Occasionally, when I reveal our early retirement game plan to a friend or family member, someone will ask me if I’m afraid I’ll be bored in early retirement. After all, the average person fills their days with work, and can’t conceive of what to do with all that time on their hands!
In actuality, I anticipate being much more busy! Here are my top ten early retirement activities. What are yours?
10. Indulge Your Love of Learning
I love to learn. Many of my days involve a deep rabbit hole of Wikipedia tabs triggered by curiosity about a random fact or question. Even pre-retirement, I’m taking language classes to try to be ready for the adventure ahead. Who wouldn’t love to learn pastry-making in Paris? Or perhaps game preservation in the national parks of Tanzania? What about taking up winemaking in the Casablanca region of Chile?
With absolute freedom, it’s easy to connect with learning as an experience rather than a chore.
9. Spend Time With Loved Ones
Time is our most precious commodity. It is the one thing in the world that you cannot buy any more of. We grow, we flourish, and we die. One of the most important things we can do is spend time with our loved ones, free from distraction or frustration. It fulfills us, and it leaves a legacy of who were were with others.
Spend time with the elderly to share in their experiences. Spend time with the young and show them how to be kind. Nobody on their deathbed ever, ever wishes that they had gone to work rather than spend time with friends and family. In early retirement, it’s possible to plan a Tuesday at the beach, stay up late on Wednesday doing shots with grandma, or wake up early on a cold winter morning to watch the sun rise.
8. Promote a Just Cause
We all have organizations we wish we could do more for, be they political, charitable, or religious. Early retirement represents a chance to give endlessly of your most valuable resource. Perhaps you’ll volunteer for a political campaign, or do something as simple as clean your place of worship. We’ve discussed opening an animal refuge in South America of Africa.
Of course, you can and should give of yourself before early retirement- it’s just a chance to give even more, and feel an even greater sense of satisfaction.
7. Achieve Peak Health
We are endurance athletes, and our busy lives mean we swing from elite fitness to extremely out of shape. We hope to maintain our best habits in early retirement. The good thing about swimming, biking, and running is that you can do it almost anywhere in the world. Waking up every day and having an unhurried workout sounds like perfection.
It would be a shame to retire and then be quickly plagued with health problems, so we want to maintain great eating and exercise habits from the start. We want our retirement to be a long one!
Of course, fitness and exercise have a different meaning to everyone, but everyone should find some physical activity they love to do, and do it regularly in retirement. I want to have to worry about sustaining a 60 year retirement!
6. Educate Your Children
If we manage to time things right, we’re have one or two little vagabonds approaching school age by the time we retire early. We’d love to raise them as citizens of the world, and educate them from everywhere.
Maybe that will mean a private school in Asia, or homeschooling in Europe. Maybe it will be a year or two in the USA to give them a foundation in where they “come from.” Whatever form it takes, it’s exciting to think of raising a little one with an appreciation and respect for other cultures. Why not teach about the Battle of Hastings at Hastings? Or perhaps we’ll cover geology from the Smithsonian. Early Retirement will be a rare and precious opportunity to unwrap a whole world of educational opportunities.
5. Start a Business
Just because you’re retired doesn’t mean you can’t make any money! If you’re entrepreneurial, you may enjoy starting a business. The difference between a (properly planned) business in retirement and a normal one is that there’s no pressure to make money to support yourself!
Many of us harbor dreams of business ownership related to our passions, rather than our “normal” professions. What’s your calling? Open a coffee house, or a coffee plantation! Open an art gallery, or an art school! If you stop loving it, stop doing it! Business can be great fun!
4. Teach Others
Now that you’re enjoying a long, healthy, early retirement, wouldn’t it be nice to help others on the same path? You’ll be the bright, shining example of what’s possible, and you’ll have every right to be proud of it! Consider teaching others the lessons that got you here. Be a mentor to someone who needs one.
Even if you don’t want to teach sound financial planning, maybe there’s something you do have to offer others. It might be coaching sports, or tutoring math, or maybe teaching painting. Whatever it is, share your legacy. Both the teacher and the student win.
3. Nurture Your Relationship
Though we’re not married yet, the soon-to-be Mrs. Vagabond and I have been together for a long time. We’re committed, share a household, and have gone through the very best and very worst of times together. Still, relationships are hard work, and money adds a dimension that seldom nourishes affection. You work together to handle financial emergencies, budget for purchases, and balance career obligations. All of this requires patience and understanding. Your partner (or you) arrives home late, or tired, or grumpy, or stressed, and you have to try to respond with compassion rather than frustration.
When early retirement arrives, we’ll be able to take that source of stress out of our lives. We can focus on the health of our relationship as a top priority. We already love each other, but I can’t wait to be on permanent vacation with her.
2. Eat Everything
If you’re like me, food is one of the true pleasures of life. When you travel far from home, do you find yourself missing something that they only get “right” where you live? I definitely do.
There is a whole world of local specialties done as no other place can do them, no matter how hard they try. A big part of our adventures always involves finding the local specialty where locals eat it, and pigging out!
What have you always wanted to taste, or cook, but haven’t had the chance? Early Retirement means even more time, freedom, and health to indulge.
1. Slow Travel the World
Though it may not be for everyone, slow travel is surely for us. When I say slow travel, I don’t mean “spending a few months in many places on an itinerary.” What I mean is having the freedom to pick a starting point, anywhere, with no planned end date. We would simply commit to spending an indeterminate amount of time somewhere, and could choose to either remain there or move on to new adventures when ready.
Because our retirement will be on a fixed budget, one of our dreams involves beginning our retirement in southern Spain or France. They’re developed countries, and have access to excellent health care and amenities, but it’s possible to live in a second or third tier city on a very modest budget. We’d be able to hop on a short train or plane ride to any one of several world capitals to shop, adventure, or access a major international airport.
We’d probably plan to spend at least a year in each location to allow us to sign a lease on a place to live. Living like a local gives one the chance to build friendships, experience local culture, and to explore deeper than the usual surface-level that tourism allows.
At some point we’d move on from our first retirement home. Having spent less than our budget, we’d have the option to spend some time in an expensive place like London, Paris or Tokyo, or to continue off the beaten path. We’ve discussed a return to Sarajevo, or Southeast Asia, or many of the cities in South America.
The point is that the world would truly be our playground. We’re fortunate to have good jobs and great friends in our lives- it’s our responsibility to make the most of our chance to take in the world. As our tagline says- Life is short. Travel far.
I love writing articles like this, because it ignites my passion and excitement for our goal. Sometimes, even the short road to early retirement seems a little too long. Dreaming of what comes next is a great way to stay focused. Did I miss anything? How will you fill your days and nights in retirement?