Roving retirement gives you a unique perspective on what is important and necessary in life. I wrote this article because I have noticed a difference between what I thought was important in life and things that seem important to us now that we are permanently “on the road”.
I am so tired of being uncomfortable. Uncomfortable in buses, on airplanes, in hotels, in cars and in chairs. When you go on vacation for a few weeks, you are excited about everything that’s different from home, and, of course, you know you’ll be going home in a week or two. We don’t have that luxury. Right now, I’m sitting on a bed, without enough pillows behind my back, writing this article. I can’t wait to try to straighten up when I finish. 🙂
We have no comfortable bed or chair to go home to, so we try to make ourselves comfortable everywhere we go. After our extremely uncomfortable experiences in Egypt and Jordan, I have been frantically (at times) upgrading the rest of the hotels on our trip. Being uncomfortable is no longer an “adventure” that we are seeking.
Believe it or not, Mike is on the same page with this, we are both willing to spend a little more money to be comfortable, have enough space for our luggage and enough power outlets. We actually have a little routine that we go through upon entering a hotel room, where we check for luggage racks, power plugs on Mike’s side of the bed and enough towels in the bathroom.
We figure when we get someplace more permanent, we will have to buy sheets, a mattress topper, and even some chairs. A French Press is on the list, too, as coffee has really been hit or miss.
2. Laundry and Personal Maintenance
Laundry is an ongoing challenge. I have been hand washing shirts and underwear whenever we stay in one place for 2 or more nights. The last time we did big laundry was at a ‘Launderette’ in Scotland, on the other side of the dusty desert. We got to Zanzibar this week and agreed to send everything out to be laundered, even though it was $1 – $3 per item. Nothing like the $1/kilo we paid in Thailand. Everything came back beautifully clean the next day, what a pleasure.
Taking the time out of our busy schedule to get my hair and nails done has turned into quite a challenge, too. My nails need to be done every 3 to 4 weeks and my hair every 6 weeks. I have targeted places likely to provide adequate services. For example, I had both my hair and nails done in Malta. The next time for nails was in Israel; I didn’t think Africa was a very good bet for either.
Mike’s hair and beard… Most everyone knows that I have been cutting Mike’s hair and beard for the last 27 years and so it goes on our trip, but we require an outside location for said activity. Believe it or not, that is a pretty tall order on most of our tours, so trims have happened during our “beach weeks”. Fortunately, we have a balcony this week so I don’t have to look at Sasquatch any more.
There are other things like getting my eyes checked, getting my glasses fixed (one pair broke), having our teeth cleaned that just aren’t happening right now. We planned to get our teeth cleaned in Thailand but it just didn’t happen.
3. Vitamins and Other Routine Items
I was able to place an Amazon order when we were in the UK and pick it up at an Amazon Locker, but that was only one time. We have been to lots of pharmacies looking for deodorant and other routine items that run out over time. Right now, I need some vitamin supplements that would have been easy to find at home, but we are in Africa so who knows and I have to make quite an effort to even look for them. Fortunately, I brought a mini-pharmacy with us as Mike sprained his wrist. I’ve had a few blisters, and I’m on my second ocean-related super itchy rash.
4. Excitement About New Places
I guess I’m getting a bit jaded. This doesn’t really seem like a vacation, it is just our life now and it is tough to get really excited about any new place we visit. We are trying to focus on “WOW” moments so that we can remember the things that have affected us, but our view is definitely different than it used to be.
Here is my current list of recent WOW moments:
- Top of the Sydney Harbor Bridge
- Sumo Tournament in Japan
- Ha Long Bay in Vietnam
- Food tour in Hanoi
- Seeing a Tiger on safari in India
- Seeing Mt. Everest
- Castles in Scotland
- Pyramids in Giza
- Viewing the Promised Land from the top of Mt. Nebo
- Western Wall in Jerusalem
- Diving in Zanzibar (best so far)
5. Appreciation of Food
We ate so much chicken and rice in Egypt and Jordan that I can’t look at chicken and rice again for a while. Also, the go-to food in Egypt and Jordan for every meal, especially breakfast, is bread and hummus. I thought I liked it, but after 3 weeks, I really wanted something else. Also, having a beer with lunch is something we really like but we couldn’t get in Egypt and Jordan. I can tell you that absence does make the “heart grow fonder.”
We have found the food in Zanzibar to be heavy in fish and vegetables which is an awesome change from the Middle East. I’m actually starting to feel like we are eating healthier, except for the Caipirinhas in the afternoon, but nobody is perfect. We are looking forward to the rest of the food in Africa and the beef and wine in South America.
As I’m writing this article, it occurs to me that Mike and I are actually pretty well suited to this lifestyle. I say that because our complaints are really pretty minor and all the things that can be solved with money. We are healthy, mostly pain-free, and still talking to one another. I will count that as a success.
How would you feel being on the road for 4 months?