What's your plan for the day when the alarm clock doesn't signal the start of the work week? Will you play more golf, spend time with the grandkids and take on the volunteer project you never had time for when you were wrapped up in a career?
Kaye and Larry Richardson
Here's another idea: Sell your home, cars and all your belongings and become senior-citizen nomads, roaming around the world at your pleasure and getting to know how people on other continents live.
For some adventurous retirees, full-time travel is the only way to go.
Spread your wings in retirement
Meet Larry and Kaye Richardson, both 63, of Little Rock, Arkansas. Married for 42 years, they have two sons and two grandchildren. Even before Larry retired from his sales career in June, they've been laying plans for a globe-trekking retirement.
"When we decided three years ago that we would retire this year, we had to figure out what we wanted to do in our retirement years," says Kaye, a former middle-school counselor. "We looked at what retired people around us were doing, including volunteer work at church or local schools, babysitting grandchildren and taking senior citizen trips, and we knew we didn't want to do that."
Smorgasbord of places to see
Following up on a previous tip from their son that they move abroad to Central America, they briefly reconsidered the idea but realized they didn't want to commit to one place. "We love Paris and Ireland and London," says Kaye. "There are so many wonderful places around the world, how would we ever choose?"
After stumbling upon a blog written by Lynne Martin, detailing the adventures of her nomadic retirement with husband Tim, the lightbulb went on. "I knew that was it," Kaye says. "We would sell the house and all the extraneous stuff and live home-free around the world."
This summer, they visited family and friends in the U.S. and after Christmas plan to spend the winter in Costa Rica. In April, they'll take a repositioning cruise to Europe.
The white picket fence – and the house – are gone
The Richardsons sold their home and gave away most of their belongings. They kept an antique vehicle and a few household items in storage.
"We had a 2,400 square-foot house, inground pool and great yard in Little Rock," says Kaye, "with three decks, cute potting shed and rose-covered pergola."
Now that they're free of such financial constraints as mortgages, insurance and property taxes, they only need to plan for travel funds.
Retirement income will come from an online business they own, Newport Nautical Décor, as well as retirement checks and investment earnings. They expect their expenses to be similar to what they spend now and plan on keeping them low by staying in apartments rather than hotels and cooking many of their meals instead of eating at restaurants.
Chasing adventure; chatting up the locals
Kaye says she can't stop talking about her new life and what they hope to gain. "We love to travel, but more than checking places off a list, we love just being there," she says. "We want to be at home in Paris or a village in Ireland or Lake Como in Italy, temporarily."
They see the steady diet of new people, places and adventures as a plus. "We want to be 'regulars' at a local pub in Ireland," she adds. "We want to spend days in the British Museum, not hours; we want to wander neighborhoods and admire tiny gardens and window boxes and buy apples from the fruit stand around the corner."
But what if we hate it?
The thrill of novelty aside, the Richardsons are aware of the drawbacks of their choice of retirement -- chiefly leaving family behind. Kaye says they plan to communicate by Skype and FaceTime. "We all text, email, Instagram, and stream pictures frequently," she says.
And ultimately, when you're as flexible as the Richardsons, you know the plan doesn't have to be written in stone. "If we just don't like it, we can always come home, buy a house, volunteer at church and local schools, babysit our precious grandchildren and go on senior citizen trips," Kaye says. "Or, hike the Appalachian Trail; or raise chickens. We have lots of options."
Meet the retirees who picked up stakes for a new life
Looking for adventure and travel in retirement? Check out the financial and lifestyle changes these five couples made to realize their dreams.
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