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Solo Traveler: Why Wait?

on August 16, 2013 - 7:38am
Solo Traveler: Why Wait?
Column by SHERRY HARDAGE

Why wait to retire before you start traveling? Why not retire now? Why not travel now and figure out a different way to make money?

I had the advantage of working for a big company that, in a cost-saving move, kicked me out before I planned to retire. Hiring someone very young with no experience was a sound financial decision for them.  

But let’s back up. I wasn’t “kicked out.” I was given a very powerful disincentive to stay in my job.

If I would retire by their deadline, I could keep my health insurance. If not, I would be on my own purchasing health insurance, if and when I decided to retire.

I figured out that if I left the job as planned in two more years, I’d have an additional $400 dollars a month coming in from my pension. Then I checked health insurance costs for a single person approaching 60. After 10 minutes on the Internet, followed by an extensive search of my soul that took the better part of a minute, I was on the phone retiring. Healthcare costs aside, I did it because I knew time was more important to me than money.

Every day, we all have the same 24 hours. We use it productively, or we play video games. But in life, we don’t all have the same amount of time. Many of my friends from childhood had already died from accidents, heart attacks and cancer.

Who knew how much time was left? The pension I would receive, plus savings and other investments would keep me off the streets.

I would never be rich, but I could be comfortable. That was good enough for me. Time would give me the freedom to start living in a whole new world. A world in which I would set the standards and the goals I would accomplish ... or not.

I’ve never looked back.

There have been moments of panic when I had to scramble to make financial ends meet. There have been truly scary moments traveling alone, when I thought I could die any second. Sometimes traveling alone can be very lonely, or just plain sad, making me wish I were back home again.

But I never once thought, “Hey, maybe I should get a job!”

If travel, retirement, or anything else is your goal, why put it off? Many people have sold everything they own, put their most valuable possessions in storage, and gone around the world.

There are dozens of couples with young children, some of them even born on the road, who travel full time, homeschooling the kids, and giving them a chance to grow up as multilingual global citizens, not just Americans.

Many couples and singles have retired (as early as 35) and travel as a lifestyle. Some have online businesses or do work that can be done from any place with WiFi. Others live so simply that whatever money they had has been invested and frugally stretched.

These are people who had a dream and then found the means to achieve it. By putting their skills to work and making use of the amazing technologies that exist today, they’ve been able to make a living while living the dream.

I’m not inclined to exist on the very edge of my income, but traveling has taught me that I can live on less than I ever thought, and experience more than I ever dreamed possible. You can look at your life’s glass and say it is half full, or half empty, but the truth is, it might be just enough.

So, seriously, if there is enough, why wait?

Editor's note: Sherry Hardage lives in Los Alamos and has been traveling solo in the U.S., Mexico, and Europe since she retired from Honeywell in 2009. She is a photographer, writer, and guide who organizes tours of Mexico through her website: www.mexadventures.com

Follow the adventures on her blog: Soul Investing

Hardage welcomes comments via email: hardagesa@aol.com


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