Travel Blogging: One Key To A Happier Retirement

While working in finance, I fantasized about travel blogging. I saw a bunch of people write about all the new places they visited. They chronicled the food they ate and the activities they did while making money online.

Given their niche was travel, they could also deduct their travel expenses from their online income. It was a sweet, sweet deal. As a result, I tried my hand at travel blogging for one year between 2012 – 2013. It was wonderful.

Overcoming Boredom In Early Retirement Through Travel

One of the biggest downsides to early retirement is boredom. If you don’t have children, retiring young suddenly means filling a 10-hour vacuum every day if you worked a standard 40-hour week and had a commute.

Even though I had Financial Samurai to connect with the world, I was often bored the first year in retirement. I'd be done writing and responding to comments and e-mail by 10:30 a.m. Then, I wouldn't know what to do with myself since my wife had to go to work for several years before she joined me in early retirement.

Traveling by yourself can be fun if you don't have a significant other. Every new place you go is an opportunity to meet someone exciting and new. However, when I traveled for over two weeks at a time, I began to miss my wife. So I eventually stopped.

Given my boredom, after enjoying one year of leisure, I decided to “go back to work” by writing more on Financial Samurai. Then I found part-time consulting gigs for 15 hours a week in the fintech space to keep me engaged.

The negatives of early retirement are plentiful. Make sure you retire to something because having a purpose is important.

Some say retiring early cuts years off your life due to a lack of purpose. I believe it, which is why travel blogging may be the ideal activity for retirees everywhere.

Have Always Traveled Since A Young Age

I was born to U.S. Foreign Service Officers, which means we moved around every two-to-four years to a new country until I came to America for high school. Although it was difficult to leave friends behind, especially during middle school, living abroad and attending international schools gave me a tremendous amount of perspective.

During my international travels, I noticed roughly 60% of the travelers were over the age of 60. Another 25% were students and the remaining 15% were made up of normal working people taking vacations.

Then there was the ubiquitous vagabond without a job or family. They were nomadic travelers who never seem to run out of money or time. I wanted to live that lifestyle before having children, but never got the chance. My career consumed me. Today, parenthood takes up a majority of my time.

Now that I'm middle age, I've become fully aware that travel will be much different when I'm older. No longer will I be able to walk for eight hours straight around a new and exciting city. Just the other day, my right knee randomly buckled as I was walking down my stairs.

Climbing a hundred flights of stairs to reach the top of Prague Castle will be difficult. There's no elevator and the spiral staircase is quite narrow. What a shame it would be never to see Prague from a bird's eye view.

City of Prague on top of Prague Castle
Overlooking Prague after a long climb up a narrow staircase

I long to travel again, but I won't until our youngest is six or seven years old. Before age five, kids don't remember much of anything. Therefore, to get the full benefit of traveling as a family, we plan to wait until 2026 to go on long adventures.

By 2026, our daughter will be six, our son will be nine, I'll be 48 and my wife will be 45. Then will be an ideal time to travel abroad again.

Travel Everywhere Before You Get Too Old

The pandemic has throttled travel plans for millions, including my own. However, travel is clearly back with a vengeance.

It's important to aggressively travel before your knees start swelling and your lungs lose half of its capacity. Feeling the uneven pavement on an arthritic hip is not a pleasant experience. Travel like a maniac before you have kids too!

Unfortunately, it's hard to fully appreciate travel when we are young.

At age 13, I remember going to Denali National Park & Reserve in Alaska with my parents, aunt and uncle, and grandparents. Instead of looking out the window at the bears and other wildlife, I couldn't help but nap for most of the ride! At least we got to see the aurora borealis one evening off our cruise ship.

When we are saddled with responsibility as 22 – 60 year olds, it's hard to spend enough time in one place. Slow travel is the best, but it is the hardest to enact. We've got a budget and work vacation policies to adhere to.

If you're looking for a career change or simply a break, travel blogging could be the ideal solution. Not only are you free to travel wherever you want, you can mindfully write about your experiences as well. It's a great side hustle.

The world is itching to consume more travel experiences.

