Success Stories: Why a 50 Year Old Couple Sold It All to Travel the World

By Nomadic Matt | Published July 15th, 2013

I love highlighting reader stories. I want people to realize that they aren’t weird or crazy and that lots of people from all different walks of life spend time travelling the world. One of the most common questions I get from people older than me is “do you ever see people my age do this?” Too many people think the kind of travel I encourage is only for young people. But I’ve seen a lot of older couples on the road and today’s reader story is from Jeff, who at 50, along with his wife, sold everything and went on a trip around the world.

Nomadic Matt: Welcome Jeff! Tell everyone about yourself.
Jeff: I’m currently 53 years young, living in Houston, TX, and married to my lovely wife, Tamara. I was raised as a Navy brat, so I got used to traveling very young. Our two biggest moves took us to Hawaii for three years, and Athens, Greece for two years. After settling in Alexandria, VA, I went to Virginia Tech before heading off to the world of corporate America for 27 years. My wife and I travel frequently (no kids), and enjoy seeing mostly different places each time. Our first “big” trip together was soon after Priceline was started. In early 2000 we bid $300 for round trip tickets to Paris, France – and got them! A week later, we were engaged at the top of the Eiffel Tower.

What inspired your big trip?
For my 50th birthday in 2009, my wife planned a surprise trip for us to Easter Island and Torres Del Paine in far southern Patagonia, Chile. That trip was in October 2009, and it triggered our RTW trip. Once back home in our normal lives in November, I came home from a run one evening and said, “lets do it”. We had NO plans for such a trip, but we knew we had the means. After some contemplative itinerary planning with a huge world map on our kitchen table, we made the call to the airline’s ‘special’ RTW office to cash in our frequent flier miles.

It was mid-November, we’d just purchased two RTW plane tickets, and we were leaving on January 15, 2010. In two months. That was when the serious trip planning began, including the creation of our travel blog.

Where did you go on your trip?
We went around South America, Europe, China, Southeast Asia, and Egypt.

Did you feel that being 50 was a hindrance in any way?
No way! Age was never a concern. We might have used the age-old phrase “do it while we’re young” in talking about it (to encourage ourselves!), but it was not a hurdle in our planning or going or the experience. We’re both very active to begin with, and during our almost-year of traveling we had little more than one or two minor “stomach issues” for a few days.

Did your friends and family think you were crazy?
They didn’t seriously think we were “crazy”, but when we first told them they were shocked. I had been in my corporate job for 16 years, and am clearly the more conservative of the two of us. Imagine saying (or hearing), “we’re quitting our jobs, putting all our ‘stuff’ in storage, renting out our house, giving our two cats away (for the trip), and cashing in all our frequent flier miles for two Round The World plane tickets!” It’s a mouthful to just say, but almost everyone ended up shifting from thinking “crazy” to excited, thrilled, jealous, encouraging and anxious to follow us along the way online.

How did you save money for your trip?
We both had good paying jobs for years, we’re both rather averse to debt (none beyond our mortgage, which was paid by our renters) and we’ve always made sure to save. We’ve always traveled, but never consciously planned long-term for a big RTW trip. I think it was perhaps because I turned 50 that we sort of backed into making the decision to go RTW (kind of a “lets do it” revelation) after a spectacular two-week trip to South America.

What was your travel style? Were you staying in hostels, guesthouses, hotels?
All of the above, and more. With a lot of saved up frequent flier miles and consolidated credit card miles for the same airline, our six primary RTW flights were business class. Some were real sweet while some ended up being little more than coach, but it was all good. That was the fanciest part of the whole trip, and we sometimes did look forward to the airport lounges. But we lived out of our backpacks the entire time. Sometimes I’m sure we looked out of place in the front of the plane with our hiking boots and t-shirts, but it was fun being up there at the time.

A lot of older couples and people feel that round the world trips and backpacking are for young people. What would you say to them?
I understand and have heard that, but age is just a number. There are ALL ranges of ages traveling all over and around the world. We’ve seen several people older than us hiking up and down the mountains of New Zealand, there were all ages climbing up Mt. Sinai to see that sunrise and there were all types carrying just backpacks through airports and bus/train stations. It’s a cliche, but you’re not getting any younger, so just go for it. You don’t have to plan to go all the way around the world in one trip either. Start your adventure small and let it grow from there. My wife got a t-shirt somewhere on the road that says, “If you don’t go, you won’t have a story”.

