“Listen to the Musn’t’s child, Listen to the Don’t’s. Listen to the Shouldn’t’s, the Impossibles, the Won’t’s. Listen to the Never Haves, then Listen close to me. ANYthing can happen, child, ANYthing can Be.”
Shel Silverstein (1930-1999);Poet, Songwriter, Musician
Maybe you were one of those 20 year old free spirits who stuffed everything they could into an over-sized backpack and set out to see the world before you settled down. Or maybe, like most of us, you only dreamed about that kind of travel and then stepped straight onto the well-worn path already laid out for you – work, marriage, kids. Your travel dream was put on the shelf and after a few years, the backpack went to the Goodwill. A big trip became a week at Disney World. It’s funny how that happens.
But those dreams never fully go away do they? Like long lost friends, they lurk quietly in the back of our minds only to pop up as fanciful daydreams while we’re slogging through a mind-numbing day in the office or waiting in the carpool line.
What I know for sure is that for many of us, somewhere around 50 is when those old dreams start to re-surface in earnest. Gone for a while, but not forgotten. That travel gypsy is still alive and well. A little older, a lot wiser, and eager to explore the world.
Don’t worry, there’s still time.
A growing number of people are becoming vagabond retirees. People in their 50’s, 60’s, 70’s are packing up their new, high-tech backpacks and heading out to become citizens of the world.
Want to join them? It’s easy. And it doesn’t have to blow your hard-earned retirement nest egg either.
Traveling on a retiree budget does require thinking outside the box, lots of research, some advance planning, a sense of adventure and a willingness to be flexible.
Don’t wait until you are officially retired to set your travel dreams in motion. Include them in your planning now. Here are a few simple ideas to get you started:
1. Create a Travel Dream Board. It might sound hokey, but it’s fun, it’s easy and it works! Buy a large piece of posterboard, gather up lots of magazines, travel brochures, old photos, scissors and a glue stick. It’s as simple as cutting out pictures and pasting them onto the board. Don’t over-think this. Cut out everything that catches your eye – beach sunsets, different cultures, village life, bustling cities, historical settings or mountain views. Can you see yourself in the picture? Then it belongs on your board. I call this visual goal setting.
2. Make a Wish List. Use the images on your Dream Board to create a Wish List. Here’s where you get more specific. What are your must haves for a travel or retirement living destination? Sleepy village or bustling city? Beach or mountains? Easy access or remote? The options are endless, but honing this list to your top 5 or 6 must haves will give you a great jumping off point for your initial research.
3. Do Your Research. Whether you need resources for small hotels or hostels while backpacking through Central America, house swaps in France, or which visas are required for a trek across Tibet, it’s all available on the internet. Find out where the best airports are, what ground transportation is cheap and easy, who speaks English, what the local currency is.
4. Become an Arm Chair Traveler. Read and use the country and city travel guides from Rick Steves and Lonely Planet. Check out books from your local library. Reading about the adventures of buying and fixing up a run down farm in Portugal, living the gypsy life on a boat in the Caribbean, or women walking all 500 miles of the Camino de Santiago, is very inspiring and educational.
5. Get Connected. Find and connect with the folks who are blazing the trail ahead of you. Ask questions and get the scoop from people who have been there, done that. It’s helpful to know the good, the bad, and the “never again” about a place before you go. Start reading travel blogs. Many are filled with first hand information, great personal stories and links to more resources.
I hope these ideas give you a good starting point. I have LOTS more information and some great ideas and resources that I’ve learned from all my research that I’ll be sharing in future posts so stay tuned. There is so much inspiration and adventure to be found in the planning process. Let’s get going!
See you on the road,