In 2011 our readers loved meeting the Sabbatical Sisters and learning about their tips for rebooting already-successful careers and preventing life from drifting sideways in those later years. Now our four dynamic women are looking at revolutionizing retirement … “it’s way more than financial”, they declare! Travel with a Challenge has invited each Sabbatical Sister to share a recent cameo life experience illustrating how they have personally harnessed travel in retirement to enrich their own senior years with Passion, Purpose, Relevance, and Creativity.
We let the Sabbatical Sisters, Catherine Allen, Nancy Bearg, Rita Foley and Jaye Smith, tell their tales of quite different fulfilling adventures. Expect to be inspired!
Retirement has offered me time to travel, and what better way to combine two loves in life — travel and my sons — than to take my 29-year-old son, Nathaniel (Nat) to discover his roots in Ireland? In September 2014, I did just that.
I was 19 years old the last time I visited relatives in Ireland. Nat had never been there. So I tracked down a distant cousin over the Internet, and soon we were invited to be her guests at the original family farmhouse in Cashel, Tipperary.
We only spent a couple of days there, but it was long enough to visit the two farms that my grandparents grew up on and their graves, and to meet many relatives who drove from afar to see us. The rest of the time Nat and I discovered our common heritage in the Old Country.
In the final segment of their roots journey together, Rita Foley and son, Nat, visited Dublin’s Trinity College founded in 1592.
Nat shares a Guinness with Seamus Foley (center), the current proprietor of Foley’s Pub and with Billy Foley (right), who started the pub in 1974. Rita Foley
Our itinerary included driving through stunning green hills and verdant farmland. We visited wonderful historic sites, such as Hore Abbey, the medieval Rock of Cashel, and Cashel Palace for lunch washed down with a pint of Guinness, of course. If you are in the vicinity of Cashel, stop by Foley’s Pub for a pint of your own.
From Tipperary we drove to Dublin, a vibrant and fun city packed with great things to do. However, Nat said the highlight of the trip was going to Tipperary, meeting relatives, sitting around the fireplace listening to stories and learning about his heritage.
As I’ve eased out of working fulltime on U.S. national security into teaching and offering our Reboot workshops, I’ve taken up horse photography. It’s a hobby and passion that I never imagined for myself. One recent summer, I took a horse photography workshop from David Stocklein at his ranch in Mackay, Idaho. He is a western photographer whose horse photos I admire greatly. I grew up in Idaho and still spend time in Sun Valley near Mackay, so it was a natural to add a few days to a trip to the area. And my more flexible schedule gave me that opportunity.
I told Dave that I did not own a fancy camera and mainly wanted to be there to enjoy the horses and maybe learn a little from him. He lent me an excellent camera, and I got hooked. How I loved photographing horses in the daytime and seeing them run in the early evening light against a beautiful Idaho backdrop! I felt like I was home, both on the ground and in my spirit.
Nancy Bearg follows her passion of photographing horses during ranch photography workshops.
I bought my own camera gear after that first workshop and began photographing horses wherever I could, from pastures west and east to horse shows and rodeos to the proud horses at the Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. Last summer, my longing for another horse workshop was fulfilled at a picturesque Wyoming ranch. Tony Stromberg ran a great workshop, with so many opportunities to be with about thirty horses and photograph them up close or running in various stunning settings. I loved experimenting with different camera settings and angles. I think the results are mixed, with some photos quite to my liking and even artistic. I love showing them to friends and family and touting this new love.
Up next? Rural France next Fall photographing five different kinds of horses. They are such beautiful animals. It is a privilege and joy to be so close to them.
One of Nancy Bearg’s horse photos. ©Nancy Bearg
A trend that is exploding for traveling families and friends is trading houses. We write about this in both our books, Reboot Your Life and Revolutionary Retirement, because it is one of the ways people can enjoy seeing other parts of their country or the world, and still have the comforts of home. Plus it allows for savings in housing and dining while on vacation.
I’ve done this a number of times over the past ten years. Most recently, my husband and I traded with friends for a house on the coast of Ireland in Connemara. Those friends and their family stayed in our Cape Cod, Massachusetts house at the same time. In anticipation of Ireland, we invited our friends and family to join us for a week at a time. We had a great time using Roundstone as our base for day trips, and enjoyed cooking many meals on the Aga stove.
Cathy Allen traded this lovely Roundstone, Connemara home in Ireland’s far west for her family’s home on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Tom Burkett
There are several websites for trading houses but an alternative strategy is to search your network of friends and family for those who have second homes or places in cities or countries where they live. Or even their friends who might be willing to exchange. That way, you know who the people are and can develop a relationship with them. Generally the only costs are tips to any housekeepers or caretakers. Sometimes people even allow use of their cars at the house.
The best thing is you have a wonderful place to stay and explore, with all the comforts of home. Create your own Friends Exchange today!
Cathy Allen and her husband Paul discovered O’ Dowd’s, a great pub and seafood restaurant in Roundstone. Tom Burkett
Jaye Smith drove a Ski-Doo in Iceland … a bucket list challenge?
Why does everyone wait until they retire to do the things they have always dreamed of doing? I don’t know when I will officially retire, if ever, because I love what I do, but, now at 60, I am building in flexibility to take the time I need and want for other goals. I may be using the word retirement in a whole new way, but I am “retiring” to new places that are on my Bucket List. By continuing to realize my travel dreams, I may never have to retire!
This past year I rolled three vacations into one. For the first leg of my trip, I planned a 60th birthday trip to Iceland with an old friend. By doing the research myself, I found reasonably-priced accommodations and local tour companies that arranged fabulous excursions to the highlights of Iceland … all based out of Reykjavik. Researching better prepared us and gave us the experience we wanted. I then traveled on to Paris, and boarded the fast TGV train to Tours in the Loire Valley to reconnect with my favorite aunt, Josette. We caught up over a glass of Vouvray, dining on foie gras. This French aunt has been my travel inspiration since she took me to Paris for the first time in 1974.
Bidding au revoir to Aunt Josette, I took the Eurostar under the English Channel to London, arriving just in time to board my train straight to Norfolk. For the next four days, I reunited with fellow students from a three-month course I took two years earlier, each of us immersing ourselves in deep discussions and sharing tools on how to live a better life. What more could anyone want from a vacation?
At a manor house in Norfolk, England, Jaye concluded her three-in-one vacation attending a four-day class retreat with the teacher and students from her Creativity and Personal Mastery course, completed two years ago. Adam Morris
This was the first time I planned a multi-faceted vacation really well in advance. In return, I gained so much — emotionally, experientially and personally. Now, what to plan for next year?
In 2011, the Sabbatical Sisters launched their first book, Reboot Your Life, Energize your Career and Life by Taking a Break. They shared their creative thoughts, ten tips and engaging photos with Travel with a Challenge readers in a popular article in our permanent Travel Article Library. A must-read!
The Retirement Boom is a comprehensive planning book for retirement that is about lifestyle – how to live the most fulfilling life for the years ahead. The book is a great resource for anyone retiring soon, in the next few years, or already retired. Extensive research, hundreds of interviews, input from their workshops, and their own life experiences are the foundation for this informative book with its many facts, insights, helpful stories, and exercises. Topics cover potential concerns and surprises, what you need to know, and many ideas to explore for continuing to earn money or not. It’s about designing what YOU want. As they say, “Dream a little and make it happen!”
In 2019, the Sabbatical Sisters are offering Reboot Your Life Retreats at several U.S. locations. These multi-day events provide outstanding opportunities to take a “deep dive” into issues surrounding career breaks and/or retirement including funding your freedom, making best use of your time, and planning the next chapter.