Did you have any fears about your trip?
We didn’t plan much in advance to go RTW, even though we had verbalized it from time to time, so there wasn’t too much time for fear. Besides, for years now we’ve tried to abide by a ‘No Fear’ rule, which we reminded ourselves of as we were booking the tickets. My wife is better at this than me, but we’re pretty good overall. We just needed to get plans in place for all the logistics of the way we were taking our trip: furniture storage, house renting, what to do with two cats, stopping and redirecting mail, how to file taxes, and other generally mindless stuff that you don’t think about. Oh, and quitting our jobs! The not-so-mindless stuff like “what will you put in a backpack to live with for the next year?” was actually a bit easy. We had to get some shots, and visas too (and some medicines just in case), but in those two months of real planning, the excitement and countdown far outweighed any fear.

What was the biggest thing you learned from your trip?
Take your time. Go slower. Become more immersed in the new and different. We saw parts of 65+ cities in 22 countries in just 9 months. There are no regrets about what we experienced, but we moved too much. We did get a little tired near the end, and came home earlier than we planned in our original itinerary. Our coming home early was an intended surprise to some at the time, and we were happy to be back when we got here, but it was not long after we got back that we wished we had stayed on the road!

Another lesson is that there’s a huge traveler network all over that is generally very willing to share their dos and don’ts and their experiences.

What did you do when you got back? Was it a big adjustment?
Not living out of a backpack or catching a plane/train/bus in the next week was an adjustment. After about four months home, my wife returned to her consulting work, but I have not returned to corporate work (by our choice). I did get a part-time job for about six months last year, but we’re fortunate enough to be able to live off one salary. My not working gives us the highly desirable flexibility to do things more easily for long weekends, or a week here and there as we wish. One of those things high on our list is traveling again, sometime in 2014. We’ve got our bucket list of places we’ve not yet seen, so now we just need to pack up again, and go!

What advice would you give to people looking to do something similar?
The three pieces of advice I would give would be:

  • Don’t worry about language – Even if someone doesn’t speak your language, in the end it’s not terribly difficult to get by with just pointing.
  • Don’t be afraid of staying in hostels – Most have the option of private rooms, the prices are almost always cheaper – and the employees are generally very friendly and knowledgeable travelers.
  • Don’t be afraid of change – If you have to, or just want to, doing something you hadn’t originally planned could very well end up being a highlight of your travels.

Jeff and his wife show that long term travel is not just for the young but for the young at heart. The tips and advice on this website are ageless. It doesn’t matter how old you are, once you get to Paris, we all face the same costs. And I like how Jeff and his wife stayed in hostels too. I love seeing older travelers in hostels – they have such wonderful travel tales and I like seeing people push back against the belief that hostels are just for the young.

So if you are thinking to yourself “I’d love to travel the world but I’m too old for that budget/backpacker thing“, let this story convince you otherwise and inspire you to travel.

Become the Next Success Story

One of my favorite parts about this job is hearing people’s travel stories. They inspire me, but more importantly, they also inspire you. I travel a certain way but there are many ways to fund your trips and travel the world and I hope these stories show you that there is more than one way to travel and that is within your grasp to reach your travel goals. Here’s another example of people who made traveling the world a priority a little later in life:

We all come from different places, but we all have one thing in common:

We all want to travel more.

Make today the day you take one step closer to traveling – whether it is buying a guidebook, booking a hostel, creating an itinerary, or going all the way and buying a plane ticket.

Remember, tomorrow may never come so don’t wait.

comments 88 Comments

I love this! Good for you two! :)

This story sounds familiar… we’re not 50, but 27 going on 50! Well done Jeff and Tamara!

“Imagine saying (or hearing), ‘we’re quitting our jobs, putting all our ‘stuff’ in storage, renting out our house . . .” That’s basically the way our book starts out :-). It’s funny how these things can seem so crazy to the onlookers and so meant-to-be for the ones doing them. Thanks for your post. It was so relatable for me!

That’s a fascinating story. Just by their interview, it seems like they’re so full of life and energy. Like, vivaciously. That’s pretty awesome!

James

What planet are these people from? Who in the real world can afford to be out of work for more than a month. Air miles? I don’t know anyone who does enough flying to farm a round the world ticket in air miles. Earth calling planet Affluent. Get real.

