Have you ever wondered what it would be like to just sell everything and travel the world? I know I have. It tends to be something you do when you’re either young or old because in between people have too many expectations of you. I don’t think it’s something I want to do while I’m still young, but I definitely look forward to the opportunity when I retire.
There was an exciting article in the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday describing one such retired couple who realized that they could sell their home in California and use the proceeds, plus their regular fixed income distributions, to pay for a permanent vacation.
It really isn’t as wild as it sounds. Consider: You probably already pay a couple grand a month for an apartment, certainly if you have a home and the added expenses of property taxes and insurance. As a long-term traveler, you’ll be renting an apartment for a few weeks to months at a time, not staying in luxury hotels. But you’ll have the chance to live like a local, to really experience a foreign culture before packing up to go somewhere new and try it all over again. Food costs will be a bit higher, but I imagine you’ll realize eventually that you can’t eat out every night as if you were on a real vacation.
It really isn’t that expensive to live for the long term in a foreign city. I spent $500 for a week at a very nice apartment when I visited Rome in 2003. Groceries to make dinner for four guys cost about $20 a day. It’s not a glamorous life, but how many of your friends can say they wake up and have breakfast with a view of the Duomo or the Eiffel Tower?
Once you get past trying to make it a never-ending luxury vacation, it really doesn’t seem too bad. You also have fewer transportation expenses. If I go to Asia for a week, half of my cost is the flight there. If I go there for a month, that proportion is much less. Plus I only have to pay one way if I’m heading somewhere else (other than home) when it’s time to move on. In the article, Lynne makes a good point about traveling on cruise ships as they reposition between seasons to not only get some cheap housing but also a great new experience. How many of us have arrived at Venice by train or bus, traveling past the ugly refineries across the bay? Wouldn’t you rather arrive by sea, as the city’s design intended?
You certainly have to have a taste for adventure and the new. You’re not going to be able to learn every language, but I find that is less and less important as I diversify my travel experiences. I think I’m at the point where I can just drive to an airport and get on the first flight anywhere, with no preparation, but there’s just more stuff I want to do first that requires a more permanent home.
I did contact Lynne to ask her how travel rewards credit cards fit into her and her husband’s travel strategy. Not surprisingly, they don’t do any churning (I think it takes a certain mind to be interested in this hobby), but if you did I think this retirement strategy would be even more comfortable. Churns alone would probably cover all of your flights between cities, and possibly for a few nights at a luxury hotel every time you arrive at a new one. Then again, trying to churn during retirement, when you have a fixed income and are living in a foreign country, is probably not the easiest thing to do.
How many of you have considered a long-term vacation of a year or more? Check out Lynne’s blog, HomeFreeAdventures.com to learn more.