The 2018 ERN Family World Tour

My apologies in advance to all who were expecting an update on the Safe Withdrawal Rate Series. I posted Part 24 last week with a promise to do an update this week. Well, I got distracted a little bit last weekend and the new simulations take some more time. Stay tuned until next week! What to do now? Less math, more travel! We’re planning our June-December 2018 ERN Family World Tour and I thought now might be a good time to share our plans. The locations and dates are pretty much fixed already, though some details are still being finalized.

Let’s look at where the ERN family is heading for the second half of 2018…

Well, strictly speaking, it’s not exactly a whole world tour. We’re not (yet!) visiting South America and Africa. Maybe next year! We also have to skip Antarctica this year – hard to find Airbnb down there. In any case, we split our travel schedule into two parts. First eastbound to Europe, then come back to the U.S., then head to Asia-Pacific and back to San Francisco. It might have been more efficient to structure the trip as an around-the-globe trip, i.e., U.S. -> Europe -> Asia-Pacific -> U.S., but in the end, we preferred to come back “home” once in the Fall. To change clothes! 🙂 And to attend FinCon in Orlando in September!

Summer Trip: June to September

Here’s the big picture, see chart below:

World Tour 2018 Picture 05
Summer travel plans! Map created with www.travellerspoint.com, hat tip to GoCurryCracker who used the same site to plot their travel plans!

Looks very confusing, so let’s do this in stages

Part 1: June 4-17 – San Francisco, CA to Galveston, TX Road Trip

I’ll spend my last day at the office on June 4, probably talking to HR in the morning and very likely I won’t go back to my desk after that. Company policy. Since my colleagues won’t be available for a beer at 10am on a Monday I’ll probably just head to our temporary AirBnB home and chill there. We might already get going on the on the road trip on that Monday or stay another night in the Bay Area.

World Tour 2018 Picture 02

  • June 5: Drive to Las Vegas, NV. We’ll stay with family for two nights. There’s no better start to FIRE than visiting the Valley of Fire State Park! Sounds corny, but it’s a place that’s been on our list for many years and we never made it there so far.
  • June 7-8: Drive East toward Santa Fe, NM. The route is still TBD. This is a long drive and will require two days with another stop in between. One option would be to drive past the Grand Canyon South Rim and then stay overnight somewhere along the way in Northern Arizona. Or a more Northern route through Utah and visit a few sites along the way. We’ll play it by ear!
  • June 8-13: Stay in Santa Fe and explore the various sights in New Mexico!
  • After one additional night along the way, we will arrive in San Antonio, TX. on June 14. Visit the Alamo and the Riverwalk!
  • June 15: Head to Galveston, TX. Meet up with the inlaws and chill there for two nights. Why Galveston? That’s where our cruise starts, see the next Part…

Part 2: Caribbean Cruise and Houston, TX (June 17-26)

  • June 17-24, we’ll be aboard a Royal Caribbean cruise ship first going to Roatan, Honduras. Then stop by Costa Maya and Cozumel in Mexico before heading back to Galveston.
  • After landing in Galveston again on June 24, we’ll stay with two fellow FIRE enthusiasts from Houston. I met them at the April CampFI in Virginia and they invited us to stay with them! How cool is that? It will be great to compare notes on our respective FIRE strategies!

Part 3: (Continental) Europe June 26 to September 1:

World Tour 2018 Picture 03
Europe travel June-September!

I’m anticipating a question already: Why is this all Central Europe? Do we have anything against Southern Europe or Northern Europe? Well, we have a whole long retirement ahead of us and decided to cover this one geographic area this year. This is how much ground we can comfortably cover if we want to stay in each place for three to seven days! Trips to Southern Europe in 2019 and Northern Europe in 2020 are on the to-do list!

  • We’ll head to Paris on a flight out of Houston on June 26 and arrive at CDG airport on the 27th. Then stay in Paris until July 4. My wife’s aunt works there and we’ll have an awesome place to stay in a convenient and central location. We did the same trip already last year, so we’ve seen pretty much all of the touristy spots in Paris and might either chill out and take it easy or do some more day trips outside the city.
  • On July 4 we’ll head to East, to Strasbourg, close to the German border. Stay three nights in an Airbnb. Also visit Colmar, which is close by.

