This is the third instalment in the Extended Family Travel – Fun Itineraries series.
The last itinerary had us buy a RV and drive around the continent of your choosing before selling it and flying home. This instalment follows pretty much the same principle except the mode of transportation will float. Do you think your family could live on a boat for a year or so? I think ours could.
This type of trip has been in the back of my mind for years. Both Lisa and I spent our summers as a child living on a small sailboat while cruising the south coast of British Columbia and we are very comfortable on the water. Exploring locales from the sea has always been a romantic notion and we have contemplated what it would be like to sail around the world. When I picture ourselves sailing around the world the visions I see are of remote islands, friendly locals, vibrant coastal markets, and relaxing beaches. What I don’t dream of is bobbing for days across the Pacific or battling storms in the Atlantic. I love sailing but in moderation and as a means to get to places. I am not too fond of the crossings, and Lisa even less so. When Lisa and I did our last extended trip before we had kids, the one used as the blueprint for the blog Buy RV and Drive, the last leg involved crewing on an Australian couple’s sailboat for over 2 months between Darwin Australia and Bali Indonesia. While this was the most incredible experience, and the places we were able to get to were truly amazing, the crossings were simply tolerated as something necessary in order to get to where we wanted to go. The longest was only 5 days and most were only overnight trips but it still showed us that if we want to explore the world by boat then we should find a way to avoid the major crossings. If you want to see one specific area than why not buy a boat and sell it in the same area when you are done.
The idea is simple; buy a boat, and outfit it to meet your family needs and the requirements for your trip, have the time of your life, and sell it at the end before flying home. Imagine buying a boat in Florida and spending a year in the Caribbean? Australia and the South Pacific will require large crossings but not as intimating as a Pacific or Atlantic crossing. What about the Mediterranean? Oh the Med…..let’s do that.
While buying a boat and cruising in the Mediterranean sounds incredible, there is an additional trip that can be added which is really cool. Let’s say we buy a boat in England, sail across the English Channel, drop the mast and make our way though the canals of France to the Mediterranean Sea. I know, isn’t that wild? You can take the canal system through Paris and the heart of France all the way to the Med where you can cruise your heart’s content along the many places to see. If you like the canal idea there are canals you can do in England, Netherlands, and Germany. Since many of the canals are shallow and narrow you will have to research the requirements compared to the width and draft of your boat before you enter the canals. The canals are not a fast way to travel, you will lose track of all the locks you enter along the way, but who wants to rush through Europe anyway.
The canal trip sounds like an adventure on its own, and it can be, but it would hard for me not to explore the Mediterranean Sea as well. Up goes the mast and off to Italy, Greece, Croatia, Turkey, Egypt, Morocco, Spain, among others. Sure you will have some long crossing in the Mediterranean and you will need to become an experienced sailor and comfortable with navigation before you go, but I think the effort involved is worth it. Living on the boat means there is no packing and unpacking, you have time to do homeschooling while travelling, and are able to get off the tourist route, or on it if you like. Being mechanically inclined also helps and sailors will always tell you of how much work a boat is, and you will want to make sure you have sufficient time to resolve issues that will almost certainly arise. The hardest part may be selling the boat (saying goodbye to a close friend) at the end and you will have to be patient as boats are not always the fastest to sell.
Since there are so many variables specific to each family’s itinerary, I have not gone much into details, but wow could you imagine going on such a trip? It is worth saving up for and planning now. If you take good care of the boat than you should get a good portion of your money back. You will have to pay for the entering the locks and moorage wherever you cannot anchor but if you compare the costs to living in hotels along the same route you will see that this is a very affordable way to see France and other parts of Europe. Maybe one day we can make this happen, so if you are in the Med, have a look out for the SS FamilyNavigation.