After 33 years with the same employer, I retired. This was not an easy decision- my job was interesting, well paid and I worked with great people. I enjoyed being at the office most days. The six mile commute each way not so fun. Toronto’s horrid public transit system meant spending two hours every day on overcrowded streetcars, squished between passengers screeching on their cell phones and slurping coffee or listening to the beat, beat, beat of music blaring through earphones that failed to smother the music. I t was not my job which drove the decision to retire but the horrors of getting there.
Once I decided to call it quits, the next question was what I would do with the next part of my life. Sitting around my condo watching TV for the next few decades solved my traffic woes, but seemed like a recipe for atrophy. Finding another job was not financially necessary and seemed too much like, well, work. Volunteering would be worthwhile and sociable, but would still leave me spending long months in cold Canadian winters. After much indecision, I decided to indulge in my greatest passion – travel – for as long as I could physically be able to do it and enjoy it. No more shivering wrapped in parkas and mitts and scarfs waiting for the long overdue streetcar on cold, dark January mornings.
That goal of avoiding winters also created the next dilemma: where to settle. Somewhere hot and tropical was an easy choice. Dreams of a condo nestled on an endless beach, with vistas of endless turquoise waters and waves lapping at the sand danced through my head, but the question became where. Nowhere in Canada is warm enough. The Costa del Sol in Spain was an early contender, but horror stories of shoddy construction, high prices and development run rampant erased that as a destination. Florida is a perennial favorite with Canadians, but a trip to the grocery store where everyone looked to be over 80 convinced me I was too young for there. Panama, with its enticing programs for retirees had the requisite beaches, young population and good transportation systems, but every time I visited, I suspected I would feel too isolated from Europe and North America. Reluctantly, I concluded that Panama was a little too far for me.
After years of torturing myself with this question of where I would retire, it dawned on me that I did not need to pick a single place. Websites like Airbnb would allow me to try a place for a week or a month or however long I felt like it. Flights and trains could be booked on the internet on a whim. I travel light, so the idea of living out of a tiny suitcase didn’t phase me. Slowly, the idea of not settling in to a particular place seemed to be the perfect solution. I didn’t have to find my new home. I would try different places. Stay if I like; leave if I don’t. Just go and experience whatever interests me and avoid what doesn’t. My new mantra became travel without commitments.
Thus, I committed to traveling until I don’t want to anymore. Welcome to my journey.