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  • July 7-12: Stay with my brother in Southern Germany. Visit the Bodensee (Lake Constance) area, and Munich! This will be an area that we’ve visited many times on earlier trips so we might just chill out. But we’ll certainly do a day trip or two to the Swiss and/or German Alps!
  • July 12-19: We’ll stay in an Airbnb in Salzburg, Austria. It’s a short train ride from Munich. We’ll pick up a rental car there and stay and then explore the area. I’ve spent many summers in that area as a kid so it will be fun to retrace some of my childhood vacations.
  • July 19-24: Take the train to Vienna, Austria’s capital. My wife has never been and I’ve visited only once and that was 25 years ago! Looking forward to sipping coffee and wine!
  • July 24-31: Prague, Czech Republic. I’m glad we have a whole week Prague! I visited once in the early 2000s and Mrs. ERN has never been here. So much to see in the city and the vicinity: Cesky Krumlov and Plzen are our planned day trips.
  • July 31 to August 3: Dresden in East Germany. Lovely architecture!
  • August 3-7: Berlin. Only a short stay in Germany’s capital! And believe it or not, it’s the first visit for both of us. Growing up in Northwest Germany I actually never made all the way to Berlin until this year.
  • August 7-11: Stay with family in Northern Germany (close to Hannover). It’s my uncle’s birthday around that time and we’ll also do a few day trips to towns nearby, like Hameln (Hamelin). That’s where Pied Piper legend originated.
  • August 11-18: Still TBD! We like to visit some of the Northern German cities, like Hamburg, Lübeck, Stralsund, and Wismar. All four are Unesco World Heritage Sites (not the entire city of Hamburg, only the Speicherstadt district) and have been on our to-do list for a long time! We will probably book one Airbnb closeby for the whole week and do some road trips!
  • August 18-22: Bielefeld. My hometown! I was born there and went to school and college there! I haven’t been back for years and look forward to reconnecting with friends from school. I will miss my high school reunion on September 1, but we’ll likely have an informal mini-reunion with some of my high school buddies during our stay!
  • August 22-29: We booked an Airbnb in Ghent. It was one of my favorite places when I visited Belgium in 2012. We will probably do day trips to Brussels, Brugge, and Antwerp!
  • August 29 – September 1: Amsterdam. I’ve flown through Schipol Airport so many times but never explored the city very much. Looking forward to exploring the Dutch capital!

Part 4: Cruise to Florida and back to the West Coast (September 1-30)

  • On September 1, we’ll board a cruise ship that takes us from Amsterdam to Tampa, Florida by September 17. I did the math and it was actually a pretty good deal. We got the cruise for just under $3,000 for the three of us (but plus around $600 gratuity). Sounds expensive but we would have spent around $1,800 for a one-way flight already. Now we get 16 extra days of vacation for not much extra money! And that includes food and lodging and visits to Waterford, Dublin, Belfast, Cork, and the Azores along the way! Only retirees can “waste” vacation days like that! 🙂
  • After landing in Tampa, we’ll head to Pompano Beach 9/17-9/22 and then to Orlando from 9/22 to 9/30. That’s perfect timing because I’ll be there for FinCon this year! My first FinCon ever! Also, spend more time with the inlaws who will be driving down from Atlanta!
  • September 30: Head back to the West Coast!

