How to retire early to travel the World

I decided to leave my job for early retirement in the middle of the so called working life, aged only 45 years. Here you can read, how to do it.

I nurtured that dream of early retirement to travel the World at a slow place for many years. With my family I traveled to exotic and exciting places, only to return to the daily business within weeks which made me even more anxious to travel longer and more intensely. Finally, after a most satisfying career I decided to leave for early retirement in the middle of the so called working life, aged only 45 years.

They may have the opinion that you are too young not to be working on a daily schedule as you will be loosing any opportunity to get back on your job to proceed with your career. They are most probably right! 

Why shouldn’t you retire early?

The older you get, the more time you have to save money and pay off debt before your income is reduced. But you don’t want to hear this, right? There are plenty of good reasons to retire early, but can you afford to leave your job in the prime of your working life? Most people would say you can’t as they weigh financial benefit and security higher than mental health and happiness. You must though, put your own priorities at stake yourself.

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Marcelle walking the Coast Line in Sea View, South Africa

Can you afford to retire early?

Lets imagine you are one of the lucky few who won the lottery or who were smart enough to make  millions before retirement. Great for you! What are you waiting for. You only have to worry how to invest your money properly not to loose it in a stock market crash or in poor property investments. You’ll be able to live solely from your interest or rental income as long as life is good to you. But most probably you are not that wealthy but want to retire early anyway.

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View from the deck of our rental house in Morgan Bay, South Africa

Maybe you want to travel the World or you’d like to escape the cold and hangout at the beach to drink a Mochito with a few friends – without time restrictions, which order you back to work within a couple of weeks.

Prepare your early retirement well in advance

Everybody who knows me, got tired of me, when I was a teen, because I was always talking of traveling the World and living abroad odds-on! In my twenties, with a growing family, studies and work, the dream never went in the background. On the contrary, we’d spend every cent we could into the development of our house, building additional space for rental property. In my thirties and early forties I worked on my career and meanwhile my four kids grew up and finished their education and apprenticeships. With 45 years I quit my job without regret and left our home in Switzerland to travel the World. Good things take long preparations you might say!

Focus on your goal of early retirement, even when it takes loooooong!

There are some essential steps, you need to take to reach your goal of early retirement:

  • Adopt a simpler, less-consumption-oriented lifestyle
  • Take control of your spending
  • Invest wisely and steadily over the years (properties worked best for me)
  • If you are into assets (which I’m not), learn to make savings. Generate as much income as possible and re-balance your finances to maximize the return.

How much money do you need to retire early?

Assuming that you are willing to live or travel mainly in low-cost countries you can stretch your money exponentially. Looking for house sitting opportunities and long-term rentals helps to cut down the costs as well. If you don’t have any dept and you’ll be getting social security or a pension at some point, you can retire comfortably with an income of US $30’000.– a year. If you can add some extra income out of work which you do part-time along the way, even better.

 You can retire comfortably with an income of US $30'000.-- a year.

What you should accomplish before quitting your job

There are certainly a few preconditions which could be helpful to reach, if you want to break the mould and leave your job:

  • No debts

If you are currently debt-free, you may be able to retire early. If you don’t have a mortgage or it’s paid off, even better!

  • No dependents

If you have young children or studying young adults you may have to wait to retire till they are self-sufficient before you realize your early retirement. Having said that there are plenty of early retirees out there who continue working part-time to top up their income. If you love what you do and you can work from wherever you are on this earth, there is no better way to beat the daily rat race while still keeping a foot in the working society.

Prepare well and do a trial run

Take a sabbatical for an extended period of time and try to live on a budget, before you sell up and leave. It’s the best way to get a taste of what you are up to and if you really like it. A colleague of mine warned me before I left my job as a CEO, which in his eyes was the top of desirability: “If you dismiss this job, you will never get back to the top again!” He was most probably right, but I couldn’t resist the call of freedom to travel the World. But, I’d done some extended travels before which only nourished my desire to leave the corporate world. There was no holding back for me.

"If you dismiss this job, you will never get back to the top again!"

There are people who are happy to work hard and as long as possible up to an old age. If you don’t belong to these undoubtedly admirable people and you want to achieve a more relaxed lifestyle, it’s time to focus on your goal. You will face many naysayers along the way. They will say it can’t be done. They want everything secure and guaranteed. They may have the opinion that you are too young not to be working on a daily schedule as you will be loosing any opportunity to get back to your job and proceed with your career. They are probably right! That’s why you should do your homework thoroughly in advance. Don’t let them get you off the track though. If it is your dream: go for it! Don’t loose sight.

