Keep going and retire early or take a 5 year recess.

Great plan but I agree that 5 and 7 may not be the best ages to start. Not for reasons of socialization (there are plenty of different ways to raise kids in all different environments and mostly they turn out just fine), but rather because I'd wait until they can hold their own and do their share of the work. The ability to read, write, compute + a little upper body strength will go a long way to making it more enjoyable for all :)

We're hoping to do some variation of this when our son (now 4) is 11+, the catch being that he'll have a mind of his own by then and may or may not have the same definition of fun. We already plan to homeschool from the beginning which should help, and are beginning the indoctrination into "adventure" early.

Two books to look at:

Adventuring with Children: An Inspirational Guide to World Travel and the Outdoors


Extreme Kids: How to connect with your children through todays extreme (and not so extreme) sports.
I wish you could find the episodes from Ocean Wanderer, a Canadian dentist (guessing mid-30's), his wife and two young children. A great TV series, can't remember what network it was on. The kids are grown now, and were richer for the experience - I think the daughter went back to sea after college.

This is the story of one family that dared to dream, sold all their belongings, bought a boat…and just sailed away. The story of OCEAN WANDERER, chronicles the Knight family's (Tony, Arien, Michael, & Saskia) voyage of exploration of the planet and themselves.
Do it.

What's the best that could happen? Experience of a lifetime. Kids' college applications look amazing. Your savings compound while you're out at sea. You realize how incredible freedom is, compared to the working life, and find a way to make things work even longer.

What's the worst? You push back early retirement a few years. Big deal.
Just to weigh in again, I recommend putting it off for a few years and see how you feel. Most of the folks on this forum are "delayed gratification" types, so delaying such a trip will help you put things in perspective. You'll also have the advantage of saving more money, allowing your kids to get a bit older, etc.... Who knows, by that point you may decide that waiting another 5 years and then pulling the plug permanently is appropriate.
LAS, you sound like you're already halfway in the "go sailing" bag.

This board has way too many sad & cautionary tales of "just one more year" for us to advise anything other than "make a plan and have fun". You'll certainly find ways to live a frugal lifestyle that's devoid of consumerism. If you can avoid major equipment casualties then you may have plenty of funds for the trip, but you'll want to be conservative on the expenses of maintenance/repairs... for example having to replace the keel in Fiji.

A few devil's advocate questions: Does it have to be years of sustained sea time or is there a compromise position? Could you stick to a local area or one coastline, or does it need to be international? Would you be able to split your sailing with the school year at home and summers on the water? Does it have to be sailing or could you motor a boat up & down the ICW with the other seasonal sailors? Would you be able to do part-time sailing, for example sailing boats for absentee owners who want to move them to a new port?

While you're out there, you may want to seriously consider finding a career that's associated with the sailing business or at least different from your current occupation. Many of this board's members who took an extended sabbatical returned to work refreshed & re-energized, only to learn that they had no patience for the crap they'd formerly tolerated. You may find that after all those years of independence you're totally unsuited for corporate cubicle life.

Your kids will be 5 and 7 at the start of your proposed trip. That is an important age to learn in a structured school environment and also to socialize with kids their age. Will they have that opportunity? Doesn't seem good for the kids.
I'm also worrying about it from the kids' perspective....not only from socialization, but also from what the average (at that time) 5 and 7 year olds (up to 9 and 11 years old) would want to do.
I think you guys have totally overgeneralized society's accepted norms of raising kids. Millions of American homeschoolers don't worry about "structured school environments" and don't need school to be the source of socializing.

Gotta know your kids, and they don't know any other environments than the ones they're raised in. The easiest answer to the question would be to go sailing for four weeks or so and see if the kids like it. Them being kids, I suspect that they'll adapt a lot more easily than the parents will. I think those kids will learn skills far more advanced than anything they'll see in classroom boating videos or books, and they'll return far more mature than their peers.

As for mutiny, it's a lot easier to take them to sea when they're young than when they're teenagers. They're smaller, can't run as fast, and can't fight back as viciously. Just kidding.
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My answers in red below:

  • Health insurance while we're on the trip - I haven't investigated at all. How much is a plan for an unemployed family?

