By 2009, the Travel Bug had really gotten under Janice’s skin.
She and I had been happily unwedded for twenty-eight years and, as I was rapidly approaching sixty years of age, I’d pretty well figured out that we were in need of a retirement plan. We had no children, no debt, and while both our parents were aging, to their credit, they insisted that we couldn’t let that hold us back from the things we wanted to do. We weighed that sentiment against the possibility of travel and came to the conclusion that, if circumstances demanded, we’d only be a flight or two away from home anyway.
That made it easy to settle on a five-year exit strategy: Quit work and start traveling.
We had no idea how or where we’d travel to at this point, it was simply an agreement that we both could live with. So, a few weeks later when Janice suggested that we just get into an RV and head east on my sixty-fifth birthday, I readily agreed. We decided that the one caveat to that five-year plan was this: If anybody else close to us dies, we knock a year from the time frame. In other words, we’d take off in four years instead of five.
In 2009, the day before our scheduled trip to Spain, our long-time friend, Dave Jenneson, (Big D), died. While the ravages of cancer had made his death imminent, it affected us deeply. When we returned from our trip, Janice pushed to re-visit The Plan.
So what if we might be a couple hundred thousand dollars or so short of retirement? We decided we really didn’t have anything holding us back. We had some money, we were both in good health and because we had recently witnessed some of our friends suffer prolonged, dragged-out deaths from one horrible disease or another, I agreed to seriously revisit The Plan. I suggested that I’d write down a few different Plan scenarios and, one night the next week, we’d crack a bottle of wine, throw some ideas against the wall and see if any stuck.
In the meantime we discovered that Janice’s father had become terminally ill with cancer and that Big D’s ex-wife, Charlie, a very good friend of ours, had received news that her cancer had returned; usually a disastrous sign.
A few weeks later, as Janice prepared dinner I poured wine and then read aloud my first of five suggestions, “We could liquidate and start traveling now.” She questioned, “What do you mean by that?” “Well, we sell everything and start traveling.” Her reaction was immediate, “Oh, I like that one!” “Okay,” I responded, “but let’s look at the other options.” Excitedly but evenly she responded, “Oh, I like that one.”
The other four ideas barely got to see the light of day.
I poured more wine and the discussion carried on over dinner and then on to the deck. A few hours later we settled on the idea that; instead of quitting our jobs we’d take a year off, get into an RV and travel across Canada (we’d only been as far as Saskatchewan). We’d then meander down the Eastern Seaboard of the United States (hadn’t been there either), basically following the warm weather until we found our way to Mexico, where we could wile away the winter tooling around.
By the time we had finished the second bottle of wine The Plan was to sell the house, sell the rental property, cash in everything but our paltry sum of RRSPs, and then hit the road, September 1st.
Our five-year plan had gone out the window.
The next morning, waking with headaches, we sheepishly started to back off our ambitious departure date. Then we backed off selling the house. Next we backed off selling the rental property. What were we thinking? It was already July and there would be a lot of planning and preparation…
Eventually a more appropriate departure date became June 1 of the following year. That would give us lots of time to plan and to make sure we had time to arrange everything; from prepaying taxes and utilities to buying a travel unit, to consider which vaccinations we should have, to figure out the intricacies of secure online banking while travelling, to screening some property management companies, to negotiating things with our respective bosses as best we could…
We both knew we were valuable employees in our current endeavors. Janice as a cook for a downtown Mexican fusion restaurant and me in commission sales for a business lobby group. We figured we’d be up front and give our bosses lots of notice before requesting a year’s leave of absence – knowing beforehand that we were going regardless.
This website is testament to the fact that things pretty well started to fall into place from there.