on the move? Breastfeeding / bottle / weaning? Any tips?
My girlfriend breastfeeds our son, so feeding was never an issue. He also drinks from the bottle. Of course, now that he is two years old he eats more than me and my girlfriend together. He loves food, from vegetables to spicy chicken and he tries everything. When we go out we try to eat local cuisine.
When we travelled by car, we tried to cook at the place we were staying in order not to spend a lot of money eating out, although sometimes that was impossible. Now that we are in a motorhome, eating is the least of our issues as we have a moving kitchen.
How did you and your partner get time to yourselves?
We rarely have time just for ourselves as we are 24/7 with our son. But we love being with him, so we are extremely happy with the situation. Being able to watch him grow is the most beautiful gift life can give us. If we want to have time for ourselves, we just wait for him to go to sleep. But, we consider that these first years are so amazing and important that we don´t want to miss a single thing.
Of course, we are not characters from a movie where everything is roses and music. We sometimes would love to be alone, read a book, or just relax and take a breath. But we chose to be parents. And we chose to travel without his grandparents around to give us a hand. So, you can´t have everything at the same time.
How do you manage when you do have arguments / when things are a little stressful when you’ve all been together 24/7? What about having a sex life?
We fight, we talk, we stop talking, we get angry for about 5 minutes, we kiss, and that´s it, end of discussion. If you want to be with someone 24/7 you have to accept that arguments will be a regular thing. People are not used to sharing their life 24/7 with other human being. It is different if you go to work and see your partner at night. You have to deal with that other person all the time, so it´s ok if you fight. As long as your fights are with respect and of course, with no violence whatsoever. Just ordinary fights that are part of life.
Regarding our sex life, it depends on the kind of travel we are doing. Being in a caravan with a 2-year-old makes things a bit harder. But you always have to find a moment to share some intimacy with your partner. Sex is very important, even though some people say that it is not. It is a great thing in life. So, you always have to find a moment for that.
And if the trip is without a caravan, then sex life is easier because you can have more intimacy in an Airbnb house. We always try to rent a full house with at least a room and a separate living room.
Did you have moments / days when you each went off and did your own thing? Did you have any kind of system in place to give the other one time on their own / time child free etc?
Yes. I usually wake up early in the morning and go for a photography walk while they are still sleeping. I go with our dog. So then, when I come back, we have breakfast together and are able to enjoy the day as a family. Then at night my wife works after our son goes to bed, so that´s the reason she wakes up later. And then nap time is a good time to work or just relax for a while.
And there are also some afternoons where we take shifts and maybe one of us go to the park with our son while the other one stays home and works.
Has it been a positive / negative influence on your relationship?
It has been a wonderful experience that is making us grow as a couple. If we enjoy being together 24/7, we can enjoy everything after that. Being together all the time makes you stronger because you learn everything about the other person, the good, the bad, and the ugly. And if you are still together after that, then that is what love is all about.
How did you keep communications and relationships going with people back home? With your baby and family?
Our parents came in the middle of our year abroad so we got to see them and share a small trip together. And then we constantly have WhatsApp calls. But face to face can never be replaced by any technological app. We really miss our family and friends, and we can´t lie about it. And we want our parents to watch their grandson grow.
What about meeting people on the move? Any tips? For your baby?
Meeting people on the move has been the most enriching experience of the whole trip. You make new friends around the world with whom you keep in contact. You learn about other people´s way of life, culture, likes and dislikes. You hear talk about their country, about its history, politics, food... meeting people is a fundamental part of a journey. And you have to be 100% open to it all. Our son has learned a lot from this, as he feels very comfortable around adults, and that´s an important step in his development as a person.
What do you hope your kids will gain from travelling? Particularly when baby age?
We just want him to be happy and be a kid. And we want to love him as much as we can and show him that love is life, and life is love. That´s all. Traveling is just an excuse to be together and watch him grow and be happy. Of course, he is learning a lot about the world, about nature, he talks a lot, and he is very curious and active. Traveling is definitely the best school.
Why is travel so important to you (and your family)?