    To get you an idea: if you don't have any pre-existing conditions, go to Health Insurance - Find Affordable Health Insurance Plans and Buy Medical Coverage Online and pretend you are 5 years older. For example for my zip code and family of 4 with the ages you mentionad +5, the cheapest insurance is 217 per month, the most expensive is 1153 per month.

  • Overspending on the trip - But, we've always been good at living modestly and well below our means. I hope we can stick to a budget.

    Well, with the boats they say you'll spend what you have, but if you are able to LBYM now, you should have better luck in the future. Also the nice sunset at the anchorage looks the same from $30k boat as from $2M boat

  • Restarting work - I know we won't be anywhere close to our quitting salaries, but will we be down to an entry level position after a 5 year haitus?

    What are your careers? In some fields it's easier, in some not so much. We have a plan to go cruising after reaching FI. Part of the prep was "plan D" - reentry strategy. I'm a software engineer and I opened my own consulting business (doing a token amount work during moonlight hours), so if I ever need to return to the workforce, I don't have a resume gap. DW is slowly retraining, and is one pre-req short of starting nursing degree (which she wants to start when our kids, currently aged 6/4/2, are older)

  • When will we be able to retire? - I can't get a grasp on this because I don't have a clue how much this will de-rail our careers and our salary. But maybe getting used to a lower salary will be beneficial and we won't be that bad.

    You might find that if you LBYM, 595k + whatever you save in the mean time might sustain your cruising lifestyle indefinitely. IIRC Dreamcatcher folks annual budget was $18k for relatively upscale boat ( | The Sailing Adventures of Dream Catcher )

Nothing will be set into motion that couldn't be undone for another 3 years, so we have plenty of time to rethink and reinvest to our retirement if necessary.

Oh and yes, the wife's onboard (pun intended)
That's the most important part

Good luck,
Taking two little kids on a sailboat for five years would make me mighty nervous from a safety standpoint, but I'm a worry wart and no doubt sailing folk do it all the time. You probably have gotten lots of advice about kids on boats.

There is a lot of advice about sailing with kids.
And if you live on a sailboat, statistically you and your kids are safer than driving a car (and when you get a little experience, few orders of magnitude safer).

For the curious engineering/math types here, driving fatalities: .47 dphe, sailboat fatalities: .12 dphe, I could not find the data tabulated for sailboats and experience, but generic boating fatalities fall with experience significantly:
boaters with less than 100 hours of operating experience had a fatality rate of .64 per million hours, three times higher than the rate of .22 for those with 100-500 hours; and those with over 500 hours of experience had a fatality rate hardly measurable at .0018
A few years ago my wife and I were looking very seriously at taking a year off of work and traveling the globe. In the end, we felt the long-term financial opportunity cost was too high and we decided to keep cranking at our careers and taking shorter excursions.

We have both traveled for extended periods in the past, and we have several friends who have been vagabond-style travelers on and off for years. Long-term travel is a lifestyle. It probably appeals to more people in theory than in reality.

The first thing that struck me - if you split the OP in two and put him on two different tracks - OP 1 is returning from an extended adventure at age 42 to face a future of resumption of work for who knows how many years/decades, while OP 2 is in the home stretch and is preparing to retire.

How many extra years of work will result from taking such a trip? I don't know. That's what would concern me most.
Take your time and think about it. It is a big decision.
Here's one more thing to consider and I apologize if I'm being presumptuous, but ...

What kind of sailing experience do you have? I also once had great plans for an extended sail, but I kinda shelved them (for now) after I experienced the loss of a rudder (snapped and went straight to the bottom) plus the mainsail (ripped) in 12+ feet waves in an ocean race. That convinced me that it would be years before I would have the confidence to tackle such an ordeal on my own AND enjoy it or at least voluntarily put myself at risk for such situations on an ongoing basis---maybe I would never even reach such a point. Don't forget the rest of the crew: Not much point in it, if half the crew is puking and the other half is terrified.

