Have you ever dreamed of selling everything and taking off to travel the world?

The Backpacking Housewife World Travel

My husband and I were in our mid-50’s when we sold up everything we owned in Scotland UK to travel the world. We waited until we were empty nesters and our kids were through university and living life independently of us and,  as we weren’t quite old enough to take a pension and didn’t have much in the way of savings, we liquidated all our assets by selling our home, our car, and everything we owned, so we could travel modestly for a longer period of time and also feel free of material responsibilities.

To date, six years on, we have continued to travel nomadically and we have explored 55 countries. We’ve had the most incredible experiences and we’ve met so many lovely people all over the world. We have absolutely no regrets about selling all our material things – and no plans to ever stop exploring the world – at least not until we must.

Our unexpected return to the UK early in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, has actually only increased our passion for wanderlust and fuelled our ambitions to travel once again when of course, it’s less risky to do so.

Right now, as I write this, travel is either impossible or impractical but this too will eventually pass.

So, while we are all paused, I hope to inspire you through this website.

That is… if you’ve ever dreamed of selling everything and taking off to travel the world.

But it’s not that easy! (I hear you say) and I agree it’s not easy. It’s likely impossible to take off and leave behind a family, a home, a job and responsibilities. But what about after all that? These days, more and more mid-lifers and empty-nesters are looking to shake off the shackles that tie them down and to travel and have adventures while they are still relatively young and fit. By exploring your own situation – as long as you have reasonable health of course and have access to some savings or a pension payout or assets you can turn into cash – then a life of freedom and long-term travel is a very real possibility for many people who might only consider it a dream.

It’s becoming a trend. And why not?

National Geographic says: Life Begins at 50. “Empty-nesters are inspired by their children’s gap years. Young-at-heart empty nesters are increasingly looking to travel. What’s more, they’re heading further afield and for longer, preferring exotica and adventure over slippers and comfort zones.” And goes onto say. “A lot has changed within a generation, and the empty nesters don’t see why they should miss out on what didn’t exist when they were younger.”

Exploring Honduras Central America. My husband and I were in our mid-fifties when we sold up and flew away.

In my opinion, it takes planning, good timing, and bravery on your part.

Some home-owning empty-nesters downsize or rent out their homes to fund their long-term travel expenses or to cover payments on an existing mortgage. This is an option too if you feel uncomfortable not having a home base or if you have a home you are reluctant to sell. If you don’t own a home but rent one then you should see your situation as being a step ahead in flexibility.

Then you’ll be able to fly off to your bucket list destinations and experience them for yourself.

And I can tell you that there really is nothing like seeing for yourself all those amazing destinations that had previously only been available to you via a TV screen, a travel blog, or an Instagram post. And, if you are really smart and savvy about it then it can be much cheaper to travel the world than you think. Especially if you have gone the whole hog and sold up everything because then you’ll have no home-based bills to pay.

Okay, you still have to eat but you’ll have to eat wherever you are in the world. I can assure you that a delicious noodle dish and a bottle of local beer in Thailand (for example) will set you back a lot less than shopping in (insert the name of your local first-world supermarket) for your dinner.

Enjoying a sunset dinner in Kota Kinabalu Malaysia

Top Travel Tip: Sourcing and booking flights and hotels online means bargains can be found. In particular, if you book early or you book late you can often grab a special deal. We once managed to grab a next day flight to Seychelles – a bucket list destination – for a knockdown price because of a last-minute seat sale. We then spent two fabulous weeks island hopping in Seychelles. Ditto with hotels, hostels, homestays, resorts – they can all be booked online and travel search engines make it easy for you to get the best prices.

Exploring the island of La Digue in Seychelles by bicycle

Top Travel Tip: Join airline and hotel loyalty programs as soon as you start out and collect miles and points. All the main airlines and major hotel chains have loyalty programs. It’s possible to build up enough points to get free flights. Hotel points usually (in our experience) add up much faster and prove more valuable than air miles and equate to upgraded rooms, perks during your stay, or even free nights. It works for us so be sure to sign up as soon as you start travelling.

Here on The Backpacking Housewife Dotcom I’m planning to post about our travel destinations and upload photos of fabulous places and share with you all my top tried and tested travel tips. I’ll also be sharing the mind-blowing pinch-me kind of fabulous things that have happened to us over the past few years as well as the down-right awful mishaps and mayhem experiences that we have encountered as world travelling nomads. Not everything goes to plan you know!

I’ll also occasionally be posting about my books and the places and experiences that have inspired them. Did I happen to mention that all my bestselling romantic adventure books are available from Amazon and that The Backpacking Housewife series of books are published by HarperCollins?

I’ll also be offering you competitions and giveaways – so why not consider subscribing to my occasional newsletter and to my posts by email? You’ll see a pop-up form for my newsletter before you exit this site and there’s also a subscription box on the sidebar and then you’ll never miss a newsletter or a backpacking post!

