We planned our home-free retirement life style over a period of many years. We sold our Chicago condo with wonderful views, purchased a Ford F150 and hit the road in May 2011. We have been traveling ever since. RT66 took us to the Southwest for about a year. To prepare us for our first big trip, six months in Europe, we went to China for a month. While that sounds exotic, three of those weeks were on a small tour so all decisions were made for us. We visited Macau and Hong Kong on our own. Feeling brave, we then drove to San Carlos, Mexico for three months. Having completed our preliminary travel plans, we drove to Ft Lauderdale, Florida and boarded a Celebrity cruise boat for Rome beginning our 2014 European adventure.
My international travel interest was piqued after reading an article in the Wall Street Journal by Lynne Martin titled, “The Let’s-Sell-Our-House-And-See-the-World-Retirement.” Lynne and her husband are a California couple who sold their home and traveled for a few years internationally but have since built a home. No longer ‘Home Free’ she still blogs about her adventures at http://homefreeadventures.com/. Initially our travel plan included a 5th wheel trailer or motor home. We are now on-board with renting international condos instead of RV spaces, and will pursue this world travel theme. While we are young enough to drag suitcases onto trains and up flights of stairs, we are going to give this a try. An open mind, relaxed attitude and going with the flow will be key. Of course, much of the goal for me will be to capture unique photographs of the places we visit.
Re-positioning cruises will be our main way of travel to Europe and other continents. Since we have no home, a slow boat with good food, views and service should fit our needs nicely. In the winter, a cruise from Fort Lauderdale, Florida to the Caribbean is in big demand, but not so much in the hot summer months. Therefore, the cruise industry repositions their boats to different cruise locations. In the case of our first cruise, Celebrity Cruise Lines will move their Silhouette boat from Fort Lauderdale to Rome, Italy with us aboard. We have booked this 15 night cruise for April 20, 2014. We will then stay our maximum allowed 90 days (Schengen Days Restrictions) in mainland Europe, then 80 or so days in England, Scotland, Ireland and Northern Ireland before taking a cruise back to the States.
On all of these trips we will utilize the WEB Site VRBO.com (Vacation Rental By Owner) for our lodging needs. This will allow us to stay in more residential settings for extended periods of time, rather than only one or two nights before heading off to the next destination.
Our 2016 trip to Europe is planned to last over a year and we are calling ourselves Obama Care Escapees. With an annual health insurance premium of $18,000 for a $12,000 deductible policy for two healthy Americans, we chose to spend that money overseas and not contribute to such a flawed system. We will take advantage of an Affordable Care Act exemption allowing us to escape the IRS penalty if we leave the country for 330 days.
Since my background is finance, I will be sharing and addressing the finances of constant rental and travel under the ‘Budget’ tab.
Sept-Oct 2013: Attempted to visit 7 National Parks in the Southwest, but the irrational US Government shutdown closed all parks just as we started our journey. Traveled throughout Colorado for fall colors instead.
Oct-Nov 2013: China mainland, Macau & Hong Kong.
Dec 2013: Taos, New Mexico
Jan-Feb 2014: San Carlos, Sonora Mexico
Mar-April: Visit family, complete federal taxes and drive to Florida, start 15 day cruise to Italy for six months in Europe.
May-June: Italy, spend a week each in Sorrento, Rome, San Quirico d’Orcia, Siena, Florence, Cinque Terre, Venice, the Dolomites
July: Austria, Switzerland, Dijon, Paris and Cherbourg, France, Salisbury and Chipping Campden, England
August: Ireland and Northern Ireland
September: Scotland and England
October: Cruise back to Florida from England
Nov – Dec: Drive from Key West, FL to northern CA spending Thanksgiving in NM.
2014 Itinerary: European Adventure
January 2015: Northern CA
February: Moab, UT
March: Golden, and Fort Collins, CO
April & May: Hawaii, Maui, Oahu
June – December: Springdale, UT (Zion National Park)
(November) Spent two weeks in Iceland
2016 Itinerary: European Adventure
Jan-March – Tempe, AZ
April – Visit family in New Mexico and travel to Houston
May – July – Spain & Portugal
Aug – Oct – Romania, Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia, Montenegro
Nov – Dec – New Mexico and California visiting Family
Because we did not plan correctly, we were required to then spend the next 90 days in NON-Schengen countries. This limited our flexibility. Despite being so close to Slovenia, we were unable to go.