"But why?" is a useful question. If I think I want to do this or I want to buy that, "but why?" helps test whether these will really give me what I want.
Last week I asked myself "but why do I want to travel?" OK, my thinking came a bit late as I'd already set off for three months travelling to California, Costa Rica and Colombia on top of Asia and Australia for four months last year.
Did I retire early to go travelling?
The trigger to retiring early was I stopped liking my job. There were various reasons for this and, in hindsight, some of them had been there for a while. But I could have simply found another job, so stopping liking my job isn't the reason I retired early.
What it did was make me consider my options. I could find another job and continue to be an accountant for another twenty years. It would have been the normal thing to do. I'd earn good money and live a comfortable life doing much the same as I'd done for the years before. Alternatively, I could wonder what a different life could look like.
It turned out that the comfortable choice of doing the same thing for ever was actually a little scary. What other things were out there that I should be thinking about? I didn't know the answers, but just realising that there must be alternatives, other things to try, was a big part of my early retirement decision. It was a risk, but the risk of looking back saying I wish I'd tried it eventually seemed greater.
So did I retire early to go traveling. No. I retired early to try a different life, with new and different things and priorities in it, without particularly knowing what those things would be. I retired to be in conrol of my own course, even though this turns out to be a difficult thing to figure out. I retired early to not look back and say I wish I'd done something different. Travelling happens to be something I'm trying as a result of my retire early decision, not the cause of it.
I keep coming back to the conclusion that my decision to retire early and my plans for what I would do were based on very little other than a few ideas. The good thing is that it's working out OK. I wonder how many other people are in a similar situation, instinctively knowing what they want to do, but struggling with the justification to take the plunge? Sometimes we just have to jump in.
Anyway, that's enough early retirement waffle, now for some travel waffle.
Travels week 1 - California
Like I did for our travels last year to Asia and Australia I'm posting weekly about what we do on our travels and how much it costs.
Our first week was in California because the most economical routing for our flights took us through Los Angeles so we thought we'd spend a week to have a look around.
We had two city days, one in Los Angeles and another in San Diego which remind me that I much prefer life outside of the cities. Sally enjoyed the Hollywood Walk of Fame and spotting the stars of different celebrities while I preferred running and hiking towards the Griffiths Observatory and visiting Santa Monica and Beverly Hills. I could see myself in Beverly Hills but then I'd have to get a job, so I've decided to pass on that idea! We drove past the Beverly Wilshire Hotel looking for Richard Gere and Julia Roberts from Pretty Woman, but they must have been out. Our quick stop in San Diego included a run in Balboa Park and a walk through the upscale Marina and Seaport Village area followed by the Gaslight district.
The highlight was driving down the Pacific Coast Highway with it's beautiful coastline. We took time to stop at Huntingdon Beach, Newport Beach, Laguna Beach, Mission San Juan Capistrano, Carlsbad and La Jolla. I'm happy to people watch, and California is a good place to do it.
Our week in California felt more like a holiday than "travelling". We'll see if we move from holiday mode to travel mode as we head to Costa Rica next week. I'll also return to California for the final two weeks of my travels.
There are two things I want to do better than on our last travels - healthy eating and maintaining my running/keeping fit. I'm going to give myself a subjective score out of ten each week on these. So for week one:
Running/keeping fit - I'm giving myself 8 out of 10 for this week (3 runs and 1 beach exercise).
Healthy eating - somewhere between a 6 and a 7 out of 10. Not bad, but could do better - I succumbed to cake with my coffee too much.
Daily diary and costs
I'm including a list of what we did during our week and the approximate costs - I'm using this part of my blog as a mini diary for myself, but feel free to read if you're interested.
Week 1 - what we've done:
Monday - Fly to Los Angeles
Tuesday - Los Angeles. Morning run. Hollywood Walk of Fame, Beverly Hills, Santa Monica Beach, Griffiths Observatory to see the sunset and the Hollywood sign.
Wednesday - Driving down the Pacific Coast Highway to Huntingdon Beach, Newport Beach and Laguna Beach. Exercises on beach. Stayed overnight in Laguna Beach.
Thursday - More Pacific Coast Highway to Mission San Juan Capistrano (and the Los Rios district), Carlsbad, La Jolla and ending up in San Diego.
Friday - San Diego. Morning run in Balboa Park. Explored Seaport Village.
Saturday - Travelled from San Diego to Huntingdon Beach. Spoiled ourselves with a nice dinner out.
Sunday - Huntingdon Beach. Morning run. People watching while lazing by the beach.
Week 1 - the US is not low cost, we spent a total of £1,235 / €1,384 / $1,618 for 2 people on:
Accommodation £695 / €778 / $910 We struggled to find cheap accommodation
Meals/Coffee/Snacks £269 / €301 / $352 This included one "posh" meal out.
Transport £208 / €233 / $272 Car rental, parking and petrol
Telephone £17 / €19 / $23 We bought a US SIM card so we could use Google Maps
US Visa (ESTA) £11 / €13 / $15 Sally's ESTA application
Laundry £4 / €5 / $5
Toiletries/sun cream £31 / €35 / $41
In addition, our flights for the trip totaled £1,763 / €1,975 / $2,310 which included:
For both Sally and myself:
Los Angeles-San Jose (Costa Rica)-Los Angeles
For just me:
San Jose-Medellin-San Jose