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Senior Citizens Are Exploring Long-Term Ex-Pat Lifestyle

Are Senior Citizens The New Digital Nomads

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More and more Senior Citizens or Baby Boomers are interested in long-term travel. They have questions about it. Whether to do it, How to do it and How to get started.

man and woman at the beach

We will be publishing articles on the blog that deal with you and your questions. Everyone's first question to us is always “How Do I Become A Long-Term Ex-Pat?”

We want to show people of all ages to the benefits that they can derive from a life of travel and exploration.

We want to answer that question with the basics. How do I use long-term travel to stay on the road full time?

How to Become A Long-term Ex-Pat starts with the following steps.

Finding the inner strength to change a person's life at the age of 65+ can be more than a little challenging. Senior Citizens are people who are in their golden years. They still have the urge to see and do more, they are looking for a way to start.

This is true of people of any age. You want to know how to do it and how to start. There is a lot of information written on the subject if you are young. Like ‘how to sell all you own, become a nomad and use long-term travel to see the world‘.

There is very little that addresses the problems of Senior Citizens. People over 60 years old have unique issues they might face. We tried to make our information more generic that would be applicable to expats of any age.

To Begin Your Trip You Will Need A Place to Stay

Considerations Before Starting Your Long-Term Travel for Senior Citizens

1. Cashing Out

Decide How to Cash Out
The decision to Cash Out is not something that anyone should take lightly. There are a couple of options on how to “cash out” that anyone can use.

The first is a total liquidation. Take everything you have and place them in three piles.
1) What you want your family to have.
2) Anything that you can't bear to part with.
3) The items that you can get rid of. You can use Craigslist to sell or give to Good Will and other charities.

The money you will receive will not be much if you sell, but you can get a hefty tax voucher for anything you donate. You can leave the personal items you can't bear to let go of with a family member for safe-keeping.

The second option is the one we used. We travel more than the average Senior Citizens. Laurel and I have a business which demands that we travel.

We have our personal items, as well as our clothing, in a small climate controlled storage unit in Las Vegas. Traveling to different areas of the world for work. On one trip we may need tropical clothing and the next trip clothes for a winter climate.

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You May Want A Travel Hub

For that reason, we still use Las Vegas as a hub and are finding ourselves going back to the U.S. more often between jobs. We try to set up jobs in a geographical area that will last around 3 to 6 months.

If you plan to move somewhere else for the rest of your life then option #1 would be the logical choice. A word of advice. 90% of the Senior Citizens will return to their home countries due to medical issues as they get older. The second option may be better in that case. It will allow you to keep a great many things you would otherwise have to buy again.

2. Family

Deal With Family Objections
How to get the family to deal with the fact that we were not going to be in the same country as they were anymore. Get them to understand that we were still strong enough and wanted to make this lifestyle change.

Most thought that it was an over-60-late-in-life-crisis-thing. It became real when we had Laurel's oldest son come to the house and pick up the things he was to keep for us.

3. Communications


Setting up a reliable form of communication for your away-time is crucial. You will have to be in touch with friends and family wherever you are. This is for both your and their peace of mind.

There are many options to choose from. When we left home we kept a good world-calling and texting program with TMobile. The cost was around $90 a month and also provided us with a WiFi hotspot in most countries with the plan.

The problem was it cost $1080 a year. Since we rarely called anyone on the phone and everywhere has free wifi we chose another option. Skype Calling (on smartphone, tablet or laptop) for a few cents a minute or Skype Visual Chat was the best for us.

The Visual Chat is free and you get to SEE and TALK to people. Another option is to get an unlocked GSM phone. You then pick up a cheap sim card at the airport of any country you visit for phone service in that country. Some plans also have wifi.

4. Medical Care

Dealing With Medical Care
The next thing that many people will have to deal with is pre-existing health issues. Depending on their situation this can make the dream more difficult.

Moderate health problems may limit senior citizens to conventional short-term travel. This could cause a huge financial strain and could kill the dream.

Before committing to long-term travel everyone knows what their level of health is. You should make a trip to your personal doctor for one last complete checkup. This may be the last one of these you will have depending on the areas of the world you choose to travel in.

