Retiree travels the world
I was waiting outside Santander for it to open one day in January when I got speaking to an elderly lady who was also in the queue. She was just back from a 3-month cruise and she was due to “set sail” once again at the end of the week. She repeats this every year and has done since her husband passed away many years ago. She avoids the English winter, see’s the world and meets new friends. For £60 a day she has a room with a sea view, a great choice of restaurants, loads of activities and what’s more, “a doctor onboard who I can see whenever I want, I’d wait for weeks here in Leeds.”
She mentioned there’s a lot of familiar faces onboard each time and It got me thinking how many others have decided to live like this. £60 a day for a 3-month cruise would be a minimum of £5,400 so it’s certainly not available to everyone. Have some found ways of achieving the same lifestyle but for less money? I started to do some online research and discovered thousands of retirees around the world are choosing travel and adventure, and not just for the winter months. Many book a one-way ticket and have been travelling for years with no desire of returning home anytime soon. So how do they afford it? Can anyone do it?
Surprisingly the biggest hurdle is not necessarily money, but health. If you have long-term health conditions you’ll find it difficult and expensive to buy insurance. Not every country has the NHS and falling ill whilst travelling can lead to mouth-watering bills. Assuming you are in good health, next you have to consider how to finance the trip.
How to finance your trip of a lifetime
Many turn to websites like TrustedHousesiters or mindmyhouse which help pair up those wanting to travel and experience new places on a budget with those needing a house or pet sitter whilst they go away. The concept is now extremely popular as it allows people to travel without needing to think of hotels and eating out 3 times a day. Some homes even come with access to transport! Yes you need to look after the house and often pets but that’s easy to fit in around exploring the local area. It’s a small price to pay for having a comfortable home to come back to each day and able to cook whatever you bought at the local produce market.
If this isn’t for you then you’ll need to save up before you leave. It's all in the planning. Speak to the International Pensions Centre about your options for collecting your pension. Depending on how long you plan to travel for you may want to rent out your home and put your belongings into storage. Sabbaticalhomes specialises in putting landlords in touch with academics from all over the world who need medium-term lets.
We spoke with John Rogers and his partner Laurel who decided to sell up, leave their home in the US and book a one way ticket. They have been travelling since 2014 and have visited over 90 countries. They sold what they had before leaving and now collect their pension paid into an account they can access whilst travelling. They pay for everything with an air miles credit card getting free flights between stops and budget as much as they can. “We visit a country for at least a month, stay in an AirBNB for £540 or less. Shop in the local market and cook our own meals for around £350 a month. That leaves us £540 each month for travel”. It means they are travelling for around £50 a day as a couple.
They top up their pension with income through their writing and photography as they travel. Of course the reality of travelling on a budget is sometimes not always easy but it means they are living the life they want, free of bills and always wondering “what if?”. They made a decision to cram as much into the time they have here and they share a lot in common with the lady I met which started off all this research.
Lastly I asked them about their long term plan? "Our plan is to continue travelling, next onto China, South Korea and Japan over the summer and autumn. After that return to Europe for a time then catch a cruise ship relocating to South America for afew years". Do they worry they'll return home one day financially worse off, having sold their belongings before they left? "It's something we never worry about. Possesions are always replaceable should we choose to return home. The biggest problem is the quality of life we lead in retirement is far better in other countries than we would have in the U.S. due to prices there".
So, if you’re approaching retirement or find yourself wondering how to fill your free time perhaps you could check out Facebook for communities of like-minded people doing just that. We found the ‘Nomadic Retirement Living Group’ and ‘Long Term House Sitters’ which have thousands of members willing to share their tips on travelling on a budget. You can read more about John and Laurel’s adventures here.