What can we all learn from a family of 5 who lived on a sailboat for 5 years? Turns out, a lot.

Planning for our nomadic travels around the country in our 28 foot travel trailer has caused me to read a lot of other blogs, and listen to a lot of podcasts from others who've done similar things. One podcast in particular that I've grown very fond of is called "family adventure podcast". The host of the show is Erik Hemingway. He and his family spent 5 years traveling abroad from a sailboat. No one in the family had any sailing experience before their journey, but while sailing they ended up crossing an entire ocean, in  their sailboat, with only their family. Crazy? Yes. I emailed Erik a month ago and asked if he'd be up for answering some questions about their adventure. He said yes. This is what he had to say:

Me: You and your family traveled abroad in a sailboat for five years... why?

ERIK: I had been working in a stressful career in construction management, and our family was very involved serving at our church. Add to that mix: homeschool activities and the occasional sports seasons. Needless to say, the scale was definitely out f balance on the busy side! Life was literally flying by and I was not feeling very satisfied with how we were living it. I really felt like it was living us, if that makes sense. I felt like we were doing what we were 'supposed' to be doing, and not feeling much peace or satisfaction from it. 

One lunch break, I stumbled across a book about a family who took one year off, sold all their possessions, and traveled around the world, with round-the-word tickets from Delta or someone. I felt like I was hit between the eyes with a two-by-four. I knew that I was supposed to figure out a way to take my family traveling. That it would bring us together, and that it would be a life changing experience for all of us. I didn't know at that point that we would be living on a boat, I just knew we had to do something different, radical, and intentional with our family. Suddenly, in that one lunch break, I had something extremely valuable: hope. 


ME:  In what ways, good or bad did the experience affect you and your family?

ERIK: Overall, the experience was amazing, but different than we expected. We never dreamed we'd sail across the Atlantic Ocean with 6 kids, but we did! When we started on the boat, we didn't know how to sail or anything. We slowly learned all together, and by the time we decided to cross the ocean, we were working so well together as a team, it just felt right. 

All the kids gained so much confidence, and depth to their character, from dealing with fears, and challenges, it has shaped them into some pretty amazing kids. I'm extremely proud of all of them. 

We didn't really know what to expect, but we were open and flexible and that goes a long way to manage disappointments, and challenges.

The negatives are that when you raise independent kids, they want to take on the world in their own way. My oldest daughter is married to a British citizen, who joined the US Army. They now live in Colorado, and I'm sure will be off to see the world as well.  


ME:  You started a podcast called "Family Adventure Podcast" and have released almost 100 episodes so far. Why did you start the show?

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RIK: Once we returned to the United States, after having lived in Costa Rica for over a year, and then the 3+ years on the sailboat, we were noticing that everyone we met and heard our story, were asking a lot of the same questions: "How can you afford to do that?" "What did you do for the kids' school?" "Did you see any pirates?" Literally, the same questions over and over. Some of the questions were genuinely, "How can I do that with my family?" That's why we started the podcast. We wanted a way to answer those questions, and also show that there are thousands of other families out there, traveling in all sorts of different ways. Sailboats, RV's, biking across continents, living abroad as expats, everything!


ME:  What are some of the more common things you hear on the show? Do you find that most families you interview have certain things in common?

ERIK: There is definitely a thread that binds a lot of the families I get to interview. I think the shift is part of a larger movement where families and people are just more willing to think out of the box on everything. How they live, work, travel, and provide a future for their kids. For the most part, and for those that want it, gone are the days of the cubicle, the commute, and 'doing life' in the traditional sense. 

I think people, and especially parents, are craving experiences over possessions. So the big house in the suburbs and the white picket fence is not nearly attractive as it was even a generation ago. Maybe some of that is fall out from the economic mess, but I feel and I think most people on my show would agree, we all want something real. Family adventure travel fills that need like nothing else I've seen, it builds character, and binds a family together.  


ME: What is one of the crazier stories you've heard from your interviews?

ERIK: We've had some amazing guests, I think one of the stories that's hardest for me to wrap my head around personally, is the Vogel family, one of my first interviews. This family of mom, dad, and two boys, rode bikes from Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, to the bottom of Argentina, a journey of 17,000 miles, over a three year journey. It's such a massive undertaking, you have to respect it. 

I also really liked the 'Jonesberries' Episode . These folks have been traveling since they met, close to 30 years. They have raised all their kids on the road all over the world. They are true nomads, and they bring a perspective that is very genuine. They've learned so much about life, they are not 'out of the box', they destroyed it. 


ME: So many families we've already spoke to have mentioned that they wish they could just uproot and live more nomadically or intentionally. What would you say is the biggest hesitation families have that prevents them from taking the plunge?

ERIK: Another good question. That's literally a question I wrestle with a lot because I think that if they knew how life-changing it would be for them, there would be no hesitation. They would do whatever they had to o to make it happen. It's like anything big that you want to accomplish. Everyone who does it or has done it, wrestles with the same fears, they just deal with the fears and push through. It appears as though other don't have the fears at all, but that's not true. They have them, I think they choose to tell themselves something different about whether or not to let those fears control them. 

Money. Money is another hurdle that people often say is stopping them from achieving their travel dreams. The funny thing is, nearly ALL of my guests will attest that is typically costs LESS to live, and travel nomadically, than a traditional lifestyle. That's a shock for new travelers, because they are comparing travel to their last vacation, where they were spending a TON of money. It can be done. It can be planned. Please, don't that stand in your way of achieving


ME: What's on the horizon for your family next? Any plans on the next adventure?

ERIK: We can't seem to sit still. We have been back in the US for about three years. Our two oldest kids have gotten married in that time, and now we're feeling the pull of the road again, this time with the remaining four kids at home (ages 14 to 5)

We're building some passive income with a couple of properties that we put on Air BnB, my son and his wife will manage them, and we will head out again. 

We're currently in the fun stage of: what, when, where! The world is SO massive, and we're excited about what's on the horizon. Traipsing through Southeast Asia? India? TransSiberian Railroad? All of the above? :) Who knows! 

I want to thank Erik so much for taking the time to answer these questions, hope they help some of you out there! If you'd like to listen to Eriks podcast, follow their blog, or learn more about him and his family, check out their website: www.familyadventurepodcast.com. You can search iTunes for his podcast by the same name "family adventure podcast", or click here. it's a fantastic podcast. Give it a listen now, literally right now.