Jackie

Agree with James. I’m sure it helps with finances and with
logistics that they have no kids.

I have to agree that having no kids is a HUGE saving.

We haven’t worked for over a year and living in Spain. It can be done if you save and don’t have debt.

Congrats — totally agree and headed that way this winter.

They did say they both had very good jobs and were quite frugal ergo debt free besides a mortgage that renters paid. It is the rel world of frugality and living within your means or even way below your means. You can afford a $500,000 home based on two salaries, buy a $400,000. You can afford a $30,000 car get a good used car for $3000. You get the picture of that reality. I know because I live it too on way less money pst present or future.

NewNomads

Having no kids is the best savings I can think of (as someone with no kids). But plenty of people accumulate frequent flier miles without ever getting on a plane. Do a little homework – there are probably a hundred blogs out there to show you how. So you can’t take a month off from work… instead of being negative about it why don’t you figure out what you CAN do?

If you plan for it of course you can do it. We took a year off last year – my husband is 53. With some sacrifice and planning it’s definitely possible. And we took 3 teenagers with us – so didn’t have the benefit of no kids to aid our savings! If you really want to go you can….if you’d rather whine about others doing it you won’t….

Extended travel as a pre-retired, post college-age, adult does have special challenges. It’s not impossible (we’re certainly doing it) but older folks generally have more commitments and responsibilities that need addressing. In no particular order, here are just a few of the things a 40 or 50 year old individual might need to consider that a 20 something typically does not:

1) Leaving or taking an absence from a career years or decades in the making
2) The needs of your children
3) The needs of aging parents
4) Financial obligations: mortgage, tuition, etc
5) Health insurance
6) The wishes of a spouse

Lots of stuff needs to come together to make extended travel viable for people who are in their peak-earnings and child-rearing years. Some of that can be planned for, some of it not so much.

On the plus side, older folks typically have more financial resources than do 20 somethings, which can certainly make travel more enjoyable (no need to work for your hostel bed).

Our advice, from a couple who’s been there, is to keep your life simple and your needs few. That keeps your options open for any number of things; including full-time travel in your 40s, 50s and beyond.

As I was reading Brian’s comment and list of concerns for those of us in 40′s and 50′s, knowing my husband and I plan to travel ATW at some point, I was thinking to myself, “Check, check, check…” I can check off almost everything on that list. However, I also think that list just tells me I’ll need to do some additional planning that a 20-something didn’t have to do. I can do that. And I like Brian’s suggestion to keep your life simple. That is something my husband and I are striving for as we near the decision to plan a big trip.

This was a great post! Love that couple. Thanks for sharing it, Matt!

Lorrie

We didn’t sell everything because we hadn’t accumulated much but we took leaves of absence for a year for the year we turned 50 to travel. We live in the remote north so living expenses for housing allowed us to rent/mortgage free for 15 years, our son was independent and on his own and our parents are “young” world travellers in their 70′s so we didn’t have much in the way of those responsibilities. We had people house sit and take care of the cats. We’re both professionals and have decent salaries so can afford to live off one salary and bank the rest.
We also didn’t do the backpacking thing though. We did in 2000 when we did South America, New Zealand, and Australia. This time we started in Europe, went to southern Africa and Madagascar for about 5 months, then India for a month, then Morocco for a month and back to Europe for the spring. We found the key to continuous travel is to plan breaks of just sitting for a couple of weeks and doing the domestic thing…at the end of two weeks we were itching to get going again.
The hardest thing? going back to work! Incentive to retire for good and travel more often.

K.Good

I’m 53. Don’t have a mortgage, no children, no aging parents. No husband. I planned my life this way to be able to travel when and where I wanted. Now I just have to get up enough guts to do it alone!! Meanwhile, I’m having fun daydreaming and gathering all the info, tips and tricks I can before I make my leap.

susan greene

I am 60. single. and free to do what I want to do. I lived in Scotland 6 yrs. and went to London a lot. love to travel but health is not that good, so thinking I could maybe find someone to partner up with. both in usa and abroad. what would be a safe way to meet others to find travel partners. thanks for this great site. ty, susan

Sherry

Hi Ladies,

I’m in the same situation as both of you: 60s, free to travel, no attachments, but the kind of travel I enjoy is out of the ordinary, remote, exotic, and am not completely comfortable doing it alone. I’m in the process of starting a blog/website for women like us. I think we need to find each other!