Fall Trip: October to December

World Tour 2018 Picture 04
Asia Pacific Travel: October-December 2018.
  • We leave San Francisco on October 9 and arrive in Seoul, South Korea on the 11th in the early morning. Two days later, thanks to a long flight and the time difference! Since we have about 14 hours of layover we’ll do a city tour of Seoul. We’ll arrive in Manila on the 11th at night. Whoah, what a long trip! But we’re retired and we have the flexibility to take the long route. The plane ticket on Asiana for the SFO-MNL-SFO trip was only $600 per person!
  • We’ll stay with Kristal’s relatives in Manila from October 11 to 14. We’ll probably need that time to recover from the jet lag and the long flights!!!
  • Phuket: October 14-18. Some R&R at the beach!
  • Bangkok: October 18-21. My wife has visited before but I’ve never been!
  • Siem Reap, Cambodia: October 21-24. Visit the historic sites and then head back to Manila.
  • We’ll then have almost a week in Manila to explore the city, visit relatives, chill out, dental appointment, etc. before we head to Sydney on October 30. It’s an overnight flight and we’ll stay and explore Sydney from October 31 to November 7. This stay may even be long enough to visit another place, maybe Cairns/Barrier Reef. But nothing concrete planned yet.
  • From November 7 to 16, we’ll go on a cruise again to visit the South Pacific: Isles of Pines, Mystery Island, Noumea, and the Loyalty Islands. I had to look that all up to find out that those places belong to Vanuatu and New Caledonia in the South Pacific. Cruise back to Sydney and arrive on the 16th.
  • A short stay in Sydney again from November 16 to the 21st.
  • Then go on another cruise, this one is one-way to New Zealand, passing by the Milford Sound, Doubtful Sound and Dusky Sound while at sea and land visits in Dunedin, Akaroa, Picton, Napier, and Tauranga before landing in Auckland on December 1.
  • Spend four nights in Auckland and fly back to Manila on December 4.
  • Between December 4 and 27, we’ll do one more trip to the province: Iloilo from 12/8 to 12/12: Wedding reception of a friend and some relaxing at the beach afterward!
  • There might be another trip between December 12 and Christmas, but we haven’t planned that yet.
  • Spend Christmas with Kristal’s aunts and uncles and cousins and head back to San Francisco on December 27.

Trip Stats:

Countries visited: 21! USA (yes, we do count the the U.S.!!!), Honduras, Mexico, France, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Czech Republic, Belgium, Netherlands, Ireland, UK (Belfast), Portugal (Azores), South Korea, Philippines, Thailand, Cambodia, Australia, Vanuatu, New Caledonia (purists might claim it belongs to France, though), New Zealand. I’m not counting Singapore and Malaysia because we just change planes there. But we might do a quick day trip to Slovakia (close to Vienna) and/or Poland (close to Berlin), so the final count could even be higher.

Days on the road: 197 (117 in U.S., Caribbean, Europe, 80 in Asia)

Cost: We set a budget of $250/day for the three of us, including everything (transportation, lodging, food, entertainment, etc.). Quite pricey, I understand, but we will do this kind of extreme travel only before we eventually settle down. We are homeless right now and have zero expenses on housing,  utilities, etc.! Not everything is booked yet, but if you’re curious here are the costs we’ve incurred so far:

  • Airfare: We used miles to fly one-way from Houston to Paris for a pretty nominal cost. We got great deals on the flight for the Asia trip. One round-trip SFO-MNL-SFO, the six one-way tickets within Asia (MNL-Phuket-Bangkok-Siem Reap-MNL and MNL-Sydney, Auckland-MNL) and the roundtrip ticket to Ilo-Ilo cost us a total of $4,500 for the three of us. Combined! We once paid that much for one single round-trip ticket from SFO to Europe for the three of us! We still have to book the plane ticket from Orlando back to the West Coast.
  • Hotels/AirBnB: We lined up all the Airbnb reservations in Europe except for the 7-day stay in Northern Germany. A total of 43 days, costing pretty much exactly $100/day on average. Amsterdam is shockingly expensive, but everywhere else we can stay for around anywhere between $66 and $100 per night. Most of them with washer and dryer!
  • Cruises: 4 cruises for a total of 42 nights cost us just under $10,000 total. This includes gratuity ($14.50 per guest per night) but excludes the cost of the cruise in the Caribbean, which is paid for by my in-laws (thanks, Mom and Dad!!!).
  • We’ll keep tabs on the total cost and post some updates here!!!

So much for today! Maybe someone wants to meet up with us along the way? Let us know!

