Have you ever dreamed of selling everything to travel the world in midlife?
Ten years ago, when my husband and I were in our mid-50’s, we sold everything to travel the world in our midlife.
We were empty nesters living in Scotland UK. Our three children were through university and they were living life independently of us.
As we weren’t quite old enough to take out a pension and didn’t have much in the way of savings, we decided to liquidate all our assets by selling everything we owned including our home, our furniture, our cars, and our business, in favour of nomadic world travel.
Back then, we didn’t know anyone else who was doing this.
Now, after ten years of world travel, we’ve met so many more people – both solo and as couples – who are travelling the world in midlife and nomadically, slowmadically, and full-time.
People who think that perhaps this life isn’t meant to be lived in just one place, one country, one continent.
That the world should be explored not just to tick off a bucket list but to experience life!
And I guess if you’re thinking of travel in midlife and reading this then you are feel this way too?
Selling Everything To Travel In Midlife
Table Of Contents
- Selling Everything To Travel In Midlife
- Do We Have Midlife Wanderlust?
- How Did We Prepare To Sell Up And Travel The World?
- Did We Really Sell Everything?
- Was It Scary Selling Our Home?
- But It’s Not That Easy!
- What Did Family And Friends Think?
- Where Did We Decide To Go First?
- Do We Miss Our Family And Friends?
- When The Pandemic Happened in 2020
- How Much Does It Actually Cost To Travel The World?
- Travel Is Becoming A New Trend!
- Travel Tips
- The New Future Of Travel
Yes! We’ve always had wanderlust and been interested in travel and we’ve always prioritized travel in our lives.
Even when our kids were growing up, when we were building our family home and money was tight, we were always saving up for foreign holidays. We always made sure to get away somewhere exciting on a two-week family holiday at least once a year.
Even if it meant going without material things and delaying our home renovations (I do remember a fabulous fabric I’d bought stood on its roll by the sitting room windows for several years before I eventually had it made into curtains!) because we were always saving up for the next holiday.
I suppose you could say that we were always planning for a life of travel in midlife but perhaps hadn’t yet thought about selling everything to travel in midlife. Our three boys were enthusiastic accomplices because they are so well-travelled too.
So it didn’t surprise them when mum and dad said: ‘Hey boys, you’ve all left home now so we’ve decided to sell everything and leave too. We’re going to travel the world like nomads!’
In fact, Son #3 took a teaching job in South Korea the same year we sold up. Ten years on, he’s still there with his own family and our grandson, and when we’re in Asia we get to see them.
Ditto our other two sons and family who live back in the UK. We often return to the UK to visit them between travel adventures or they’ll come out to join us for a holiday.
These days, our family doesn’t ask how we are – but where we are!
While our house was on the market (it took a full year to sell it) we began by sorting out the loft area where we’d been stashing our surplus items over the past three decades.
In preparation, we downsized our belongings and sold some items of furniture and the contents of my husband’s much-loved man-cave.
Eventually, once the house had sold, our efforts to minimalise our lives and liquidate our assets was ramped up and we then sold our cars and pretty much everything else we owned.
Things that we couldn’t sell we gave away. Clothes and small appliances went to charity shops. The mainstay of my precious book collection I gave to various libraries or charity shops or to friends.
Didn’t we keep anything? Well, actually, yes. By law, we knew that needed to keep hold of our business’s tax accounting records going back six years, so we rented a small storage facility.
I decided to store a suitcase each, containing our winter clothes of warm woollen sweaters coats and boots, for if we ever returned to the UK in the winter months.
We also kept a box containing our family photo albums and a file containing our birth and marriage certificates.
I also kept small trinkets that had sentimental value and a few pieces of artwork that I really loved. Plus box of first edition books (I once had a fabulous library of books) that back then I simply couldn’t bear to part with.
Interestingly, when we returned to the UK in March 2020 (because of the pandemic we returned to Scotland during 2022/21) we went to our storage facility and disposed of all the outdated business accounts. I also sold the artwork and the books. I’d decided that if I’d managed to live without them for the past six years, I really didn’t need them, after all.
I’m often asked if it was difficult or painful to discard of all our worldly items and things that held precious memories – and the short answer is yes – it really was.
