This page is just for posts related to my retirement planning and travel stories.
I will continue to add to this over time, so if you read this before, check it out again in the future.
NEWEST POSTS are at the BOTTOM
I will retire in the summer of 2018. Although I had been planning my retirement for 30 plus years, I had not finalized any details. Life throws you curve balls so my initial planning changed over time, but my plans had always included wandering the world by motorcycle, just not solo.
One day in the summer of 2017, while telling people of my impending retirement, I realized that I had not really made any true plans. I did not have the exact date I would leave the office. I planned on becoming homeless and wandering the world in some fashion on a bike, but I did not know where I would start, what bike I would use, or which areas I would hit when. I started to panic. Then I started doing something.
This Blog is all about that.
I guess the first order of business is what to call myself, or how to refer to myself once I retire. Calling myself Homeless, while correct is probably insulting to those unfortunate people that are not homeless by choice. A Hobo is usually considered a migrant worker, wandering around looking for a job. I don't plan to work. A Tramp works only when forced to, which could be me, but I don't plan on being forced to work. A Bum fits the not working at all part, but it suggests being poor and lazy, I am not poor. Well, not yet anyway. A Pensioner does not do my travels justice. A Wanderer conjures up that song "The Wanderer", then I can't get it out of my head.
Lets try out Vagabond:
noun: vagabond: a person who wanders from place to place without a home or job.
adjective: having no settled home.
verb: wander about as or like a vagabond.
Well, that works. It doesn't hurt that a friend of mine runs the website VagabondJourney.com and that I have started, but not yet finished the book A Vagabond Journey Around the World (1910) by Franck.
OK. It's settled, I will refer to myself as a Vagabond, until such time as I don't.
After my initial panic, I started looking at all the things I needed to plan. The list was extensive and varied. Some of these things really need to be done well in advance, some can be done later. I will write about these as time goes on.
Just a Sample of the questions I have to answer:
The questions never stop. My list will be a mile long in no time. And these are questions for before I leave. What about as I am travelling? What about when I am "done" if that means anything.
I will keep you all informed as time goes on.
If you want to be informed when there are new posts to my site, e-mail me at the address on my home page. I will only send e-mails out when I have a big story, or a bunch of small posts, but I will do this occasionally.
I "might" post links to new posts on my blogspot site. I have not used this in years, but it is located at whereisbobl.blogspot.com You can sign up for updates through that site. I really don't know if I will use it, but even if I don't I will, on rare occasions, post a reminder there to check this site.
Many people imagine that a life on the road would be awesome. I don't. I really don't know how it will be. I have read many stories of people heading off on a world motorcycle tour, or a backpacking/flashpacking adventure, only to find out that life on the road kinda' sucks. Really. The word travel comes from the Middle English word travail. Travail means a painful or laborious effort. Travail comes from medieval Latin word trepalium which means instrument of torture (hey English majors, don't contradict me). Yes, travel can be torture. It can also be great. Sometimes at the same time. Many of our most cherished memories of travel are from times when things went horribly wrong.
Travelling, in the sense I am talking about it, is not really a vacation. It is living on the road. Living can sometimes be a hassle. Some travelers expect to have a great time all the time. This will never happen. It does not happen in life, and will not happen while traveling. We tend to adapt to any situation, no matter how good or how bad. If we are happy people, we will be happy no matter what, eventually. Even the worst that life can throw at these people will upset them for only a period of time, then they will settle back to being happy. Miserable people tend to be miserable no matter what. Win $300 million? Yippee, life is great even for these people. For a while. Then they are miserable again. Rich, but miserable. This is sometimes called Hedonistic Adaption. I suppose most of us fall somewhere between these people.
