We recently met up with some friends in Hong Kong. It’s been a few years since we last saw them in Singapore. They said something that made me pause. After all, we thought we were making Bangkok our home base. They seemed to think, based on our social media channels, that our home base seems to be a life in the air.
In part, they might be right. Our goal in settling down in Bangkok, so to speak, was to spend some time in one location in between work trips. But, when our friends, Chris and Emily, commented on our life in the air, I realized, maybe they’re right.
What Does a Life in the Air Look Like
In a five month period we took quite a number of flights, probably more than we anticipated.
In January we flew to Seoul, South Korea, for a five night trip.
In mid February, we were in Singapore for the Singapore Airshow.
In late February, we flew from Bangkok to Hong Kong.
On March 6, we flew from Hong Kong to Frankfurt (in between we took a ferry to Macau for a few days)
A week later, we flew from Berlin to Bologna.
Ten days later, it was home to Bangkok, via Dubai.
Another ten days later, we took a domestic flight within Thailand, and 6 days later we returned to Bangkok.
Ten days after that, we were off to Hong Kong, again, for only 3 nights, before we were back to Bangkok.
We spent just one night in Bangkok, basically enough to do laundry, before taking another domestic flight down to Phuket, Thailand, for 5 nights before back to Bangkok.
A week later we were off to Oslo, and onto Prague, and then Dublin and then Toulouse.
After two weeks hanging out in the South of France, we will return to Bangkok on June 12.
Five months. Over 20 flights, and too many kilometers to track, with two trips to Europe. Yes, it seems sometimes like we do spend our life in the air.
Now, don’t cry too much for us, as some of our flights included Cathay Pacific First Class and Emirates Business Class, but not all. We flew mostly economy, and spent a lot of time in cramped seats.
What Happened to Our Early Retirement?
When we first met Chris and Emily they were living the expat life in Singapore. We crashed with them a few times in their Singapore apartment. We even housesat for them and their adorable dachshunds. Eric went to high school with Emily’s cousin in New Jersey. It’s how we originally met.
But, when we first met them in Singapore, and we were living in Bali, we called our lifestyle an early retirement. Something we were sort of proud of when chatting with a few people living the expat lifestyle. Chris and Emily worked the nine to five, while we had, happily, walked away from that lifestyle. In it’s place we had more freedom to do what we wanted, when we wanted, and where we wanted. To us, it was a reality that had me working a lot less than in my previous lawyer life.
When we met up again, at least two years after our last meet up, and Chris and Emily commented on our life in the air. They also asked “how’s that early retirement working out for you?”
A very good question indeed.
What happened to our early retirement?
During our weekend in Hong Kong, we had meetings with various hotels and PR companies. We had numerous conference calls about our Amazon businesses, and even more correspondence than we could keep up with. It was certainly not a weekend away in Hong Kong.
In the grand scheme of things, we are certainly not as early retired as we might have claimed when we first left the US almost four years ago. A few things affect that situation. This meeting with Chris and Emily definitely made me think twice about our lifestyle.
The Nomadic Lifestyle Versus the Expat Lifestyle
When we left the US in 2012, we called it an early retirement. We knew we would need to figure out a source of income, but when we left, that was not a huge concern of ours. We knew at some point, we would figure out how to make some money, and how to support our lifestyle. We felt confident.
And, for the most part, things have happened exactly as we thought. Our goal was to start a travel blog to, perhaps, turn it into “something.” In 2012, we had no idea what that something would be. It was just meant to be something a little more than a blog to keep friends and family informed.
We have, in fact, turned our blog into something, even if we are still a bit unsure of what that something is.
We are finding ways to earn money from the blog, but more importantly, the travel blog has opened doors to opportunities and experiences that we never would have had. But, the travel blog is also a lot of work. It’s a lot more work than we had anticipated. Certainly it does not feel like early retirement. After all, just consider how much time we spend in the air.
We also run a few other businesses that contribute most of our income, but also add most of our stress. Hardly an early retirement situation.
Thinking about Chris and Emily’s expat lifestyles, they are the lives that we might have been able to have. Working in an overseas office was always a possibility. And, yes, there are times that I am a little jealous of their lifestyles, and the security they have. They are able to live comfortable lives in cities like Singapore and Hong Kong, with an income that enables them to afford an expensive Singapore or Hong Kong apartment.
But, then I remember all of those flights, and all of that time in air.
We enjoy having our home base, but Eric starts to get antsy in our tiny Bangkok apartment after more than ten days.
I love the fact that, in fivd months, we’ve spent time on two continents and visited almost ten countries.
I enjoy the fact that, when I miss great wine in Bangkok, I can count down the weeks until we are back in Europe drinking wine. I love that when I am fed to the gills with pasta in Italy, I am only a few days away from fresh fruits and cheap street food in Asia.
And, when we are exhausted, and frustrated, and yes, stressed, with our supposed early retirement that never was, I can appreciate the fact that I am still happier now than in my life four years ago.
So, I appreciate our Hong Kong friends pointing out our life in the air, and making me take a moment to think about the strange life we lead. And, to remember we are, even when stressed and tired, and over fed, happy to be living this less than early retirement lifestyle. Especially, when we are in the air.
When was your last flight? Where were you headed? Let us know in the comments!