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March 19, 2014


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Yep, that is indeed what retirement is all about! And I hope you enjoy SE Asia as much as we did. The people are warm and welcoming, Buddism is fabulously fascinating, and the wildlife is quite unlike what we have here. Yes, there are issues, but they don't diminish the positive, they just are what they are.

Over here I feel like the longer we are in early retired, the faster we go. So no apologies for shirking your blog are necessary . . . it's called living your life.

ILona Rapin

It's a lot of work but it's worth it...and at least your "payment in kind" can't be taxed! tehehe...

Tom Sightings

Wow, you make me feel like an old stick-in-the-mud. Well, actually I AM an old stick-in-the-mud. Mostly, I go to places where I don't have to fly -- because I hate to fly -- and to places where they speak English -- because I don't speak another language and I always want to know what they're saying behind my back. But then again, I've found you can have lots of different, enjoyable, educational, and otherwise rewarding experiences even if you rarely venture more than a couple of hundred miles from home.


Maybe you have discussed earlier in your blog but you don't seem to be living on to limited of a budget. Even with the "free flight" this time, you sure have traveled a ton. Have you ever discussed in your blog what your annual living expenses are? Some of these early retirees live on very little but this doesn't seem to be you. Plus you live in the Bay Area so did you retire with a quite sizable nest egg? (If I may ask)

Retired Syd

Tamara: I have a few unusual questions about travel to SE Asia--I'll email you off-line.

Tom: I have to say, going to non-English speaking countries where I speak a little (Italian, Spanish, French) stresses me out more. Then I feel obligated to brush up, and every conversation is loaded with performance anxiety. Since there's no chance I'll learn the many languages of this trip, I just have to wing it--the pressure is off, and it feels even easier!

Having said that, there is SO much of the U.S I still want to explore--lots of rewarding experiences waiting in my own "backyard"--yes! And I speak the same language, well mostly.

Mark: Well, I don't know any retirees, even those with large nest eggs, that don't live on a limited budget! I do have a fixed budget, and if you've read my old posts about how much you need-- I retired with 33-times my total annual expected budget the year I retired. So, whatever you want to use for travel, you'll need 33 times that amount in your nest egg if you want to keep spending that amount (adjusted for inflation) each year. (Well, for a young retiree--25 times for "normal" retirement age.)

Having said that, some years, we have other unexpected expenses, so we cut back on the travel. Other years, we're under budget in other areas so we can spend more. But with home-exchange and mileage programs, it's amazing how cheaply we can travel--leaves money in the budget for the occasional splurge. We VERY rarely pay for an airline ticket--we have a mileage credit card that we charge EVERYTHING on, and also take advantage of every deal we can to earn more miles--opening brokerage accounts, moving money around, using the right card for double miles. Hmmmm, I might have to write a post about this!)

So yes, my nest egg needed to be bigger than a person living in a lower-cost part of the country. But probably the salaries go hand in hand with cost of living. So it's all relative--which is why I never talk absolute dollars. It's all relative.


I don't envy you the 23 hours journey but your trip sounds wonderful so enjoy. Provided you have the time I do think that planning a trip is part of the fun and enjoyment of traveling and with home exchange there is often the need for more planning than for a traditional trip.



Maria@ Limo of CT

I hope you enjoy your trip and have a pleasant time. I do agree with you that Facebook really plays a big role nowadays for us to communicate, get information and much more.

fred doe

I flew out of Asia in the way back, far back, long ago. 36 hours, time lines, date lines,but the last thing you wanted to hear was,"we're flying to Vietnam":) Jet lag? may it pass quickly. It sounds like a true adventure. After 36 hours I reached the states and within 4 hours I was getting drunk in New Orleans. What the hell I was 22 nothing could stop me. Riddle me this batman is the planning a big part of your travel adventures? I have a aunt who travels by ships (for months) and we think that the planning is 50% of her experience.

Retired Syd

fred: Yes, I've always thought that at least half the fun of a trip is the planning and anticipation. In fact, when I'm on trips like these (although I've NEVER been on one quite like this), there's a lot of work--to get there, to get from one place to another, even just to communicate. Which leads me to believe that another large percentage of the fun is when you're home looking back on the trip with fondness. I'm not sure what percentage that leaves for when you're actually there. I'll get back to you on that!


I love your writing style.

I thought I asked this before, but can't find my own comment.

Do you have any strategies for using your frequent flier miles? Do you just go the airline web site or do you call? I have had limited success unless I plan way, way ahead. Maybe that's all it takes.

Like you, we retired early - almost 6 years for us.

Retired Syd

Cedy: Thank you. We used to book them way in advance, but now we have seen that more and more flights open up if you are willing to wait until it get closer. On this trip to Asia, we had our return flight for several months and kept waiting on the outbound flight so we could use saver awards (the one that takes fewer miles to get there.) Ultimately, we had to book a destination NEAR where we're going and will pay for a short flight to get us the rest of the way there. We do it all on-line.

But, we are still keeping our eyes open for that outbound flight opening up. If it does, we will pay the $100/ticket change fee, which will be cheaper than the flight we will have to pay for to get us to the final destination (we haven't purchased that one yet.)

So you have to be patient and get a little creative sometimes!

Susan James

My husband and I are retiring next year and after reading your suggestions we applied for and received a credit card to use to pay our monthly expenses and collect travel miles. However, we are having trouble understanding how to pay things that used to come out of checking account with a card. Can you elaborate?

Retired Syd

Susan: You'll have to go on-line (or call) each vendor to set it up, like you did when you set up your ACH with them to take it out of your checking account. Just select a different payment method with them, usually you can just look in your account on-line and change it. Some places don't accept cards though--our gas and electric company is one of those. It takes a little bit of work setting it up for each of your bills, but then it will be automatic (and automatically earning you miles!)

Susan James

Thanks so much for your speedy reply. In my research I have found bill paying agencies that will act as a go between, and accept a credit card. However they charge a fee. Your advice stated that it is NOT sensible to ever pay a fee, so we will only be able to work with those that accept the credit card directly. I also have read that airline miles may soon be a thing of the past......hope that's not true. Please keep us posted with any new info you may learn. Thanks for helping us keep the travel dream alive!

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