One has to discover what will keep them happy. There are many phrases used to describe what makes most people happy. There are many variations of this: "In order to be happy, you need three things: Something to DO, Someone to LOVE, and Something to HOPE for." --Pickles (also Joseph Addison 1672-1719 and a million other people)
Most people think the something to do part is having fun activities, but more research suggests that having something to do that has value means much more than fun. Meaningful work, whether paid or volunteer, building something, improving something, creating something, caring for something or someone. These are all difficult to do when travelling, which may be why so many people burn out. Of course, the daily partying might not help.
Then there is:
"Happiness, especially in a rich environment like we live in, is not so much accomplished with adding positives to your life, but by removing negatives."
Travel is not good at removing negatives.
I kinda' like this phrase best:
Italians have a phrase: "la dolce far niente"
"the sweetness of doing nothing"
Basically, I have no idea how long I will enjoy traveling in this manner. I might burn out after a few months, I might last years. I suspect that the first few weeks or months will be great, the next few months will be difficult, then after that it will be good. Whether it will be good enough to make me want to continue, only time will tell.
This will be an ongoing battle. What to take? Buy there or ship? Nothing is perfect. If you are not starting out with a solid plan, it is even harder. I currently have a 2011 Triumph Tiger 800XC. A good choice for a world tour. Not great, as dealerships are few and far between in some areas, but the world is much smaller these days so a good choice. Except this one has over 70,000 miles on it. More by next year. And it will have experienced 7 New Hampshire winters. There is a lot of rust under the "hood". With this many hard miles, the bike could not be sold for much. The question then becomes, do I take a high mileage bike, and just dump it if something expensive fails, or do I sell it for practically nothing and buy something expensive, that I will be willing to spend a lot of money to fix? A weird problem.
I have a 2004 Honda ST1300. This is considered a Sport Touring bike. Emphasis on Touring. This is a big bike. Granted, the big girl can dance and dance well. A ton of fun in the twisties, and comfortable on the highway, but still not a great bike for a world tour. Now, for a European Vacation, not bad. A bit big, but not too big. Certainly an option. The bike will have over 100,000 miles by the big date, but this bike can routinely get a quarter of a million miles. All the typical weak point failures that occur near 100k miles have been repaired. This would not be a bad choice if I was staying in more civilized roads. It is not bad on dirt roads, but really not the first choice. Or the second. Or..... anyway, not an impossible bike to bring, but I need further thought.
So, it is probably not a good idea to bring what I have. Getting these bikes to Europe is easy, and not all that expensive, by flying through Canada. Air Canada has an offer every summer where you put your bike on a plane, you get on the plane, and you are reaquainted with each other in Ireland. A definite possibility, but the choice of bike is still in question.
One of the bikes that I think would suit me is the Yamaha Tenere. This is a big dual sport/enduro bike. But it is reliable, comfortable, has tubeless tires, shaft drive and plenty of accessories available. Another choice is the Kawasaki KLR 650. A smaller and much cheaper dual sport. I have much of what is needed to make it a world touring bike. These are not the best bikes. They are not the best at anything, but they are pretty good at everything. A lot of people use them for world tours. Stone knife simple for the most part. Cheap enough to abandon if necessary. Not a bad choice, especially if you are looking to keep cost down. But cost is not the major driver here. Sure, it is a concern, but overall trip satisfaction is much more important.
One good option would be to buy a bike in each region, then sell it before I leave the area. This can be complicated, but it saves on the expense and complications of shipping.
This subject will be addressed repeatedly until a final choice is made.
When something is on someone's mind, when they spend a lot of time thinking about something, maybe obsessing, they tend to talk about it... A lot.
This can get annoying at the best of times, but none of us are immune to it, so most people politely listen, at least for a while.
The real problem comes when someone is talking so much about something that they consider a good thing that it seems like they are gloating. Even if it does not seem like that, others who are not as fortunate can sometimes start to feel bad listening to said gloater. Usually, unless the person talking is a jerk, nothing bad is meant by it. They want to discuss this event because they are happy and want to share. Maybe they want to bounce ideas off of their friends. Maybe they just don't have anything else to talk about because they are obsessing about the subject. They fact that they have no intent to make others unhappy (usually just the opposite) does not help make their audience feel better. The speaker just seems like a jerk.