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Wild Coast, South Africa

Little but important things before you step on the boat

  • Sell your house(s) or rent them out
  • Avoid making any large purchases
  • Get rid of everything you can (yard sales, ebay, etc.)
  • Apply for credit cards which don’t charge for cash withdrawals or foreign transaction fees (no luck for Europeans there, sorry).
  • Convert all to paperless correspondence (banking, bills, insurances, etc.)
  • Scan every document, bank card, ID and save it to your cloud or email it to yourself.
  • Settle all your obligations

During your Travels

We live on less than US $ 700 a week — that includes airfares, car, housing and living expenses. Depending where you go and what comforts you need during your travels, your budget may look completely different. It is pointless to listen to other travelers who tell you to avoid a place as it is too expensive.You might be able to make it work for you with smart travel deals and yummy street food.

You will profit much more from your travels if you don't rush from one country to the other, only to tick them off from your bucket list.

I haven’t got any regrets as to my decision to leave Switzerland for my travels around the World. I was able to take the time to indulge myself in other cultures without rushing and had extraordinary sightings of wildlife especially in Southern Africa, but also in South America. We traveled more expensive places like the USA and Europe on a tight budget. During the last three years I learned more about photography, writing and blogging as I could hope for. I feel like I live my life at its best and feel very blessed.

If you’d like to know more, please get in contact by replying to this post.

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George and Marcelle, the Grey World Nomads
  I feel like I live my life at its best and feel very blessed.

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Unknown Mami

Travel Tuesday Bumble Bee Mum

Author: Marcelle Simone Heller

I’m searching for natural beauty and wilderness, while I’m travelling relentlessly to find delightful places and encounters with wildlife. I try to capture the thrill of the moments in photography and words, hoping to inspire others with the love for animals and nature.

16 thoughts on “How to retire early to travel the World”

  1. You addressed very good points.

    It is nice to know that someone has done an early retirement and has been successfully managing finance. I have been thinking of retiring early for a while now and just lost my job last month. I don’t know if I should pull a trigger this time or should work for a few more years…

    Just like you mentioned in the post, we are very close to being ready for our early retirement. We have no debts and no dependents. We can definitely produce $30,000 a year but want a bit more. I am just afraid if a financial disaster occurs in the future.

    I still prefer to work a few more years but would definitely retire if I cannot find a job I want within a few months.

    1. There is no right or wrong – security is and stays important over the years. During my work I saw too many people who couldn’t fulfill their dreams anymore because of their illnesses. They looked back with pity and said: “I should have …”. On the other side, maybe they wouldn’t have had the support and treatment if they wouldn’t have paid their health insurance and pension funds up to their late years. It’s all about priorities. With $30’000 you may be able to travel without problems if you take over house sitting, travel with a camper van or caravan, stay in budget accommodation and negotiate long-term rentals (1 month +). It’s not always luxury, but sometimes it is just stunningly beautiful. There are restrictions as not to overdo it with expenses for attractions and eating out. Other than that, we feel free and happy – all you can ask for in your life, isn’t it? Maybe you can try it for a couple of months before you give up your home base and you can still go back to work?

  2. We’re definitely planning to do the same… or, rather, I am. My husband is five years older, and when he retires, I will too. Not sure what we’ll do after that, but the financial preparations have begun!

  3. I totally agree – you have to do things while you can, and make the most of every opportunity. I admire you travelling the world in retirement (early) but can quite see us doing it too in a few years time. Thanks for the tips and inspiration.

    1. You’re welcome, Johanna. To be able to travel I had to leave people and things behind. Everything has two sides and that’s not always easy. But my desire to travel was too strong not to backup and leave for the adventure.

  4. Great advice for those considering early retirement to travel. Totally agree with having no debt when it happens. I retired early too and don’t regret a thing! As for selling my home and all my possessions….hmmm…not yet! Also agree that taking a sabbatical can help you consider what it’s like. I was very fortunate to be able to do this. Really showed me that in addition to travelling, one needs to have other things to do (ie. learning).

    1. YES! We certainly do. Sometimes that means to cut the expenses short and to live simple. But if we therefore can explore the World we take it as it comes.

  5. Excellent advice! I love my retirement and wish I had pursued it earlier!

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