As we begin a new year, and start an exciting new blog (!!!), it is a time of reflecting on our goals. For us, we are grappling with the timeless question of living for now vs. living for later. We have been saving for years, knowing we wanted to work toward some version of flexibility and increased life choices.

What is Financial Independence for Us? 

Financial independence can take on many different forms and definitions. Its broadest definition, in my mind, is the ability to make life choices that are not solely based on money. This can take on many different forms. In the purest sense, it is the freedom to not have to work at all, ever, for income. But for some, it could also mean not having to sit at a desk all day working for someone else. It could mean developing passive income streams, working remotely, developing your own business, and having the ability to set your own schedule and work terms. We would be very happy to achieve any of these degrees of financial independence!

Lately, in trying to determine what version of financial independence is right for our family to aspire to, we have been grappling with a goal of early retirement in a decade or so vs. a goal of a full-time travel break in the near future.

Considering Early Retirement as a Goal 

If you would have asked me a couple of years ago, I would have said that our goal was early retirement. Save as much money as possible now until we reach a certain number, use the 4% withdrawal rule, and hope for the best.  I have been seriously inspired by many early retirement bloggers. However, in our mid-thirties and with two kids in tow, we are still a long way off from hitting a comfortable number. It would likely be over a decade before we would be able to retire early in the fullest sense of not having to work anymore to generate any income.

By that time, our kids probably won’t be interested in spending a ton of time with Mom and Dad! Also, that’s at least another decade tied to our desks and our inflexible schedules – not sounding great. Maybe if my husband and I would have met as kids or young adults and started saving together as many of the successful early retirees did, we would be in a better spot. We’re happy that we have been able to double our net worth in the few years since we have been married, and plan to keep slugging away at savings and investment opportunities as we are able.

When considering early retirement, another thought keeps bothering me as well. I keep being reminded of my economics coursework – striving for “consumption smoothing” over one’s lifetime as a goal. For us to achieve early retirement while currently living in a high-cost area with high fixed costs for housing and child care, our discretionary spending would have to fall to an incredibly low level for us to make any headway with savings. In other words, our consumption (for all things other than housing and childcare) would have to fall to a level so low that our current quality of life would be impacted and we would certainly not be “smoothing” consumption over time. It would feel a bit like we were living for tomorrow more than for today.

Other Options – A Full-Time Travel Break? 

Given our situation, we have been looking at other options that would still allow us to break out of our current routine, spend more time with our kids while they’re young, and as we like to say “move beyond the mundane.” Lately, the idea of a full-time travel break has been very appealing. Like we have been inspired by early retirement bloggers, we are now also inspired by full-time traveling families. In particular, the idea of full-time RVing families is very appealing with young kids.

We’re not sure how long we would want a full-time travel lifestyle, or how long we could financially support it. But we’re using 2018 to look into that idea while we continue to slowly build up our savings. There are so many things that seem appealing about living in an RV, and others that seem intimidating. Primarily, we see this as a way to spend more time with our kids while they’re young and take some time to reevaluate our life journey as a family – where we live now, where we want to raise kids, what type of lifestyle we want to create for ourselves and for them.

However, the challenge would be reentry. It feels risky to sell everything and take off an an RV with two young kids, not knowing what would await us on the other end of our journey. It also seems like it would feel extremely liberating and exhilarating!

Thanks for reading. We welcome your thoughts!

11 replies on “Early Retirement vs. Full-Time Travel

  1. So what did you decide?! This is exactly the thought process my husband and I went through. We saved up enough money for a great down payment on a house, but when it came time to seal the deal, we realized it isn’t what we wanted. We hit the road a couple of months later and have been traveling since. It was difficult to read this blog and remember what a difficult decision this was for us. As you said, it is very risky. Good luck. I can’t wait to read more!

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    1. Hi Jen! We have not decided yet. Our kids are still very young so the more we think about a full time travel break, we are considering what the best timing would be. May still be a few years off. Congratulations to you! I’ll be very interested to follow your journey!

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  2. When I was 12-13, my parents sold everything (house, business, cars) and took our family of 4 kids travelling for the better part of a year through Australia & New Zealand. It was hands-down the best experience of my childhood, and I would LOVE to give my kids a similar experience. I realized last night that I’m quickly approaching the age they were when they did it, which is probably why I’m increasingly looking for something “more” outside of normal day-to-day life!

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    1. Oh wow! I’d love to hear more. What did you all do after that year and what were the age ranges of all of you? Our kids are really young now and while I want “more” now, I’m wondering what the best age would be to do this with them. Such a great experience to have received and to be able to possibly give your kids!

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      1. We ranged in age from 6-13. For us it was the perfect time to do it, although there’s obviously a big difference in how I remember it versus how my brother who was 6 at the time remembers it! Our parents homeschooled us during that year, and I can tell you that we didn’t come back behind at all, although we obviously missed certain things (I know very little about medieval Europe, for example!). When we came back we relocated to a different city (a move my parents wanted to make anyway), and they jumped back into their old careers. If you have any specific questions just let me know! It’s funny because at the time it seemed fairly “normal” to me, but now I realize what a massive undertaking and risk it was for my parents to take!

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  3. I just recently read At Home in the World by Tsh Oxenreider. It’s not about RVing, but it is about a family with 3 young kids taking a year to travel around the world. You might want to check it out! It was definitely inspiring.

    Our timeline for permanent retirement would also be at least 10 years – probably more. So I am working towards a “financial freedom” goal that is a much shorter timeframe. This financial freedom savings level would open the door to new options, like taking a short break from work (to travel!), or choosing to work part-time to spend more time with our daughter.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the book rec. Yes, financial freedom in the short term (via location independence/savings/cutting spending) seems like a much more achievable and desirable goal in some ways than the far-off goal of financial independence forever.

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