In America, if we occasionally allow ourselves a beer in the middle of the afternoon, we might grin and say, “Well, it’s 5 o’clock somewhere!” But this humor may fall flat in Europe, where the 24-hour clock is the norm. In Europe, we’d have to say, “It’s 17:00 somewhere!” We thought this would be a fun name for a travel blog about the adventures of an American couple of modest means, determined to enjoy retirement.
Can we afford to travel?
Our vagabond notions were initially inspired by Lynne and Tim Martin’s blog, Home Free Adventures. The Martins are another retired couple who have been traveling extensively for three years now, but they seem to have more money than we do. We asked ourselves these questions: Even though we’ll be living on much less income than when we were working, could we travel in Europe? If we tried to live more like locals than tourists, could we afford it? After much research, factoring in everything from local transportation to food, we determined that, it is possible to live in Europe on our limited retirement income. We just need to stay for longer periods in small efficiency apartments with kitchens. We’ll buy bread at the local market and cook our meals in the kitchen, just like we do at home.
Though trying to live like locals, we want to allow ourselves some of the luxuries that tourists enjoy. We expect to go to restaurants and museums occasionally. We’ll rent a car and stay in hotels during a few side trips. We plan to spend no more than $1,000 per month over our retirement income on these luxuries. On this six-month trip of our lifetime, we expect to spend about $6,000 of our modest retirement savings.
Something is calling us there. Our ancestral and cultural roots are in Europe. We want to see and experience more of the things we learned about in college humanities courses. Ancient history seems to come alive there. We plan to work on our ability to speak local languages, but since English is commonly spoken throughout Europe, we don’t expect language to be much of a barrier. We were also inspired by PBS travel guru Rick Steves, who makes European travel look both possible and fun!
We had planned to relocate anyway, so this seemed a great opportunity to travel while we can still get around. We’ll sell (or rent) our house, put our things in storage, and tour Europe. The Schengen Agreement that eased border restrictions also limits stays in continental Europe to 90 days without special visas, so 90 days it is. But Great Britain and Ireland are not included in this agreement, so we’ll stay there another few months.
On July 23, 2014, we fly to Europe. We plan to return in January 2015. Using AirBnB, we have already reserved apartments in France, Italy, Spain, The Netherlands, Great Britain, and Ireland. This blog will tell the story of our trip. We’ll pass along whatever wisdom we gain about living in Europe on a limited budget. We hope to show others that it’s not necessary to be wealthy to travel. It can be done with a modest retirement income, careful planning, and the willingness to live simply while traveling.
So pop open a cold one and join us. After all, it’s 17:00 somewhere!