Today our daughter is celebrating her 8th birthday; a day we’ve been waiting over 5 years for. But what is so special about 8, you may ask? At 5 you enter school, at 13 you become a teenager, at 16 you can drive, but what happens at 8? For us, and many other travelers, 8 is a very special age. This is the perfect age for a child to travel the world.
Years ago, when we were avid sailors, we read every book, forum, blog, website, newsletter, and magazine we could find on sailing; and especially anything we could find on families cruising around the world. We were planning to go cruising as a family for a year or two in the Caribbean, and possibly wherever else the trade winds carried us. When a family decides to take their kids cruising the first question asked is, “What is the perfect age to take a child cruising?” Although kids of all ages have sailed around the world on their parent’s boats, the general consensus was that 8 years old was the perfect age. Old enough to lend a hand on the boat, old enough to remember the trip, a good age to be homeschooled easily, and not too old that they will hate being stuck with their parents for 24 hours a day on a small boat. That age sounded good to us, so we made a decision to go cruising when our daughter turned 8. We refinanced our house to pay off the principal quicker and setup a savings plan that would have us leaving around that time frame.
But shortly after making the decision to go cruising, disaster struck. The mast on our sailboat broke and came crashing down causing lots of damage to the boat. Fortunately, Kerri and 2-year-old Sydney were safely down below in the cabin. Our crewmate and myself, who were on deck at the time, were lucky to not get hurt by the falling mast and rigging. After dealing with the boatyard, insurance companies, lawsuits (long story), and a drained bank account we soon realized that one mishap while cruising could easily break us physically and financially. We started looking at other options and started looking into buying a barge and barging through Europe using the well-maintained canal systems. But, a boat is a boat, and you can only stay in Western Europe for 90 days before you need to leave and wait another 90 days before re-entry. We would like to try barging through Europe at some point, as it does sound like a great adventure, but it wasn’t going to work out for long-term travel. After looking at all of the options we decided to do what we know how to do best; travel as tourists! Not only is it a more flexible option, you don’t need to worry about the upkeep costly repairs of a boat.
We decided to keep with the same time schedule and leave when Sydney turned 8. Even though we were not going cruising on a boat, 8 years old still seemed like the perfect age for world travel. Old enough to carry her own bag, old enough to remember the trip, a good age to be homeschooled easily, and not too old that she would rather be hanging out at the mall with her friends.
When Sydney was 2, her 8th birthday seemed so far away. It’s amazing how fast the time has flown by. In just 10 years from now she will be leaving for college and starting her own life. We are really looking forward to spending the next 2 years traveling and spending quality time with her. The adventure and memories we will share as a family will truly be priceless.