I write about travel all the time. I love it. I’m obsessed with it.
I sold my forever home for the chance to slow travel the world.
And I’m not alone in my desire to travel throughout midlife and into retirement. Surveys consistently show travel is one of the top things we want to do as we age.
Travel opens your eyes and shows you how you fit into this world. It helps you learn who you are and what your possibilities are. It helps you connect and have stronger, more meaningful relationships. It gives you perspective, a point of view you might not otherwise have had.
Plus traveling is a great adventure. It teaches you more about yourself than you could ever find hanging back in your normal life.
When we sold our forever home, our goal was to live somewhere until we were ready to move on. Our goal was one year minimum, so we could see all the seasons, experience all the holidays, enjoy the culture every day of the year. The key was in seeing all we could see. We’d know when we were ready to move on. We’d stay until then.
But no matter how often we move to a new place, a new region, my desire will always be there to experience something new.
At any given moment, I have a trip on the calendar. It may be three days up to Seattle to take in a baseball game – gotta root for the Rockies when they play against the Mariners. Or it may be a week to Mexico – Puerto Vallarta anyone?
I’m rarely home on the weekends. And I always have several week long trips (or longer) in the planning stages.
Why? Because of how travel changes me as a person. Seeing the world makes me realize how truly small it is. It helps me understand different cultures better. It pulls me out of my comfort zone and gives me a challenge to make me a better person.
So I stay ready all the time. Want to go somewhere? I’ll be packed and in the car in no time at all.
For me to stay rooted in a travel lifestyle:
Minimalism and Simplification are Key
Selling two-thirds of everything we own was one of the most liberating and emotional experiences I’ve had. It was difficult selling that first piece of furniture that had meaning to me. By the tenth, I couldn’t get it out of the door fast enough.
We’ve all been taught to put a high value on stuff, but in reality it has very little meaning at all.
Stuff doesn’t make you who you are. It’s your memories that cement your relationships, and helps you grow into the person you’re meant to become. Ask your millennial child if they want your old furniture or mementos you have buried in your hope chest. I see “antique” stories everywhere filled with old stuff nobody wants. So why not get rid of it yourself?
Then weigh every purchase you make and ask if it’s something you truly need. Invest in the best – I don’t think I can live without my Vitamix blender anymore. But can I walk away from almost everything else in my home? You bet!
My Best Life is Up To Me
What makes you happy? Your answer probably doesn’t match what your mother, your sister, your best friend, your daughter, or even your spouse would say.
It’s important to do things for those we love. But at the same time, be wary of allowing them to hold you back. Are you doing things just to make others happy? Or are you living your life your way?
When you step away for a month – a year – even several years or more, you learn just as much about the people in your life as you do yourself. Who sticks with you? Who pushes you to live out your dreams?
Who walks away because you aren’t doing what they want you to do?
The process is eye-opening. And it helps point you in the right direction for you.
Be Flexible To Change
There’s more to life than working 40 – 50 – 60 hours a week in an office. If you do that for several decades, you’re going to have a lot of regrets.
I learned that by watching my dad spend thirty years of his life in an office he grew to hate. He spent the last few years of his life re-interviewing for a position he really didn’t want. His only goal was to make it to early retirement, so he could do what he wanted to do.
He didn’t make it.
But I watched. And learned. And swore I’d never go down the same path.
If you want to travel more, build it into your lifestyle.
Get flexible hours – how about working four days a week instead of five? Three day weekends are perfect for short getaways.
Telecommute – there are lots of jobs that let you work from home. And home can be anywhere in the world!
Be A Part Of The Community
We are HUGE fans of Airbnb. When you stay in a home tucked away in a neighborhood, you get to live like the locals. And it allows you to see things in an entirely new way.
When we spent a month in Lucca, Italy, one of our favorite experiences was shopping at the local grocery store and making many of our meals at home. On our first trip to the market, it took us several long minutes of pulling on a cart before we realized we had to insert a token to “unlock” the cart. A kind woman who spoke no English finally helped us out. We were also “yelled” at by a produce manager when we didn’t put on disposable gloves before handling the produce. Who knew? But by the end, we were pros.
You can start the process before you go. If you don’t have a Pinterest account – why not? Go get one now. Then start building boards of the places you want to go. You’ll learn everything you want about a region before you go. It can also give you great tips for how to fall right in with your neighbors. It’ll have you living like they do – and experiencing more on a much deeper level.
Don’t Invest In Housing
I’ll never BUY a house again. [I should probably never say never; but for now, that’s my view.]
First, I think we’ve peaked on real estate. Using it as an investment strategy? We won’t see that again for a very long time. My view – and I’ll save that for another article.
Second, buying takes away flexibility. You have to take care of the property. You have to maintain it. You have to sell it if you want to leave.
By renting, if I have a problem, I call up maintenance and they fix it immediately. Sure, I can’t go crazy and paint my walls purple. My carpeting isn’t the highest quality. And my kitchen is anything but gourmet.
But if I decided to move tomorrow, I could do it. Pack up my stuff or sell it and I’m ready to go.
I no longer have to worry about my gardens – I’m just as happy taking in the local gardens wherever I am. That means I get to enjoy whatever I want, whenever I choose. And that’s a pretty great way to stay flexible.
Stay Flexible, Ready To Move
Opportunity is everywhere. And you’d be surprised at how inexpensive travel really is.
My daughter flew from Seattle to London for $198.
We’ve booked a ticket to New Zealand for under $600 one way.
Stay in an Airbnb for longer than a few days? You’ll be surprised at how much the homeowner will come down.
Or you can travel with friends. We’re heading up to Canada in a few days and will be staying in a penthouse 4 bedroom location for far less than it would cost us at a hotel.
So are you ready to pack up your suitcase and start traveling?
The best lifestyle you can have is one that you fully enjoy. And if you have decided travel is on your bucket list, why not fit it into your life? Whether it’s for a long weekend, or every day of the year, the choice is yours. You just have to put it into your life.