During that busy year of preparation, I did think about all the fabrics and furniture and appliances that I’d once coveted. The things I’d had to save for – sometimes for years – to furnish and decorate our beautiful family home.
I tried to imagine what it might feel like to be homeless by choice. I was a little scared.
But I was only scared of the unknown. I never once faltered in my belief that we were doing the right thing. Because we were chasing our dream of living a life of travel and adventure – before we got too old to do it – and before any other factor could stop us.
We were both prepared to step out of our comfort zone into the world and travel all the way around it with only our backpacks, in order to experience real adventure and learn more about the world around us.
I knew that every pound (£) we salvaged from selling our possessions was going towards sustaining our new life.
A life free of any material responsibilities. No mortgage. No property insurances. No cars. No car expenses. No baggage.
Except for what was in our backpacks. I knew it would feel strange.
I knew it would be scary and challenging but I was excited. I was ready!
I hear you! I agree that it’s not easy. It feels impossible when you’re in your midlife – 50’s or 60’s or beyond – to take off and leave behind a family, a home, and responsibilities.
I’ve been asked how I can travel the world in midlife and leave my family behind?
Well, my answer is that even when we live in the same country, we don’t get to see family all the time. Our grownup children have their own lives. They have their careers and are busy people. Should we sit in a house waiting for them to visit?
Or should we live our own lives to the full now that we’re in our midlife and return occasionally when we’ve arranged to spend some quality time together. Or, better yet, encourage them to visit us!
The joy of travel in midlife is that we’ve been able to visit our family and friends and they have also visited us, sometimes when we’ve been in far-flung places of the world.
Family accepted our decision about selling everything to travel in midlife and our dear friends threw us a farewell party.
Although, I’m sure they all thought we were completely mad and perhaps even having some kind of midlife crisis. But, in our opinion, why not live your dream life while you can – while we are still young enough and strong enough to able to travel?
Favouring spontaneity and freedom, we started off with something of an ambiguous plan.
We actually did that first Round The World trip in just six months.
The second time Around The World took us two years.
We are currently on our third (slow) trip Around The World.
And, ten years on, we’ve explored over 60 countries and counting!
But more importantly, we’ve had the most incredible experiences – so many of which I still have to write about for this website. We’ve met so many lovely and wonderful people all over the world.
We have absolutely no regrets about selling all our material things. Of course, during two of those ten years, we couldn’t travel due to the pandemic.
YES. Of course we do! But our family and friends also happen to be scattered around the world. Not all live in the UK.
For example: I have an uncle and aunt and first cousins in Canada. We’ve been to Canada to visit and stay with them and they’ve come to visit us several times.
But what about in a family emergency? It’s important to note that we have always been prepared to come home (and we have done so) at a moment’s notice.
And, wherever we have been in the world, we have never been more than 24 hrs or a day’s flight away.
If this is your travel fear then perhaps the world is more accessible than you think?
On 12th March 2020, we returned to the UK from housesitting in France (where I’d been writing my Backpacking Housewife Series of books for HarperCollins) flying from Bordeaux into Scotland to visit family in Glasgow and Edinburgh.
We’d only envisaged a short stay in the UK before setting off on another epic long-haul backpacking trip around the world. Once again, we had plans to first head over to Central America and then spend another summer in the Caribbean.
Back in 2020, we were looking forward to staying on a small tropical island called Utila located in the Caribbean just off the coast of Honduras where we’ve often rented a small house to catch up with our friends and live like locals for a while before returning to the UK six months in October 2020 in order to attend our eldest son’s wedding in Scotland.
We were aware of Covid-19 then but foolishly we didn’t think it would affect our plans.
But the same day we arrived back in the UK was the same day all flights were suspended into the USA from Europe. And all the flights, trains, boats and busses and plans we’d booked in advance fell away like a row of proverbial dominoes.
We found ourselves stuck. We were homeless. And, for the first time since we’d set out on this lifestyle, I was scared.
We couldn’t expect family and friends to give us a place to stay for what looked to be an extended period of time.
We quickly realised with a sinking feeling that the situation was serious.
