I just started listening to the FIRE Drill podcast, and I think it’s excellent. Each episode is a loose, interesting interview with someone in the FIRE community. It’s a great way to learn new things about a site that you enjoy or get a primer on a site that you haven’t seen yet. And I really enjoy listening to the different guests’ takes on what retirement will mean for them.
I’m struck by the number of people who hope to travel after achieving FI. I feel that this is a laudable goal, and since most jobs don’t allow for much personal travel, I can see why it’s one that many associate with not having a (traditional) job. It’s interesting, though, because I don’t really share this goal. I decided to figure out why that was, and what the circumstances would have to be in order for me to travel more.
Reasons I Don’t Want to Travel
Oddly, this is the first thing I thought of. Recently, a friend of mine asked me about getting to the airport, stating that she hadn’t traveled by plane in a few years. Her family and job are both in this area, so she hasn’t really had any reason to do so. My first feeling was one of envy. I don’t really like flying, driving, or taking buses. Sure, I love to be in new places, but the trials and tribulations of getting there seem more and more irritating as I get older. I like sleeping in comfortable beds, cooking my own food, and not having to spend hours strapped into a chair.
2) Environmental Impact
Every day, I try to do what I can to make environmentally sound choices. I’m a little obsessive about recycling, I try to avoid driving (it’s stressful and bad for the environment, double whammy), and I sweat through the summers and freeze in the winter. I recognize that there’s a lot beyond my control, but when I have the opportunity to make the less carbon-heavy choice, I try to do so.
There are some interesting analyses on flying versus driving and the environmental impact of each. It’s pretty complex, but when it comes to very long-distance trips, the point to me isn’t whether I fly or drive. If it’s a very long trip, I would likely either fly or not go at all. Would I love to go to Oslo? Yes. But if I would be going there just for pleasure, and only for a short period of time, I feel like the benefits wouldn’t be enough to outweigh the environmental cost of doing so.
When I was a child, traveling to visit family was a big part of life. I really admire my parents for helping us forge close ties with people who lived far away. They were willing to put up with all of the hassle factors that I mentioned above and then some. But one of the most comforting thoughts I have about my future parental status is that I am not obligated to make those same choices. The thought of anything more than a few hours in the car stresses me out, let alone epic multi-day drives. If Mr. RN and I have kids, I want to make our home and hearts open to anyone who would like to visit. But I don’t imagine myself feeling enthusiastic about a lot of long journeys.
4) Living abroad
I’m fortunate enough to have had the experience of living abroad. I find that the time I spent abroad challenged me and spoiled me at the same time. There are so many experiences I find mundane here that are actually pretty neat in another country – poking around the grocery store, taking black cabs, attending a preschool graduation. While living abroad, I started to hate going to places where I didn’t speak the local language well. I started to feel like I’d only want to go to a country if I had made a concerted effort to learn a ton about it first, as when I was just passing through I always felt like I was missing something.
5) My peeps
Generally speaking, I love to spend my free time with people who live near me. Sure, I’d love to spend a weekend in a great vacation spot, enjoying a new city and taking lots of cheesy photos. But I love spending weekends here in the city with people I really don’t get to see often enough anyway.
And a Few Reasons I Will
1) Visiting friends/family
No matter where I decide to live, it will be far away from some of my friends and family members. And no matter how much I try to maximize big family get-togethers, there will be some people I can’t see without traveling. I think all I can do to address this is use these opportunities judiciously.
2) Short & sweet getaways near where we live
I think staycations are fantastic and sweet. In most parts of the country, it’s also possible to get out to a place that’s neither too far nor too fancy – state parks come to mind. Some of my friends growing up had something like this. They owned a run-down mobile home on some beautiful land in the country, in addition to their “forever home” in town. When we wanted a taste of nature, we’d just head out to their land and set up some tents. Those days of bottle rockets, stream stomping, and swinging on an old tire were some of the sweetest summer days of my childhood. I’m sure that the ownership costs were fairly low, and to me it was always just as fun as going somewhere more exotic.
3) International sabbatical
A lot of folks on the internet kick this idea around, and some actually achieve it. To me, it sounds fantastic. The basic idea is to spend a period of time (perhaps 6 months to a year) living abroad. There’s a bit more of a settled rhythm to one’s life this way, I think, and it’s possible to see many tourist attractions while also getting to experience the best of daily life. I’d like to try this at some point. Ideally, we’d go somewhere where Mr. RN and I can speak the language and do a lot to enjoy our new surroundings.
What do you think, readers? Are you planning to travel more or less after you reach FI?