Tell us something about your background and how your interest in travel developed.
We have been friends since early in High school. We started dating right after graduation and have been together ever since. We discovered early on that we were both born with wanderlust. Our first trip together was to the Dominican Republic in 1980.
You retired early and have been traveling since and living overseas. Is this the recipe for happiness?
Retiring and living abroad is a recipe for success if you are great friends to begin with, and enjoy being together. Most couples have never been together 24/7 until they retire. Even if you do not move abroad, this can be difficult for some. Moving aboard will most likely put additional stress on a couple at first, so it is not a recipe for happiness for everyone. However, retirement and travel should be a recipe for happiness for all. Unfortunately, not every couple can handle it. Mostly because they are not open to change. We found retirement and moving abroad very easy. We both enjoy adventure, travel and each other’s company.
Tell us a couple of travel stories that have really made an impact on you.
Our last minute trip to Antigua Guatemala prompted us to consider retiring early and moving abroad. While we were there searching the internet for what we were going to do in Antigua, we found an article that stated Antigua was the 10th best place to retire overseas. Before this, we had not been considering retiring or moving abroad. On that trip, we met an expat couple. They just raved about how much they loved living there and about how low the cost of living was. Antigua is a beautiful, culturally rich city and we thought it might be nice to live in if it were a bit larger. We loved all the walking we did and the beautiful weather (not too hot and no humidity). This kicked off the living abroad bug. The second trip that sticks out is the Dominican Republic. We traveled there so long ago that it was not touched by commercialism yet. It was very different from the US and everyone spoke Spanish. It was a real adventure just to get around and see things. Today most people would speak English. This is a third but Germany sticks out too. We took our children and did a lot of Genealogy research. We met family we never knew and had a wonderful time even though we did not speak German and most of them did not speak English. We visited homes our family had lived in as far back as 1500. We realized that as people, even from different cultures and speaking different languages, our similarities are greater than our differences. This was a very cool trip!
You have your own website, retireearlyandtravel.com… In what way do you feel this is unique compared to other sites?
We wanted to retire early so that we could travel more, so we appeal to the people who also have that dream. Many people follow us because they want new ideas as to where to travel. We also appeal to those who would like to see an early retirement in their future and needs some motivation or guidance. What most people need more of to travel is time, and early retirement surely gives you that. Living abroad can help you retire early. With people working Internet-based jobs, many can half retire and work part time abroad. We help people get over the fear by documenting our adventures and how we retired early.
What are some of the challenges of maintaining a website when you are traveling? And what do you get ‘back’ from it that makes you feel proud of it?
The biggest challenge is time. We rarely write articles while we are traveling because we are too busy. We take notes and do all the writing when we return. That first couple week’s back is very busy for us. The single biggest “get back” for us is when we get comments or emails that ask us for advice or say how we helped them. We love helping people achieve their goals. We’ve even met up with some readers when they traveled to Cuenca.
You have traveled to quite a number of countries. Which countries surprised you, positively or negatively, compared to what you had expected before you went there?
What surprised us most was the economic extremes in Peru. When you are in a big city like Cusco or Puno, things are similar to Cuenca or other European cities, but as soon as you are outside the city, you see a stark contrast. Even the outer edges of Cusco are underdeveloped, and many people live in poverty. We never take for granted that we were born in a country that has clean water and offers equal education & opportunities.
Which places are high up on your bucket list and why?
We want to see the world, so any place we have not traveled to is high on our bucket list. If we had to pick a few places, we would choose Africa (which we have booked in 2018), Croatia (Keith’s ancestors are from there). The Galapagos Islands are high on our list but we are waiting for friends from the states to come and visit, and we will travel there with them.
So where is ‘home’ nowadays? And how have your travels shaped how you see the idea of home itself?
Our home is in Cuenca Ecuador. Through our travels we have seen how home can be anywhere you feel comfortable and safe. I don’t think we could be a week somewhere and call it home. But we felt that way about Cuenca in 6 months. We tell our two children home is where ever mom and dad are living.
What are your travel plans for the rest of 2017?
We just returned from Mexico. We will be in Ireland in October. We are working on a trip to a couple Provence’s in Canada and Maine for late summer. We think 2018 will be our business travel year.
And finally our signature question – if you could invite any four people from any period in history to an imaginary dinner, who would you invite and why?
Anthony Bourdain because of the way he experiences each place more as a local than a tourist. Charles Darwin because he changed the way we look at the world and the creature who share it with us. Oprah just because she has met and talked to so many interesting people. And lastly, the Dali Lama. We think because of his unique insights, he would be so fascinating to listen to.
The photos in this interview are from Keith and Tina’s personal collection and we thank them for sharing them with us.