We weren’t going anywhere anytime soon and this was going to last for months rather than weeks.
I will admit to you that I had a bit of a panic attack.
Luckily, we managed to find a house to rent in Scotland.
The house we rented was very near to where we used to live and, at first, it felt very strange.
I think I was experiencing culture shock.
Prior to living in France for a while we’d been living in Asia. Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, and then Vietnam.
Unexpectedly finding ourselves living back in Scotland was such a shock that it felt both unreal and surreal. It felt as if we’d actually never left at all and the past seven years of travelling had all been nothing but a wonderful dream.
We never expected our travels to be curtailed for two whole years but we were grateful to be safe while we waited it out.
Happily, at the start of 2022 we started travelling again and our life of travel is even sweeter!
If you’re 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.
Unlike us, of course, you might not need or want to go to the extreme of selling all your belongings to fund your travels.
You might have other ways to do it. Perhaps you have an opportunity to work remotely now or take a work sabbatical or early retirement?
Maybe your perspective on life has shifted due to the recent pandemic and you’re looking longingly at your bucket list and all you want to achieve sooner rather than later and before something else gets in the way of you heading off into the great unknown on the adventure of a lifetime?
By exploring your own situation – as long as you have reasonable health and access to some savings or a pension or assets that you can turn into cash – then a life of freedom and travel is a real possibility rather than just a dream.
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.
travel the world in midlife
Some home-owning empty-nesters rent out their homes to fund their long-term travel expenses or to cover payments on an existing mortgage.
If you don’t have a mortgage to cover then maybe you might want to get some house sitters in to take care of your home and garden while you are away?
Housesitting is a great option to consider not only to facilitate slow-travel but also 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 and you currently rent then you should see your situation as being a step ahead in flexibility because you can always rent somewhere new!
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.
These days, especially after the pandemic, more and more mid-lifers and empty nesters are looking at how to incorporate more travel into their lives and how to shake off the shackles that tie them down.
I saw recently that Elle Magazine has been looking into travel trends in the New Future: “Expect to see a heightened thirst for travel in the new future, with people wanting to do, see, and experience more and to travel the world in midlife. We’re starting to get itchy feet and think of all of the possibilities that might be afforded to us if we can embrace travel once again when the pandemic’s threat reduces.”
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.”
In my opinion, it takes planning, good timing, and bravery on your part.
I can promise you that it’s not too late to embrace your travel dreams!
My mission for this website and across all my social media channels is to provide you with lots of personal travel stories, in-depth destination guides, helpful travel information, real resources and tried and tested midlife travel tips for ageless travel adventures!
I’ll also be sharing 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 mishaps and mayhem experiences that we have encountered as world travelling nomads. Because not everything goes to plan you know!
Most of my posts on this websites will contain nuggets of tried and tested travel tips!
Like These Top Three Travel Tips!
#1 Travel Tip: Join airline loyalty programs as soon as you start out. All the main airlines have loyalty programs. It’s possible to build up enough points to get preferential treatment, lounge access, seat upgrades, and free flights.
#2. I use Booking.com to search for and to book my accommodations all over the world. They too have a programme that offers ‘Genius Discounts’ and room upgrades. 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, free lounge access and even free nights.
#3. I recommend you ALWAYS travel with Travel Insurance. Get a no-obligation quote from World Nomads Travel Insurance.
Here on The Backpacking Housewife Dotcom in the exciting New Future Of Travel, I’m planning to share with you my own travel stories and travel adventures and the destinations all around the world we’ve explored to inspire you!
I’ll also occasionally be posting about my books and the romantic places and adventurous experiences that have inspired my stories. Did I happen to mention that all my bestselling romantic adventure books (affiliate link) are available from Amazon and that The Backpacking Housewife series of books are published by HarperCollins!
So, if you, like me and my backpacking husband, have ever dreamed of shrugging off the shackles of a materialistic lifestyle and taking off to have fabulous adventures and travel the world then let me inspire you!
Why not consider subscribing to my mailing list and travel newsletters?
And so back to my original question…
Have you ever thought of selling everything and taking off to travel the world?
World Nomads Travel Insurance – get a no-obligation quote today!