EER079: Living on a Sailboat with Kids – Cruising & Boatschooling

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Living on a sailboat with kids: what image does this conjure up for you? Caviar and crystal? Not so for most cruisers. Cruisers are not hobbyists. They have made a decision to make the boat their home.

EER078: Living on a Sailboat with Kids — Cruising & Boatschooling

The Giffords at home. Photo Credit Darrin Henry from


Jamie and Behan Gifford have been doing just that: living on a sailboat with kids. Three kids, in fact. When many people hear about someone “living on a sailboat” or “living on a yacht,” images of champagne and butlers some to mind. The reality is something else entirely, they explain.

Living on a sailboat with kids has become the Gifford’s life. Eight years in, they’ve crossed both the Pacific, the Indian and the Atlantic oceans, visiting dozens of countries along the way. We first met the Giffords in Malaysia in 2013. Three years since then, they’ve sailed to Sri Lanka and the Maldives, then onto Africa and back to the United States — their first time back in their home country in years.

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Behan and I have talked before about having kids who grow up outside of the country of their passports, and we return to that a little in this chat. Listen in as we talk about living under the poverty line (and living well), banking and money management, their favorite brands of sunscreen (they go through a gallon a year!), and other aspects of living on a sailboat with kids, including what it’s like living away from supermarkets and the internet.


  • 04:00 Intro & the difference between sailing & cruising
  • 07:01 The word “yacht” at home and abroad
  • 11:34 How they afford their lifestyle (and when the money ran out)
  • 17:30 Life on the boat
  • 22:30 Banks, mail & money management
  • 26:38 Kids and their life & education on the boat
  • 34:19 Niall’s WWII warship discovery off the coast of Thailand
  • 37:05 A cruising family’s social life
  • 43:10 Resources & how a net-savvy family lives in an internet-poor environment
  • 54:40 Some of their favorite (recent) destinations


  • Names: Jamie & Behan Gifford and their kids Niall (17), Mairen (14), and Siobhan (12)
  • Hold passports from: USA
  • Type of travel: Cruising — living on a boat and sailing the world
  • A few places they’ve been: Mexico, Cook Islands, Vanuatu, Australia, Papua New Guinea, Southeast Asia (for 2 years), Sri Lanka, Madagascar, South Africa, Namibia, and many more.


  • Sunscreens: Blue Lizard [Sensitive Skin Formula] & Alba Botanica Mineral
  • Iridium Go



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EER078: Living on a Sailboat with Kids - Cruising & Boatschooling
EER078: Living on a Sailboat with Kids — Cruising & Boatschooling
EER078: Living on a Sailboat with Kids — Cruising & Boatschooling
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. This means, at no extra cost to you,  we might receive a small commission if you make a purchase or book using those links. My opinions are my own and I only recommend places/services that I believe will genuinely help your travel.