A second thing that we are questioned about is what to do about vaccinations. There are a couple of major ones that you may want to consider — Rabies, Tetanus, and Yellow Fever are the main ones. The first two are a good preventative measure.

The last one is dependant on where you are going to visit. Should you visit Africa you get the Yellow Fever vaccination.

This is a rule to re-enter most countries. Should you not plan to visit the affected countries it would not be necessary.

Many people take Malaria tablets and that can be an option. We do not have a problem not taking them. Another common problem is Dengue Fever in SE Asia but that is another issue.

For people of any age, maintaining hydration is vital. In many climates, you will be losing a lot more body fluids than you ever have before.

There are some good fluid replacement avenues, in S.E. Asia even the locals put Royal D in bottles of water. They drink it daily to replenish electrolytes. This is a must for you when you are in these hot climates.

5. Insurance

Will You need Medical Insurance
You will no longer be able to use your standard medical insurance while abroad. This is your next consideration.

There are two types of insurance that you can have while abroad. There are normal policies that will cover you pretty much from head to toe. But, the health standards will not meet your expectations.

There are some countries, like Thailand, that have high standards of medical care. Most other countries do not.

The second type of policy is accidental injury and relocation coverage. This is what we have. This will cover us in the case of any emergency that arises. It will also move us to a country with better medical standards.

These policies are very inexpensive through U.S. companies. Ours only costs around $100 a year for both of us.

This type of policy will give you the peace of mind that you need. It can also be used anytime an activity requires that you have insurance to take part.

For Senior Citizens access to medication is a major consideration. Medications in most parts of the world only cost around 15 to 20% of the price in the U.S. and Europe for the same drug.

You buy most medicines at the pharmacy under its medical name without a prescription. Instead of Aleve, which is a brand, you buy Naproxin. Keep a list with you of your medications that you got from your doctor.

The cost of flying to a country with good health care is far cheaper than the cost for a year of health care insurance. This is if you have a major illness. Or if you are in a country like Thailand you can buy good coverage for a very low price.

Long-Term Travel Preparations

6. Packing

What To Take and How to Pack it
I guess the hardest part that we had to figure out was how to downsize and get on our first flight. To say that we over-packed would be a gross understatement. We ABSOLUTELY chose the wrong gear. The only way we could have chosen worse would have been if we purchased steamer trunks.

I was trying to bring all our worldly goods with us. Too many clothes, too many odds and ends, too much total weight for frequent airline travel. After much soul-searching, we got it down to 2 rolling duffle bags and 2 backpacks. 2019 UPDATE: We can now get on the plane in almost all cases without checking any baggage.

This can be the best idea if at all possible. The fees for a checked bags add up when you fly a lot. Then, even if flying the same carrier, the airlines may not be able to check your bag to your final destination.

If you land in Kuala Lumpur on Air Asia you will have to go through customs to enter the country. After that you pick up your baggage, go back through the same airport and recheck it. You have a long layover and you will have to wait until flight time to recheck the bags and go back through customs.

Long-term traveling our way allows you to take your bags with you. You pass the customs lines until you get to the final destination. Staying at the airport near the gates. You may only need to change terminals. (NOTE: No lost luggage issues this way)

7. Picking Destinations

Choosing Your Destinations
Choosing the area of the world that is right for you is about the same for travelers of any age. That is usually most dependant on what your budget is.

There are some choices that are better than others when it comes to different climates. For the real budget travelers, the S.E. Asia countries are the best choice. There are climate differences between Thailand, Myanmar, and Malaysia. It is staggering during the hot season as opposed to Bali.

Bali offers you, as a Senior Citizens, the chance to live there full-time. The climate is great and the cost of living is very good.

The cost of living is very high in European countries like Germany, Italy, and France. But, you can live on a pension in the Eastern European countries like Romania, Bulgaria, and Serbia.

The Eastern European countries are easy to stay in full time. but you are only allowed 90 days in each without a visa. But, they are only a cheap bus or train ride from each other.