Because I have a disease called Wanderlust. If I´m in one place too long, I get bored. I need to move, I need to know places, to talk to new people. I need to get in the car and drive somewhere new. I need to breathe the air from the mountains, swim in a lake. I don´t know. Traveling is what makes us different from the trees. Otherwise we would have roots.
What's the best experience you've had with your family while travelling?
If you mean an experience of a place, I would say Iceland. The most amazing country we´ve had been to. We spent a lot of hours driving around and just enjoying watching the landscape change in front of our faces every second. If you mean an experience as such, then I guess watching our son grow and not missing a thing is the best experience a father/mother can have.
And the worst? The biggest challenges about travelling with kids? Any tips in managing emergencies?
Traveling with kids is a concept that makes people frightened. And that´s what our blog is all about. Having a kid does not mean you have to stop traveling. In fact, it means you must travel more. It is your duty as a parent to show the world to your kid so that he/she can know what life is about and choose what´s best for him/her. So, there were no worse things. Of course, when your kid gets sick it is never nice. But that´s why you always have with you a medical care system.
Biggest surprises? Things you didn’t expect?
The biggest surprise is, in fact, the reason why we will have to adapt our project in the future. We realised that we won´t be able to be a nomad family. We love being surrounded by our friends and family. So, the biggest surprise was that we came to the conclusion that we can leave all material things behind but we can´t leave the people we love behind.
Have you had any specific experiences that weren’t good that you had to deal with that you have learnt from?
Regarding health, no. But we did have an experience that was quite bad: in Lyon one of our bicycles was stolen. We went to the city and left them with padlocks in the main square and when we went back, one of them was not there anymore. The padlock had been cut off. The problem was that it was the one with our son´s chair. It was not about the bike itself but about what that bike meant: an activity we share with our son.
At first, I got really angry, but a couple of days later, I ran into this flea market where they sold bikes and we got a really nice old bike for 50 euros with the baby seat included and an extra helmet. So, it was not that bad. And that day I was traveling around with my son once again. I realised that if things have a solution then you shouldn't worry about them. And if they don´t have a solution, why bother either. Luckily the solution was really easy.
Were there times when you needed a break from travelling?
Yes, definitely. After Iceland, we went on a one month trip with my parents in law. It was their first time in Europe so we did all the major cities in a crazy rush. After that, we spent one and a half months in Madrid, just focusing on working and we didn't travel. It was a relief and after that, we needed to travel once again. You always have to find a way to balance things. If you stop doing things for a while, you recharge your batteries.
How (if at all) did it change you / your family?
It changed our family in the sense that we discovered that home is where we are at that moment. But we were lucky enough, before we even started with the blog, to be together a lot as I didn´t have a regular office job and I worked from home.
Your best tips for others wanting to travel with children? Things you'd wish you'd known and learnt the hard way?
There are no mysteries when traveling with children. Of course, trips change, and they change a lot, especially during the first years. Before having kids, you wake up, change clothes, and leave. Now, a 10 minutes routine, can take up to one hour or more. Before, you could eat a sandwich as you kept going. Now, you have to sit down and have a good and nutritive meal. But that doesn´t mean you can´t enjoy it anymore. You just have to adapt.
So, traveling with children is a fantastic school for adults. You learn that in order to be happy and enjoy life you just have to adapt to the circumstances. And if you are a parent, you always have to put your kids first. Plan your travels so that every member of the family enjoys it. But you don´t need to go to an all-inclusive or to a cruise ship in order for them to enjoy the trip. You can even go to Iceland; but be wise enough to make your kid enjoy the world around him. Playing does not mean the need to have a slide, or a PlayStation. Kids can have as much fun with nature itself as with a computer. And definitely the first option is healthier. There are no “kid’s friendly places”. You, as a parent, have to learn to make it kid friendly.
How / when will you decide to finish travelling?
We don´t want to finish. We will have to adapt when our son begins school. The idea is to focus our blog on travels around Argentina, our home country, with 3-month-long abroad travel during his vacations. So again, adaptation is the key to success.
Future travelling plans?
2018 will find us a lot around Argentina. And we are planning a trip to Mexico and another one to Alaska. But we are trying to focus on the present and leave the plans just for our dreams. Anything can happen.