Anecdotal evidence has it that Florida and the Caribbean is full of boats for sale where the story is that one sailor spouse (typically the guy) spent years planning the trip and the boat, and the other spouse was a nonsailor but "willing to try it out" but experienced some bad weather on the first serious trip and took a plane home.

That said, like living on land, cruising can cost as much as you can afford. There are couples who cruise full time for around $10,000/year. There are also those who blow that much chartering a boat for a few weeks in the BVI. They experience the same sunsets and sailing, but the latter have refrigerators and electric winches :-D In general, expenses is inversely proportional to skills and competence---if you don't know, you pay. Same as on land, just four times more expensive with anything marine :)
For the curious engineering/math types here, driving fatalities: .47 dphe, sailboat fatalities: .12 dphe, I could not find the data tabulated for sailboats and experience, but generic boating fatalities fall with experience significantly: )

The numbers I remember (which may be completely wrong) are 3000 annual fatalities for boating. Out of those 100 were from sailboats, the rest from motorboats. I don't remember the ratio of deaths related to alcohol but I think it was pretty high.
Everyone knows good stories and bad. One of my nieces married a guy whose parents took him and his twin brother sailing in the Caribbean for 5 years because the kids were getting in a lot of trouble in junior high. Drugs, delinquency, etc.

They are OK, but the parents came back and immediately divorced, and the Dad was not able to restart his career and has turned into a 4+ drunk.

I think it would be very involving, to say the least, with all the good and bad that this can imply.

A couple of years ago my wife and I quit our jobs to travel the world for one year. We spent a fair amount of money, and obviously didn't to contribute to retirement during that time. It was totally worth it, and I'm very glad we went. Going for just a year we had verbal agreements that we'd get hired back upon our return, assuming everything was OK. The economy crashed and that didn't happen, but we had no problem finding new jobs. For me changing companies has actually been really good. Being gone for 5 years might be hard, but do you really need to go all at once? I'd plan on one year. Then go again 3 years later. (I'm thinking that after 5 years of work my wife and I might do another one year trip.)

Another great blog I occasionally read is called Zach Aboard

They are a liveaboard homeschooling family with a 6 year-old and a 3 month-old who are preparing to go cruising again soon.
  • Restarting work - I know we won't be anywhere close to our quitting salaries, but will we be down to an entry level position after a 5 year haitus?

you can check out Sail Whisper. The couple(in their 40's maybe?) quit their IT jobs in the Bay area, sailed the South pacific then down to Aussie/NZ, did some contract jobs there. several years later, they sold the boat, flew back to where they started off and re-started their corporate life.
No, I would NOT do it especially since you've got kids. I'd crank up my and my SO's careers and attempt to retire early. OTOH, I'm not as adventurous or spontaneous as I used to be before we had our kids. Now I'm a big planner and thinker because we wish to give them good roots for life until they reach the majority's age and start planning their own lives.

I did it, something very close to what you are considering. At 35, my wife, two kids and I left San Diego, CA and moved to rural Brazil. Financially, we were in similar shape.

There, we bought a farm and lived the slow life, for almost five years. We were in a town of about 10,000 people, near where my wife was born.

It was an amazing experience, wouldn't trade it for anything, BUT.......

What I'm worried about:
  • Health insurance while we're on the trip - I haven't investigated at all. How much is a plan for an unemployed family?

    Non issue for us, Brazilian system was decent for the basics, we paid cash for anything needed beyond that. Practice a preventative lifestyle and you should be fine. I think American's have been sold healthcare and health insurance, too much of it, for too long. In most countries the doctor patient relationship still drives the med business. If you pull into port and need something, pay cash.
  • Overspending on the trip - But, we've always been good at living modestly and well below our means. I hope we can stick to a budget.

    We didn't stick to our budget. The excitement of the experience will have you wanting to adventure more, this usually costs money. Budget high, if you are going to do this, enjoy it.
  • Restarting work - I know we won't be anywhere close to our quitting salaries, but will we be down to an entry level position after a 5 year haitus?

