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In 1991 Billy and Akaisha Kaderli retired at the age of 38. Now, into their 3rd decade of this financially independent lifestyle, they invite you to take advantage of their wisdom and experience.

Traveling by Knight

Billy and Akaisha Kaderli

An extraordinary 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 monetary support.

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 journey.

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 the U.S.?

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 leap?

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 me.

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 people.

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.

Cherry 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 area?

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.

Dale in 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 year's end.

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."

Looking 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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About the Authors

Billy and Akaisha Kaderli are recognized retirement experts and internationally published authors on topics of finance and world travel. With the wealth of information they share on their popular website RetireEarlyLifestyle.com, they have been helping people achieve their own retirement dreams since 1991. They wrote the popular books, The Adventurerís Guide to Early Retirement and Your Retirement Dream IS Possible.

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