The Central American countries are attractive. But climate and crime leave us inclined to stay away from them in favor of Asia.

HOW I CAN AFFORD TO TRAVEL ALL THE TIME AS A SENIOR CITIZEN?

8. Handling Finances

Handling Finances and Taxes
Senior Citizens usually have social security and maybe a pension of some kind. These need to be set up on a direct deposit basis since you will no longer be able to receive checks.

We use Schwab Investment Bank for all our needs. Their ATM cards work well in every country and they offer a refund of all the ATM fees at the end of each month. That is usually around $25 a month which is not a great deal but an extra $300 a year buys airfare tickets.

You will always be looking for free airline tickets and the best way to get them is with air miles. Get an air miles credit card and use that card to pay for everything that you can such as food, rooms, and all tickets.

Unfortunately, in many of the Asian countries, hotels etc. prefer cash for room payments. Still, over the course of a year, you can get several airline tickets free with the miles you build up.

9. Better Health Through Long-Term Travel

Better Health Through Long Term Travel.
Finally, as you get started on the road you may find that there are some things you will have work out. We have already discussed hydration, the next is food choices. People's diets are determined by financial limitations as opposed to healthy food choices.

The food in Asian countries will be rice and vegetables with a small amount of protein other than the fish. Food in Mongolia is 95 to 100% meat or products made from animal milk with little to no vegetables or fruits.

When you travel long-term you will want to eat locally to sample all the local cuisines. It will be your responsibility to be aware of the types of foods you will be getting in the local food. Then finding ways to supplement the foods you will need to also maintain a more balanced diet.

Exercise is going to become a part of your life more than it was when you were in your previous home. You will not have your own car and you will find yourself walking more and more.

Old Life vs New Life

When we lived in the U.S. we would find ourselves getting the car out to go a few blocks to the market. Now we walk those few blocks to the markets and back with our purchases.

If you are dependent on eating out you have to choose the spots you will want to eat in. The way to choose a good place to eat is to determine which places are most frequented by the locals.

They know where the best food is and if they all go there to eat it is a good bet that the food is both good and safe for you.

Actually, the food we eat now tastes better and we believe is much healthier for us. The information below should bear this out for you.

When we left home for our first trip we were well past overweight. I am 6 feet and weighed 325 lbs or around 160 Kilos, I now weigh 190 lbs or 90 kilos. That is a loss of around 135 lbs. Laurel has lost about 80 lbs now.

Once we left America, we walked pretty much everywhere we went. The drop in weight has had a major impact on our cardio health as well as joints in our legs.

Carrying around an extra 135 lbs will ruin your knees. In the last year, we have climbed Mt Phousy in Laos. We walked the Great Wall of China, trekked Mongolia and climbed through the temples of Angkor Wat.

We are now in Nepal and about to paraglide in the Himalayas as well as trek Anapurna. All this has been possible because of our choice to leave home and travel.

Conclusions

This is not a lifestyle for a lot of senior citizens our age, but for us, it has proven to be a good choice. We see the world one step at a time.

We live a life that many people wish they could live but are afraid to take the first step. As senior citizens, we are all sitting on a ticking “time” bomb. For many taking a cruise each year and playing golf etc are enough to complete their lives.

Are you one of the people who find yourselves wanting more? Are you a younger person who does not want to become a part of the 9 to 5 group and live a structured life. Do you want to see and experience the world now and not later?

A life of long-term travel or travel combined with your current life might give you what you are looking for. We hope these tips are helpful and in some way answer the question you first asked: “How Do I Become A Long-Term Ex-Pat”.

Should you have questions please ask them in the comments section below. Or contact us at admin@ourbigescape.com

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Dani Willetts
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Dani Willetts

I sent you a message on your instagram account. I have been thinking of doing something similar to what you do for awhile. I love the way you have laid everything out. It is so organized and easy to follow. You are an inspiration.

Billie Tyler
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Billie Tyler

Great article! What travel insurance company do you use for emergency relocation or repatriation? Most are quite expensive if you’re over 60 and I’ve found some will not even insure a senior citizen. Thanks for you response.