House or Travel?

Karumba, QLD, AU

As our time wound down in Australia we found ourselves having a difficult conversation about a choice we could not had foreseen coming when we first started this adventure.

Karumba beach sunset

Like we said last week, we had a good time “living the dream” and we were successful at said dream; we had completed what we originally set out to do.  Much more than what we originally planned actually, as this whole “sailing to Australia by way of Tahiti” kind of came together on the fly.  What we had not anticipated was that the dream would actually be fairly profitable. You see, Australia had been good to us on the job front and their wages for the jobs we worked were, when compared to the United States, 2 – 3 times higher than what we would have been paid in the states.  Alongside that we had watched our money very carefully and saved every chance we got.  Also don’t forget there were 2 of us. What that all boils down to is that when we originally planned our trip, we had not expected to leave Australia with a surplus of cash. As it turns out, we did have quite a reasonable surplus…which led us to a question we weren’t sure how to answer:

House or Travel?

Now, as with Greg’s birthday message there is what would we would call the “adventurous life” response: Who cares about houses and mortgages! You’re only young once! This could be your only chance! Travel darn it travel!

20120929A - Viking ship museum (14)(Is YOLO the appropriate turn of phrase here?)

Here’s the thing though – we have traveled, at this point we have traveled for years.

Years. As in consecutive ones.

And we have already done well more than we planned on this trip. So let’s ask this question another way…

If someone handed you a down payment on a house, one that you had not expected to get, during a down economy where the value of that money is even greater than normal, would you invest in an asset to create long term income?

Or would you blow it on an extra vacation immediately after you just took an extended one?

For us there was no obvious answer. On the one hand, we had in front of us the opportunity to circumnavigate the planet almost entirely overland (boat, train, etc…). To go “all the way around.” Not something we had ever really even considered a viable possibility. On the other hand we had the opportunity to acquire an asset that will provide us with income for years – up to the rest of our lives. That’s no small thing and the sooner we buy it, the more valuable it will be. As we understand such things, house prices have been on the rise in the States. There was a window of maximum value to dollar that we could jump on…but that window was closing. As many of you know, we made our choice and the basis for our decision primarily was opportunity. When looking at the likely course of our future lives once we return home, the chance to orbit the planet is less likely to present itself again than the chance to invest. At the very least the ability to buy a house will very likely present itself much sooner than long term travel. Also, we were inspired by the stories we were told by many of our sailing friends. Remember in general we were much younger than the other sailors out there and each and every ship we were on we heard similar stories – each captain told of friends who wanted to sail the world but couldn’t:

– Because their retirement collapsed,

– Because they got grandkids,

– Because they got cancer

…or because their parents got sick and needed help,

– Because their business hadn’t developed as they wanted,

…or their business developed too well and required their attention to handle the growth,

– Or just because something else in their lives took precedence.

Right now we have health in our favor, both our own and our family’s. Barring anyone else up and deciding to ask Greg to be a best man, we are free from obligations on the home front for the foreseeable future.


Right now our lives are specifically set up to support long term travel – and that might not happen again. Also our relative youth grants us the ability to “rough it” – meaning world travel is very likely the cheapest it will ever be in our lives. Besides, we were already half way done so we might as well finish. We are, in retrospect, happy with what we decided to do. But we didn’t make the decision lightly and we thought long and hard about what we were giving up to make this choice to continue to travel because something significant was given up. Given the same circumstances, and the same consequences, what would you have done?

Special thanks go out to Australia, for making goofing off for a year more profitable than we could have imagined and giving us this opportunity in the first place.

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!


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2 Responses to House or Travel?

  1. Alan says:

    Hey guys!
    House or travel? You could have worse dilemmas. I hitchhiked from one end of Australia to the other and back in 1984 when I was 19 over the course of 5 months (I’m American). Not as much as you two have done, but a pretty big deal for me at that age. I gained many insights about life and what I wanted out of it. Upon my return I stopped taking the safe route and ran off to New York to go art school. I’ve had a great career and I met the most beautiful girl in NYC and I convinced her to marry me and have the best two kids I ever met. We bought a house, and another, and saved. We’re now worth a comfortable sum. Today I’m pushing 50 and that brings me to the crux of your question. Was it worth it to stop traveling and settle down for some financial gain?
    It’s a false choice. I never stopped being that adventurous person. I still travel. And I’m not old. I’m not dying of cancer or whatever. I plan to live to 100. Right now I’m studying Russian and planning a Eurasian motorcycle journey. We’ve had to move for a time for work. So we rented the house out. Big deal. It doesn’t own us. The people who tell you they would love to do what you do, but are too old now are full of shit. They never wanted to do it in the first place. My advice? Do what you want, but do it for love or even greed, just not fear. Travel and houses will still be there either way.

    • Greg says:

      “It’s a false choice.”

      Now THAT is an interesting perspective. Thanks for sharing it Alan!

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