Travel Writing May Elongate Your Life

The best way to travel for free or for less is to start a travel blog. But the free perks and tax savings are not the main reasons for starting your version of The Lonely Planet as a retiree.

The main reason to travel write is to get you out of the house for longer and record all your experiences. They will appreciate over time.

I've spent enough time with retirees to know that following the path of least resistance continues once you no longer have to work. That path is staying at home, watching TV, and doing not much of anything.

The best time to write is while you are traveling and not after you've returned from your trip. Otherwise, you'll forget about all the nuisances that seem to blend together after a while.

After all, how many churches will you visit before they all start looking the same? Will you be able to remember all the yummy food you've eaten? Probably not.

Traveling May Improve Your Memory And Extend Your Life

One of the reasons why I've got a strong memory of my childhood is because I moved around a lot. Kindergarten was in Osaka, Japan. Elementary school was in Taipei, Taiwan. Middle school was in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and high school was in Mclean, Virginia.

Splicing up my life makes it easier to recall more moments in time. And the more memories you have, the longer and perhaps richer your life will feel. Since the pandemic began, we've all felt some increased level of monotony that has probably reduced our quality of lives.

Too bad there was no internet access, blogging, or digital cameras back in the 1970+ TO record everything when I was growing up. We just had to live in the moment back then.

It's funny how people born in the 1990s or later will never know what life was like before the internet and mobile phones.

The older you get, the more you'll want to slow down time. After all, if you are destined to live until age 100, the 51st year of your life goes by twice as fast as the first year of your life.

Travel blogging helps put the breaks on time so you can more mindfully relive your precious moments. Just don't forget to renew your passport and bring it if you plan to travel overseas.

Life Expectancy And Retirement

What Will They Remember About Us When We're Gone

Yearbooks and picture albums are relics of the past. Today, not only can we publish our pictures and videos online, we can also put meaning behind them. It's so interesting that our great grand children will see us in high definition color, as if we were right there with them.

I've always wondered what more was behind those delicate black and white photos of my parents and grandparents. Oh, how I would have loved to hear their voices and read their thoughts as young men and women.

If you're bored in retirement, plan a trip to a new country. Every mundane thing you've taken for granted in retirement will feel new again.

Write down everything you can remember after each day's experience. The internet is the greatest tool we have to pass on our memories to people we care about. Whether we have a blog, a podcast, or a video channel, what a luxury to record our thoughts for children.

I can't wait to take my family on great international adventures. But for now, patience is required.

Related travel posts:

How To Start A Profitable Blog

Guilt-Free Travel Hacking: Finally Living Large On A Small Budget

Traveling With Kids: A Planning Parent's Guide

Readers, anybody planning a great international trip? How many countries have you traveled to and which are your favorite? I'd like to live vicariously through you, so please share if you have a travel blog or know of any great travel bloggers.

About The Author

18 thoughts on “Travel Blogging: One Key To A Happier Retirement”

  1. I think traveling is one of the greatest things you can do in life. New experiences in new countries broadens your horizons and opens up your mind to differences in cultures which can give perspective to your own life.

    I agree with another poster that you should not wait until your kids are 5 to travel. Bring them with you at any age if you can. Yes it is certainly more challenging with young kids and infants, but new experiences you have when you are young can shape you at any age.

    What is more amazing than taking off in an airplane and flying for the first time? We took our kids traveling when they were 1-5 and now they love traveling as well. Yes you have to tailor what you can do, and I think one of the biggest mistakes people make when they travel is trying or planning to do too much. As a point when I plan trips I usually schedule only 1-2 preplanned things to do each day, and let the rest just evolve with open time for unscheduled things. As kids and family grow up we can do more.. but it all part of the journey.

    I think the concept of waiting to travel until after retirement is really shortsighted. As you point out, you may not be able to do as much as you thought one you are older and in retirement. Also who knows how long you will even live! If you have the opportunity and means to travel then do it now. At the very least you will have a memory (good or bad) of that experience that you can look back on… and hopefully use to plan the next trip!

    1. There’s just so much to explore within a 5-hour driving distance of San Francisco, that we might as well try everywhere driveable first.