    This part sucks, period. I don't know what your professions are, but for me, tech Business Development and project management, clawing back into the rat race has been an awful experience. I'm almost two years into it, have had to make a total career change, because that is what pays the bills. I am making less than half of what I used to and have very little job security. Getting back into tech, at a level anywhere near where I left off, has proven to be impossible. The industry has changed and it's flooded with younger, unemployed, but employable blood. There are some things I could do differently, guess I really haven't played all of my cards, but I have changed. My priorities are different.
  • When will we be able to retire? - I can't get a grasp on this because I don't have a clue how much this will de-rail our careers and our salary. But maybe getting used to a lower salary will be beneficial and we won't be that bad.

    If we had stayed on course, pun intended ;), I think we could have worked towards an early 50s retirement. We're now looking at 60s plus, unless one of my schemes works out*.

All that said. I say do it, you can never go back, and you will always wonder, what if?.

*I am now putting together a business that takes us back to Brazil, back to a lifestyle more similar to that which we enjoyed down there, for four years. The experience changed all of us, for ever, and I believe, for the better. I'm going back.

Edit - I think the kids will end up being better people. Mine are 9 and 6 and watching them adjust back to US mass media, poor quality public education society has been tough. Another reason I am starting the new Brazil based business. I think they will be better off with what I plan on doing, there.
[FONT=&quot]Billy and I read this thread right before we walked down the street here at Lake Atitlan, Guatemala to the volcano-heated hot springs. We both remarked that had we read something like this (in a respected financial forum) before we retired 20+ years ago, our courage to press forward to early retirement might have been fractured. Then again, the mainstream fears expressed here might have been exactly the motivation we needed to say “we’re outta here!” [/FONT][FONT=&quot]
[FONT=&quot]In our opinion, wanderlust is not a disease from which to be cured. (“Oh Lord, grant me a vaccine which will allow me to be happy spending the next 20 years of my life in a gray cubicle, Amen.”) Not everyone has the desire to see history, anthropology, biology, financial management, geology, mechanics and language studies come alive through first-hand world travel and that’s ok. Everyone is made differently.[/FONT]

[FONT=&quot]The children we have met on the road and in foreign countries who are being home-schooled have astonished us with their ability to engage in conversation with humans of all ages and cultures. They don’t draw the same self-limiting lines of distinction (“These people are cool, these people are not”) that seem so obvious when we return to the States and meet kids in suburbia. And most amazingly, they speak respectfully and in full sentences.[/FONT][FONT=&quot]
[FONT=&quot]Many of these world savvy children and young adults speak 2 and 3 languages now and have interacted in life adventures on various levels, so their skill sets are different than those who grew up in what is considered to be a ‘stable environment.’ [/FONT][FONT=&quot]
[FONT=&quot]It seems to us that parents who choose to home school their children enjoy spending time with their families. The children themselves become invigorated by the creativity that the classroom-sans-walls offers. Everyday offers a topic of learning. Want to know about how weather works? Look outside – you have every example available when you travel. Want to learn about fixing a motor? Help dad do it. Geography? Geology? Map reading? Mathematics? Economics? What better way than to live it. Write a blog aboutthe native peoples you are meeting and send it to your school back home. This is far more interesting for everyone than just reading a book about them.[/FONT]

[FONT=&quot]Granted, the discussion was about very young children accompanying their parents – when or if these parents decide to sail with their children will depend on many factors, but I hope it is not because they fear their children’s education will suffer.[/FONT]