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82 thoughts on “The 2018 ERN Family World Tour

    • Thanks! We are using Royal Caribbean for all cruises on the schedule. Seems pretty reasonable priced and after so many cruises we should have “platinum” status going forward. We may even get some perks in the future! 🙂

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  1. Wow, that sounds amazing. I’ve never wanted to spend the time to travel to Asia because spending my limited vacation time on an airplane seems pretty terrible. When you can travel for almost 200 days it’s another story. I love the idea of using a cruse to relocate. It’ll be much more relaxing than traveling by air. Enjoy!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. i found valley of fire a disappointment. it likely would be best at sunrise or sunset- i was there mid-day. otoh it’s only a few hours from las vegas to zion national park. if you haven’t been there – go! spend a night in springdale. do the angel’s landing hike- only half a day, albeit strenuous [1500′ elevation in just a few miles] but it’s awesome, and i’ve seen 10yo kids do it.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow! Look forward to doing exactly the same in a couple of years. Will be doing the Munich-Salzburg-Vienna trip this July, but beat you by a week. Bummer. herzlichen Gluckwunsch!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. The timing of your trip is perfect for your daughter’s age. Technically “before” she goes to school, but what a real life education she will get. We honeymooned in New Zealand in 1985. Cruising it will be a great way to see it, but you will miss out on driving Hwy “2” on gravel for hours behind a flock of sheep. I imagine you will get a lot of better experiences. A great trip well deserved!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks!
      Exactly our thinking! We have a two-year window when Little-ERN is out of school and we can go crazy with the traveling! Looking forward to NZ this year. And I’m sure we’ll be back there for a more extended trip in the future to check out those gravel roads and sheep 🙂

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  5. While you’re in Seoul for a short time, go to the neighborhood of Hongdae and check out the Sheep Cafe and Meerkat Cafe. Take the train from the airport to Seoul station. The KTX is faster but depending on your schedule, you can take the all stop train for $4 each person, takes an hour to get to Seoul station this way. Then get on the subway (right outside of Seoul station) to Hongdae. Use the app “Subway Korea” for lines and routes. You’ll need cash for this. Taxi’s are cheap and can accept cards, may be easier than using the subway to save time, might cost similar anyways.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Terrific plan. Around the world in 197 days!! Why rush doing it in 80 when you have all the time in the world…..!?

    Mrs. PIE texted me this morning saying she has Trip Envy!!

    I have a few practical questions:

    1. How are you planning to handle healthcare / travel insurance?
    2. How are you planning to handle mail while on the road?
    3. How will you find time to blog with all that sightseeing, coffee sipping and quaffing wine!!?

    Look forward to trip updates and make sure to Tweet a few photos while on tour….

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Dr. PIE!

      1: We are looking into buying a cheap travel health insurance plan, but we also have to maintain the U.S. mandatory health insurance, likely health share ministry…
      2: Mailing address is at a trusted friend’s house in the Bay Area. Has been since March. USPS will send me an email every day with a picture of the envelope delivered that day. If it’s something important I can request them to open the letter. Scan it and sending via email occasionally.
      3: I might reduce the blog frequency from weekly to every 2-3 weeks. I already noticed that on prior trips: Traveling is potentially a lot more work than the office!

      Will keep everyone updated with photos!

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  7. If you would like to add a night in Austin (vs. San Antionio), we would be happy to host you. We appreciate your research, analysis and wisdom, which helped contribute to my husband confidently giving his notice, just yesterday.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. For the Great Barrier Reef, stick to the southern reef where lower water temperatures hold less CO2, leading to less acidification and less destruction to coral reef. I highly recommend going to Lady Elliot Island for a day or two. When booking your stay they will also book the tiny 12-seat aircraft that takes you from Hervey Bay to the island. Since the barrier reef is many kilometers off mainland, you’ll need to take a boat to get to it in most places — but not so for Lady Elliot Island, since it’s a coral cay that is directly on the reef!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. What a cool trip!! Some wonderful locations we’ve seen, but many we have not … such a great way for you to kick off FIRE with the family. If you end up having time or plans change, Malaysia turned out to be one of our most (unexpected) memorable trips. But wow, what a trip!!

