I think my early retirement has gone well so far. I've kept myself busy, haven't been bored, and I'm quite confident that I'm not going to run out of money.
I put this down respectively to routine and recording my costs. It may not sound exciting, but it's letting me have a life that I'm enjoying and not looking to swap.
So having settled on a system that works for me, I now find myself about to change it.
We're about to set off for four months of travelling to Australia and Asia, which will cause these routines and spending habits to be thrown out of the window.
Is this a good or a bad thing? It may be uncomfortable, but I think it's good. Coping with new and different situations used to come with my job. Now early retired, I deliberately make my own challenges. The good thing being that I get to choose what they are.
There's no doubt that the travel will play havoc with my routines and my spending. Seeing how I deal with this is going to add another dimension to our trip.
In my last post, I said that I must finish my travel planning, and that if I hadn't finished it by the next post then I was in trouble. Well, I'm late with this post, and although that's partly due to taking time moving out of our apartment, I can't hide from the fact that I'm having trouble with the planning too.
My idea was to have an itinerary for each country and also some outline budget figures, how much we'd spend on accommodation, food, activities, transport etc.
The Big Picture Plan
To recap, I've cut and paste this outline itinerary from a previous post to make it look like I've actually done some planning!
16 July - Bali for 9 days.
27 Jul - Australia for 5 weeks plus a day. We fly into Cairns and fly out of Adelaide.
2 September - Hong Kong. Just 2 days visiting a friend. We used to live in HK, so no need to stay longer.
5 September - Japan for 14 days. Flying into Tokyo and travelling overland to Osaka.
20 September - 17 days in Thailand. Probably Bangkok, Chiang Mai, then south to Krabbi.
8 October - Vietnam for 15 days. We arrive in Ho Chi Minh and travel down to Hanoi.
24 October - India for 12 days. Half in the north to see the sights and then flying south to Kerala for a bit of relaxation.
7 November - Dubai for 7 days. Catching up with friends.
14 November - Fly to UK, but only for a week or so, and then we'll go to France, but that's another story.
Travel days are excluded, so will be extra. All told, we’ll be away for just over four months.
I suspect I've tried to squeeze too much in because we can't extend this part of our travels past November. Maybe it would have been better to leave a couple of countries for another time, and to spend more time in fewer places. We'll see, but it's too late to change things now the flights are booked.
The More Detailed Plan
This is what I was supposed to finish for this post. I'm finding this difficult, partly because there is too much choice for what to do, too many websites and blogs with suggested itineraries that look interesting, and make it difficult to come to a final decision.
I'm also having trouble getting my mind around the distances involved, and also the travel options between places: plane; bus; train; rental car etc. Australia in particular, where the distances between places is vast.
So, although far from complete, below I've outlined as much of the plan that exists. This is what we'll set off with. We'll make the rest of it up as we go along, hopefully getting some advice from other travelers along the way.
Bali: We're starting with the beach in Jimbaran Bay (we've booked accommodation for 3 nights), before heading to Ubud for some culture, and then possibly ending up in the beach town of Sanur. The plan is a gentle start as Sally will just have finished her job, so a bit of a vacation feel to this leg.
Australia: The distances are still confusing me! Should we stay closer to Cairns and then fly to Sydney, or travel from Cairns to Brisbane and then fly to Sydney? If the latter, we'll take in Fraser Island and Rockhampton (I'd like to see a ranch), and if the former we'll take in some of the area north of Cairns - I keep changing my mind. We're definitely going to Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide, and also have plans for visiting a winery, the Blue Mountains, and taking a journey down the Great Ocean Road from Melbourne. Further North, Townsville and Magnetic Island, Airlie Beach and the Whitsunday's are in our plan. But Uluru is probably going to have to wait for another time. A reader lives in Adelaide so we're planning to meet up - an unexpected benefit from my blogging.
Hong Kong: We're just passing through for a few days to visit friends. Perhaps we'll have a day in the city and a day visiting the quieter towns of Sai Kung or Stanley. We spent a couple of years working in Hong Kong, so have been to these places before.
Japan: On my list are Tokyo, Hakone, Matsumoto, Kanazawa, Shirakawa, Takayama, Kyoto, Hiroshima and Osaka. I'm sure that's too many, so we'll probably cut one or two out. We'll travel by train, so I must order the Japan Rail Pass this week so that it's delivered in time.
Thailand: I think I have this mostly figured out! Bangkok for 3-4 days (including a day trip to Ayutthaya), train to Chiang Mai or Chiang Rai for 5-6 days, then fly to Krabi for a relaxing week by the beach.
Vietnam: Thanks to Paul for some advice on Vietnam. Currently I'm thinking, Ho Chi Minh (Saigon), trip to the Mekong Delta, Hoi An, Hue, Halong Bay, Sapa and Hanoi. We're not sure on the transport that we'll take, but at least one train is in the plan, and we'll blame Paul if we get sick😂
India: This is completely planned, booked and deposit paid! Our daughter is joining us for this part where we're going to Delhi, Agra (Taj Mahal), Jaipur and Ranthambore (safari) before heading South to Kerala for Cochin, Munnar (high tea plantation) and then taking a houseboat from Alleppey to Kumarkoan.
Dubai: Our final stop to say au revoir to our friends before heading to Europe.
I've given up with this part of the planning. In fairness, I have made a rough budget for accommodation in the different countries, but I have no idea how much we may pay for trips, transport and food. There are some websites that help, but I've not studied them hard enough.
I originally wondered if we could travel for the same cost as our "normal" non travelling life. I think the time we'll spend in Australia and Japan, which are more expensive, may make that difficult, so I've gone away from the idea.
Instead, we'll just do what we do in our everyday life. We'll spend sensibly, treat ourselves on some days, and take some more basic options on others. We're not looking to be particularly frugal nor extravagant, aiming simply to enjoy the experience within our own affordability limits.
Better than I thought?
Now that I've written it down, it doesn't seem too bad - perhaps I'm not so far from having a plan as I thought. I wouldn't say we know exactly what we're doing, but we could probably fool some people into thinking that we do.
If I were working as an accountant still, the budget part wouldn't pass muster, but that's the beauty of my early retired life, I'm not working as an accountant anymore!
Closing out in Dubai
We've finished moving out of our apartment, ready for our exit from Dubai. Moving is such hard work and also stressful. Anyway, it's done now, other than getting various deposits back, which are kind of important and need to be done before we can close the bank account.
Our furniture was mostly 13 years old, and not worth shipping. We sold some pieces, and whatever was left was taken for free by a company that sells, donates or recycles it within lower income communities. The company makes it sound charitable, I hope it is.
The items that we're shipping have left. Our personal items measured 3 cubic metres, so you may compliment our lack of material possessions or join Sally's camp and be distressed that the stuff worth keeping, the meaningful items of a life's work, amounted to so little.
We're in a hotel for the last two weeks, conveniently paid for by the proceeds from the furniture that we did sell. Sally says we should have charged more for the items sold, to let us upgrade to a hotel that doesn't have a vending machine selling condoms🤣 - for the record, it does sell other things too, and we're not renting the room by the hour!