Traveling by Knight
Billy and Akaisha
benefit of being world travelers, is getting to know other world travelers.
A few years ago, we met Dale Knight in Chiang Mai, Thailand, and as usual, he was just passing through
on his way to someplace else. This time to Pai, a small village five
mountainous hours from Chiang Mai. There, he adopted a Lisu Hill Tribe
family whom he regularly visits to bring small gifts or offer other
Dale, you fly to more
destinations than anyone we know. Approximately how many air miles
do you log in a year?
Somewhere between 100,000 and 200,000. I logged quite a lot of
travel in my previous corporate life, so I have long had the benefit
of frequent flyer status which allows me the occasional upgrade and
free ticket by cashing in miles. And flying the service-oriented
Asian carriers, like Singapore Airlines or Cathay Pacific, those
long 14-hour flights can actually be an enjoyable part of the
Dale at the
Great Wall of China
Given that you're constantly on the move, would you consider
yourself to be a Perpetual Traveler, even though you own a home in
I like to think of myself that way. I can honestly say that for me,
home is everywhere and
anywhere. I've met so many wonderful people all over the world,
people I consider good friends. And as you know from your travels,
returning to a familiar place like Chiang Mai can feel as much like
coming 'home' as my returning to Dallas.
Could you describe your investment strategy? How do you manage your
finances while on the road?
For years I was almost fully invested in the stock market. That served me
very well until the market tanked in 2001. Even though the market has
recovered from that, I'm a bit more conservative these days. While my 401K
and IRA remain fully invested in the stock market, for my personal
portfolio, I maintain a larger cash reserve than I did before. At least
20-25% of the total in money markets and foreign currency cds, the latter to
theoretically offset the weakened dollar. But I'm still committed to stocks
for long term returns.
I pay my bills online so as long as I have access to a computer, I can stay
current. For day to day expenses on the road, I pay mostly in cash and
withdraw whatever money I need from ATMs. I carry a Capital One debit card,
which is the best I've found for foreign exchange, and they don't hit you
with an ATM fee either. Their credit cards offer the same benefits.
In Guilin, China with native beauties
What about a cell phone. Do you have one and does it work worldwide?
I have a phone that works just about everywhere except Japan. If I'm in
Japan for more than a few days, I'll rent a phone there. The cost is
minimal. In other countries, if I'm staying for an extended period of time,
I replace my U.S. SIM card with a local SIM card. That allows me to make calls at
a local rate and avoid the ridiculous roaming charges. For example in
Thailand, a local SIM card allows me to call the U.S. for about 50 cents a
minute. And even if my U.S. SIM card is not in the phone, it still records
messages. I don't know how it does that, but it does.
Do you consider yourself retired? When did you retire and what made you take
The word 'retire' sounds so
sedentary, I don't really think of myself in
that way. When people ask me what I do, I usually simply say 'I travel.' I
left the day-to-day corporate world 10 years ago, initially thinking I'd
just take a one-year break, travel the world, and then go back into the
workforce. However, travel becomes addictive and after learning how to
travel on a budget (and having richer experiences in the process), I gave
myself over to full time travel about 5 years ago.
Dale, you mentioned traveling solo has created unique opportunities to meet
interesting people. Could you give us one example?
There are countless examples. Perhaps the most interesting was a few years
ago in Chiang Mai, Thailand. I was sitting in the lobby of a small hotel by
myself and got into a conversation with a man next to me. He asked if I'd
been to Cambodia and I said 'No, but sometime I'd like to go.' He wrote his
name and number on a slip of paper and told me to contact him anytime I
wanted to come to Cambodia, that he was with the government and he'd give me
the 'VIP treatment'.
Having fun in an ice bar, Queenstown, New Zealand
A few months later, on a whim, I called him and he
remembered me. He simply said 'tell me your flight number and I'll meet you
at the bottom of the stairs.' He meant the stairs of the plane, as at the
Phnom Penh airport, there are no jetways. Indeed, when I arrived, he was
there at the bottom of the stairs with a waiting limousine. We bypassed
customs and immigration
and he whisked me into town, first to his home to
meet his family, and then to a hotel he'd booked for
Turns out he was
indeed a highly placed official in the Cambodian government, and I was
indeed treated royally for three days. He didn't seem to expect anything in
return. He was just proud to show off his country and how it was beginning
to rebound from the days of the Khmer Rouge.
