“With age comes wisdom. With travel comes understanding.”
 Sandra Lake 

Why Now is the Best Time for Long-Term Travelers Over 50

Long-term travelers over 50 have more opportunities to see the world easily, inexpensively, and safely than ever before. Millions of people want to see the world long-term, but surprisingly few achieve their dreams because they don’t realize how relatively easy it is to roam the world.

Look at all the blessings we have. Specifically, more than any other time in history, we, Fifty Plus Nomads, can:

Long-Term Travelers Over 50 Can See the World for Many Years by Accessing the Equity in Our Homes and Social Security

The average American homeowner in 2022 has $185,000 in equity in their home. Long-term travelers over 50 could travel on this equity for between two and eight years.

If long-term travelers over 50 do not have equity or don’t want to sell their home, they can rent out their house through Airbnb, HomeAway, etc., while traveling around the world. Airbnb owners make, on average, $924 a month off their rental.

Long-term travelers over 50 also have monthly retirement income through social security and other pension plans that can be used to live and travel abroad. The Social Security Administration reports that the average monthly check is $1,536.

The average American’s income on an Airbnb rental and social security together is $70 a day. If you don’t move around that much, $70 a day is enough to travel as a backpacker or in modest comfort in third-world countries. (Transportation costs can eat up your budget quickly. In addition, many desirable third-world destinations have long-term rentals for $200-500 a month).

Remember that the median family income worldwide ($9,733) is less than most retirees get from their social security checks. If most families worldwide live on so little, so can you, particularly if you take advantage of the lower cost of living abroad. (I live quite well on around $2,000 a month of income in Merida, Mexico, and know other expats here who live on much less. In fact, the average Mexican family lives on just $16,600 a year).

Long-Term Travelers Over 50 Can Supplement Their Income Anywhere

Long-term travelers over 50 have valuable skills – including proficiency in the planet’s most universal language, English – that can help them earn enough money to extend their stay abroad indefinitely.

Thanks to the internet, long-term travelers over 50 can work as digital nomads from anywhere on the planet. Moreover, since more people than ever work as freelancers after the Coronavirus pandemic, it is easier to find or create new sources of income.

I have met many long-term travelers over 50 who earn money preparing artisanal food, making and selling paintings and crafts, teaching ESL online, and writing E-books and blogs about their experiences.

Long-Term Travelers Over 50 Can Communicate While Abroad Easier than Ever Before

In the past half-century, Americans have spent more of their life outside work than on the job. Our average life expectancy has increased, and there are more and more opportunities to be a long-term traveler over 50 away from home easily, including:

  • High quality and ubiquitous internet connections so that we can stay in touch with our friends and family and work from anywhere in the world. (From 2014 to 2020, I had a T-Mobile Plan with free Internet access to most websites from my phone worldwide and low-cost calls to most of the world (20 cents per minute in 2020 – now 25 cents a minute). I used the phone worldwide, including remote places like Ushuaia, Argentina, the Faeroe Islands, Greenland, and Fiji).
  • Ability to use English while traveling abroad. I am always amazed at how many people speak English and how eager they are to practice with a native speaker. That said, learning a foreign language will give you a more profound exposure to another country. (Want to learn Spanish? Let me help).

Long-Term Travelers Over 50 Often Become Better World Citizens and People

When Long-Term travelers see the world, they learn new skills like understanding the global marketplace, world history, and cultural differences.

Whenever I meet true Fifty Plus Nomads, I can see they don’t just see the world through the lens of their home country. They view world events with a more critical eye. In addition, some long-term travelers over 50– like myself– find that world events have a more significant impact when they’ve been to the place where the event happened and know the people and the culture there.

Besides, you never know who you’ll meet on the road. I once met a man who told me he met his business partner for a highly successful real estate company on a train backpacking around Europe.

Traveling Around the World is Easier than Ever Before

Long-term travelers over 50 can fly to most cities anywhere in the world in a matter of a day. We can get tourist visas to most countries without visiting the consulate.

While establishing legal residency in another country can take time and effort, you can easily spend three to six months a year as a tourist.

Long-term travelers over 50 are extremely blessed to see so much of the world so easily. Yes, sometimes air flights can be painful. (You’ll see many of my critical comments on modern-day flying, immigration, etc., in my posts). However, it is not that bad.

Our ancestors had long uncomfortable multi-day trips in steerage only to arrive and be returned home because they got sick or had no resources. Worse yet, slaves died in such numbers from inhumane ocean passages that sharks followed the ships to eat the remains of the many dead slaves thrown overboard.  

In addition, many modern-day immigrants follow similar sad paths as our ancestors to flee inhumane conditions and set up a new life in more economically and politically stable lands.

One of the coolest things about being long-term travelers over 50 is we get to go so many places that our ancestors couldn't visit. Perhaps this was nowhere more obvious than in Alice Springs, Australia (pictured here). Alice Springs's extreme remoteness is part of what makes it so fascinating. I enjoyed visiting institutions like the Flying Doctors and the School of the Air that served to meet the needs of some of the world's most isolated people. In addition, the area has a strong Aboriginal influence and some very unusual natural attractions. (The Botanical Garden is highly recommended.
One of the coolest things about being long-term travelers over 50 is we get to go so many places that our ancestors couldn’t visit. Perhaps this was nowhere more obvious than in Alice Springs, Australia (pictured here). Alice Springs’s extreme remoteness is part of what makes it so fascinating. I enjoyed visiting institutions like the Flying Doctors and the School of the Air that served to meet the needs of some of the world’s most isolated people. In addition, the area has a strong Aboriginal influence and some very unusual natural attractions. (The Botanical Garden is highly recommended.

