In 2008, Jamie and Behan Gifford left their home in Washington and embarked on a boat trip around the world with their three children.
Nearly 10 years later, they still haven’t stopped.
Since starting their life on the sea, the Giffords have explored countless new places, learned to live with relatively few possessions, grown closer as a family. In the summer of 2016, Business Insider video producer Justin Gmoser visited the Gifford family on their boat, Totem, off the coast of Connecticut to see what it’s really like for a family of five to travel the world by sea.
Read on to learn about the Giffords and their trip of a lifetime:
The Giffords used to live in Washington state. “We were a suburban family. We had three kids, and a nice house, and a minivan,” Jamie told Business Insider.
But the couple couldn’t shake the feeling that life was passing them by. “My husband and I had been busier and busier with our jobs, and our kids were growing up faster and faster,” Behan said.
“And at some point, it just felt life was going by too quickly,” Behan said. So in August 2008, the couple and their children, aged 4, 6, and 9, left suburbia to live on a boat.
The family’s adventures have taken them all over the world, from the Caribbean to southern Africa and Southeast Asia.
“We’ve had this incredible opportunity to make every day feel like a field trip,” Behan said.
For Mairen, the middle child, it’s hard to remember any other life. “I only have little bits and pieces of memories before we started cruising,” she said.
The Giffords’ boat is “the floating equivalent of a tiny house,” Behan said. “Every tiny bit of space has to be useful.”
Three solar panels and a wind turbine help the Giffords supply their own energy.
Their “washing machine” is a five-gallon bucket.
The parents homeschool their children — or “boatschool,” as they say.