Well, I guess I am that jerk. I talk about my upcoming retirement to the exclusion of almost all other subjects. I am happy about it, and a little afraid. I want to share, get input from others, bounce my ideas off of others.
I was asked to "Not Rub it In" the other day. That is when I realized that those that are not looking at an upcoming retirement really don't want to hear about my fortunate situation. I was being a Jerk. Not intentionally of course, but that is how it comes across to others. I have to work on this, and talk less often about this.
I guess my upcoming retirement is not something that I see as just being lucky, as some people have said it. I planned on it. I cannot say that any of the following commentary accurately represents what I was thinking at the time, but it gives an idea why I am in the position I am in, when some others who were more fortunate than I in many ways are not in a position to retire.
When I first entered the working world, I looked at how people spent their money, and lived their lives. So many people were buying new cars, big houses, fancy watches, electronics, new cloths, the works. I was not making much money at the time, but it did not make much sense to me to spend so much on most of those things. The only exception was motorcycles. I bought new Harley's and rode the crap out of them. Even then, I would buy the least expensive model that did what I needed, and modify it only enough to make it more functional then ride it until it was not worth much of anything. Others would spend twice as much as I did for purchasing and modifying their bikes. And they would ride the bikes a tenth as much as I did. I only had one Harley that had less than 100,000 miles on it when I got rid of it. That was a bike with over 70,000 miles on it, that was at the dealership for a goodwill warranty repair. I got a great deal on a trade in, since the engine was going to be pretty much rebuilt by the factory, and the dealership had a brand new set of sheet metal to put on it from some customers bike that was modified. It cost them nothing to put on a new tank, fenders etc and have a bike that looked brand new. It did not hurt that the speedometer had been replaced at one point and it looked like the bike only had about 14,000 miles on it.
Anyway, I was frugal. I tended to look at my options and choose the one that was most cost effective. I spent plenty of money on travel, but I did it in a way that gave me a lot of bang for my buck. I chose living arrangements that really helped me out financially. While others were buying houses and fancy trucks, I was investing in my retirement fund and driving shitbox cars. As others got raises, they increased their spending. I increased my savings.
Yes I was lucky. My parents sent me to school. I did poorly, but well enough to graduate with a meaningful degree. I was also fortunate enough to have older coworkers that gave me good advice. I was also lucky that I followed it, as I could have easily listened to some of the bad advice I was given. I was entering the workforce at the time that 401k programs were just starting and made good use of those.
Some of my "luck" consisted of making decisions that turned out to be good. I did not know I was doing the right thing at the time, but fortunately I did the right thing. Or maybe A right thing, as there is seldom just one right choice. One's life tends to be a series of decisions you make before you know what decisions to make. I lucked into a good job. I cannot say I really liked the job, but it was not all that bad either. I chose to stay in this job for 32 years. I could have gone into other jobs where I would have made more money, or into jobs that I liked more, but I got this one, and stayed there. For 32 years I planned my retirement, and now I am there. Well, soon.
So, am I gloating? No. I am scared shitless, like the Zoo animal when the cage door is left open I am afraid to leave. But leave I will. So if I am talking too much about it, have some pity for me, entering a world of the unknown. Then tell me to shut the heck up! No one wants to hear it.
I am thinking of changing the sub title of my web page to be: RETIREMENT BEHIND BARS.
I kinda' like the sound of that.
I have started to get rid of "stuff" and plan on how to get rid of the rest of all this "stuff". I am naturally a pack rat, but I am also naturally a minimalist. These two conflicting natures often collide in a small storm in my head.
Getting rid of "stuff" is harder than I thought. Part of the issue is the realization that I may not actually like being without a home. I have read many stories and blogs of people who hit the road for what was planned to be years, only to find out that life on the road kinda' sucks. Not everyone likes continuous motion. Not everyone likes to have all their possessions with them at all times. The problem is that you don't find out for sure until you actually do it.
