The final criteria, lots more to follow...

Here we go!  We're wrapping up the all important criteria today allowing us to proceed to the equally important itinerary in the next post.  As I mentioned earlier, listing these vital "rules" again and again is certainly tedious. 

Seeing them over and over, reading them aloud to Tom each time I write, is exactly what we've needed to be reminded of the importance of following these guidelines. Without them, the temptation to book expensive vacation rentals, overpriced cruises, and the occasional exorbitant hotel rooms would throw our financial plan out of whack.  

The goal of avoiding the necessity of tapping into our savings or investments is a huge motivator. Fear...the infinite motivator.  Fear...being forced to stop this adventure due to financial constraints. Fear...canceling future travel due to health issues.  Fear...the caves with the bats, the guano.  Fear...the zip line.

Friends and family have asked, "What happens if you get bored?"  We didn't get bored living in our home together for the past 21 years, in the comfy chairs, enjoying lounging in a lawn chair in the summer, eating homemade meals, watching episodes of our favorite TV shows, chatting, laughing and socializing.  

They also ask, "What if you get tired of traveling?"  We'll stop.  We'll cancel future plans, maybe lose a deposit or two but we'll stop.  We've agreed that if one of us wants to stop, the other will agree.  Knowing this comforts us. Knowing this removes the fear. 

So the remaining criteria:

Criteria #7:  Never stay in a vacation rental less than one month.  The rationale behind this rule is simple.  Staying in one location not only reduces transportation expense but provides us with the opportunity to negotiate better rates when staying a month or more.  

Many of the property owners allow a stay of as little as three or four days requiring added paperwork, liability and cleaning.  Their piece of mind is a substantial motivator for them to accept a lower rent for their property.  As each month's stay is extended in the negotiations, the price goes down proportionately.  The will be illustrated by the rental amounts we will post with the itinerary.

Criteria #8:  No trinkets!  As tempting as "bargains," "souvenirs" and local "handicrafts" appeal to us during our travels, we will resist the temptation.  The cost of excess baggage along with the horror of hauling some heavy wooden object all over the world is preposterous!

We will make a list of the items we encounter that tempt us.  Once we settle someday, we will easily be able to find similar items online or in some cases, purchase them from the actual vendor's website.  Often these tempting artifacts can be found for half the price on Ebay, from sellers who found themselves were tempted during their travels.  Most often, when we look back at such a wish list at a later date, we'll find that we have lost interest anyway.

Criteria #9:  The availability of Internet/cell phone access with us at all times. This was a tough one.  I spent no less than an entire week researching various options. We now have discovered solutions (of course, subject to technology changes over the next several months). For Internet access, 24/7, in our rental, on the road, and part-time on cruises, we'll use MiFi Rental with XCom Global. In a future post, I will write about the cost and how this works.  

As for cell phone service, we will be buying an Unlocked International cell phone into which we can purchase and install a local SIM card using the available local network (which is what most cell phone users in many countries use for service). SIM cards result in considerably lower rates, all without the use of a contract.  Here again, I will write an entire post on this subject.

Criteria #10:  Cook and eat in!  Due to health concerns we live a low carb, wheat free, starch free, grain free, sugar free and gluten free lifestyle. Occasionally Tom will indulge along the way!  He won't be able to resist pasta in Italy or a baguette in France.  But, for me, my ongoing health from this way of eating it a huge motivator. Cooking and eating in the kitchen of our vacation rental will save us $1000's along the way.  

We currently spend about $800 a month on food (all organic produce with grass fed meat, free range poultry and eggs, organic dairy).  This may sound like a huge sum for two people but that totals only $26.67 a day. After considerable research, we feel confident that we'll be able to maintain this budget and our food requirements.  I currently pack 3 meals a day for Tom's long 12 hour workdays.

We could never eat two to three meals a day in a restaurant in any of the countries we are visiting for a mere $26.67 for both of us! We have budgeted the cost of enjoying a dinner out in a nice restaurant, once or twice a week depending upon local prices.  

That one dinner a week may cost $25 in Belize including tax and tip but could be $125 in Tuscany, resulting in an expenditure of $6500 a year, enough to pay for a vacation rental for 4.3 months or 8.6 months, if eating out twice a week. Its a matter of trade offs.  

I don't think we'll mind grilling a steak on the veranda in Majorca, Spain while overlooking the Mediterranean Sea.

In review, here is a complete list of all the criteria:

Criteria #1: Do not have a permanent home!
Criteria #2: Do not own cars!
Criteria #3: Do not stay in hotels unless absolutely necessary!
Criteria #4: Do not pay more than that which we were willing to pay for rent in our chosen retirement community!
Criteria #5: Use the cruise!
Criteria #6: Bag the excess baggage!
Criteria #7: Never stay in a vacation rental less than one month!
Criteria #8: No trinkets!
Criteria #9: The availability of Internet/cell phone access with us at all times!
Criteria#10: Cook and eat in!

Sure, all of the above is subject to change.  We don't know what we don't know. It's a work in progress.  By the time we are ready to leave in seven months and ten days, we may laugh or even cringe at what we "thought" we knew and posted here, this early in the process.  In any case, we learn as we go, on a perpetual mission of gaining knowledge, reducing fear and ultimately...having the time of our lives.  

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