With financial independence coming at us fast, I want to get a head start on life after FIRE.
My wife says I’m a dreamer and she’s right. However, I’ve turned many of my dreams into goals and accomplished them with proper planning.
Below are some early retirement ideas. Most are travel, fitness, or education oriented because outside of money, that is what I enjoy.
Singapore to Portugal by train
When I lived in Korea I started saving half my paycheck in order to travel more. A teaching colleague told me about the Trans-Siberian Railroad and I was immediately intrigued. Turns out there is a train that goes all the way across Russia! There are two other routes; the one I was most interested in was the Trans-Mongolian which goes from China through Mongolia and Russia, finishing in Moscow. From Moscow, you can take a train to Poland and from there, with a EuroRail pass go all the way to Portugal through a variety of routes.
Long journeys like this have always inspired me. I was in the early stages of planning this trip in 2009 before deciding to teach another year and stay close to my now wife. I recently found out you can take a train from Singapore through Malaysia and Thailand before hopping on a bus through Cambodia and into Vietnam. From Ho Chi Minh City you can catch a train to China where the Trans-Mongolian adventure begins. This trip is over 10,000 miles so I would love to do it over the course of six months to a year.
Mexico to Argentina
Over the past few months, my wife and I have visited Colombia and Mexico, enjoying both immensely. Latin America is a great place to start early retirement considering the low cost of living and ease of Spanish versus other foreign languages.
In early retirement I think it would be fun to slow travel from Mexico to Argentina; going through the Central American countries of Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama before entering South America.
Once in South America I would go back head left on the map to Colombia and then Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile, all the way to the bottom of Argentina. From Argentina, I’d probably head up through Uruguay, Paraguay, and Brazil before flying back home. This trip could take anywhere months to years. Outside of Brazil, all of these countries allow Americans without visa requirements. Many would be fun to stay for extended periods of time and relatively inexpensive assuming you’re not staying in a hotel.
There are many well-traveled people who have been to six continents. But how many have been to all seven?
Since I’m considering going from Mexico to Argentina, I might as well go all the way to Antarctica. Tours leave from the tip of Argentina and start at around $5000 for a week. Not cheap but might be worth working an extra month or two to check this off my bucket list.
Let be honest, much of Africa is pretty scary. It’s a huge continent with many unknowns and there are wars happening simultaneously. I’d feel very comfortable flying into say South Africa or Kenya or Egypt for a ten-day adventure vacation. But Africa is not a continent you should cross alone. This is where overlanding trips come in.
Overlanding is a great way to see an entire continent with the help of a guide. Normally I’m not a huge fan of guided tours but it’s hard to see a lion in the wild without some help. These tours can last from a few days to a few months. I’ve read about some starting in Morocco and going down the western side of Africa to South Africa before coming back up eastern African, ending in Egypt.
Hiking the Pacific Crest Trail
I used to love hiking while in Boy Scouts but never spent more than a week out in the wilderness. Hiking the Pacific Crest Trail has become increasingly popular after the book and subsequent movie Wild starring Reese Witherspoon was released.
Physically it’s not THAT hard to hike the PCT. I mean, you’re just walking with a pack on. However, it’s truly a mental exercise to stay sane and safe for months out in the wilderness. Your feet with blister and your body will ache. There will be times you want to quit but just imagine the great feeling once you’ve seen some of the most beautiful landscapes the world has to offer. This trail is special to me since I’m born and raised in California. However, there are many other awesome thru-hikes to consider. And if you don’t want to spend months on the trail, consider doing the 200-mile John Muir portion.
Complete a Marathon or Triathlon
Being a three-time marathon finisher, I truly believe that these races are just bucket list items and do very little for your health and physique. My body improved from lifting weights consistently and doing Crossfit but I didn’t see much change when I used to run for distance with regularity.
With that being said, training for a big event is a great way to stay motivated with your exercise. I plan to do more biking, swimming, and weightlifting during early retirement. Perhaps I’ll train for a triathlon or a Crossfit games.
Bike Across the USA
I recently upgraded my bicycle, buying a new Trek 520 during a clearance sale. I haven’t been riding as often as I like but I do have some big riding plans through the next few years and into early retirement. My bike is built for touring so it is on the heavy side but it is also virtually indestructible. Trek even gives a lifetime warranty on the frame. With the racks, I’ll be able to attach all I need to bike to weeks on end. Side note: I went with a touring bike instead of a carbon road bike based on advice from early retirement pioneer Jacob Lund Fisker.
RV Across the USA
I’ve spoken with a handful of bloggers who bought an RV and are slowly traveling through the USA in it. It’s a great way to explore and see the country for dirt cheap. RVs have a huge price range but there are always good deals out there. If I were on an extreme budget then consider a van but my wife would kill me if our home didn’t have a restroom.
Learn a Second (or Third) Language
I’d like to significantly improve my Korean and my Spanish during early retirement. This will be done by living in countries that speak these languages and studying daily. My Korean used to be respectable (for an American) but I have lost much of it over the past five years. Last time I lived in Korea I had a full-time job but next time I’ll have much more time for study. If we do the Mexico to Argentina trip we will take many Spanish lessons in Mexico or Colombia where prices are low and the language is spoken clearly.
Learn New Skills
If you stop learning, then you start dying. This is why I read more now than I ever did in high school or college. I’m selective in what I study and I’m always amazed by all the knowledge that is out there. Most of this knowledge is free or close to it. During retirement, it would be great to build a bicycle and then a car and then a house. You can learn how to do all of these through your local library, blogs, and YouTube. For example, I’d love to learn basic watch repair and improve my gardening skills. By reaching financial independence in my thirties, there will be lots of time to become a modern day Renaissance Man.
Do you have any big plans after you reach financial independence?