#travel the world
How to travel the world in retirement and not go broke
Lynne Martin wrote the book “Home Free Anywhere.” She and her husband, Tim, are traveling the world in retirement.
Lynne Martin wrote the book Home Free Anywhere. She and her husband, Tim, are traveling the world in retirement. less
Three years ago, retirees Lynne Martin, 73, and her husband Tim, 68, decided to live a “home-free” lifestyle in retirement.
They gave away most of their possessions, sold their house in Paso Robles, Calif. found a new home for their dog and started traveling the world. Since then, they’ve lived in furnished apartments in Mexico, Argentina, Turkey, Paris, Italy, Great Britain, Ireland, Morocco, Portugal and Germany.
The Martins, who each travel with a 32-inch suitcase, see themselves as “senior gypsies” who love this lifestyle because “we wanted to have the luxury of really getting to know the people,” in the countries they visit, says Lynne, who has written a book about their experiences, Home Sweet Anywhere: How We Sold Our House, Created a New Life, and Saw the World. She blogs about their travels on homefreeadventures.com.
This adventurous lifestyle comes naturally for both of them. Lynne was an entrepreneur who had careers in public relations, interior design and gourmet cheese manufacturing. Tim has been a lyricist and owned an electronics business. Both have two daughters from previous marriages, and they have seven grandchildren between them. “We’re amazingly happy doing this,” Tim says. “I love living in the United States, but I love even more seeing a new place every month or two.”
The two got married eight years ago and decided to “unretire” to become temporary locals in countries on their dream lists. To do that, they realized they needed to sell their home because “we couldn’t travel in a relaxed way with all the responsibilities of a house,” Lynne says.
Downsizing and getting rid of most of their belongings, except what they could fit into a small storage unit, “was hard” but not “horrible,” she says. “We held on to treasures such photos, jewelry, little memorabilia, but desks, lamps, chairs and coffee tables — those are all gone.”
They had to find a new home for their Jack Russell Terrier. “That was really incredibly hard, but we found the right people. He lives on a 20-acre vineyard with five other terriers. He’s in heaven. He’s treated like a king.”
She says you don’t have to be rich to do this. “We’re not wealthy people,” but “our financial adviser has done very well for us,” she says.
They live on income from their investments (about $6,000 a month), Social Security and a small pension. They haven’t had to touch their nest egg, which they are saving so “we can take care of ourselves for the rest of our lives and aren’t a burden to our children. We want to be responsible for our own upkeep.
“We have never spent one more dime than we did when we lived in California,” Lynne says. “If you take the amount that it costs you in overhead to live in a house with insurance, taxes, upkeep, repairs — for us it has come out the same.”
Tim says he enjoys doing all the travel planning, including finding their one-bedroom apartments on homeaway.com. An apartment on the beach in Portugal costs less than $1,800 a month, Lynne says. The vacation rentals are always clean, “but there has never been one that has a really truly comfortable sofa,” she says.
To try to keep their costs under control, they rotate stays in pricey cities like London and Paris with stints in cheaper countries like Mexico and Turkey, Lynne says.
One of their favorite modes of transportation is repositioning voyages, which is when cruise lines move their ships seasonally and offer great bargains, she says. “We’ve crossed the Atlantic four times like that.”
When it comes to communicating with people in other countries, they aren’t fluent in any foreign languages but are able to get by with knowing words such as please, thank you and excuse me. “Smiling, pointing at things and being agreeable works wonders in any language.”
They have had plenty of trials and tribulations along the way including trying to figure out how to operate microwaves, televisions and washers and dryers in other countries.
Both Lynne and Tim have been healthy over the past few years and have gone to the doctor in other countries for only minor medical problems. They miss their family and friends, so they spend several months a year renting homes near their children and grandchildren in Florida, Texas and California, and family members sometimes visit them on the trips, Lynne says.
They are living in New York City now, and then back to Paris and from there on to Ecuador. They have no plans to settle down “until the wheels fall off,” she says, but when they’re ready, they’ll probably end up back in California.
To enjoy this lifestyle, you need to have “some wanderlust and a sense of adventure,” Lynne says. “You have to be curious and flexible because there are always surprises every day. We would never suggest that this home-free lifestyle is preferable to any other lifestyle; it just works for us.”