This post is one in a series I promised comparing my concerns in early retirement with how things are turning out now, eight years later. My first in the series was about boredom in retirement. Since I’m on my way to Singapore on today, I thought I’d tackle travel next.
When I first retired the thing I was most excited about was the freedom to travel more frequently and for longer stretches of time. While working, I only had three weeks of vacation time each year. And I used some of those days for short trips or personal days here and there. So really I had more like two weeks and even then, I didn’t want to “spend” it all at once. We usually took two vacations during the year no longer than a week each.
One year though, I negotiated a month-long vacation. I would take two of my weeks of vacation and go without pay for the other two weeks. That way we could spend an entire month in New York City. That was my first taste of such a long trip and I loved it. Doug was exhausted, but I was invigorated. I couldn’t wait to retire so we could do more of these types of vacations, living for a month at a time in various major cities around the world.
When I retired, it became clear that this travel-fantasy was not shared by Doug. He was a trouper and accompanied me on two more month-long trips to New York, a bunch of three-week trips: to Australia, to Southeast Asia, and a few more to New York. But it was too long for him to really enjoy being away and on our last lengthy trip something new happened. It was too long for me too.
The first eight years of my retirement, I was willing to downgrade the luxury level of our trips so we could afford more days of them. No longer confined to two or three weeks, I wanted to be away as long as possible and I didn’t care if I had to clean my own apartment or move a few times during our stay. All I cared about was being gone for as long as possible.
We leave today for a two week trip to Indonesia. And that’s all I really want. For the entire year.
And since I really only want to be gone for two weeks this year, I’m willing to spend the entire year’s vacation budget, a budget that used to fund several months’ worth of trips, on just two weeks. No home exchanges, we’re staying at luxury hotels, travelling with a luxury bike-tour operator, and flying business class (well that’s on free miles of course.)
I’ve come full circle. I’m now happy with the measly two weeks I was allotted during my working life and I’m back to blowing the wad on those two weeks.
Why is that?
I guess because I’ve finally figured out I’m not trying to get away from my life. I’m not looking for the antidote to work. The truth is, I love being home. I love having a glass of wine in my wonderful back yard after a day of gardening. I love entertaining friends here. I love going on my walking dates, my lunch dates, and being with my kitty.
I’m totally looking forward to experiencing Bali, Singapore, and Tokyo, and sharing that with some wonderful friends. But I’m looking forward TO that rather than looking forward to being AWAY from the stresses of the workplace.
Don’t worry. It doesn’t mean I want to work again.
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