To the women in their 50s and 60s. I’m 55, and currently traveling solo RTW, a bit by accident. I think my shyness, more than my age, has made the going a bit rough for me at times. I’m heading for Central America from Ecuador in about a week. I am pretty road-weary after three months on the move, and am looking to stop for 4 – 6 weeks to take a Spanish language course. Hoping that will rejuvenate me!

Sheena

It’s good to know there are other single females 50+ doing it. I’m planning my trip for September 2014 and will travel alone – that’s the most daunting part but so much to see that I just have to do it.

Susan

I am 56, my home is paid for, my renter is keeping my dog, my son is an adult and my gypsy nature has been unleashed. I leave in August for my RTW adventure. Backpack, hostels, coachsurfing, work trades, etc. I have saved some money but may need to work along the way. It is all good. Maybe I’ll meet some of you along the way!

Alison P

How are your travels going and where are you at present?

Rene

I think this is a GREAT idea!

Alison P

Hi Ladies of the unattached, free and willing to travel mindset. I am interested in a blog of like minded women in 50′s-60′s. I am able, willing and adventurous and am making plans do some traveling in 2014, would be interested in travelmates for short jaunts.. anyone else interested?

Ani

Over 60 and will start traveling alone in September 2014. Would love to join a blog and company would be great too. I have traveled alone before and love it

Alison P

Hi Sherry,
i have also enjoy off the beaten path… where are you traveling now or headed to?

My first reading about solo female travel was Rita Golden Gelman who wrote “Tales of a Female Nomad”. She’s older as well. Good motivation & insight.

We were both 50-ish when we got out of debt, sold everything (no storage), saved up some money, quit our jobs and hit the road. We’re doing it slow. Spent the first year seeing the major US national parks, then the 2nd year in Mexico. We’ve now made it down to Costa Rica on our way to Patagonia. Love reading about others who have done the same!

Kirk

That is great ! Some of the comments viewed were concerning money etc. Many of us are not prepared to do this from a fiscal standpoint. I am 47 years old and left my corporate position and I teach at a college overseas ( about 12 hours per week ). This affords me 90 days paid holiday to travel the world per year, almost full time pay for a few hours a day. As close to semi-retirement as I can get and I get to feed my travel bug. I typically visit about 5 countries per year and have lived ( at length teaching ) in China, Vietnam, and the middle east. In addition to my travels, I get to live in and get to understand the culture of these countries unlike the typical holiday outing. Never say never and never let your age or income stop you.

Del

Congrats! My husband and I are 43 and 44 and are leaving in 41 days to start our RTW trip..Everyone has been positively supportive and envious..We both potentially have corporate jobs to come back to (we will see) but I am looking forward to being on the road!

27 be lucky! I won the lottery on number 27 (that’s how I was able to do 2 months travel around Europe last year). There is magic in number 27. Just look for that number and follow it!

Age means nothing but a number. It’s all attitude man. I’ve still got some years to go before I turn 50, but man, I will not even notice. I am forever 27 :D

What a great story. The happiness with their decision to travel really comes through in the interview.

Love this:

What was the biggest thing you learned from your trip?
Take your time. Go slower.

Tess

Agreed James. Selling everything means just that, not putting it into storage and renting out your house! So annoyed with the “we’re going for broke…cashing in ALL OUR MILES to afford this trip” mentality. I want to hear from older people’s who have to save for 2 years to afford a 1-2 week trip to Ireland

NomadicMatt

This site is all about helping other travel cheap and inspiring more people to travel. I believe this story does just that. Each year, through credit card bonuses and travel hacking methods, I collect hundreds of thousands of miles without every flying. You can easily get enough miles to fly around the world and get enough miles to get to Ireland very easily. Check out how I pulled off a 10 day trip to London for only $700: http://www.nomadicmatt.com/travel-blogs/how-i-had-a-10-day-london-vacation-for-700/

All well and true Matt, but you have to pretty well off in the first place to be able to get good credit cards …banks don’t issue them to broke guys ;)

Also, US $50/day, but that’s really rice and noodles level, I have found you really need at least $US 100/day to really enjoy travel. And sustaining even this lower level is still expensive for most people when travelling for months at a time.