So, back to my original question…

Have you ever thought of selling everything and taking off to travel the world?

All travel and bucket-list dreams can be shared in the comment box below.

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12 comments

Vicky -

This is quite inspiring. My partner and I are in our early 30’s. We own a house which we have made approximately £125k on from renovations. We love to travel and we are seriously considering selling up, quitting our jobs and doing some travelling before we purchase another house.

Any advice?

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JANICE HORTON -

Hi Vicky – thanks for your comment and for your question. Right now, I would only advise the planning of international travel rather than actually travelling during these uncertain times. BUT I love that you and your husband are seriously considering travel before you settle down to buy a new house and all that it entails. In the meantime, maybe you could fine-tune your top destination list and work out your budget and allow time to chat together about the fabulous experiences you’ll both want to enjoy while travelling. Planning to accommodate each other’s ‘greatest wishes’ list is part of the fun! Right now, while we are all paused, the backpacking husband and I are also dreaming and planning of our future travels. Please do let me know your itinerary when you have it – and do keep popping back to thebackpackinghousewife.com for more travel destination ideas – as I’ve got lots of catching up to do with posting.
Best regards, Janice xx

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Best time to see Northern Lights in Iceland -

Hey Janice! I am thinking about selling everything and travelling the world without looking back from time to time, planning accordingly will someday help me get there. I love the way you said that it takes “planning, good timing, and bravery on your part” – this is so true.

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JANICE HORTON -

Thanks for leaving your lovely comment. I think it’s great that you are planning to travel the world! I’m currently in Europe – housesitting in the south of France – while finishing up writing the third book in my contract for The Backpacking Housewife series of romantic adventure novels with HarperCollins. Almost done and now planning some adventurous and exciting travels for 2020. Do pop back for updates and let me know how you get on?

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Jayne -

Hi Janice hope you’re still travelling! I’ve just been made redundant, my partner is from SA and struggles with the UK weather and we’re thinking – let’s just sell the house and go see the world! We’re both almost 50 – I will hopefully have good pensions – so should we do it? Just the guilt of elderly parents and what to do after!!

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JANICE HORTON -

Hi Jayne – thanks for your lovely message. It’s great to hear from you and it sounds like you are at an exciting stage in your life! Of course, I would wholeheartedly recommend travel to you and your partner (I understand about the UK weather!) but only you can make the right decisions together about committing to long term travel. If you’re not sure then why not try it out first? Rent out your house or get in housesitters and try a three-month trip to see how it pans out? Let me know if you decide to do it! Right now my husband and I have wanderlust again and are making plans for travel in early 2020. We’ve been housesitting in beautiful France for a while as I’ve been busy working on completing my HarperCollins contract for three Backpacking Housewife books.

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Lee-Anne -

This is my dream! I did it as a gap yearer and I love travel so much I forgot to go back to studies. I now want to do this as a mid-lifer.

The one thing that stops me is the fear of giving up my home. I live in London where owning your own home is extremely rare. To give up that privilege seems crazy to me. I also feel like a need a base I can return to recharge before I head off again. So my question is, what do you do when you need to settle for a bit while travelling? When you need to settle for a month or two?

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JANICE HORTON -

Hi Lee-Anne – thank you so much for getting in touch and for your question. I understand about your home and so why don’t you rent it out while you travel? That way you can cover your current home costs or use the income for accommodation while you are travelling. If the thought of renting doesn’t appeal and money isn’t so much an issue then getting in housesitters might be a way to keep your home safe and maintained while you are away (and any pets looked after too). We are currently housesitting in the South of France and that’s how we achieve a period of downtime and feeling settled in between travels. I find that when I’m writing – and I’m currently working on two books to be published in 2019 by Harper Collins – I need to be settled in order to establish a proper routine. As nomads with no home base this works really well for us as we choose homesits for a few months at a time. Our current homeowners are travelling around Asia and New Zealand and while they are away we make sure the house is safe and properly maintained and all their animals are loved and cared for – no money changes hands – and we find it a perfect respite between travels. Maybe it could work for you?

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Esther - Little Explorer Adventures -

Wow! This is what I’d love to do when my son has grown up. Although, I’m hoping we will have an opportunity to live abroad before then. It’s definitely what we’re working towards 🙂

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JANICE HORTON -

Hi Esther – I’m glad to hear of your exciting plans to travel and live abroad. Keep in touch and let me know how it goes and where you go!

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JANICE HORTON -

Wow Deahh – I’m excited for you! I bet you can’t wait to get started. Will you be writing a blog on all your adventures? If so let me know and I’ll be sure to follow it. Happy travels!

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deahh -

We left home for a year 2014-2015 and traveled from Australia up through SE Asia. We were renting our house out at the time. We returned to home,and work, for three years, but now (next month) we are setting off again- this time for who knows how long. We sold the house, put some boxes in storage, and are heading to Middle Asia soon. Can’t wait to see what the next few months brings us!

Reply

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