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I retired at 48 and decided to travel for six months with my husband. Two decades later, we are still traveling.

Louisa Rogers   

I retired at 48 and decided to travel for six months with my husband. Two decades later, we are still traveling.
  • At 48, my husband and I decided to take a six month trip, but it turned into almost two years.
  • We decided to not go back to our consulting jobs and retired.

Not long after my 48th birthday, in August 1999, my husband Barry invited me out for a margarita at Compadre's, a Mexican restaurant near our home in Palo Alto. It turned out he had an agenda.

During our drink, he suggested we rent our house and travel for six months. We were consultants in Silicon Valley, so we didn't have to quit traditional jobs.

Absolutely, I was up for it. Renting our Palo Alto home wasn't that simple; this was before the era of Airbnb and digital nomads. But we eventually did, and in November, we flew to Mexico, where we spent six weeks in the vibrant UNESCO World Heritage city of Guanajuato.

Six months turned into 20. Our home was still rented when we returned to Palo Alto after ending our period abroad. So we bought a 1984 Westfalia camper van, wandered up the California coast, and rented an apartment in the "Victorian seaport" of Eureka.

We never returned to our consulting jobs, so we essentially retired — though I started management training and coaching again part-time.

Twenty-five years later, we're still in that same apartment. It's the axis that has remained stable throughout while everything else changed: We sold our Palo Alto home, bought a 150-year-old adobe house in Guanajuato, and upgraded to a Eurovan camper.

Today, we're retirees traveling the world together.

The world is our home now

One base is our home in Eureka, where we spend spring and summer. When we're not in town, we roam around Northern California and southern Oregon in our van, which we consider one of our homes. We pack our bicycles, kayak, standup paddleboard, and astronomical telescope into the vehicle. We then head off on outings on the coast or inland to mountains and hot springs.

We spend part of the fall and winter in our home in Guanajuato. We don't own a car there because houses in Guanajuato's centro, where our home is located, don't have driveways or garages, and everything is within walking distance.

Every year, we visit a new part of Mexico. This year, we took Primera Plus — one of Mexico's plush long-distance buses — three hours to another UNESCO World Heritage city, San Luis Potosí.

Because Barry is British, we visit his family once a year, and while we're over there we usually tag on a trip to the continent. One year we spent from May to September in Scotland, Catalonia, France's Hautes Alpes, and in the northern Italian towns below my favorite mountain range, the Dolomites.

We also belong to a home exchange site where we swap our Mexican home for other houses worldwide. We've exchanged homes with owners in Brittany, the Czech Republic, Ireland, Colombia, and Portland, OR. In October, we'll stay at a house a couple of hours from Denver to experience fall foliage. Next spring, we'll visit Cuenca, Ecuador. Our retired life never stops.

We've mastered a system to make our retirement life easy

For a lifestyle like ours, we need to be organized. We rent our home in Mexico when we're not there, so we've hired someone to handle the renters. Our house cleaner in Guanajuato keeps our plants watered. In Eureka, a friend who works nearby checks on our apartment regularly, and while we're in Mexico, we keep our van on another friend's property.

Strictly speaking, we have enough income to maintain our lifestyle and don't need to generate more. But Barry and I both enjoy writing, and I, in particular, love to earn. Happily, we can write in Eureka, Guanajuato, in our camper van, or wherever in the world we happen to be.

I remember that August afternoon 25 years ago, and I'm grateful I said yes. I had no idea when Barry asked me out how much a simple margarita would transform our lives.


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