The reality is, I really did (literally!) have to win the lottery to sustain my months long trip around Europe.

We’re big believers in saving money. There’s always money to be saved somewhere. To afford our rtw trip, we saved hard for about 5 years. We had a tiny house, hardly ever ate out, never went partying, bought clothes from charity shops, etc. We both had pretty decent jobs, but we ploughed everything we had into making the dream a reality.

I understand that there are many people out there with more challenging circumstances, but I find it frustrating when people whine about not being able to travel, then go out and spend £50 on a night out! It’s all about priorities. Practically anybody can save money if they are committed. But, it obviously takes a lot of time!

$50 is an average between very cheap countries and more expensive countries (whether in Europe or SA) and getting a budget hotel one day and couchsurfing or going to a hostel the next – eating in a cheap restaurant or making your own. Most of all live like a local and you will spend way less travelling. Read Matt’s book you will see what he means by $50 a day. I got the book at the library and liked it so much I bought it for my neighbour who has never travelled and turning 55.

Sorry to butt in here…but I’ve been on the road for 8 years and although my daily budget has been adjusted in the last 11 months (when partner and I started our Germany to Australia motorbike trip) it is STILL far below your expectations.
We are travelling on 16 euros a day, and have been able to stick to our budget without much fuss. Greece was almost double that, but the Balkans were much cheaper so in the end, the yearly budget will remain.
Restaurant meals are rare, we travel slowly (1,000kms a month) and we bush camp as much as we can. the only way to do this even cheaper would be to walk. Plenty of walkers out there too. Do some research and you may well discover that some travelers spend as much in ONE year as most people do on a 2-week holiday. YEY!

When will we be seeing you on the ‘Travel Channel”…before OR after Rick Steves?

I LOVE it Matt – great couple and great article. I like the way they stay in hostels – theyve broken the mould a bit and to be honest if I’m doing what they’re doing when I’m a bit older, I’ll be fairly happy and satisfied with my life!!

Amen! Although, I don’t think our savings will stretch until we’re 50! And making money from travel blogging is incredibly difficult – either that or we’re doing something wrong!

This is soooo inspiring!!! Thank you @Jeff, @Tamara, and @Nomadic Matt! All the specifics you give are especially helpful and empowering. I love hearing how it was your big, beautiful 2-week trip, that swung the doors wide open for your RTW trip. I like the “go slower” advice, too. My husband & I have a lot of miles, but I’m almost considering doing separate trips & buying tickets (the way Nomadic Matt says he did, in his book “How to Travel the World on $50 USD Per Day”).

That is a very inspiring story! So many people want to do something, dream of it, wish for it…and then sit back down on the sofa and watch a little more TV.

It is great that they got up and went for it!

Just Jan

I want to encourage older women who are a bit anxious about travelling alone to give it a go … try a few short trips and always stay in hostel dorms where you can enjoy the company of young people. Much better than being alone in the luxury of a hotel room. You can also join up with group day trips once you’re in a place – but pretty soon you’ll really enjoy the luxury of doing your own thing in your own time. I find that I meet many more people and experience a lot of kindness when I’m travelling alone. When I’m with my husband we’re much more self contained and maybe seem unapproachable. If you’re married to a man who loves his job and doesn’t want to retire you’ve got it made. Go alone and live like a queen on housekeeping money!

Totally agree. If your spouse does not want to travel but you are dying to go….Go on your own. You have to follow your dreams. I travel alone in my 60s and love the freedom of choosing what I want to do everyday. If you travel with another then every day is a compromise.

Thanks for including that story Matt.. I had suggested on your questionare that you add older travelers. Seems you did it just for me. lol.
We had no air miles, no rental property and little money. Sold most of our 4th hand furniture and went RTW. If you really want to go,you’ll find a way. No whingers..
June 1st or 2nd next year at age 65+ we are starting 4/5 months NZ, Oz,Indonesia, Myanmar, Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand

Oh so much of this rings true. We are in our mid 40′s, quit our jobs and sold it all last summer and live in Spain. Currently we are splurging and seeing a bit more of Europe with the kids for summer break, but other than that in Spain. Life is good and if you stay out of debt and save, you can do it too.