      One of the nice things about living in a nice city were a lot of tourist ls come are the attractions.

      That’s the irony. The more popular your city, the less you may want to travel. We still got to go to Lake Tahoe more.

    2. Ms. Conviviality

      “who knows how long you will even live!” is a very valid point. My first husband died when he was 40. While he was alive, I didn’t enjoy the weeks he was away traveling for pleasure and work. As a karate instructor, he was passionate about it so calling it “work” feels odd. He loved traveling and karate, so in hindsight, I’m happy that he was able to do the things he loved even though his life was cut too short.

  2. I got the chance to travel a lot with friends and for work in my 20s, and loved it. After the pandemic, I go to “nomad” for a year and it was incredible. The experiences and memories are priceless for sure. It’s not too late Sam! You can always go on a solo getaway, volunteer trip, or friends camping trip.

  3. Couldn’t agree with the title of your post more, Sam! I’m definitely biased, but my wife runs an excellent travel blog that is worth checking out (www.travelonthereg.com). We’ve been to over 30 countries together since meeting in 2009, but the favorite so far has been our honeymoon in South Africa. Next up for us is Machu Picchu in 10 days…we are so excited! We’re also currently planning a trip to Italy in the fall, which is just as much a reconnaissance mission as it is for fun, since we are seriously considering applying for an elective residence visa to live there for at least a year.

    It is so amazing that you’ll be giving your children great experiences in the coming years, I bet you and your wife can’t wait!

    Cheers

    1. Thanks! Will check it out.

      I have pictures of me with my parents at Machu Picchu when I was 5 or 6. But alas, I can’t remember the trip and I’m never going back there with my parents again!

      So I’ll have to check out your trip and take my children when they are older. Will probably take the bus instead of do the long trek.

      Enjoy!

  4. I would love to retire early and spend more time travelling, but I’m not quite there yet financially. I have already put together a travel bucket list and I’m working through the list. I love the idea of travel blogging, because travel is expensive and it would be great to write some of it off.

  5. Your kids will not remember their birthday parties either before age 7, do you skip those as well? Just because a child (or an adult for that matter) will not remember something doesn’t mean that it is not worthwhile.

    I have been a reader for many years and I know that you have been pretty intense with giving your children a leg up in life… Your kids will not remember the fancy, extremely expensive private preschools you have sent them to either.

    As an early retiree who started traveling when my children were less than six months, I wouldn’t change a thing. Traveling shapes who a kid is and who they become, just like a fancy preschool. It is also some of the best time you can spend as a family. I have a lot of respect for you and you’re one of the only financial blogs I read anymore, but it’s a pet peeve of mine saying that if a child won’t remember something it’s not worth doing. From a selfish perspective, think about all you and your wife are missing out on while “waiting until the kids are old enough to remember things,” Meanwhile your body continues it’s eternal degradation….

    1. True. But traveling internationally and living abroad is a whole other level than throwing them a birthday party.

      Let’s be honest. Traveling when your kids are under five is for you, the adults. Not the kids. And often times, young kids crave and miss the comfort of their own beds, stuffed animals, and other familiarities. So from that perspective, not traveling until the kids are over 5 is a selfless and thoughtful act.

      I lived in six countries for 13 years growing up in the U.S. foreign service, worked in international equities for another 13 years, and have traveled to over 60 countries so far. As a result, my propensity to travel via airplane is no longer high. It’s actually very low. Instead, we will explore our great area by car.

      If you have a travel blog, I’d love to read it! I enjoy traveling by reading and watching from home now. :)

      1. While I agree that traveling with young kids is largely for the adults and somewhat selfish, I’m not sure that it follows that this is a negative for the kids. For one, if traveling makes the parents happy (which it does for us–it’s pretty much our favorite thing to do), I believe that’s going to have a positive impact on the kids. Also, in my limited experience traveling with my two-year old daughter, she seems to get excited seeing new places and adjusts well to new situations. Granted, this may change as she continues to get older, so let’s see how the summer plays out. I’m also lucky living in Europe, as most places we go are only quick flight or train ride away (although we’ve traveled back to the U.S. twice to visit family, which is certainly a much longer flight!).

