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WSJ: Perpetual Travel article
Old 10-23-2012, 07:43 AM   #1
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WSJ: Perpetual Travel article

I noticed that the most emailed article in the WSJ was currently about Perpetual Travel:

Can't Decide Where to Retire? - WSJ.com

It is about a couple, aged 66 and 70, who sold almost everything and uprooted from California to pursue the Perpetual Travel (PT) lifestyle. So far they have lived in Mexico, Argentina, Florida, Turkey, France, Italy and England and will soon be trying out Ireland and Morocco. They are living in these places for shorter periods of time (1-4 months in each location) than the Terhorsts and Kaderlis.

Usually only high-end luxury-style travel articles make the WSJ and these folks' expenses are pretty high for this sort of living (over $6000 per month and that is just their PT living costs and does not include the other ongoing costs that one always has like health care, transportation to these places, income tax, personal items, gifts, etc.). There is a graphic in the article that breaks out their spending for each location in a limited number of travel-living-related categories.

Is PT going mainstream?

They also mentioned their blog in the article at: HOME FREE RETIREMENT | "Certainly travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living."
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Old 10-23-2012, 09:40 AM   #2
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I read the article and found it very interesting. I think this couple is unique in that they are able to be happy without a nest of their own. Reading between the lines, I also get the impression they are very much in love and truly enjoy sharing their lives together.

One thing I do believe is that house or no house, more Americans should travel the world. Given our status as the one remaining super-power, it is amazing how many misunderstandings Americans have about other parts of the world and our relationship to them.
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Old 10-23-2012, 10:13 AM   #3
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I suppose this sort of lifestyle is the ultimate in valueing experience over things.

When you factor in all of the (real and opportunity) costs of owning a home it all adds up to quite a bit. If you took that money, it just may go quite a way towards a perpetual travel lifestyle.

On some of the cruise forums, people allude to a few cruisers who live on the ships year round. The expense of yearlong cruising isn't that bad considering room, board, and bingo are all provided.
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Old 10-23-2012, 11:10 AM   #4
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Indeed an interesting article and very exciting experience. About the $6k/month, I'm not sure how large this couple's portfolio is and how long they plan to keep traveling. OTOH, why waste precious time when they're still physically capable of enjoying their adventures and before dollar's value gets further eroded anyway?
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Old 10-23-2012, 02:02 PM   #5
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This is a very interesting story, but there are a couple of things I wonder about. For example, she says "The notion of living like the locals in other countries thrilled us". She does at least say "the notion of living like locals", rather than the reality of living like locals which in 1 or 2 month stays she could not possibly know anything about. In 1 or 2 month stays, what genius could possibly pick up enough language to live like locals? It can take far longer than that to understand a new neighborhood in your own city.

Or she says "At the same time, we enjoy lunches where the paté comes from heaven, drives through the luscious French countryside where even the cows are beautiful, and strolls along the Arno River in Italy for our after-dinner exercise." Even the cows are beautiful? And I am pretty sure that paté mostly comes from the livers of dead animals, not heaven.

Are not cows beautiful wherever they are? They look pretty good to me in Wyoming or Montana or almpost anyplace else where they are found. And I am pretty certain that though the Arno riverbank must be thrilling, is it really better than a beach or rocky headland along countless miles of US shore?

I think this woman is "blessed" with an abundance of romanticism. The appeal of the unfamiliar can sometimes be based on nothing more than that one does not understand it. Without enough language or cultural understanding to really know what is going on many things can appear to be magically exotic.

The other thing is, these articles invariably make a big virtue out of preferring experience over things. Though I have very few things, I would have to be deluded to imagine that purchased experiences are fundamentally different from purchased things. It is all the same, much like black clothing vs brown. Although I admit that purchased experiences are like bottles of wine, they do have the advantage that they become empty bottles and go into the trash soon enough, rather than durable things that you have to somehow find a room for in your home and life. Unless you make the mistake of taking a lot of fotos, or worse, video. Then you are an archivist.

As children of a commercial, consumerist society, we are pretty much destined to be consumers until we make our final consumer purchases in a nursing home, hospital and undertaker's parlor. Imagining otherwise is mostly vanity.

Ha
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Old 10-23-2012, 02:25 PM   #6
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As children of a commercial, consumerist society, we are pretty much destined to be consumers until we make our final consumer purchases in a nursing home, hospital and undertaker's parlor. Imagining otherwise is mostly vanity.

