Wellness, Wealth, and Wanderlust: Paving the Way for 2024

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links and we may receive a referral fee (at no extra cost to you) if you sign up or purchase products or services mentioned. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Wellness, Wealth, and Wanderlust: Paving the Way for 2024

In the blink of an eye, 2023 has come and gone. Whether you had a great year or not, it’s time to decide if you’re going to make 2024 a better one!

Our 2023 was something truly different and not anything I would have imagined. Our wanderlust took over and we ended up buying an RV, letting the lease lapse on our apartment, putting our stuff in storage, and set off to travel the country.

We’ve been learning the RV ropes and finished the first loop we wanted to do. Now we’re ready to start the next loop and learn from the mistakes we’ve made before.

In the meantime, I’m working on improving my mental health and continuing down the fitness path.

But once we’re done with our RV travel in the summer, what’s next? What are we going to do and where are we going to live? Is our wanderlust going to take us down another crazy path again? Is our early retirement life sustainable?

Yeah, 2024 is going to be a fun ride…

Wellness – Mind, Body, and Soul

Working out / Fitness

I had always said that I didn’t have time to work out during my career and would start to work out once I retired. Well, I got half of that right.

There’s never “not enough time” to do something. Rather, it’s what you decide to prioritize in life. You can always make something important enough to be a priority and push something less important down on the list.

That was the case with me. I should have made working out a priority throughout my working years. The good news though is that I did make it a priority once I retired at 43 at the end of 2018. Five years later, it’s still something I continue to do regularly.

I’ve documented my fitness journey over the years:

You’ll see in prior posts that I would put up photos of my physique changes over the years (sorry you had to see that!). I’m no longer doing that though since I decided that I wanted to focus on strength training instead of muscle building.

Regardless, I’m very happy with my progress over the years. I’ve been extremely diligent about my workouts and I was doing 5 days a week. As of last year though, I decided to cut back to 4 days a week. It was becoming too much of a burden on my time and I felt that 4 days was a good balance without forfeiting the benefits too much.

I still use the Fitbod app to generate and track all of my workouts. It’s not quite a personal trainer, but it does do all the hard lifting (pun intended!) of coming up with unique workouts each day that slowly increase in reps and weight. I just show up and do the workout.

Speaking of showing up, I don’t go to a gym. While that’s motivating for some folks, it would be the opposite for me. Thinking of getting ready and going to the gym would de-incentivize me. Instead, I’m still just using the Bowflex SelectTech 552 adjustable dumbbells that I’ve had for about a year and a half now. Although they’re expensive, they’re so worth it!

I’ve brought the dumbbells on the road with us for the RV trip so I can continue my workouts. I will say though that I struggled to always do 4 workouts a week while on the road just because we weren’t moving slowly enough.

For 2024, we’re going to be slowing things down in our travels so I anticipate that I’ll be able to keep the 4 workouts per week schedule a lot easier. Of course, once we finish the road trip this summer and settle in somewhere, it’ll be even easier to get back to a regular schedule.

The other big part of fitness though is getting up and being more active. I haven’t been happy with how little activity I’ve been doing since the road trip started. I’ve done some walking and some really good hiking, but the problem is that it hasn’t been consistent.

Wellness, Wealth, and Wanderlust: Paving the Way for 2024 - Mogadore Reservoir on a hike
A view from a hike I took in October… why am I not doing this all the time??!!

I’m going to attribute this to us moving too quickly on the road trip as we spent too much time driving and moving along and not enough time exploring places we were in. We’re fixing that for the rest of the trip though so this shouldn’t be a problem from here on out.

My big goal for 2024 is just to walk more… a lot more. Whether walking or hiking, I plan to be out and about quite a bit more often.

Sober life

This is an easy one. When this post comes out, it’ll be about 470 days since my last drink and it’s been extremely rare that I’ve even thought about having one.

I was not an alcoholic so this isn’t some major feat, but it’s been nice to have that out of my life. I was always thinking that I should quit, but it was a YouTube video from Dr. Andrew Huberman that tipped the scales and made me pull the trigger right then and there…

I may go back to having an occasional drink down the line but right now, I just don’t see the point. I’ve been content without alcohol so why bother adding it back into my life?