        I also think that drawing a line at 5 years of age is somewhat arbitrary. Do I remember trips I went on when I was 5? I can’t say with certainty that I do–basically only when my parents show me pictures. Frankly, the same is true of trips I took when I was 25. Just because memories don’t form or last doesn’t mean these experiences can’t have positive impacts.

    2. It’s hard traveling with one kid, let alone many kids under 5. Travel disrupts sleep, and kids without much sleep are very cranky kids. Not sure what your experience has been like, but every time we travel with our 4 year old and 2 year old, it’s not peaceful at all.

      If you don’t have to get on an airplane with kids under 5, I wouldn’t.

  6. “Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage,” and I think this applies to traveling the most.

    The times in my life I’ve felt most alive have been traveling… getting lost in Japan, spending the night in a small fishing village along the Amazon, kayaking through caves in Portugal, hiking in the Andes, fending off raccoons in Costa Rica.

    Travel, go on adventures, stay in hostels and airbnbs and get to know the locals. The more comfortable you are with being uncomfortable the richer your life will be.

    1. Ah, such a wonderful comment so full of imagery. So much nostalgia.

      Brings me back to this random Malaysian jungle adventure my dad took us on where we had to get to our village via a small boat through this random stream. I got to ask him about that and remind me what that was!

  7. I cannot speak for other countries, but if you live in the USA, I think you can shorten “plan a trip to a new country” to “plan a trip” and you’ll relieve the boredom just fine. I’m not much of a travel nut, but listing the things I can think off the top of my head that I have seen already that were great plus the list of things I would still love to go see is a long, long list that I think will fill up the rest of my working years and my retirement years just fine. The USA has an incredible array of art, architecture, cultures, climates, etc. that are vastly different from where you currently live. Maybe this is setting the bar low for some, but my wife and I have often talked about taking road trips when retired to different places based on cuisine. Different seafoods up and down the coasts, different areas from Texas to the Carolinas for a variety of BBQ, New Orleans, the Southwest for TexMex, etc. If nature and the outdoors is your thing going from the Adirondacks to the Everglads to the Rockies to Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Alaska and so on would be a wonderful way to fill up a few years.

    If you want some inspiration of things to check out, look at Atlas Obscura. Because of that book our trip to Rochester NY was extra awesome because of a few hidden gems, most notably House of Guitars. Never would have found or heard of that place if not for that book (there is a website and newsletter, too), and it was one of my favorite things we did on that trip.

    1. Agree. I want to do a great family cross country road trip with my family once the kids are old enough.

      Would be great to get a big camper and not have to get on and off planes. Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon were magical places. Can’t wait to see the rest.

  8. I’m looking forward to traveling international again as well. Unfortunately, some places like Hong Kong, Taiwan, Thailand, and China still have some pretty strict quarantining rules that I’m not willing to follow just yet.

    If we can’t travel then living vicariously through those who do is pretty fun too.

  9. Love this post! My wife and I are in a very similar situation as you (minus the children). I am 43 and she is 37 and we are “pretired”. We have our rental properties that cover 70% of our living expenses and an online business that takes care of the rest. We live modestly (like most seem to do here in the comments) and spending money on material things has never really been our jam. Over the past 5-7 years, we have travelled extensively over Canada/USA and Mexico but since Covid we have really fallen into a rut.

    BOREDOM for me is by far the #1 issue that I am dealing with. It is sucking the life out of me each month! As I have gotten older I have lost the motivation to get out an experience new things/take on new challenges. We just have no purpose at this point. Too young with too much free time. Sounds like a lame excuse but it really is something to think about.

    Thanks for the motivation – we have never really wanted to travel Europe/Asia but maybe I am just being lazy. Taking the path of least resistance like you said – the TV and Youtube are so close and accessible. I have always loved the idea of a travel blog – especially because the expenses are a tax deduction :)

    Hope all is well in SF!

    1. You’ve definitely go to explore Asia and Europe。I like exploring Asia the best as I like their variety of food and culture.

      Malaysian and Singaporean food are the best! But not too much rich culture since they aren’t too old.

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