When were you first bitten by the travel bug?
Six months after joining a multinational company in 1996, our small team traveled to our Head Office in Switzerland. Although it was a business trip, our hosts were very generous. We were treated like tourists! My manager was also very kind to invite me for a few days’ stay at her family home in the English Countryside. That experience made me want to see more of this beautiful world.
Why did you decide to retire early?
Mine was a dream job. My company was my home for almost two decades, and I was very passionate about how much I was able to contribute to its growth. I take pride seeing its simple smiley logo on billboards, online publications, and business magazines up to now. Retiring early did not come easy. It was a challenging decision, and carefully thought of, weighing all pros and cons. My workaholic attitude took a toll on my already delicate physical condition, so I had to retire earlier than planned. Thankfully, there is life after retirement!
How do you finance your travels?
Traveling takes meticulous financial planning from A to Z. In my case, I would say saving up for it started even before this so-called travel bug hit me. My very first two trips to Southeast Asian Countries (Singapore/Malaysia/Thailand) in the early 2000s came from my unused personal Medical Insurance Policy, a rebate equivalent to 80% of 10years premium paid. Learning from this effective saving strategy, I started saving on different investment schemes. I was so determined to continue with my adventure when I retire, so I consciously included travel fund in my investment schemes.
Any practical tips for saving up for travel funds, especially for retired people?
Saving up is easier when you still have a job, and earning a regular salary. When you’re a retiree, saving up takes creativity and discipline. Sticking to your budget is so important. I always aim to regularly save a couple of thousands each month from the budget that I set for myself, and never go overboard. One way to do this is to avoid eating out. Even a simple meal or coffee outside would cost you more if you include your transport expenses to get to the venue, and back. So I choose to indulge on home-cooked food and beverage instead. If I randomly get invited to travel locally, first thing I do is look at my budget. Have I accumulated enough savings out of my monthly budget to support this local trip’s expenses? If not, I’ll pass.
How do you stay healthy and pain-free during/while traveling?
Awareness of your physical condition is always important, travelling or not, and more so when you’re on tour. If you have a certain condition requiring medical care and attention, it is best to consult your physician first before planning the trip, and take the doctor’s advice on what you can, and can’t do. I have seen some people travelling with family in their wheelchair, so I guess, if you’re really into it, you can do so, if you plan carefully in advance.
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