Last week I woke up to some news that made me extremely overjoyed and grateful. The Daily Mail had come out with a list of their Ultimate Travel Photos of 2015, and we happened to be on it! Listed under the caption it was said that our previous article on the site was one of their highest shared stories of the year. I was humbled and honored that so many people enjoyed our story and were rooting for us to set out and realize our dreams.
Scrolling through the remaining amazing travel photographs, and they were, I found myself at the comments. And was stunned and hurt by what I saw. The very first comment among all these magnificent images was ‘Oh don’t ya just love it when those pesky americans give up their jobs and raise enough money (crowd funding no less) to pursue their dreams..Well we all have dreams, we just don’t go begging online to strangers about it.’
Us? Begging strangers for money so we could travel the world? That couldn’t be further from the truth! In order to live the life we do, we spent years saving up every penny we could and selling every possession we had in order to be able to leave everything behind to travel the world for a few years. Not only that, but while traveling we live as frugally as possible to make sure every dollar can go as far as possible. We’ve never asked anyone for a single cent, and it made my blood boil to think that most people would assume the only way we could get to where we are was by the handouts of others. That it would be impossible for a couple in their 30’s to set out plans and goals, and to actually achieve them! It made me realized how grossly uninformed some people are about our lifestyle.
So let me just take a moment to dispel two large misconceptions the general public may have about us. We are not crowdfunders, nor do we lead a luxurious life.
Let me first talk about our lifestyle, but believe me, I’ll definitely get back to the crowdfunding. For most people who don’t know much about our cruising lifestyle, they make think we lead a life of uninterrupted bliss. Uniformed days of sunny skies, tropical islands, swimming in the worlds clearest waters, and enjoying breathtaking sunsets with a good glass of wine in our hands; all the while never having any worries or having to lift a finger, other than to sail our beautiful yacht to our next amazing location in pristine conditions. I will state for the record that we have done all of the above. Although to say that is all our life consists of would be substantially wrong. That is our lives, but only a small portion of it. Truth be told, I don’t think 90% of people could or would want to live our kind of life.
I won’t even get into the mess of what our current situation is, living in the construction zone of a boat remodel that has me walking 5 minutes to the marinas facilities every time I have to ‘go’, or washing my dishes from a 1.5 liter jug that I refill from a spicket 4-6 times a day. No, I’ll get into the enviable *bliss* we enjoy while traveling. Lets first talk about our living space. Our last boat was 34 ft, and current one is 37. That’s between 150 to 200 sq ft feet of living space. And to be honest, not all of it is livable. Our kitchen and sitting space were all part of one room, the bathroom doesn’t even give you enough room to bend over in, and forget about having any foot space in bed. If there’s more than one of you on board you’re constantly having to step aside for the other to pass, and if you want to have guests over you’d better feel very comfortable about letting others into your personal space.
Moving on to personal hygiene and upkeep, and it’s amazing how much of that went out the hatch as soon as we stepped foot on a boat. Back in our land life we would start our mornings with a hot shower, I’d take the time to straighten my hair and put on makeup, and we’d both dress in our business attire before heading out the door for the daily grind. In our sailing life we spent the first year and a half taking our showers in the cockpit or swimming off the back of the boat. Which was preferable because you wouldn’t even want to think about using up what precious fresh water you had on something as trivial as staying clean. That needs to be saved for drinking and getting the dishes clean enough to eat off again. Usually we try to only allow ourselves the use of 5 gallons a day so we don’t run out.
The t-shirts, board shorts, and cut offs we started to adorn ourselves in have to be lugged usually at least a mile in each direction to any kind of laundromat or cleaner we can find wherever we happen to drop anchor. Dresses? Rarely. Shoes with heels? Not a single pair has found it’s way on to the boat. Not only does my hair not get straightened or styled anymore, it usually goes directly from shower to ponytail. On our passage back across the Atlantic last year we had such bad conditions that we averaged six days between showers. Cleanliness has almost become a form of when it becomes necessary instead of whenever you want.
Going out to restaurants (for us) is saved for rare and special occasions, and grocery shopping usually consists of walking miles in 90 degree heat and trying to fit two weeks of food and beverages into two backpacks. I make my meals in a galley that has about two feet of counter space and constantly switch around ingredients between pots and bowls while I try and make decent meals on a two burner stove. As my friend Michelle just likened it, she said “I feel like I’m trying to be Betty Crocker, making a meal in Barbie’s Dream House while using my Easy Bake Oven”. It’s one step up from camping, but one step below an RV. At least they’re not rocking back and forth while cooking, trying to keep their plates from sliding off the counters.