Ha
Ah, well, it is vanity then. I'm okay with that. Because getting to see places that look completely different than where I now live is the most compelling reason I have to travel. That, and getting to meet people that are unlike any that I can find in my hometown. I'll happily consume those things rather than another dust collector in my home.

I won't say that I suffer from romantic notions about the locals, but I have felt the warmth and friendliness of a restaurant owner, the cheery smiles of the kids underfoot at the mechanic's shop, and the pure joy of sharing the beauty of their homeland with us wide-eyed tourists.

And, good lord, aren't we a ray of sunshine today?
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Old 10-23-2012, 03:19 PM   #7
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......Although, purchased experiences are like bottles of wine, they do have the advantage that they become empty bottles and go into the trash soon enough, rather than durable things that you have to somehow find a room for in your home and life...........
Ha
Thanks for the post, Ha. Rather than going on vacation this year I think I'll just shoot myself.
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Old 10-23-2012, 03:25 PM   #8
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I'd worry about a place where the farm animals are considered "beautiful"...

Spending $6k/mo? If you want to see what the locals live like in many places, try $600/mo.
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Old 10-23-2012, 03:27 PM   #9
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The other thing is, these articles invariably make a big virtue out of preferring experience over things. Though I have very few things, I would have to be deluded to imagine that purchased experiences are fundamentally different from purchased things. It is all the same, much like black clothing vs brown. Although, purchased experiences are like bottles of wine, they do have the advantage that they become empty bottles and go into the trash soon enough, rather than durable things that you have to somehow find a room for in your home and life. Unless you make the mistake of taking a lot of fotos, or worse, video. Then you are an archivist.


Ha

I tend to agree with that.

I think that, for many people, travel is a much like an expensive car or a McMansion: a way to keep score.
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Old 10-23-2012, 03:49 PM   #10
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And, good lord, aren't we a ray of sunshine today?
Ah yes, I have heard that sentiment expressed.
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Thanks for the post, Ha. Rather than going on vacation this year I think I'll just shoot myself.
Oh please, don't. I couldn't live with the guilt.

Ha
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Old 10-23-2012, 03:50 PM   #11
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I'd worry about a place where the farm animals are considered "beautiful"...

Spending $6k/mo? If you want to see what the locals live like in many places, try $600/mo.
I've only made it to about 20 countries in my short time here on this earth, touching every continent but Australia and Antarctica. I traveled mainly for work, so international business class, what I would consider "luxury" hotels, nice meals, etc. I always enjoy my time abroad, but make no mistake, I love returning home.

Trust me, there are very few places in the world where I would want to live like the locals. Developed countries included.

I have some silly dream about sailing around the world. DW is reluctant, and I don't live in some euphoria with beautiful cows, so if the day ever comes, I'll leave her to watch the nest if she so desires. Or, she can join me. I'll be sure to let you all know where our first destination is so you can meet us on the dock with cash and a lowball offer for the boat. Perhaps we may enjoy it though...
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Old 10-23-2012, 05:49 PM   #12
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I found the article interesting.

One of the other message boards I sometimes frequent is slowtalk.com. It's the message board for the Slow Travel group. The idea is that rather than seeing 11 cities in 8 days, you spend a week or more in each spot... getting to know the area you're visiting better. And that it can be a much more enjoyable way of traveling.

One of the advantages of week or longer stays is that you can tap into the vacation apartment market - which offers a lot more bang for your buck (space, kitchen, etc.) for a smaller price tag. Assuming you don't mind making your own bed in the morning.

We discovered this style of travel when we had kids. Hotels are less practical if you have toddlers that want to nap, right when housekeeping wants to make up the room... or if you don't want to turn out the lights and go to sleep when your 6 year old crashes for the night. By renting a 1 or 2 bedroom apartment, we could make breakfasts in our room, so we didn't have to get dressed and showered before our first cup of coffee. I don't think I'll ever go back to fast travel.

Our trip to Sicily a year ago we went to 3 different cities in 3 weeks. We used each apartment as a base to explore that area... but we also had plenty of down time. In each city we got to know the local merchants, get a feel for the areas, and enjoy the vibe of each town.

I have friend's who've done extended stay world travel. While you might not be 100% living like a local - you're going shopping for food, you're getting coffee at the local bar/restaurant and getting to know the staff... you're more integrated than a typical fast paced trip.