    Count us in if your group would enjoy grabbing a beer or coffee with other future FIRE-hopefuls while in Houston; we have some solid local breweries and outstanding coffee roasters … happy to share suggestions at the very least.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Sounds like a fun trip. I will actually be on vacation with the family at the same time and locations almost. I will be exploring Germany and Prague. I will be in Prague July 23-27.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I have a lovely Cambodian friend based in Siem Reap. Happy to put you in touch with him for when you are there – we took my step girls there for a few days and he was great at helping us see all the amazing sights it has to offer. It’s a magical place and can be super FIRE friendly with cheap food and shopping. I can also offer free lodgings in Singapore and Perth, Western Australia when you get to those. Like others I have really benefited from all your amazing work and analysis so very happy to pay it forward 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    • Nice! We will probably not make it to Perth this year (but on the to-do list in the future). Singapore is just a plane change though we should make that a future destination, too.
      We haven’t been to Siem Reap yet, so I might reach out to you and get the contact info of your friend there! 🙂

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  12. That’s an amazing trip you have planned! A perfect way to spend the first year of your retirement!

    I did something similar but as a backpacker after finishing university. I would love to do it all over again but this time the way you are with family, the cruises, and not worrying about money!

    I’ll send you an email about meeting up in Bangkok!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Thanks for your great blog, it’s comes extremely handy to me because I’m about to FIRE as well in a few months and you helped me answer a lot of questions I have such as cashflow management and glide path.

    I always make sure to properly thank those who help me. I’m actually from Colmar (however currently expatriated in a not so friendly place) and I’d be very happy to help you design your Alsace trip. That’d be for me a good way to pay back all that knowledge you kindly shared.

    Gute Reise!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Crazy. Love it! And definitely jealous of all that cruise time. We’re unfortunately pinned down by our 3 kids’ traditional school calendar so those transatlantics are hard to swing.

    Maybe in 12 years when we’re “old” (lol) and the kids are out of the house we can sail over to Europe in May on a cheapo transatlantic, spend the summer there (90 days in schengen, plus escape to wherever non-schengen we can enjoy), then sail back to the US in October/November. I’m right there with you on the cruise vs plane ticket conundrum – hard to beat the value of a cruise when it’s only about 1.5-2x the cost of airfare plus you’re traveling in relative luxury vs a 17″ wide by 31″ deep seat with mediocre food to eat.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Justin! Yes, cruises are a good deal, especially the repositioning routes. Not many normal mortals would spend 17 days on a ship when they have 10-20 vacation days a year. 🙂
      Love the idea of a cruise round-trip! In 2032, when little Ms. ERN is off to college! 🙂

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  15. This.looks.amazing. San Antonio! Walk the river, but I’d encourage you to eat anywhere a few blocks off it to avoid the…less than tasty tourist traps. Any of the restaurants at the Pearl (north/Museum reach) are great (e.g. Down on Grayson), a ton of beer gardens just east of the river, and there some in southtown that are pretty great. If you have any specific types of restaurants, let me know and I can point you in the right direction.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Very much looking forward to hearing about your trip as we have a similar itinerary planned from July 6 to Nov 18, 2018: Tampa> Honolulu> Maui> San Miguel de Allende >Cabo>Tampa> Amsterdam> Strasbourg> Munich> Prague> Budapest> Amsterdam> Rome> Riomaggiore> Varenna> Milan> Cagliari> Taormina> Palermo> Rome> London> Bath> York> Edinburgh> Tampa

    Steph

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  17. Wow, what an amazing trip you have lined up! I can’t imagine trying to pack for that. This is going to be a fantastic way to celebrate entering retirement.

    I’m so happy to see Brugge on your day trip list – I’ve been there several times and really enjoy it (good call on Ghent as the home base!). Vienna is one of our favorite European cities!! Cesky Krumlov is a long’ish day trip from Prague, just a heads up (a few hours by train, if I’m recalling correctly?). Enjoy the beer prices in the Czech Republic!

    We haven’t been to the APAC region but looking forward to getting there in the next year or two (we are delaying our RV purchase by a few years and Mr Wanderlust is going to try to get a job with a major carrier that has a program where if you work 24 hours/month, you get free flight bennies…so we’ll travel for a few years instead).

    We (your readers) will expect full trip reports on your favorite places/experiences/etc!

