Mini Retirement Project

The questions we get asked when we tell them we are going traveling

Not surprisingly, when we started telling our friends and family about our plans, we got a lot of surprised looks, awkward silence followed by a stream of questions.

The surprising part is usually the type of questions that we get from our family and friends. Robin and I would usually discuss how to break the news and roughly what we want to tell them beforehand. So we sort of anticipated some of the usual questions we may get, plus a few unexpected ones that left us a bit tongue tied. Here’s a list of some of some of the questions we’ve encountered so far.

1. Oh, so you’re going on a holiday?

No, not really a holiday. We’re going traveling to take a break from the daily routines and seek out new scenery. Other similar terms commonly used are gap year, sabbatical, vagabonding and mini retirement. The thing with holiday is that this usually means a fixed itinerary within a limited time period and generally a break from work. Traveling differs in the sense that we move to different destinations without a fixed itinerary  for longer term period of usually one month or more. We  still continue with our daily lifestyle but adapted to suit our different surroundings. I like to think that when we travel , we will visit the places without expectations and experience the place for what it can offer. That means no ‘must do’ tourist destinations (unless it’s something we really want to do).

2. How long did you say you are going for?

Anywhere between 8-10 months. This is our first long term travel, so we feel that’s how long we’re comfortable with (some people go for more than a year) Yes, there is that visa restriction issue about staying longer than 90 days in Europe for non Europeans. There are actually many ways to get around this i.e. work holiday visa, student visa, freelance visa etc from various European countries. Just do a bit of homework and you’ll be surprised at the options available to you when you are determined enough to make it work.

3. What about your jobs?

I will be quit my day job while Robin becomes continues to run his online marketing business from his laptop. Aside from assisting in the business as well, I have a few other job titles while we are on the road, i.e. financial planner / advisor / accountant, travel planner / itinerary director / tour guide, blogger / photojournalist, first aid officer / nutritionist and chef de cusine / food critic. Oh and not to forget, doting partner and supportive spouse. *wink*

4. You must be rich to be able to do this.

Contrary to popular beliefs, no, we are not rich. We don’t have a pot of gold sitting in our bank waiting for us to tap when we return from our travels. In fact, I’m sure we are probably not much more well to do than most people our age. While I don’t deny that we have some savings accumulated for this trip (we are working adults after all) our travels will not be funded directly by our savings. Instead, we have online incomes that will sustain our trip. The amount is not exorbitant, but it will be enough to allow us to travel modestly without worrying too much about our daily livelihoods abroad. Imagine earning your current income, but without being locked to your office location and having the freedom to work from anywhere you want – sort of like that for us.

Since this is such popular topic, I just want to clarify that you don’t need to have a lot of money to travel long term, there are many styles of traveling and different destinations that you can do to suit your budget. Most importantly, if you want it bad enough (like us) you can always make it work. (Maybe I should elaborate more about this topic in the future blog posts, hmm.. )

5. Isn’t it very expensive to live in Europe?

The perks of long term traveling as opposed to a holiday is that we are gone long enough that we can relinquish most of our commitments at home. Contrary to popular beliefs, based on our research and previous experience in Europe, we know for a fact that most European cities are actually more affordable than Australian cities, if not at least equivalent. Of course, you have to smart about where you choose to settle, avoid western Europe i.e. Paris, London and Scandinavian countries if you want to save more. Central and Eastern Europe will give you the best bang for your buck. We will be planning our itinerary based on this principle, only settling down longer at affordable cities/towns.

FACT – Australian cities are actually one of the most expensive in the world (Don’t get me started on our ridiculous public transport costs!). If you have lived here before you can survive financially everywhere else!

6. Don’t you want to settle down at your age?

Everybody has a different version of settling down. Currently, this phrase in its traditional sense, doesn’t quite exist in my dictionary yet. We both really love traveling, and the appeal of living and experiencing different places and cultures around the world. So even after we get married, I highly doubt we will be settling down in the traditional sense. Heck, even if/when we have kids, we may continue to travel overseas every year. Maybe longer duration or slower pace this time. I know it sounds abit radical, traveling the world with toddlers/kids, but it can be done. Google the likes of Adam Baker and other RTW bloggers who travel with their young family, lots of people do it. It can be done, anything is possible., however the compromises that come with this lifestyle are only for those who love the road passionately enough.

7. What about your new place and car and stuff etc?

We are minimalists, (well mostly me) so this is the easy bit for us . We don’t own too many things that we don’t need so it is easy to dispose off the materials. It’s the memorabilia that we will be saving into a small storage space. We own a home, so we will be renting it out to cover our mortgage payments. We will sell our car which we no longer need for obvious reasons, sell the rest of our unwanted belongings and donate the remaining to charity or friends.

You can replace materials and stuff, but you can’t replace the time that has lapsed from your life.

8. You’re not going to be home for ‘this’ event?

Sigh. The one thing we are really gutted about this trip is that we are going to miss some of our family and friends’ important events. We really want to be there but unfortunately this is our dream trip, and we’ve been planning this for the longest time. We’ve dropped many subtle hints along the years about changing our scenery, but it took us a long time to finally to do this due to timing and financial reasons. So when we finally decided to embark on our adventure, we’ve agreed not to let anything else hold us back and just go for it.

There’s always a reason / distraction / incident that affects our plans in life, no matter how meticulous we are in planning them. (Don’t get me started on a tempting job offer i gave up for this!) That’s okay, because it’s how life goes around. I guess, what we need to recognise is that “once in a life time opportunity” that we absolutely need to grab by the balls! For us, this trip definitely falls under that category.



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Debbie Lim

Born and bred in Penang, Malaysia, Debbie has spent the last decade in her second home Brisbane, Australia as an engineer. Her professional experiences have taught her how to plan efficiently and manage effectively in the various aspects of her travels. She is an experienced minimalist traveler who believes in keeping it simple yet fun. You will not find a fixed itinerary sheet on her and definitely no alarm clocks or wake up calls when she travels. After spending most of her adulthood in a highly analytical and tightly regulated environment, she currently revels in a a good adventure and spontaneity when least expected.

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