I'm not sure I'd give up my house though. But I might make extensive use of home exchanges to offset the costs of renting where I'm traveling to.
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Old 10-23-2012, 05:56 PM   #13
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I'd worry about a place where the farm animals are considered "beautiful"...
Sure don't want to be caught mooing around closing time.

Ha
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Old 10-23-2012, 07:32 PM   #14
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Eh, the people in the article have money, and just as importantly, they are willing to spend it on travel. As for myself, even if I had the money, I don't think I would travel as much. I think that same as any good food, if one gorges himself on something, it loses its allure. And people have different satiation levels.

I also agree with what Ha says about the fact that we do not quite know the language and the local culture makes these places more exotic and intriguing. But so what? Of course I like to see different cultures, taste different food, different ways of life. And I will be doing it in the full knowledge that the people of those exotic places also want to go on vacation, and they do go elsewhere, perhaps even the good ole USA.

PS. Yes, I am also one of those hopelessly romantic types. Somewhere in this forum, I described how many years ago, on a road to San Jose, we drove through some hilly farmlands with green pasture in spring and cows grazing. Yes, I thought those cows looked beautiful too, and forgot that they produced the manure that I used for planting.

Aw, why can't we get romantic sometimes and forget about the "real stuff"? Life is too short, and one should be allowed to indulge himself with nice thoughts. No?
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Old 10-23-2012, 08:01 PM   #15
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Aw, why can't we get romantic sometimes and forget about the "real stuff"?
I like romance, in a carefully controlled environment like a dance floor. Outside of that, to me at least it can be a bit much.

I guess I like the process of feeling romantic, but I don't like the thought distortions that romance can cause.

Ha
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Old 10-23-2012, 08:07 PM   #16
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I like romance, in a carefully controlled environment like a dance floor. Outside of that, to me at least it can be a bit much.
Ah, about that kind of romance, I do not even dance, so get less of "it" than you do even, let alone in "non-controlled" environment.

Umm... what are we talking about here? Never mind. I will go back to my travel photos to look for that nice looking cow. Well, may have to satisfy myself with some duck photos instead.
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Old 10-23-2012, 08:20 PM   #17
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Hey, if that's how the couple want to spend their money then more power to them.

We lived the perpetual-travel lifestyle in the Navy, where you'd go live overseas for periods between six months and three years. You could always live on base in a nearby "American ghetto", but what fun is that? Better to live out in town and be local. I still fondly remember watching Sesame Street with my spouse's (then GF's) landlady and learning new vocabulary. Spanish. In Rota. Nearly 30 years ago. We have sea stories from overseas duty that we'll tell for the rest of our daughter's lifetime.

I feel more at home with the culture, language, cuisine, and cities of Japan than I do in Norfolk, VA. And as miserable as the weather could be in Holy Loch, Scotland, it was small-town living at its finest-- far better than Washington, DC.

Ironically today we find it difficult to give ourselves permission to "just travel". For some reason we have to assign a purpose to it-- a meeting on a neighbor island, a volunteer gig with a non-profit, a Mainland blogger conference, or visiting family. Maybe one day we'll get better at picking up and going. I don't pay close attention to our budget anymore, but the biggest entry on our credit cards this year has been airplane tickets. I'm more familiar with the drive from our daughter's downtown Houston college to the airport rental-car return than I am with Waikiki.

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Thanks for the post, Ha. Rather than going on vacation this year I think I'll just shoot myself.
You guys understand that this discussion board is known all over the Internet for the quality & quantity of its curmudgeons, right? It ain't easy.

I have to give credit to REWahoo! for bringing my attention to this training site:
The Problem with Young People Today Is…
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Old 10-23-2012, 08:43 PM   #18
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The article was okay but I find the adventures of some of our members much more interesting.They are really living this lifestyle but on a smaller budget and without all the romanticism .
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Old 10-23-2012, 08:53 PM   #19
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After reading HA's message I feel like buying one of those shirts that say "Life's a bitch, then you die."

But.......

For what it is worth, my travels, while limited compared to many people, have given me countless hours of pleasure, many good conversations, and have made excellent ice-breakers with strangers.

We all choose to spend our resources as we with. Some of us like to balance things, time and experiences. Please don't rain our our parade.
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Old 10-23-2012, 09:15 PM   #20
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We were gobsmacked to come across these Belted Galloway cows while driving through Maine a couple of years ago--I think they are beautiful.
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