    Liked by 1 person

    • We carry small luggage with clothing of about 8-10 days per person. It’s summer, so not much that much to carry. Laundry every 8-10 days. 🙂
      Yes, completely agree with Brugge/Ghent: Both very pretty and Ghent a little bit nicer to stay.
      Wow, good luck with Mr. WL’s job search! Seems like the ultimate travel hacking!!!
      Will keep everyone updated! 🙂

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  18. Great travel plan.
    What laptop did you get from Costco for your travels?
    I’ll be cycling through northern Germany in July and want to get a laptop for the trip.

    I’ve been training doing rides up Mount Diablo here in the East Bay…

    Liked by 1 person

    • In the end, I got an HP Envy x360. Pretty good! Happy so far! 🙂
      Enjoy your trip to Northern Germany! Many international tourists concentrate on the South (Heidelberg, Munich, etc.) but there are many nice sites in N-Germany!!! 🙂

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  19. Sounds A M A Z I N G. Europe in the summer – oh I am a little jealous 🙂

    I was fortunate enough to spend a week in Prague in the early 90’s. It is so beautiful and was very affordable at that time.

    Happy retirement, ERN family!

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Just found your website, thanks for all the great info. We live in Los Alamos, about 30 miles from Santa Fe. Not to miss places near by: Bandelier National Monument and Kasha-Ketuwe Tent Rocks. Let me know if you’d like more ideas. Natural beauty is amazing, and native ancient pueblo sites are everywhere. One thing to be aware of, a lot of trails in northern new mexico are currently closed due to extreme fire danger/dry conditions. This may change if we get rain in the next couple of weeks.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks! That’s on our schedule! Looking forward to seeing the beautiful sites in your state!
      Bummer about the heat/fire danger, but we weren’t planning too many hikes anyway. Our four-year-old wouldn’t be up for that! 🙂

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  21. That’s such a fantastic travel schedule. I guess that you guys are on your way to Galveston at this time? I will also be in Manila in October and would love to hook up with you guys while out there. What part of Manila are you staying?

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Sounds like a great tour, we are embarking on a trip ourselves across Asia though rather more modest in scale and ambition. As recent (though not very early) retirees, reading your post reminded me of a dilemma that we worked through during the planning stage. This being the disparity between the funding required to undertake the trip versus the SWR that we are trying to follow. Did you have a similar dilemma, if so, would you mind me asking how you resolved it?

    Excellent blog, by the way.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks! One thing that helped us was that we prepaid a lot of the travel expenses already while I was still working: cruise vacations, flights, AirBnB (some of them booked very early or at least pre-funded buying second-hand gift cards at a discount). So, despite traveling and facing higher expeses, the cash flows are not that dramatic right now. We mostly pay for incidentals now.
      Best of luck with your trip! 🙂

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  23. Wish you an awesome journey ahead. I just read through your entire SWR series and see that you’re taking a 6-month 20+ country adventure as I did. It’s completely achievable, though probably not in the same style as my itinerary, but I hope it gives you some ideas or provides a fraction of the value that your blog has given me.

    Your SWR model is absolutely brilliant and more akin to what I’ve been wanting to model. Thanks for ruining that project! (jk, your analysis is much more elegant than anything I would have scrapped together).

    Liked by 1 person

      • Absolutely! Hard to value this type of lifetime experience, and I recommend people do it before hitting FIRE if they can. I notice you haven’t done any analysis of gap years on SWR’s. I’m debating whether or not I’m on a gap year or two, or if really FIREd (I like work, don’t feel as confident in my numbers, but your spreadsheets suggest that I’m OK, etc…).

        Regardless, an analysis by LivingFI https://livingafi.com/2015/08/04/taking-a-gap-year/ convinced me that the opportunity cost isn’t very high vs the qualitative benefit. What do you think? Does the 1-2 year exposure have some risky cases that aren’t obvious from the high level LivingFI analysis?

        Liked by 1 person

          • I agree reemployment isn’t practical for you, nor necessary given what you’ve modeled and all the additional contingencies which you’ve probably also accounted for in your plans. I also worked in finance, though not as pure maths as you. My sense is there will always be demand for our type of finance skills, which don’t atrophy as quickly as other fields.

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