“You can’t do that, your kids are too young”
“Take it much more slow, think about the kids and if they can stand this”
“What if something HAPPENS?”
“I don’t know if kids of age 3 and 1 belong on a boat”
“Why don’t you go to a nice kids-hotel at the beach?”
This was some of the comments Woodpeckers got to hear when we quite spontaneously decided to do a family sailing trip on the Baltic sea around the island of Rügen (Germany).
Actually, why exactly didn’t we want to go to one of these family friendly kids-hotels, that other families in our situation cherish so much?
Because these hotels are boring!
They are ugly, noisy and hectic in their strange plastic charms. They are no adventure at all. They are quite the opposite: They are perfectly arranged avoidance of any unexpected or challenging situation.
And yet these kind of synthetic environments are very very expensive!
More expensive as chartering out a last-minute offer 32 foot sailing yacht at the Baltic sea.
So we did the latter.
Because if you are into it, a sailing trip – while being far from frugal – offers an excellent relationship of price vs. experiences, fun, being together, seeing and feeling nature. The high price is typically more than compensated by a unique experience.
And this is what happiness is about, and where I clearly deviate from the other early retirement and frugal living bloggers:
I am very fond of living efficiently and buying as little stuff as possible. And it is important to never spend more than necessary for a given good or activity as well as thinking twice or better thrice if it’s worth it. And to buy only things you really need and not things you are told to need. Reducing overall consumption and becoming less dependent on money is very important on your way to independence.
If you really love something, and if you thought about it long enough, there is nothing wrong with spending on expensive hobbies or activities occasionally and in a conscious way - as long as the satisfaction you gain is really deep and long-lasting.
Actually, happiness research has proven that spending money on activities/experiences is a good way to improve happiness – a far better way than spending money on stuff, on status symbols or on everyday consumption.
So the Woodpecker clan did exactly this:
Encouraged by our experimental sailing tour on lake Chiemsee we took advantage of some last-minute offer and a family visit in Hamburg and continued to the close-by and beautiful island of Rügen close to Germany’s Northeastern coast in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.
And I dare say it was a fantastic tour!
Despite circumstances were ok only, but not optimal: Weather was quite heavy the first days. Lovely for a boy’s tour on the boat. But with wind around 5-6 Bft first three days, for a first family trip a bit less wind would have been sufficient.
I admit I was quite nervous when we started out in the marina of Breege during strong winds, occasional heavy rain beating down on me at the wheel and an unknown area around as well as an unknown boat under my feet.
However, I was very impressed on the good moral and maritime capability of my small crew, with Mrs. Woodpecker being an excellent first officer, steersman and boat handler at my side plus our two young captains!
So after one or two days the tension and my initial nerviness dwindled away and gave way to this deeply satisfying feeling you get if you do something that you really love, something that challenges you, while being accompanied by people you love.
Weather gradually got better too and so we had a fantastic tour around the island within one week. As described in the other post, we tried to adjust our pace and activities to the demands of the kids – and the kids in return loved being on the boat, seeing new places, exploring small fishing harbours, little towns and beaches when we were moored.
And soon we noticed that kids and boats are perfectly fine – as did dozens of families around us. Actually the area is very famous for family sailing, partly because it offers a lot of protected bays with reduced exposure to waves and weather.
Only drawback was that this was much to short a trip and necessary mileage per day to circumvent the island was slighty too high – so the plan now is to do an even more relaxed two weeks tour next year in the Mediterranean Sea.
Costs: Around 1100 EUR for the boar charter plus 250 EUR spending on food and marina fees.
This is not cheap, but for a family of four and an unforgettable experience, it’s not over the top either. Especially when you think about what others spend on their holiday air fares already.
The boring kids hotel would have been more expensive
Hover for caption, click to enlarge:
ps. Next post takes us to Poland – Germany’s eastern neighbour, where we continued our round trip – by car not by boat unfortunately…