If I knew for sure that I would like being on the road continuously, I could more easily give away, donate and chuck everything, only keeping a few small boxes of paperwork and momentos. Not knowing means that every decision comes down to how badly I would want the thing if I end my trip early.
Some things, such as furniture, are easy. It is just money. I have no furniture that has any real value to me. The only "good" furniture I have I don't really like. If I was moving to an apartment across the town I would probably only take half of it. Similar with kitchen stuff. Some I would move across town, but most is easily and cheaply replaced if it turned out that I needed it. If I had unlimited storage I would still only store about half of it.
That is a good way to look at it. What would I keep if I had unlimited storage? What about if storage was only somewhat limited? What about if I had to pay for storage? Paying for storage is usually crazy, but so many of us do this because we think it will only be for a short time. Then the time extends and we have payed as much for storage as it would cost to replace the stuff. We continue to store it because we still think it will only be temporary, and we have sunk so much money into storage already that we might as well continue. Still, sometimes there are things we really want/need to keep and the only option is to pay.
If I had unlimited, climate controlled, free storage plus some strong guys to move my stuff I would probably keep about half my furniture, most of my kitchen stuff, most of my "stuff" stuff (assorted this and that), almost all of my cloths, and almost all of my garage stuff.
Assuming I could keep a small box or two at a family member's house, if I had to pay for other storage I would keep pretty much nothing. Maybe I would store a box of clothes at a friend's house, some important papers at a family member's house, and maybe some mementos at a different family member's house. Getting rid of the garage stuff would be the hardest. Tools are expensive, and a lot of these were gathered over the years and have special purposes. Some have sentimental value. Some I am attached to for no apparent reason. The garage will be tough.
Now, if I had limited storage, or maybe extremely cheap storage based on volume, what would I take, and how much room would it take up?
Clothing can be stuffed anywhere, so I would keep a chunk of that. Furniture would not be saved at all. Basically, everything that I would keep that currently resides in the house (excluding the garage) I could easily pare down to fit in my car.
The garage is another story. Ignoring the bikes, I think I could easily pare it down to fit in a pickup truck, although it might be piled a bit high. If I really needed to, I could pare it down some more. Some of the tools I could easily give away which would be easier to deal with. Still, I would have a bunch of stuff. Heavy, dirty stuff.
I only have 9 months and 19 days. Although that seems like a long time, there are a lot of things to do, and many of them are difficult in many ways. I have started the process mostly with smaller, easier things. I have also started to try to give away Irene's old riding gear. I will also try to get rid of her old SCUBA gear. Next will be segregating the things that I would like to save if possible from the easy to get rid of. If I can trip what I plan to keep to a small enough amount, then maybe I can figure out how to deal with it. But all the while, there is the Albatross around my neck, the garage.
Even if I am on the road for years, I need a permanent legal address in the US. Some of the full-time RV campers get a registration and address in South Dakota as it is still an easy place to do that. In fact, you can do that without ever visiting South Dakota. The best way is to use a family member let you use their address. My family all live in places like Connecticut and Massachusetts. I really would rather have an address in what I consider the United States. Those other states would cost a fortune in taxes, not to mention a bit of my soul. I am looking in New Hampshire. It is a lot to ask of someone.
One idea that I have just started playing with is getting a very small, cheap apartment. If I could find one cheap enough, say $400/month, I could store a bunch of things there, and have a place to go to when I am "home". It would need to be a place I could store my stuff safely, where I would have my mail collected, where I could trust the owners not to cancel my lease on short notice. There are not a lot of places that fit that bill. An in-law apartment might be a good choice. I might have more success finding something like this once I pair down my belongings and get a good idea of how much room it all takes. Also weight. Weight could be a factor in some apartments since it is the tools that are my biggest concern, and my biggest storage issue.
More on this later, as this will be a continuing issue.