Which brings me on to passages. About 30% of our lifestyle, but the thing that requires the most planning and preparation. We can’t just hop from one location to the next whenever we feel like. Sailors are only allowed to cruise an area by season, and even inside that area, may get held up for days or even weeks waiting for the right weather window. The two weeks we planned to stay in Isla Mujeres Mexico before sailing to Florida turned into seven when fronts would constantly pass through the Gulf of Mexico.
Our entire schedule for the year was messed up and we ended up starting our Atlantic crossing from Miami, instead of St. Marten like we had originally hoped. So before we can go anywhere we have to think about distance, forecasts, hurricane season, and any other number of things. To just say, ‘I feel like heading from Mexico to Aruba. Let’s leave tomorrow’.; does not happen. The weather can sometimes be our best friend and at other times be our worst enemy.
After just touching the tip of the iceberg of what living our lifestyle entails (I did not even get into the part about maintaining all the mechanical and electrical systems yourself), I’m ready to discuss crowdfunding. As I had mentioned above, we have not received a single penny for our journey that way. Sure, there’s a couple hundred dollars that come in every year from family in the form of birthday or anniversary gifts, but we would have received them regardless if we were at land or sea. And knowing that I would have headed straight to the MAC counter at Macy’s before, I think they money is going to a much better purpose now. If anyone funded this trip, it was us. In the few years before we left, we stopped going out to eat or to the bars with our friends, inviting them to our house instead. All of my clothes, even my business ones, became second hand from consignment shops. Our yearly excursions to Chicago for a long weekend turned in to camping trips at the Sleeping Bear Dunes instead. If we didn’t have to spend money on something, we didn’t. To say that we made sacrifices is the understatement of the century.
On the subject of crowdfunding though, I will not say that it is unquestionable as a means to bring in a little extra cash. We have friends that have Donate buttons on their website, and I know of others that use sites such as Patreon to bring in a little extra money for their travels. None of these people started their journeys by use of these income makers. None of them went out begging saying, “I want to travel the world, give me money so I can!”. All of them started exactly as we did, by scraping and saving to make their dreams a reality. Collaborations with these sites are only a means to keep their travels going, and this is after establishing themselves with content via writing, photos, and videos; which their followers want to continue to enjoy and will donate money to make it possible.
I’ve even considered using it for ourselves in the future when our funds begin to run low. It would not keep us going forever, and I’d be delusional to think it might. But it may help extend our journey a few more months before we find a way to bring in a steady paycheck. It’s all perfectly sensible when you think about it though. If a person would spend a certain amount of money to buy a book or magazine, to go out to a movie or enjoy drinks out with a significant other; OR they could spend that same amount of money in the form of a donation to us and receive travel stories or photographs that bring them the same amount of enjoyment, they should be able to . No one is forcing them to give this money away, and if it’s not for you, that’s fine. Just don’t condemn it for others that do go this route.
In short, we love our nomadic lives, but they are quite different than the image that most might hold. We are not the trust fund babies that take our expansive floating home to non stop beautiful destinations in perfect weather where we visit fancy restaurants and spend our days shopping in boutique stores and sunning ourselves on pristine beaches. Although our life is full of picturesque moments and incredible adventures (which is what usually makes the blog or social media pages), we also put up with a lot of behind the scenes frustration that you wouldn’t know about unless you’re living this lifestyle or closely following the blog.
So Mr. Tangerine Dream, before you go off making assumptions about our travels and spouting them out over the internet, take a moment to see what our life actually entails. How we got ourselves here, what our lifestyle actually consists of, and how we keep it going. If you looked really closely, I’d bet you realize that it doesn’t come close to what you originally thought.
I do want to quickly mention that this post was not written as an outlet for me to whine or bitch, or even gain sympathy. I love my life. I know that it can be hard, or even insufferable at times, but I chose this for myself and, for myself, the joys and freedom far outweigh the other inconveniences we deal with. It has it’s ups and downs, but when it’s good, it’s heaven on earth. Now that I’ve started this adventure, I could never see my life any other way.