[FONT=&quot]Regarding the issue of being able to find work in the field with which you are familiar and making that same amount of income after years away traveling we would say this. Five years of continuous travel will change and enrich your life completely. You will have met people, seen places, observed great needs in different societies, and will probably come into contact with very different business ideas and models. If you have any sort of communication skills, any bit of organizational ability, or any other talents that you could develop, you will surely find yourselves in any number of opportunities around the world. [/FONT][FONT=&quot]
[FONT=&quot]We know a man who bought a macadamia nut farm in Antigua, Guatemala, helped the indigenous bring protein into their diets and income into their homes. He sells his anti-aging macadamia nut oil product to Lancôme.
[FONT=&quot]A couple here at Lake Atitlan home schools their children. The whole family partakes in the family run coffee roasting business – complete from buying, roasting and grinding the beans to baking the carrot cake, cheese cakes and making the cappuccinos. The father has taught his daughters the business first hand. It’s hard for me to believe that his tri-lingual children do not have a head’s up on life. [/FONT][FONT=&quot]
[FONT=&quot]Why not organize mechanical engineers to come to your paradise and have them help provide the local people with clean, reliable water sources? Or what about fundraising to bring computers to impoverished schools and teaching computer skills to any of the hundreds of locations where students need them? Become a worldwide organization that provides. You won’t have to look for a need- there are so many.[/FONT][FONT=&quot]
[FONT=&quot]I agree with the man with the Brazilian wife – Affordable Medical Tourism is found all over the world – Costa Rica, Mexico, Thailand, Guatemala and other countries.[/FONT]

[FONT=&quot]I think a large challenge you will face after years of being away, will be if you want to re-integrate back into American society. Billy and I love the United States. We are proud to be Americans. The U.S. gave us our opportunity to retire early and we are truly grateful. It’s just that after 2+ decades of world travel, we have seen so many different ways of living and our perspectives have changed and opened.[/FONT]

[FONT=&quot]You might find that the same will happen with you.[/FONT][FONT=&quot]
[FONT=&quot]Was it worth it? Absolutely yes![/FONT]

[FONT=&quot]Author, The Adventurer’s Guide to Early Retirement
Akaisha, thanks so much for weighing in again with your unique perspective borne of many years as a PT.
I agree, and although we'll try to hold out for ER and not returning to rat race jobs when we pull the trigger, I figure that I can humble myself to do what needs doing if it comes to that.

I can tell you, as a nod to the OP, we took off sailing for a summer to see if we liked it enough to do it fulltime. We bought a small economical old cruiser for the experiment. What a wonderful trip it was, but as it turns out, the cruising full-time life was not for us. Good to know with a $13k boat instead of a $75k boat! And we were able to pick up mostly where we left off, jobwise after just 3 months away.

It doesn't have to be all or nothing. But I'm going to join the chorus of GO GO GO from the sailing forum.
Sounds to me like you aren't exactly looking for advice about whether or not sailing with the kids for a few years would be a good idea. Instead you are trying to figure out if financially it is a smart idea.

First, could you save enough for the trip? This is something you would need to figure out as you are the expert in sailing. I am assuming this is something you could do otherwise you wouldn't even be proposing the idea.

You currently have about $600,000 in investments. During the 5 years if it compounded at 7%, you would have roughly $840K. You also have $105K saved for the kids college which would be about $127K after the 5 years if compounded at 4%. That is about $64K per child and the oldest will be 12 or 13 with about 5 years until that cash is needed.

Analysis: The biggest issue I believe for you and your family is reconstitution into the work place after the trip. There can never be an exact idea of what the job market may look like at that time. HOWEVER, if we make a few assumptions we can come to a reasonable conclusion.

Let's assume upon returning you and your wife will only be able to make 70% of your current income ($133K). You currently use 60% of your income ($114K) (which you stated based on the fact that you save 40%). You need to determine if you can live off of about 45% ($85.5K) of your current income soley for expenses. This would allow you in this worst case scenario to still save approx. $47.5K/year toward retirement.

End result? You could retire at 52 assuming a 4 SWR with approx $3.0M, with $120K a year. In my opinion, the kid's tuition should be OK as long as they go to a college that is not too over the top. Maybe they can get some scholarships or help pay their own way like people used to do.

Of course this all assumes you and your wife will only recieved 70% of current salaries for 13 years upon returning from your trip. I made up this scenario completely. You need to determine the type of numbers you want (ie retirement age, income, etc.) and then I could come up with a more accurate estimate of where this trip will put you in the long term.
Thanks, Sarah, for your kindness.

Sounds like you are resourceful, authentic and creative - perfect for problem solving and figuring out whatever you might face in the future.

I would say work and save until 45, then ER and do it at your leisure. I think your kids would get way more out of it at that point as well.
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