Excuses not to Live Your Retirement Travel Dream

Painting "Shellter" by Artist Blake Flynn

Painting “Shellter” by Artist Blake Flynn

I can’t tell you how many times I have had people that are eligible to retire tell me, “I would love to do what you guys are doing but, I just can’t”.  Usually when I ask why they can’t it becomes clear that their desire that is weak, not that they actually “can’t”. They really prefer to stay home surrounded by their things. That is okay. Everyone has different motivations for what they do in life. I can no more afford to judge someone that chooses to surround themselves with what is familiar than they should judge those that don’t. I just wish I heard more people say we have decided to stay put in X or Y because they want to be there, and not make excuses.

To name just a few of the excuses I have heard:

“We haven’t paid off our house yet.” – Well, neither had we. I don’t understand why that matters unless you want an anchor that pulls you back to deal with maintenance or tenants or maintenance caused by tenants. We sold our house and kept what little equity we had in it and in that market (mid-2011) there wasn’t much. I never understand why anyone would feel it is necessary to pay off a house before selling it. If you really want a nomadic or semi-nomadic lifestyle you need to cut the cord someday. Do it now. There is no predicting the housing market. We may be at peak today.

“My [grown] kids need me.” – Obviously I don’t know your individual circumstances. It is possible your kids (or other family member) could have some sort of problem or disability that requires your attention and proximity. Sadly it happens. Usually though what I hear is someone wanting to feel needed. Your kids probably don’t need you as much as you think they do. If they do maybe it is time for them to learn how to cope without you. They are going to have to someday and in the meantime your clock is winding down. (Sorry, just a fact.)

“I will miss my family, friends, grandkids or [fill in the blank].” – Of course you will. They will miss you too (I hope). But just imagine how great it will be when they visit you in a new location. Imagine being an expert tour guide in your new area. Imagine the example you will set by showing them it is okay to push personal boundaries and overcome limitations. Wouldn’t it be great to demonstrate that sometimes it is okay to throw caution to the wind and follow your dreams? You might not get as much total time with them as if you stayed where you are now but what you do get will be of higher quality and even more precious.

“What about healthcare? How will I get treated” – Hello! The vast majority of the world doesn’t get their healthcare in the US and does just fine thank you. Depending on where you go it is entirely possible that the healthcare may be better. Yes, really, better. The US health care system is many different things but one thing is indisputable, it is on a per-person basis the most expensive in the world.  When you measure the US healthcare system on a graph of expense vs. overall outcomes arguably the US system is one of the worst. I am not an expert on health insurance but if you are lucky enough to have some, odds are your insurer would love you if you lowered the costs for both you and them. It wouldn’t hurt to do some research.

“My retirement doesn’t pay enough.” – Really? Check the cost of living in places you would like to see. There are many places where your retirement money will go much further than it does now. Or you may have to cut back on certain things and substitute others. I hear stories of people living high quality lives on social security in other countries; especially in Latin America, all the time. Look at a place you are interested in living, ANYPLACE; I am sure you will see people making it on what the “experts” say is impossible. It would be harder to live in say Monaco or Paris on little money but I am sure there are people living quality lives there on less than you think.

What do you think? Am I off the mark on this? As I said earlier, this is not for everyone. If staying in place is better for you that is great! Embrace it. If you are however looking for something different don’t build yourself a trap of excuses. What are some of the excuses I have missed?


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Author: Jonathan Look

In 2011 Jonathan Look decided to change his life and pursue adventures instead of comfort and possessions. His goal is to travel the world solo; one country at a time, one year at a time. To accomplish this he got rid of most of his possessions, packed up what little he saw as necessities and headed out. His goal is to spend ten years discovering new places, meeting new people and taking the time to learn about them, their values and their place on this tiny planet. He embraces the philosophy that says a person is the sum of their experiences and rejects the fraud of modern consumerism that makes people into slaves of their consumption. He doesn't intend to be modern day ascetic, just more mindful of his place in the world and to make decisions according to that new standard.

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