Senior Nomad Budget Travel

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Senior Nomad Lifestyle


When I was a kid in school, a nomadic lifestyle meant being part of a primitive hunter-gatherer tribe, living in tents, herding your grazing livestock across vast plains – a subsistence level hardscrabble life. But how things have changed! In the 21st century, the word ‘nomad’ is often spoken with starry-eyed envy. And it the past few years, an offshoot has developed — a senior nomad lifestyle now attracting thousands into a new type of roving retirement never before possible.

But we need to separate fact from hype.

The recent “digital nomad” stereotype is of visiting exotic places, lazy days filled with play and adventure, while only working a few hours a week on a laptop in a comfy coffee shop. Part of this idealized vision is that the new nomad lifestyle is only for the under 30-something crowd. Only for travel bloggers, young entrepreneurs or shoe-string backpackers.

Sometimes the idea of constant world travel conjures up visions of very wealthy jet-setters with palatial homes on multiple continents. Other people may recall their previous vacation style trip abroad, remembering how hectic it was and how glad they were to finally get home and rest afterwards.

The reaction to these is usually the same for most seniors contemplating retirement options. They instantly think, “Nope, that’s not for me.” However, I’m asking you to put that thought aside for just a bit. Take a cozy armchair trip with me, delving more deeply into the reality of the new senior nomad lifestyle. And especially into how it might be well suited for you.

In truth, a nomadic lifestyle can be rewarding, comfortable, fun and carefree no matter what your age. If planned and executed well it can also be extremely practical and economical – even less expensive than what you are presently spending on your “home rooted” lifestyle. And contrary to popular belief, it’s not an “all or nothing” lifestyle.

In fact, it’s much easier to adopt the senior nomad lifestyle when retired and living on a pension – even a modest one. Sure, we have to consider our budget when picking a location, but we don’t have to try to figure out how we’re going to earn enough money to survive once we get there.

I’m here to bust some myths and share my experiences. My goal is to give you enough information to decide for yourself what degree of the senior nomad lifestyle might be right for you.

Here’s some more food for thought…

Two magic words

Try saying “I’m retired” with a huge smile on your face when the immigration official inquires, “What do you do for a living?” It’s like magic! While the “youngsters” are being grilled on why they’re coming, asked for proof of funds and required to show a country exit ticket, you’re usually waved through the process with nary a second glance.

You’re actually quite a desirable demographic. Border officials know you’re low risk and high benefit as a visitor to their country. You’ve got money, you’ll be spending it there, and you’ll most likely be quiet and well behaved in the process. From their point of view you’re the perfect tourist!

Who’s really a nomad?

When I say “nomad” I don’t mean non-stop traveling like a fugitive on the run. That would surely be exhausting. But the opposite, staying in one place the vast majority of the year, is for some people mind numbingly boring. The right home vs. travel balance is different for everyone. It also depends on how and where we travel to.

Think about the retired North American “snowbirds” that go south during the long winter months to escape the cold and snow. They have a small second home, or a travel trailer they live in for the winter. From my point of view, they were the early adopters of the senior nomad lifestyle. Even though they only have two spots, they travel back and forth between locations they love, following their favorite climate. They live quite comfortably in each spot. And they usually have different winter/summer friends and activities. That’s nomadic!

Now just expand that idea a little. What if they had 3 or 4 or maybe a half-dozen locations that they loved to regularly visit, each at different times of the year? What if they then added in a few bursts of faster paced travel to explore some new places they’ve always wanted to visit? Keeping old friends, and constantly making new ones.

More fun.
More options.
More freedom.
Less expense.

The Over 60 Nomad lifestyle is a cross between staying at home and traveling. Somewhat akin to the folks living in huge RV’s. They travel and rest at their own pace, and yet always feel ‘at home’ wherever they are. I simply do it without the added expenses and limitations that come with living in a land-locked box.


The benefits of variety

The human brain needs stimulation and variety for optimal health. We’re just built that way. But that requirement has, well, immense variety! It could be anything… rearranging your furniture, learning a new skill, creating a new recipe, buying new clothes, or just driving a different route home. Think about how you get your dose of variety.

I love to get mine by traveling the world, visiting other countries. But not just traveling through as a typical tourist seeing the popular sights. I’m deeply curious about how the ordinary people there live their daily lives. How is it different from what I’m used to? I even love figuring out how to do ordinary things. Like how to take the bus or subway. Where to shop for what I need. Or trying to decipher a menu or directions in a language that I don’t understand.

When traveling I’m immersed in a real-life 3-D puzzle that constantly challenges my brain and keeps me engaged. I look for clues, get surprised, learn new things and make lots of mistakes. Most importantly, I keep having fun with my world-wide nomad travel game.

Some common questions

What are the biggest hurdles?

  • Poor health and/or the need for frequent ongoing medical care.
  • Attachment to lots of personal possessions that you can’t live without, ie “stuff”.
  • Being excruciatingly uncomfortable with not knowing, not understanding or making mistakes.
  • Other peoples opinions and being overly concerned about them.

Do I have to leap all the way to full time nomadic travel?

Absolutely not. You can start small, with just one or two short trips a year. Then re-evaluate, research and plan your next excursions. Next time if you want, you can travel farther or more often or for longer periods of time. It’s totally up to you. It’s possible you may find a location that so delights you, that you pull up stakes and relocate, creating a new home base to travel from.

Or you may discover over time that your home base tether has grown increasingly weak. Your stuff now feels like an unnecessary burden instead of a comfort. Then you’ll know it’s time to take the next step towards the freedom of a senior nomad lifestyle.

Can I change my mind?

Of course! Circumstances and needs change, it’s all highly personal. It’s important to have options and the ability to move back to a home base lifestyle when your nomadic days are over. Good planning will preserve your options. The skills you developed during your roving retirement will serve you even after you stop. Plus you’ll have great memories and good friends from around the world.

How expensive is being a nomad?

I believe that if you are currently retired and living on your pension anywhere in North America or Europe, you can certainly transition to a full-time nomadic lifestyle. And that’s including the same level of creature comforts that you are currently accustomed to. The basic trade-off is between traveling and stuff. More stuff, less travel. More travel, less stuff. The balance point is up to you.

What next?

Stay tuned. This is only the introduction. I plan to write several more articles on the nomad lifestyle theme. Things like:

If you’ve got even just a tad wanderlust in your soul, come join me in my journey. Let’s explore how you can dip your toes into the slow-travel senior nomad lifestyle.

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