Is it worth it to go home?

Enroute San Jose, CA, USA

It provides us with endless amusement that after all the places we’ve sailed to, all the countries we’ve travelled around by boat, that we’ve flown into and out of Auckland, New Zealand…the “City of Sails.”

Sometimes we just enjoy being contrarian because we can be.

There comes a moment of truth in every long-term traveler’s trip when they are forced to confront a simple question with a heck of a lot of implications:

“Is this worth going home for?”

It doesn’t get discussed a lot.  Probably because it’s not easy to quantify or approach this very touchy topic without emotions running high.  Out here the term “worth” is both very subjective and very relative.

Subjective in that different life events and celebrations have a varied value to each of us depending on our opinion of the event and also their relationship those involved.

Relative in the fact that each of us out here has a varying degree of our two most expendable resources: money and time…and allow us to assure you the law of diminishing returns certainty does apply.

There is a web of social obligation, loyalties and personal standards at war with finances, time, and in the end priorities.

This ignores even the feasibility side of things.  It’s a lot easier and cheaper to fly to the USA from Auckland than from Fakarava, French Polynesia.

Those are a lot of big words and concepts to describe what comes down to some simple questions.  Let us break that down for you:

Would you spend $3,000 per person and a month out of your limited travel time to fly home and attend your sister’s master’s degree graduation ceremony?  How about $7,000 per person and 2 months of time because those are the only flights available and you have to return to the remote island harbor your ship is moored at?

Would you make the same choice if we change the event to your best friend’s funeral following their unexpected passing?  It’s a bit callous but really, they’re already dead right?

How about their wedding?

Or, let’s say, the birth of their firstborn?

Let us note you had not budgeted for these extra trips home.

These are all things either ourselves or our fellow cruisers have had to face, check flight prices and ask “is it worth it?”

We all do our best to prepare beforehand by attempting to set out ground rules of what will and won’t be considered.  Things like “no weddings outside the family” or, “nothing until we get to a major city with regular flights” but then something comes along and makes one heck of a compelling argument to break the rules.  Like, it’s your friend’s wedding and you just got asked to be a part of the bridal party.  Rules or no, it’s tough.  Really tough to make these decisions.

Then other people decide to fly home for a few weeks simply because they miss their grandchildren.  It’s all relative… and subjective 😉

In the end, all of us do our best to “stack” things up.  We wait until we can get several events and objectives knocked out in a single trip home.  Then we go back and in a flurry of motion, plane flights and marathon drives, we do as much as we can in as little time as possible.

The mid-trip return is not as languid thing; it is a mad dash.  The reason for this is that the longer a traveler is home, the longer their non-traveling life attempts to reassert control.  Greg was apprehensive to go home at all.  Not because he didn’t want to see home but because he didn’t want to get roped back into “normal” living.  Not just yet.  However we had not one, but several things that we, as people, did not want to look back and have missed.  So we bit the bullet, bought some tickets and hopped a flight.

When dropping us off at the airport our friend Justin asked us to call him and let him know when we’ve landed safely.  Greg looked a little sad and said, “Sorry man, I don’t think we will.”

“Why not?” he asked, a bit offended.

“Well it’s not like I don’t want to dude,” Greg replied, “It’s just your phone hasn’t rung and we would have done it by now so I probably forgot.  Sorry.”

Yay!  More fun with the International Date Line!  Golden Dragon power activate!

Greg – “And no, we’re not power rangers.  His stupid dragon was green”

Tiffany – “Greg, how did you know that?”

Greg – “errrr…”

So you’re in the middle of nowhere on a remote island-nation.  It will cost you thousands of dollars to get home.  We gave you a list up there, so what is “worth it” to you?


Flying is not our first choice in travel.  It’s too expensive, too hurried and too much of a hassle.  Personally, we prefer sailing around the world for free to paying money for a plane.  Want to learn how you can travel for free too?  Check out our “How to Crew” section.


