shows by example how easily you can eliminate stress, become more independent, raise your children in a safer environment (while spending more time with them, instilling values not based on the mighty dollar) and avoid the traps of commercialism. Because we live and sail simply, we have been wandering for 11 years with no intention of stopping. This is not a trip for us; it is our life, and I hope to share our success with stories of laughter and tears, as well as how-to tips and DIY projects for preparing, sailing and making a boat a home, so that others can join us.

What About the Holidays?

December 22, 2014

This time of year makes many people sentimental, and it's not uncommon for soon-to-be or think-they-want-to-be cruisers to panic and think, "Oh no! What about the holidays?" We are frequently asked how we handle being away from family, but during certain times of year, the question gains an urgency that it doesn't always have. "What about weddings? Graduations? Births and deaths in the family?" And usually from mothers and grandmothers, "What about the holidays?" My answer may seem callous to some, unreasonable to others, and perfectly sound advice to a scant few. The short version is: Do what you want to do. I admit, this may require some explaining.

Garrett making a Christmas tree in Bequia

When our kids were still at home, it didn't matter to us where we were for Christmas. One year we swam in Georgetown, Bahamas. Christmas in St. Croix was fairly common. We were even "stuck" in Bequia on what proved to be my favorite Christmas ever. It was also our last Christmas before kids started going off to college and things got complicated.

Since then, several times I have started my Christmas morning in tears because none of our three boys could be with us. Anchored in North Palm Beach, FL in 2012, that lost feeling actually helped change our plans. It is the reason we are still in the country. We had just found out our grandson was on the way, our traveling had made it impossible for any of the kids to fly down and meet us, and Dave was offered a job in the Keys. Had it been any other day of the year, I probably would have said, "No thanks. We're going back to the Caribbean." But here we are. So yes, I know the holidays can be hard, but like I said, "Do what you want to do." If that means you want to go to the Caribbean, or the Bahamas, or the South Pacific, you do what is necessary. Maybe I can offer some suggestions to make it easier.

Christmas morning in Bequia

Airfare to anywhere warm is not as expensive as you might imagine IF you plan long in advance and are flexible with your travel dates. Bargains are out there, you just have to do the legwork to find them. We have found that kids are happy to have a plane ticket be part of their Christmas present. Who wouldn't want a free trip to the Caribbean for Christmas? Rarely are we in a boring part of the world in the prime cruising season, so it's always fun to come home, when the kids can get away. But what if they have jobs, families, commitments, and lives that don't allow an extended vacation in the tropics? Don't panic. There are more options.

Brothers in Panama for Christmas

When our grandson was born, I flew 3,000 miles to see the little guy and his proud parents. And we were all in the same country. So being "home" doesn't necessarily make it easier for family to get together. Flying home (back to your mother country) isn't that uncommon for cruisers. We managed to avoid it for 14 years, but we had our children with us and parents and siblings flew out to visit, wherever we were. (A free place to stay in the jungles of Panama? Of course they'll come visit.) But I anticipate having to fly back to see the wee one. In fact, it's what allows me to even consider going back to the Caribbean, now that all our boys are on the same coast again. When it is time, I'll just fly back to visit. Such a simple solution. In the meantime, though, I don't want to miss a thing. Enter modern technology.

Christmas in the Keys

Before our youngest and his family moved back east, we had a weekly Skype date. I got to see our grandson roll over, crawl, walk, and talk, without paying the price of airfare. Actually, it was completely free. These Skype dates meant that I wasn't a stranger to our grandson, either. We could only hold him a few times a year, but we talked to him (and saw him) every week. It's a great tool, whether you're in the Caribbean or simply long distance from your family.

What I'm trying to say is that you have to do what you want to do. You want to go to the Caribbean? Go. Everything else will work itself out. Yes, you'll miss your family. You may even wake up some Christmas morning in tears, wondering what you've done. But if you want to sail, travel, explore, experience, and grow, then DO. And may I suggest, even if you live next door to your family, that you enjoy them and your life with them EVERY day, not just at the holidays. Talk to them, hug them, cook them dinner, go to the beach (park, zoo, library) with them when you can. And if it works out that you can't see them on Christmas because you've decided to live a different life, I am sure they will understand. It's your life. Do what you want to do. You'll kids will love you for it.

The youngest sailor in the family

With a new year approaching, MONDAY we'll share our yearly way of remembering the good times.

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