At 58 in 2003 I did the last of my down sizing, left some in storage ( to be turfed out at a later date) & flew to China where I had a year contract to teach English. Eight and a half years later I returned home to Australia to deal with some family issues. During that time I did some travel in China, moved cities to work a few times, traveled to the Philippines for 20 days, Vietnam for 10 days plus a few trips back home. All by myself. I have no cash cow, but I did it. Maybe the secret is self confidence. Jeanie

David Read

My wife and I are leaving for Europe in September and hope to stay for 10 months until next summer, starting with three months in Italy. we have found that you can rent furnished Studios and Apartments for around $1,000 to $1,200 a month, and as the price includes Utilities and Internet we believe it is actually just as cheap, if not cheaper than staying at home. We sold our home just outside Houston and are officially “homeless” at the moment, we are spending this summer visiting our Daughter and the grandchildren in Virginia. I will be 76 next Tuesday, my wife is 67. We are not well off by any means and plan to spend no more than we would spend living in America. Fortunately we are both in excellent shape; we had planned the trip when we retired and were due to leave the weekend after 9/11; my wife refused to get on a plane at that time so this is our long “lost” dream trip.

Effie

Thanks Matt. My husband and I are in our 70′s traveling the world. Can you address buying travel insurance after 70 years old? Everyone writing articles about travel insurance are unaware that many insurance companies will not insure over 70 year old travelers. We love your mission. Thank you

David Read

Actually, we plan to stay in Europe until next Summer, must move around because of the 90 day “rule”, and then return to our Daughters place in Virginia for three months, basically until the grandkids go back to school; then Mexico in particular but also other parts of South America are on our agenda. I have dual nationality, British/American but my wife, who is from Belgium, had to give up her nationality when we became Americans over 25 years ago.

Jay Danson

Great article Matt. Since I was 16, I’ve been traveling though out most of the world. I did this partly by getting a job where I worked 9 months a year, so I always had three to travel. Now I’ve retired from this job and plan to travel 6 months per year. This is possible if you keep your living expenses low, put your stuff in storage so your pension, if it’s enough, will pay for your travel expenses. You should also keep to the less expensive parts of the world. These areas are often the most interesting anyways. Also, keep accommodation expenses low. A clean, safe room is all you need. Eat where the locals eat, it’s cheaper and better. For those thinking of doing it, just do it, you won’t regret it. I leave for a trip around the world in October.

Jan

Feb 2015 we leave for Australia & N.Z. & Tasmania, I will be nearly 71, young at heart and my hubby newly retired. We plan to buy a second hand Motorhome and go right through the country and all the way around Aust. We are not rich but have been saving for this trip.
We will take 7 months then sell the Motorhome and return to Canada. Go travellors GO.

Dave

To all you out there either single or coupled who are considering such adventures do it

I’m a 50 year old Brit guy who completed a solo RTW in March 2013 started in OCT 12 taking in SE Asia Australia and South America landed myself a job on my return and now considering my next options

No hassles with hostels you can book private rooms in many if dorms are not you bag also plenty of reasonable apartments etc available should you choose

A tip for anyone wanting to stop smoking head for Australia ciggies are a cool 18 bucks i stopped after one week and have not smoked since:)

Our memories are our life, go create some

Congrats Dave on the quit smoking thing! Think of all the money you will save for future travel!!!
:)

Wow. The couple’s success story sound a good adventure to me. 50 years old seem the right age for traveling and spending a lot of time in sightseeing and experiencing many adventures. I hope that I could be able to do this traveling adventure someday. What a lovely story of the nice couple.

Inspiring post. I wish I have this attitude when I am 50. For now, I try to travel as much as I can but people say I will eventually “settle down.”

I agree with the suggestion of moving slowly. I have only seen a handful of countries over the past ten months but I’ve explored each one more in depth and come to understand the culture just a little more than I could otherwise have in just a few days or hours.

Kim

Great interview. My husband and I are traveling the world (we are in our early-30′s) and I hear people say to us all the time, “I wish we could do that but we’re too old.” Or some variation of the phrase. But out here on the road I meet people of all ages who are traveling. It can be done at any phase of life.

NomadicMatt

What a great discussion! Thanks everyone for the comments! This post really resonated with you everyone!

Thanks very much for sharing!
Your post gives me additional strength to keep on working on a future based on the Algarve coast of Portugal.

I hitched from Denmark to Africa with a sign in front of me: To AFRICA.
Travelled 2 years at USD. 1.50 a day!

