Last Updated on November 19, 2022 by Ellen
Your dream is to retire early and travel the world, or maybe you have a serious plan to do and you’re looking for some inspiration and that’s how you landed here. We hope we can help.
We offer our these guideline as suggestions, and give examples of how we did it – and how we continue to do it today!
We are not financial advisors, and we don’t give investment advice. Hopefully, this page encourages people to truly understand their spending, saving, and investment decisions. This is an independent website. We aren’t trying to sell you anything. We don’t work with sponsors or affiliates. Ads you see here help offset the costs for running this site and are determined based on your browsing history.
Now, let’s get to the good stuff!
How to retire early and travel the world
First, we lived below our means and we didn’t waste money on needless things. Our spending was frugal – not extravagant.
We saved, we invested. The magic of compounding and a long bull market multiplied Theo’s holdings; he began investing at the dawn of his career.
Theo always found the best deals from groceries to gifts. He is a talented, shrewd shopper. Today he finds the best prices in town – in foreign countries!
We continue to own a modest home in the USA. It is a comfortable, efficient, rehabbed property in Cleveland, Ohio. Theo paid it off years ago, and it’s now rented long term, netting us about $700 a month in passive income.
To give you a specific example of living below our means, Ellen spent 24% of her net income on rent in Cleveland for many years – not 35% of gross income, which is the formula many Americans use. Bonus: Cleveland is a low cost-of-living city.
We each chose not to have children. (We know many early retired couples who do!)
No ‘keeping up with the Joneses.’ We did not buy or lease new cars every few years like most Americans. (In fact, today we don’t own any cars. We travel the world mostly by trains and buses; we fly only when absolutely necessary.
Other examples: we didn’t buy expensive jewelry, clothing, or home decor. Our credit card balance finance charges were minimal, and we avoided late fees.
That’s how we were able to retire early and travel the world.
There are many more examples of how we made intentional choices that led to early retirement. We could write a book. Maybe one day we will.
Our travel budget
What we spend each month varies on where we are in the world. Places like Mexico or Thailand cost less than Italy or Montenegro.
Our budget goal is to keep monthly expenses under $2,000. Accounting for the $700 monthly rental income, that means we need less than $1,500 per month from our savings.
Some months we exceed the budget. Thankfully, we have that flexibility. However, $2,000 outflow is the goal.
We were able to retire early and travel the world —
BUT– that doesn’t mean we stay at five-star resorts and eat at white-tablecloth restaurants. Comfortable living accommodations in exotic places, delicious food in foreign countries, experiencing incredible sites on Earth all are possible because we still live within our means.
This lifestyle would not have been possible if we had stayed in the U.S.
We are open about our $2,000 per month budget:
Some COVID-era travel:
- Slow travel in India
- Living in Penang as slow budget travelers – example ONE, example TWO
- One month stay in Bangkok
- Comfortable, cheap Airbnb in Hua Hin, Thailand
- Hua Hin cost of living for one month
Examples of pre-COVID travels:
- How to travel cheap 1 month in Southeast Asia
- Slow travel budget breakdown for 1 month in Penang, Malaysia
- Cheap month-long stay in Bali: $1.5k for 2 people
- 3 months in Europe: what it cost
- 1 month in Lisbon: what it cost
- What it cost to live in Chiang Mai, Thailand for 1 month
- Life in Kotor, Montenegro: what 1 month cost
A few yearly totals:
On the topic of health care…
We should write a book, but that feels like too much work. After all — we’re retired!
We pay out of pocket for routine medical care. We know that option sounds scary to most Americans. However, our experience proves quality health care exists at reasonable prices around the world.
Two big expenditure examples:
- Ellen’s double mastectomy in Croatia: total cost was around $10,000 for everything related to the early-stage diagnosis
- mammogram, biopsy, pathology reports, surgery, recovery in a private room, oncologist opinion
- Ellen’s broken wrist in Thailand that was reset in Malaysia: total cost was around $2,200
Some mundane examples:
- Eyeglasses in Mexico, Spain, and the Philippines
- Eyeglasses repair in Malaysia
- Dental work in Malaysia in 2019, and again in 2022
- Trip to the ear, nose, throat specialist in the Philippines
- Oncologist, gynecologist examples from Malaysia
There are many other health care examples published on this website – and there are many additional foreign health care experiences we have never published here. (This blog is a lot of work!) Suffice it to say, we have had mostly good experiences with health care abroad, so far.
Living costs as budget slow travelers
Additionally, we write about money-related topics as they relate to budget slow travel in early retirement.
- How to effectively plan a budget slow travel itinerary
- Proof on onward travel (a big one – read this if you are serious and really want to retire early and travel the world!)
- What’s the best way to pack to avoid airline fees?
- How do you cross borders on visa runs?
- How can you find good – and cheap – street food?
- Which sites are best to find apartments?
- Is it tough to buy prescription drugs overseas?
- How can I connect with other people in this lifestyle?
With some planning and determination, it’s possible to retire early and travel the world without spending a ton of money.
We hope this website will give you ideas.
An expat travel lifestyle in retirement is possible – and it’s fun!
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