When he was 24 years old, Brock Waterman stopped working and spent 14 months traveling the world.
It was his first time leaving the U.S. for more than a day or two, and by the time he got back, he was hooked.
“Having not actually traveled before … I really learned how little I knew about the world,” said Brock, now 42, of Dubuque.
Over the years, he has taken 14 trips abroad to 35 countries, many of them with his family. And now, their travels are about to become even more extensive.
After years of careful saving, Brock and his wife, Becky, are selling most of their worldly possessions, including their home, to go travel the globe with their children, Kyra, 5, and Verity, 1. They plan to leave for their new adventure later this year.
The couple said the move means the two both have the chance to do what they love while also devoting more time to their family.
“Our goal is really just to travel pretty much indefinitely with some stops back to see family every so often,” Brock said. “So our goal is to be on the road.”
Brock and Becky have long made a habit of taking extended trips together, typically leaving for at least a month at a time.
Their children join them on their adventures. For example, Kyra visited Hawaii, Sri Lanka, South Africa and Belize before she was 4.
Becky said she loves having the chance to experience other cultures and get away from technology.
“It’s amazing how much you can do when you don’t speak the same language,” she said. “You can still understand each other and get what you need done and figure stuff out.”
At the same time, Brock and Becky also had a goal of saving up enough money so they wouldn’t have to work and could spend more time with their family. They both are naturally frugal, Brock said, and they bought many of their possessions secondhand to focus on the things that were essential to them, such as buying healthy food and a good house. They also carefully planned out major purchases and tried to minimize recurring expenses.
“We’ve just always spent our time saving money here to really spend it on trips abroad and taking the kids abroad because that’s what we enjoy the most,” said Becky, who owns a pair of massage therapy businesses, while Brock works as a business consultant.
Last fall, they looked at their finances and discovered having enough money to retire and hit the road.
“We decided we were going to go ahead and sell everything and go traveling,” Brock said.
Brock and Becky have spent recent months selling their possessions and have put their house on the market. They are keeping and storing some essential items but are trying to get rid of everything they don’t need.
“I thought we were pretty good about not having too much stuff, but we definitely had too much stuff,” Brock said.
The Watermans hope to set off on their travels later this year. They are waiting to see how the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic play out on travel and tourism to determine their first destination, but they are leaning toward Chile in South America.
Becky says that with time, she wants to go “everywhere” — particularly places she and her family can be outside and that her children will enjoy.
Brock said he and his family plan to take their travels slowly, stopping in different places for a week or more to save money, move at a comfortable pace, spend time homeschooling their children and hang out as a family.
“A lot of the thought of this is to have the time with the kids,” Brock said.
Indeed, Becky said she particularly looks forward to the time she can spend with their children and the excitement they have about traveling.
“(Kyra) can never have enough time as a family,” Becky said. “She’s just super excited to be able to be together all the time, and she thinks it’s really cool because we’re going to be her teacher.”
Lisa Hast, of Dubuque, is a longtime friend of Brock and Becky. She said she will miss her friends very much while they travel but that she plans to stay connected with them via video calls and tracking where they are staying so she can teach her son about the different places that the Watermans visit.
“I think it’s a very exciting adventure, and knowing how much they like to travel and how much research they do in their traveling, I think they’re going to really love it and have a great experience,” Hast said.
The Watermans are taking a flexible approach to how their journey unfolds from here, particularly with regard to how long and how much their children want to keep traveling.
“We’re going to go while it’s fun, and if it stops being fun, we’ll do something different,” Brock said.