I am 56 years old, my wife is 10 years younger, we are from Sydney, Australia and are 7 months into a one year RTW trip. Oh, I am writing this from a hostel in Montreal.
We are both very comfortable staying in hostels although we go for private rooms and we certainly take advantage of communal facilities. We have used a combination of transport including rented cars and buses.

I’d say using “old age” as an “excuse” for not traveling is bollocks. Not staying in hostels for the same reason is also bollocks.

For any person, to mingle with people both older and younger, of different nationalities and backgrounds etc can only broaden your views and understanding of the world. Either you want to go, so you find a way of doing it, or you are a “homebody” so you don’t, which obviously is also perfectly fine.

Everyone to their own, but I would definitely say to “older” people, give it a go, you may just enjoy it. For us, traveling is awesome.

Amazing article…Enjoyed every bit of it…thanks for sharing!!!!!! :D

Life is like a box of chocolates, and you will never know what your choice will be… Follow your heart, make your real choice. Jealous is what i feel now!

That’s awesome! Good for you guys!

This proves how travel bug virus could still be there with age! Sounds fun though, a fun way to enjoy life… Travel actually stop aging! :)

Fon

Wow, that’s an inspiring story! For many people at the age of 50, traveling might be the last thing on their mind. Majority of people in this age bracket think of retirement. However, this couple has proven one thing; long term traveling is not just for young people but for anyone that has the passion to explore the world.

Thanks for sharing this post, it was an inspiring story!

NomadicMatt

I’m glad you enjoyed it!

Steven

Last year in Sth America, I met a 76 year old American guy who has been on the road non-stop since 1988! An inspiration to all of us and proof that age is no barrier.

ARENA

Hey Matt.

Interesting piece and I do really enjoy your website Matt but I must challenge you on the article.

Your blog title ‘Success Stories: Why a 50 Year Old Couple Sold It All to Travel The World’ is totally misleading.

Whilst I know you are trying to sell this beautiful and glamorous ideal of extensive travel for anyone and everyone, the title is misleading and irresponsible, and gives completely the wrong impression of what has happened here.

You’ve stipulated Jeff and his wife as selling everything and travelled the world as though they took a huge act of courage and threw total caution to the wind, life is too short etc etc.

But the reality is these individuals were fortunate and privileged enough to have an asset to rent out and cover their financial obligations while they went away on a long trip (and great for them for doing so, I really applaud that). But they didn’t sell their belongings but put them in storage. They probably didn’t sell anything.

I am sure if you had asked them would they have sold their house in order to do this trip the answer would have been an unassailable no. They even quote how financially risk averse they are.

I’ve done extensive travelling over the last 10 years, (I’ve just reached 40) and whilst I would recommend travelling to anyone, particularly when in your younger years when you have no responsibilities, I would certainly not recommend people who are in their later stages to ‘sell everything and travel’. I would only say go for it if you have some financial means behind you or to come back to.
Otherwise, it’s a reckless and irresponsible dream to sell. You still have to come back home.

To those older people who do want to travel and don’t have financial security, I say focus on balance. Take shorter and more frequent trips – you don’t have to do the extensive RTW thing to say you are a traveller.

More importantly in life, as I get older I am finding that it’s not what you do or where you travel that’s so important, but more who you share those precious moments in life with.

DanielR

I was about to write the same ideas of the title being misleading, but saw Arena you already put it in an excellent way.
Indeed not only they did not sell anything but at the same time they have very few obligations (hint: children, parents, debt), situation not shared by the vast majority of people

Superb……. i am so inspired by this…. you guys rocks.. Will try to plan something like this!!! :D

We are in this age bracket and have 4 months till we leave… are selling everything (except our house) and heading from Perth in Australia to Kuala Lumpur then overland to London.. so looking forward to getting out there and seeing what the world offers us. We are aiming for 2 years but hoping for longer….

Linda

Wow… age is just a number – really enjoyed reading all the comments – life is just one big cake – all different ingredients of different quantities make it a superb one…. grab it…. hi Matt!!

Love it, great interview!

Jeff and Tamara share their way of taking a RTW trip. There is also another way–yours. So for anyone who feels this is one affluent couple’s dream, I don’t think there are enough pages in this blog for 7 billion individual entries.

One shoe doesn’t fit all.

Just remember, where there’s a will, there’s a way, and this particular one worked for them.