Skiing in New Zealand
What about the costs? Does being single add to your expenses or lessen them?
You still have to pay for a room and the price is not split between two
Traveling solo can
actually lessen your expenses. Many hotels in Europe, for example, charge
less for a single occupant than two occupants, even if the room is the same.
Same in guesthouses in parts of Asia. Where expenses can add up though is
when you're out and about, mixing and mingling. I set a daily budget and try
to maintain it. One word of warning to solo travelers: you will be a prime
target for any number of scams. I've learned the hard
way, in every corner of the world. Expensive lessons. Anytime someone
approaches me on the street with an offer, I've learned
the offer is usually not to my benefit.
What advice would you give other single retirees interested in traveling? Do
you meet many singles on the road?
Just go. Take that first step. It's as simple as that. My first solo trip, I
bought an around-the-world ticket with stops at places I'd never been. And
despite my initial anxiety, I found the experience, from the first day, to
be so liberating and refreshing. The kindness of strangers never ceases to
amaze me. And the great thing is I still approach each trip as a new
adventure. It never gets old. And yes, it's quite easy to meet other singles
on the road if that's what you want to do. The internet is an amazing
resource with a number of travel blogs that are useful to either meet fellow
travelers or benefit from their advice and experiences. Some good travel
forums are located on bootsnall.com, lonelyplanet.com, tripadvisor.com.
There are many others. Johnnyjet.com is a great site with links to
everything you might want to investigate. If around-the-world travel is your
interest, go to airtreks.com. You can price out an itinerary and
they have a very informative forum as well.
blossom season in Tokyo, Japan
I prefer to immerse myself in the local culture so I'm not actively looking
for fellow travelers. But they're easy to find, as I meet them all the time.
Do you have a valuable travel tip you could share?
Go with an open mind and open heart. And don't be afraid to step outside
your comfort zone because that's where the real adventure begins. A more
practical bit of advice, pack your own toilet paper if you're traveling to
rural parts of the world.
Our readers always ask us about health care. What is your approach in this
I don't have health insurance. Whatever health care needs I have, I take
care of them in Thailand, which has world class medical facilities as you
know, at a fraction of the cost of the U.S. Now if I have an accident in the
U.S., I have a problem.
front of Khmer ruins in Asia
What's your favorite destination and where are you headed next?
For the kindness of the people and the culture, Japan and Thailand. For
sheer excitement and discovery, China. For scenery, New Zealand and Norway.
But really, every place has something special to offer. I am on a kick right
now to explore more of Eastern Europe, and next trip takes me to Croatia and
Slovenia. High on my list of future travel destinations are Russia, Mongolia
and Tibet. And Greenland. The notion of going to Greenland just excites me
to no end. Oh, and Cuba too, but don't tell anyone. I hope to spend more
time in South America and have plans to go to Argentina before
In one sentence, what is your
philosophy on life, or your motto?
To borrow a quote from Danny Kaye,
"Life is a big canvas. Throw all
the paint on it you can."
towards new horizons in Phuket, Thailand
What do you think you contribute to the world?
Anyone who travels is a diplomat to the world. While my eyes are
opened to new cultures and experiences, I think I can at the same
time help people understand a bit more about my own culture and
country. Communication is the beginning of understanding and I
indeed try to foster greater understanding in my travels.
What are you most proud of so far in life?
I've lived to tell the tale. Seriously, the fact that I've been able
to go out and explore the world on my own, without a guide to hold
my hand, and to now be able to reflect on so many rich and memorable
experiences and have so many lasting friendships around the world ...
all that gives me a great sense of pride and accomplishment.
We want to thank Dale for taking the time to share his life here and
for providing us with photos of his world travels.
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