Long-Term Travelers Over 50 Can Travel Safely Around the World

Few long-term travelers over 50 ever suffer from crimes. By far, the most common problem is pickpockets. It is rare that anyone is killed or seriously hurt on the road. Statistics show fewer Americans have died from terrorism while traveling abroad than lightning. In fact, despite the media, the world is safer than at any time in history.

I have been very safe in several places the US State Department recommended that travelers avoid. (These places include Guatemala in the early 1990s and Russia in the mid-1990s).

Most Americans who die while traveling abroad suffer from heart attacks, cancer, and strokes just like they do at home. Europe and East Asia are safer than the USA.

Most Americans who suffer from severe crimes while traveling – including myself when I was express kidnapped in Puebla, Mexico, in January 2020- violated basic travel safety protocols, particularly while traveling in areas with higher crime rates than the USA (like Latin America)

Remember that millions of people go about daily business in areas the media paints as unsafe and survive. So, can you, if you are sensible and follow these travel safety tips. If you are, you’ll find that many places people the media teaches us to avoid are ideal travel destinations—uncrowded, inexpensive, beautiful, and friendly.

Long-Term Travelers Over 50 Will Encounter Mostly Friendly and Accommodating People Worldwide

Long-term travelers over 50 are usually treated well on the road. Hundreds of people from all cultural and economic backgrounds will go out of their way to ensure you have a great trip. I have been almost universally treated with kindness on the road even when I didn’t always deserve the strangers’ kindness.

Even people who say they don’t like people from the USA often treat me with kindness and respect because I go out of my way to treat them with kindness and respect.

In addition, increasingly, many locals speak good English and relish the opportunity to practice with native speakers. (Sometimes, I even wish they wouldn’t try so hard. I frequently find myself in situations in Mexico where the conversation would be much easier if someone would speak in Spanish because their English is barely understandable).

Outside of my family, the majority of the most important relationships in my life (including two long-term relationships and my only marriage took place while I was living and traveling abroad).

  Long-Term Travelers Over 50 Can Travel Often for Less than Staying at Home

The media’s distorted image of travel impedes people from hitting the road more than real-life challenges. Flip through the pages of any popular travel magazine. What pictures do you see? Handsome, middle-aged couples dressed in tuxedos and sequined gowns watching the ocean from the deck of a cruise ship? Uniformed doorman helping attractive young women hail a cab outside an elegant, iron-clad hotel entranceway? 

In my years of traveling, I have found that most travelers are not “beautiful people” with gobs of money featured in these travel magazines. Instead, they are people from many different walks of life, political and cultural perspectives, and economic realities. I have met many backpackers and expats like Vicki Skinner who live and travel abroad partly to escape the high cost of living in the USA (or Canada).

The fastest-growing segment of travelers in the world comes from:

  • So-called Emerging or Third-World Countries (most of the travelers in my newly adopted city of Merida, Mexico, are from other parts of Mexico and Latin America)
  • China (is well on its way to becoming the largest source of travelers worldwide).

Check out Nomadic Matt’s excellent website to learn how to travel for less and still get the most out of long-term travel.

Fifty Plus Nomad offers personalized workshops and courses in Spanish, English, Living and Traveling in Mexico, and Long-Term Travel Book a Two-hour Free Sample Introductory Session

Want More Reasons for Long-Term Travel Over 50?

Check out this post from The Backpacking Housewife, or check out my other Fifty Plus Nomad Long Term Travel over 50 blog posts listed below.

Some Additional Posts About Long-Term Travel Tips From Fifty Plus Nomad

Paul Heller has been a lifelong avid traveler and language learner and teacher, Even as a child, he told Santa Claus that he wanted to visit all the children worldwide. At seven years old, Paul wanted to retire to Mexico. At eight, he memorized the name, capital, location, and some facts about every country worldwide. At twelve, he found a book "Lonely Planet: Southeast Asia on a Shoestring" and started developing his own itinerary for a future round-the-world trip. He remained obsessed with travel; after getting a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from the University of Southern California and working as an administrator, He spent his vacations going to different countries around the globe studying language, touring, and volunteering. In 1994, he quit his job and lived in Russia as a volunteer English instructor. He discovered that he loved teaching languages. In 2004, he decided to make a living out of his travels and founded a community of people who love to travel just like him. He developed 5 three-hour classes about living and traveling long-term worldwide which he taught in over 50 adult education programs throughout the US. After his parents passed, he realized his dream of traveling around the world; cruising and touring some of the most remote places like the North Atlantic, Patagonia, and Oceania; and learning new languages (he knows Spanish, Italian, French, and Russian). Paul encourages everyone to learn foreign languages. He knows that it can be frustrating and slow but that anyone can learn a language if they put in the work and, most importantly, learning a language is well worth the time and effort because it opens up a whole new set of people, ideas, and cultures. He is currently spending the next chapter of his life in Mérida, México. He is excited about using this blog and his classes and workshops to inspire and equip fellow Fifty Plus Nomads with the language, cultural, and psychological skills necessary to be successful and happy long-term travelers and expats over 50.

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