Thank you for sharing this story.

Craig Sampson

I’m 53 and have just got back from treking up to Annapurna base camp in Nepal with my 21 year old son & 24 year old best friends daughter…age has nothing to do with it, we had an amazing time. Met lots of wonderful independent travellers of all ages (one guy was 75 and runs marathons in his spare time, when not travelling the world).

Nepal is a cool place to travel very cheaply – Good hostels will cost £5 a night and will throw in a delicious big breakfast (banana porrige, toast, eggs, fruit juice & tea/coffee). Best tip: don’t bother taking anything with you, just take a big empty bag and fill it up there – clothes, treking gear etc super cheap.

Love Jeff & his wife’s spirit ;)

My wife and I are in our late 50′s and did Sell our House, and all our stuff, ( except some Artwork/ memories more valuable to us than others, in our relatives closets) and we plan to travel for as long as we can. We have the one year French Visa for Europe ( a challenge in itself) and plan to stay at least a month if not two in the major cities of the world, followed by a couple months in rural areas that are cheaper. The apt and owners rentals are much less if you stay longer and negotiate a rate, plus the big expense for us is the travel cost of train and car and bus fares. The pace is slower and you get more of a Local’s experience as you are not surrounded by travelers. Our goal after South America and Asia is to find a place where we can stay for 6 months at a time. Yes, we have some pensions, plus dividend income from home sale and what we have saved for 32 years of marriage, but really want to explore for as long as we can on as little as possible without sacrificing the pleasures and experiences of the local culture. I can see how hard it would be with obligations, kids ( ours just graduated college and spent a month hiking through New Zealand on very little) pets etc. Just starting out, we will see how we feel a year from now. Good luck to all on their journeys.

I’m seeing more and more older generation people (hey, 50 is still young!) traveling around the World. The “travel bug” is infecting more and more people.
Gosh, I’d love to try sandboarding out! Like that photo!

martin

so glad I found this blog?as a young 50+ couple, my wife and I are just starting to travel and have had a few great trips so far?South America, Samoa, Europe to name a few and are really interested in learning more about RTW tickets and hosteling for the 50+ crowd. We’ve actually been denied hostel lodging because of our age and am wondering if this happens frequently and if anyone else has had that experience?any blogs on the older RTW travelers would be greatly appreciated?love to connect with this who have boldly gone before us..we are excited but have much to learn

matt, Thank you so much for sharing the story with us. The story is really inspirational, in fact, inspirational enough to sail my boat to another country now. Thank You!

NomadicMatt

You’re welcome!

Me and my husband are in our mid-40′s and are planning our travels – initially to Australia overland from the UK. After spending most of my 20′s travelling (no blogs then to record my adventures) I am looking forward to wandering once again! So far I have travelled to nearly 40 countries and lived in 6 on 3 continents. I get the comments that I am ‘running away again’ and the incredulity that we (a teacher and a nurse) are leaving jobs and a mortgage for a life of uncertainty.

We – on the other hand – can’t wait…..

Hi Tracy, that sounds interesting. What you will experience while travelling is priceless. Plus the excitement and thrill of seeing so many wonderful creations, wow! Wish you both a safe and meaning trips!

Great article! It heartens me to see others being so brave and living life! I read a great article which gave me a new perspective on traveling.

I almost thought I was reading a story about me and my husband who are in our 50s and our RTW trip 3 years ago. We rented out our house and plan to travel for a year but came back after 5 months. It was a fabulous 5 months but we also moved around too much were tired. And as soon as we got back, we wished we hadn’t. This year we are taking off for 6 weeks to South America, but next year is another BIG one…we are leaving for good. We learned a lot of lessons in our 5 months that we will apply to the next nomadic adventure.

Sage Shoemake

All of the “obligations” people speak of are based off of the preconceived notions of what we, as a modern, consumer-based world, are “supposed” to do. Most of the things we consider obligations are things that aren’t even necessary. With a need-based, complacent mindset, it’s hard to do anything. Nobody is going to remember our houses, cars, insurance, and Starbucks lattes when we’re six feet under. Learn to fish, hunt, grow food, navigate a map, don’t be afraid to camp out somewhere, cut out the corporate middle man. Live it a little. (Just my opinion ;D)

Lilot

Amen! The Power of Now is here to stay.

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