|‘This is the main photo in the Chanhassen Villager newspaper about our world travels.|
Today, we’re posting the actual story, photos, and video Southwest News and Chanhassen Villager newspapers used to share our story. There’s a limit on how many times it can be viewed from their site, so we posted it here verbatim to ensure it will work in our archives indefinitely.
Here’s the link and also the actual story which we’ve copied from the online newspaper:
“On Oct. 31, Tom and Jess Lyman mark five years traveling the world, enjoying extended stays in rental homes, and assimilating themselves into other communities and cultures.
It’s an unlikely retirement for these two former Chanhassen residents, who were previously homebodies. Jess had a long career in real estate and retired in 2010. Tom, five years younger, worked 12-hour days for the railroad. Weekends were spent visiting Home Depot for projects around their house, entertaining, and hosting dinner parties. So their decision to sell everything they owned and hit the road to travel was, to some people, madness.
Earlier this summer, the Lymans returned to Minnesota for the first time in five years. They spent six weeks at the Country Inn and Suites in Plymouth, their home base, as they spent time with family, former neighbors, and friends. They even hosted a meet-and-greet for local followers of their website and blog (started in March 2012), www.worldwidewaftage.com.
In January 2012, the couple discussed Tom’s upcoming retirement at the end of October. They considered doing the “snowbird” thing. But it didn’t excite them.
“Snowbirds have two homes,” Tom said. “If you’re in Arizona, you’re still heating a house and paying property taxes in Minnesota, and when you’re back to Minnesota in the spring, you’re worried about the extreme heat in Arizona. You’re always worried about the home you’re not living in. That’s not my idea of retirement.”
So when Jess posed the question, “What should we do?” Tom quipped, “Travel the world.”
Little did he know that his flippant comment set off something in Jess.
For a week, Jess worked on her computer, creating Excel workbook after workbook, and then announced, “We can do it.” “Do what?” Tom asked, not remembering what he’d said in jest.
“Travel the world,” Jess said. “But the way to do it is to have nothing. No storage, no car.”
They got rid of everything except what they could take on the road.
“I had three closets of off-season clothing, including a closet for the current season,” Jess said. “Now, I have one suitcase for clothes, five pairs of shoes and no handbag. I stopped using a handbag when we were in Kenya and were told that bandits would cut off your arm for your purse.”
How does a couple, Tom, now 64, and Jess, 69, go from couch potatoes who loved their favorite chairs, comfy bed, and cable TV to two nomadic retirees?
The catalyst was Jess’s health. Before 2012, Jess endured chronic pain due to a spinal condition. Her life changed once she adopted a diet consisting of only meat, vegetables, and a little dairy: no sugar, no starches, no fruit. And, after three months, no pain.
“I thought it might have been a placebo effect,” Jess said. By November, I was still pain-free; in January, we decided to travel the world. I get goosebumps when I think about it.”
BLOG A DAY
Jess started their blog to document their process of preparing for their adventure.
“March 12, 2012, is my favorite-ever post,” Jess said. In it, she lays out the beginning of their story. Nearly five years later, the website is comprehensive and filled with information about living the life of nomads; how they sold their home, all their possessions, the necessary medical and dental checkups, immunizations, medications and antibiotics, their health insurance, the types of passports and visas required to travel to the exotic, off-the-grid areas of the world they wanted to see, and more.
It’s not an exaggeration to call their website an encyclopedia of travel know-how, tips, and workarounds for the many travel inconveniences and snafus that are bound to occur.
And Jess has found that, despite her restricted diet, she can eat well no matter where in the world they have been. They food shop and cook at their rental homes as much as possible to accommodate her diet, save money, and get to know the local area.
No fans of flying. They travel from continent to continent, destination to destination by cruise ship whenever possible. It makes their travel time leisurely and carefree. And Tom gets to indulge his sweet tooth and his craving for french fries.
They blog every day and post photographs, sharing their adventures, delights, and mishaps with their readers, numbering nearly a half-million from around the world. Over the years, people they’ve met have suggested the couple write a book.
