Posted on January 19, 2016
We like you very much but...we won't be sending you a card next year! Our family plans to spend two years traveling on our Beneteau Frist 38 sailboat. Postage from the Bahamas costs too much! Follow our trip at sailingmilou.com. Be sure to sign up for our email updates (and keep us out of your spam folder)! Happy holidays from all of us!
That was the salvo we included in our holiday cards this year, sent out to friends and family across the nation this December. If they didn’t know about the trip already, they know now.
We’ve heard advice from many different quarters to keep the planning stages under our hats, but we’ve been spectacularly bad at keeping quiet. We have so many friends who are sailors, friends who homeschool, friends who travel or have lived abroad; we weren’t too worried about the reactions we’d find close to home. For the most part, we’ve been correct: people are almost universally jazzed, and think it will be a great learning opportunity for our kids.
Putting our plan out into the larger universe of People We Know was a bit more disconcerting, but we figured it had to be done. We really don’t want to send those holiday cards out next year. We’re not completely sure how the rest of our far-flung family is taking it; we’ve heard some solid support, some reasonable concerns, and plenty of fair questions from the non-sailors in our lives. We haven’t heard from too many nay-sayers; I assume they’re either keeping it to themselves, or giving my mom a sympathetic earful.
The one thing we’ve heard most consistently from the out-of-towners is, “I could never do that.” They have lots of reasons–money, discomfort with uncertainty, a job that’s difficult to walk away from, attachment to their surroundings, family needs. Mostly, their priorities are around security, which is totally fair and understandable. It’s just…it’s been a funny and striking contrast to many of our nearest and dearest here in Madison–folks who hear about our goals and start thinking about their own plans, ways to do extraordinary things with their own growing kids, travels that can be taken before the high school years hit.
There are two sides to this coin–on the one side, building a stable life within your community; on the other, exploring the wider world. And while there are plenty of concrete things we hope our kids learn on the trip–how to identify reef fish, Spanish, how to tell where the chicken bus is going–we also want to show them the flip side often hidden from American middle-class life. Instead of saying, “I could never…” when they grow up, maybe instead they’ll say “Why not?”