You’re Retired – Now Discover the World
Why You Should Travel when Retired
You’ve worked for what seems like forever. Over the years, you’ve had the usual vacations, but those were mostly spent with the kids, the “honey-do” list, visiting relatives, etc.
Have you ever dreamed what it would be like to do nothing but travel around the world? Explore countries you’ve only seen in movies or read about in books? Get to know different people and cultures from a local’s perspective?
I know I have. When I was approaching retirement, I sat down and made a list of the pros and cons of such a lifestyle for me. Then I started researching, digging and most importantly, soul searching.
One of the first things I discovered was that there are a whole lot of retired people who are living their dream! According to a recent statistic I read, there are upwards of 400,000 Americans getting social security benefits at a non-USA address. I figured there must really be something to this idea if so many people were living that lifestyle.
I explored the ramifications of selling my home and most of my belongings, packing what I would need into a suitcase and becoming a nomad.
Sounds easy doesn’t it? It’s not – or at least it wasn’t for me.
I love to travel. That said, I really wasn’t sure if I just liked to vacation and have a home to come back to or if I could be “on the road” for months and months at a time…or even for the rest of my life.
The longest I’d been away from home recently was five weeks at a time…and that was with a structured tour group. I had to search my memory to remember how I felt toward the end of that trip. Did I want to extend it or was I more than ready to come home?
Other questions came to mind: Was I ready to take on all those challenges myself? Could I make all the necessary travel arrangements? Arrange for the visas I’d need? Continuously make lodging accommodations?Would I even feel comfortable in countries where I knew no one and didn’t speak the language? Could I stand to be without my creature comforts, if that’s what it took, to be able to afford to travel the world?
Once I answered those questions – honestly – I started thinking about health issues. I’d been hospitalized a few years earlier. It was nothing major, but it was enough to make me seriously consider this aspect of world travel. What if I had a flare-up again while in a country that wasn’t exactly known for its health care? Could I handle that? Could I handle just the everyday stress of this type of nomad lifestyle?
Then there’s my family. Was I ready to leave my kids and grandkids for such extended periods of time? How much of their growing up was I willing to miss?
To me, that was the hardest question to answer.
And then came the million-dollar (almost literally) question… could I even afford to live the life of a nomad? If I sold my home and belongings, would that provide me with enough money, along with my retirement income, to travel full time?
As with everything else I’ve done in my life, I sat down and made a budget based on what I knew I would have coming in. That gave me a pretty good idea of what kind of travel I could do, which was more than okay with me. I’m not the 4-star type; I’ve always preferred quaint inns and B&Bs.
With all the economic information in hand I came to the conclusion that I could afford to travel the world non-stop.
What I couldn’t come to grips with was not seeing my kids and grandkids for months and months at a time. Conversing and seeing them on Facetime or Skype wasn’t going to be good enough for me. I need to touch and feel and hold my “babies,” grown and not grown.
But I love to travel, so I needed to come up with an alternative plan that would work for me. That was seven years ago. What I came up with has, so far, worked really well for me.
Number one, I decided to keep my home to use as a base.
I now travel roughly 12 to 16 weeks a year. Some years I spend one or two months in one locale, living like a local. Other years I go on structured trips that are usually 3-4 weeks in length, two to three times during that year.
If I’m going to spend more than a week in one location, I find an inexpensive apartment to rent that I use as “headquarters.” I rent a car so I can explore the country.
I invite my kids (and grandkids, of course) to come visit for a week so they can also experience different cultures. We’ve done that in Belgium, France and Argentina so far. It’s great for them because they only pay for their airfare and some food.
Other options for you to consider, which make travel more affordable, are swapping houses with a family who wants to come to your location or house-sitting for a family who’s traveling, where you get your lodging free in exchange for taking care of their home, pets, etc.
When I go on structured trips, I travel to “exotic” locations where I feel more comfortable having all of the arrangements made, etc. I’ve travelled this way to Thailand, Cambodia, Morocco, India and China.
Another reason I decided to “nomad” this way rather than go all in, is my plan to buy an RV soon, pack my golf club and travel the U.S. and Canada, stopping whenever and wherever I want to sightsee or play golf. One year I plan on doing the northern route, another year, I’ll do the south. I’m trying to wait until my grandsons are old enough to go with me… but we’ll see.
The most important thing I’ve discovered about traveling as a retired person is that time is my friend. I can basically do whatever I want, whenever I want, wherever I want. And for me, that’s the lifestyle I love!
As you think about retirement, no matter what you decide, the best thing you can do is weigh all the ramifications and do what’s right for you. The only expectations you have to meet are your own.
Live life to the fullest, because you never know what the next day will bring!
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