“It’s already written,” Jess said with a laugh. “It’s all there on the website. Besides, writing a book would be too much like work. Everything we do is done in a way that lets us be stress and worry-free, and happy.”
The most frequently asked question the couple is asked is, “How can you spend 24 hours a day, seven days a week together?”
“We have no trouble being together,” Tom said. “Jess’s friend says we’re lucky we found each other years ago and that we can do this together.”
“A big part for us is to travel and be stress-free and happy,” Jess said. “We’ve found that with less stuff, the happier we became … In our naiveté, we started with 15 pieces of luggage. Now we’re down to three pieces, limited to 50 pounds or 23 kilos. We each have a case for clothes, a wheelie duffel bag for miscellaneous stuff, a carry-on with medical supplies, and a backpack for all our electronics.
“All the things we dumped were stuff that we thought we had to have and to prevent discomfort, but once we got to Africa, talk about discomfort,” Jess said. “If you have 100 bugs crawling on your arm, don’t whine or complain. Just brush them off. Whining won’t get rid of them.”
NO END IN SIGHT
From the first, they agreed they’d stop traveling if either one of them said, “Stop.”
“When we first started, we said we might do it for 5-10 years,” Tom said. “But now, we see no end in sight. Our health is a factor. But we have no intention of ever renting or owning a house again.”
“I told Tom, when my time comes, just take me to the Drakensberg in South Africa and kick me off the mountain,” Jess said with a laugh. “Leave me to the lions.”
Their nearly five years of travel have changed them in many ways. They avoid big cities, preferring small towns and out-of-the-way locations. Tom’s philosophy is “the further from tall buildings, the nicer the people.”
While their lifestyle might seem extravagant, they are tightly budgeted.
“We realized that we paid a lot (in our former life) to have stuff,” Jess said. “Now, we have no cable bill, no utilities. If an average homeowner added up what it costs to live, with fuel, snow shoveling, mortgages, car payments, and insurance … we live in the world for that amount. If we did the snowbird thing, we’d pay twice that much.”
“Here’s the thing,” Jess said. “People are curious about it, but very few want to do what we do. In all our travels, we’ve never met a couple that is as free of stuff as we are. Most have an apartment or condo, or they have storage or treasures. We have no storage.
“To do this, you have to have the mind of an accountant,” Jess said. “I enter everything we spend on a spreadsheet. If I buy a water bottle from the vending machine for $2.50, I have to write that down. We have a budget that we stay in. And, based on what we’re doing, we can continue until we die.”
Surely, our regular readers have heard this story repeatedly during the past five years since our first post on March 15, 2012. Please bear with the repetition as we are excited to share this with many others throughout the Southwest Suburbs of Minneapolis and now, here on our site, throughout the world.
If you know anyone who may enjoy the continuing saga of our day-to-day lives on the move without a home, storage, and only one suitcase each of clothing, please pass on our link: www.worldwidewaftage.com or send today’s link for this story specifically.
Here’s the link to the video that our reporter, Unsie, shot during our three-hour interview two weeks ago today:
We never intended to be the topic of any such publication and do not, in any manner, pursue publicity for our story. But, we’ve surprisingly discovered that many people glean some pleasure reading about the details of the ups and downs of living such a life throughout the world.
For some, they recall their former lives of travel. Many that travel now finds morsels of information that may enhance their experiences in the future. And, for the many others, they revel in the prospect of travels yet to come.
Of course, we also appreciate those who read merely out of curiosity being able to peer inside the intimate details of a senior couple who’ve stepped outside the box of traditional senior living to chose a life of uncertainty and adventure.
Regardless of the motivations of our readers, we appreciate every one of you and hope you’ll continue to enjoy our experiences as we continue. Our heartfelt thanks to all of you and SW News Media for sharing our story.
Enjoy your weekend!
Photo from one year ago today, July 14, 2016:
|Selling crickets for consumption is a big business in Cambodia. These lighted (at night) plastic bags attract the crickets overnight, which are later collected and often sold to other countries worldwide. Due to wi-fi issues in Cambodia, there was no post on this date one year ago. Here is the link from the date of this photo.|