Travel tops the dream list for boomers in a recent AARP national survey. Almost all of us have a “bucket list” of travel dreams.

My wife, Pat, and I, now 61 years old, have been fortunate to share a life-changing adventure together. Recently, we rented our home in San Diego, California, and traveled the world for two years. In that time we traveled to 51 countries, making a grand total of 100 countries on six continents and 43 U.S. states visited in our lifetime.

Years ago we gave up careers in the high-tech industry to start our own business so we could devote more time to raising our son and doing some traveling. With the normal joys and obligations of our business, raising a family, and volunteer work, our vacations were limited to two to three weeks and were finished way too soon.

We had worked continuously since graduating from college. When we sold our business and became empty nesters in 2009, we both had other new business ideas. I suggested to Pat to take a few months off to travel before we launched into something new. We had always dreamed about taking time to explore some of our dream destinations, such as the Greek Isles, Italy’s beautiful lake district, Croatia’s Dalmatian coastline, New Zealand, the Panama Canal, and other places.

After considering my suggestion, Pat came back a few days later with a bolder plan and suggested we take a year off. My first thought was “Americans can’t take a year off!” But being a former Economics professor, I did some research and discovered a slightly different way to travel the world for less than the cost of living at home. I learned that we could travel for months with what we normally spent for our vacations by eliminating expenses – less than $100/day for a couple. So off we went on our world adventure.

Travel has permanently improved our lives, giving us a renewed outlook. We learned much more about ourselves and what makes us happy. By taking time away from our routines, we were able to reevaluate what was working for us and what was not.

Traveling with only a suitcase has shown us that we need less material things to be happy. We have learned that it is much more important to slow down and enjoy people, friends, new experiences, adventures, romance, and learning.

Meeting a Canadian couple on a cruise developed into a lifetime relationship where we stayed with them in Vancouver and joined them on a tour of Egypt where climbed the Great Pyramid.

We are having fun, laughing, and waking up excited every day about having the experience we choose. Life without routines is inspiring and renews your playful spirit and love of life.

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