About the authors

Greg and Tiffany are traveling around the world on sailing yachts and keep a video blog of their (mis)adventures. If sailing to Tahiti on a 44 ft sailboat, 3-day delays for wine tastings, getting pooped on by seagulls, opening coconuts with dull machetes, sailing past tornadoes and ukulele Christmas carols are for you, then check them out at!

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11 Responses to Is it worth it to go home?

  1. Erica says:

    I missed my sister’s first baby (and the family’s) while on this trip. While my fam wasn’t too happy about it, the hospital had wifi and I got to be there during the important times (not during the labor).

    • Tiffany says:

      Bummer… At least you got to be somewhat involved! Fortunately we haven’t had anything that we’ve had to miss, but unfortunately there were things that we did need to fly home for that were not originally in the budget. But since the original budget and plan had us back at home about 18 months ago, I’m much more ok with being flexible!

  2. Greg Norte says:

    It is amazing the importance people / society / well, us honestly, put on certain events. For example, the birth of a child – I have no idea who was at my birth so honestly, their effort to be there for me was a waste.

    …and I doubt I will notice who is at my funeral, please people drop by my deathbed to say goodbye. Make me laugh one last time. I’d like that more.

    …and weddings. Seriously, I’m gonna fly into town to go to a reception where I get to see you for 2 minutes while you’re walking around? Look, if I’m gonna fly in, can’t we come in the week before and we take you out to dinner so we can have an evening together?

    But if you don’t show up, oh it’s horrible. I understand the importance of “being there” trust me, Tiffany will tell you how much I do 😉 but it does seem odd that the times we “should” be there are the times where we will have the least direct effect on the ones we love.

    and Tiff, we did miss a wedding. It was a while ago while we were in Tahiti. One of my old high school friends. It was a very tough choice for me being as she had invited us in person the YEAR before.

  3. Rose says:

    I wouldn’t go home for a wedding..One, I don’t like weddings and two, if you wait another six months you’ll generally be just in time for the divorce party.

    • Greg says:

      A frightening, yet occasionally accurate assessment Rose. 😉

      and I am not familiar with “divorce parties”, insight?

  4. dogear6 says:

    I’ve had to make these same decisions and I’m not halfway around the world from my family. But I have only so much vacation time and money. My first priority is to see my daughter (a ten hour drive away). Other family members have been very vocal about my not coming to them, but are surprisingly quiet when I point out they can come see me.

    Everything is a balance. I come for other occasions, but not always the ones they mandate.


    • Greg says:

      Them: “when are you coming home?”

      Me: “well, when are you coming to visit me in an exotic, awesome, cheap place in which we will have the time of your life?”

      Them: “oh uh er….”

      WTF!!! Nancy I’m so with you on this!!

  5. Ronni Norte says:

    The main thing is that I was at your birth and you were (and still are) BEAUTIFUL!!!!!!!! God and I truly danced the night you were born.

  6. Leslie H says:

    Well, you can truly believe that if we actually HAD money for a plane ticket, we’d come find you kids! sadly, we don’t.
    Our world is, we gotta go to North Carolina to deal w/my Dad (dementia, Alzheimers, diabetes) since my Mom passed and THAT is what uses up all our “trip taking” except for one fun trip to Kauai.
    I have several friends doing the “i’m going away for a year, or something…I’ll be back…whenever” and while it looks awesome, there’s so many things that would hold me back.
    So while I am jealous of you 2 doing what you’re doing, I think a few weeks away for me would be more than enuf!!!
    Take away my business, my sweet kats, and a few other things and my mind may think differently. But for now, I live vicariously thru you, and my other wandering friends!!!
    Stay safe & have more fun!

    • Tiffany says:

      I can totally understand. We are lucky to be in a place where we are free from both obligations and debt. I know that not everyone has that freedom! There are definitely things we miss from home, which is why our trip will eventually end. Right now we’re thinking that the end may be in the 8-10 month range, although we haven’t fully decided. We miss our family, friends and yes, our cat!

      Thanks so much for the comments and for following us, we love to keep in touch!

  7. Pingback: Something Worth Going Home For | Coast Guard Couple

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