Whether it’s canyoneering with young children or becoming expats, the McEvoys prove that it’s possible to have amazing adventures as a family.
Families that travel together stay together, and the McEvoys might just be the tightest family on our Instagram feed. This couple and their two sons (nine and 12) have tackled outdoor adventures in their home state of Idaho, across the United States, and abroad. They document their travels on their family travel blog and their Instagram account, @macs_explore.
We’ve been captivated by the foursome’s photographs of hiking in Glacier National Park, skiing in the Bitterroot Mountains, and canyoneering in Utah since they first popped up on #traveldeeper. We caught up with Christina—the matriarch of the intrepid McEvoy clan—to talk about family travel, parenting by way of the outdoors, and their plans to take the boys on the road full time.
You’ve done a lot of travel together. How did you become such an adventurous family?
“My husband and I both grew up in families that did quite a bit of travel, so we’ve just always had that taste of wanderlust, and I think that common interest is a big part of what attracted us to one another.
“When we got married we had this crazy idea that someday when we have kids we want to live abroad as a family. It hasn’t happened yet, but it’s in the works. I guess our philosophy has always been, just because we have kids doesn’t mean we’re not going to take them and do the things that we love to do.”
How do you think growing up with so much adventure has affected your kids?
“People comment all the time about how tough our kids are, and I think it’s because we’ve always exposed them to all sorts of new things.
“Our older son is naturally fearless and adventurous—like my husband and I both are—and my younger son is more cautious. When we show my younger son different outdoor activities like mountain biking in Banff or ziplining in Costa Rica, he’s always a little skeptical at first, so we have to reassure him that it’s going to be OK. It’s just so great to see his confidence rise when he’s accomplished something that he thought was going to be scary.
“I think both of our kids—particularly our youngest—have become more adventurous and fearless with each of these new experiences. And I see that confidence has carried over into other things like school and sports.”
You guys are always outside. What draws the family to outdoor travel?
“Outdoor adventures have always been the best way for us to connect as a family. When we’re removed from the outside world, technology, and the hustle and bustle of Boise, we really get to spend time together and recharge our batteries.
“More than that, though, we really believe that hiking is one of the best activities to teach kids so many lessons. For example, the trail has shown them that it’s not necessarily about the destination but the journey and that the journey can be hard work. Sometimes you don’t think you’re going to make it, but you can accomplish so much when you persevere.
“Our family motto is—and we actually have this on our mantle at home—‘we can do hard things.’
“That’s always been our motivation. It’s not just fun—although it is still fun to be together as a family—but our bigger, underlying motivation is to teach them that they can do hard things.”
Tell me about your plans to move the family abroad. Where will you go?
“We have a big bucket list of outdoor adventures all over the world. We kind of want to do a slow travel. The plan is to explore Asia for a year, maybe parts of Africa as well, and then travel through Central and South America.
“The reason we chose those areas is they’re generally less expensive to get around than Europe or Australia, but the bigger reason is we really want our kids to see what most of the world lives like. We want our kids to be exposed to third-world countries and experience life in places that have totally different cultures than what is here in the U.S.
“The goal in the full-time travel dream is to have a life-changing experience.”
What are some of the biggest challenges of traveling with kids?
“It was really hard when they were little. You’ve got toddlers and babies that need naps, and if you don’t give them rest, then nobody’s happy. So we had to learn to be really flexible in terms of knowing our limits and accepting when things didn’t go as planned.
“Now our boys are at really great ages where we don’t have very many limitations. Like I said, they’re both really tough and open minded. Actually, our biggest challenge at this point is finding the time to travel as much as we would like. We’re just an average American family. We don’t have luxe jobs that allow us to travel all over the world all the time, and schools make it really hard to miss, especially as they get older.
“When we make the move to live abroad, we are going to do a combination of homeschool and virtual school. We know it’s not going to be easy—and we’ve tried to be very transparent about that with the boys—but we think that combination will allow us the flexibility to have this amazing full-time travel experience while still academically challenging our kids.”
What would your advice be to parents who want to travel?
“I think there are a couple of key things. If you can, start early. They’re less likely to be afraid and more likely to develop a love for it. Also, I think it helps to start with small adventures. Don’t feel like you have to start with these grandiose backpacking trips when you have toddlers because most likely it’s not going to be very much fun. Start with a two-mile hike.
“I’d also say it’s important to try different things over time. Hiking is great, but maybe your kid will be a great skier or really passionate about fat biking. When you expose them to different activities, the more likely you’ll find something that everyone enjoys, and the more open your kids will be to trying new things.
“And most importantly—don’t be intimidated! There’s no one way to make family travel happen—you just have to find what works for you.”