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‘Some of the best money I ever spent’

“Here we are in front of the ship in Cartagena, Colombia, during our first port.”
Last year, I paid $50,000 to go on a four-month cruise that took my family and me to 30 countries. My husband, our 12-month-old daughter and I shared one room that doubled as my floating office. We spent 60 days at sea and 50 days in port, and we visited six continents. This was the most expensive trip we’ve ever taken, but it was worth it. I see the money spent as an investment — not just in travel, but in a collection of memories that we will treasure forever. Here’s why it was some of the best money I ever spent:
I didn’t have to plan everything for a change
I’m no stranger to long-term travel. From 2015 to 2018, we lived in our RV and drove across the country. For the last five years, we lived on our sailboat full-time, and I ran my online business, Making Sense of Cents from there. DON’T MISS: The ultimate guide to earning passive income online We love this lifestyle, but managing it takes a lot of effort. You have to account for repairing broken equipment, sailing in overnight shifts, keeping track of multiple routes and preparing for all kinds of weather and potential dangers.
“Our room for four months months on the cruise, with our balcony view.” Photo: Michelle Schroeder-Gardner
We spent so many years constantly on the move, but I couldn’t remember the last time we took an actual vacation. Stepping onto the ship, a lot of that mental load lifted. We only unpacked once and the cruise line handled most of the visa process for us. It was so nice to not to have to cook or do dishes for four months. We did do a fair amount of laundry — inevitable with a baby — but we booked our room next to the laundry room on our floor to avoid any additional hassle.
“Here we are in front of the ship in Cartagena, Colombia, during our first port.” Photo: Michelle Schroeder-Gardner
I bonded with my family in a unique way
After our daughter was born, the idea of a world cruise piqued our interest. While she was still young, we thought it would be fun to slow down, travel with fewer responsibilities, and focus on being new parents. When we embarked on our adventure, our daughter the youngest passenger on board. She was a veteran seafarer at that point, having lived on our sailboat (which we docked in Florida while we were away) since she was just a day old.
“My daughter and I swimming at a public beach in Moorea, French Polynesia.” Photo: Michelle Schroeder-Gardner
Since the rooms on the ship were so close together, at first we were concerned that a crying baby wouldn’t exactly endear us to our neighbors. It turned out that the cruise was full of grandparents who missed their grandkids, so it actually worked out quite well. There were few families on board, but we befriended another couple with a toddler and got together for many playdates. I set a goal to go to as many international playgrounds as we could, and we visited at least 20. Our daughter even took her first steps on the trip, on a beach in Moorea, French Polynesia.
I got to experience many different cultures
The cruise started in Florida. Then we we traveled through the Panama Canal, the lush tropical islands of French Polynesia, the beautiful scenery of New Zealand, amazing cities in Asia and historic sites in the Mediterranean. We’re usually very slow travelers. For example, when we lived on our sailboat, we spent six months in the Bahamas every year. So it was a rare opportunity to see so many different places in such a short time frame.
“We visited Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque in Oman.” Photo: Michelle Schroeder-Gardner
Some of my favorite stops were Australia, Oman, Thailand, Turkey, Montenegro, Spain, Mexico and the Canary Islands. While the sights were incredible, to me, one of the best parts of the journey was being a part of this ephemeral, floating community. I loved getting to know everyone on board, guests and crew. We’re still in touch with many of our neighbors and we took some genuine friendships home with us.
I became better at living in the moment
I can stare at the ocean forever. That’s one of the reasons why I loved living on our sailboat for so many years. We even splurged on a room with a balcony, so we could go outside and take in beautiful views whenever we wanted. The tranquil days at sea were wonderful, although I think it was a little easier for me to relax than my husband. He was so used to being the captain of our boat, dealing with weather and fixing everything, but eventually he embraced the slower pace, too.
“Our last stop of the cruise, at the beach in Santa Cruz de La Palma, Spain.” Photo: Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

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