Mental health

2023 was an interesting year for me on the mental health front. I was coming out of one of the roughest mental lows I’ve ever had which started in the fall of 2022 and carried on until a few months into 2023. I was in such a rut and it took a lot for me to work my way out of it.

But I got myself back on track and I’ve been in mostly good shape since. It’s still not perfect though and I’m not yet where I want to be.

I think a lot of things have contributed to where my mind’s been lately. There’s no doubt that I struggled moving back from Panama. That country was home and I loved so much about it. The change of being back in the U.S. has been a hard adjustment, to say the least.

Then there’s probably a bit of a mid-life crisis in the mix, which is sort of weird. I’ve accomplished some amazing feats in my life that I think are crazy cool. For example:

These don’t even include the awesome family that I have! These might not mean much to others, but for me, each of these is something I’m very proud of in my life. So how does a mid-life crisis come into play?

I guess I’ve had a taste of doing some extraordinary things in life and now I want more. The ordinary stuff now seems a little mundane – not all the time, but it does happen frequently. When I’m just sitting around doing nothing exciting, I start to think about how I’m letting time go by without focusing on my bucket list or next-chapter matrix.

As a side note, you can get the Next-Chapter Ideas Matrix and Bucket List spreadsheet along with a bunch of other spreadsheet tools I’ve created just for jumping on the Route to Retire mailing list. C’mon, all the cool kids are doing it!

I’m 48 now, too, and as the fun creeps into my life where my knees start acting up or the pain in my shoulder intensifies, there’s no doubt that I’m slowly getting older. I want to do some of the more physical activities now before I can’t do them any longer. Combine that with the wanderlust that I’ll talk about shortly and this throws my mind into the wringer.

And believe me, I know that this isn’t something everyone feels. It’s just that for me, I want to see, experience, or accomplish everything I can before I’m too old to be able to do so.

A third contributor to where my mind’s been lately is that I’ve lost that comradery with my guy friends over the years. We’re always on the move and everyone’s moved on to different things in life so hanging out like we used to is tougher. I still talk to old friends and we get together infrequently but, man, do I miss the days of just hanging with my high school/college buddies and laughing up a storm.

Don’t get me wrong, I spend the majority of my time with Lisa and Faith and we have a ton of fun and laugh a lot. But guy time is just different – just like I’m sure girl time for the ladies is different, too.

Anyway, life is a balance and I need to figure that part out. My goal for 2024 is to continue hitting on some of the items on my bucket/next-chapter list and working on getting together with some of my old buddies more often.

5 years of early retirement… how’s our portfolio doing?

I use the Empower Dashboard to track my net worth as well as my portfolio. It brings all your accounts together, presents everything beautifully, and has some really useful retirement and investment tools. Plus, it’s free and who can argue with that?

Here’s where we stand as of 12/28/2023:

Wellness, Wealth, and Wanderlust: Paving the Way for 2024 - Empower - Net Worth

I’ve been taking the net worth number from Empower each month and popping it in Google Sheets for your viewing pleasure for about 6 years now…

Wellness, Wealth, and Wanderlust: Paving the Way for 2024 - Net Worth by Month

You can see the up-to-date info anytime on my Net Worth page.

Here’s a little summary of how things have gone since I called it quits at work…

DateNet Worth
01/01/2019 (First day of retirement!)$1,098,482.91
12/28/2023 (the day I’m working on this post)$1,609,797.82

In other words, we’ve seen our net worth grow by over half a million dollars ($511,314.91) since I retired. That’s even after we’ve drawn about $50-50k each year to cover our living expenses.

So far, I’d say we’re doing well on this front. There will absolutely be times when our portfolio will go up and other times when it will go down. But over the long run, our nest egg should continue to grow and grow.

You can read more about our portfolio and withdrawal strategy in my post, Opening the Books to Our Investment Portfolio.

Where will our wanderlust take us this year?

wanderlust /wŏn′dər-lŭst″/

1. A very strong or irresistible impulse to travel.
2. A natural impulse to change of place; a craze for travel.
3. A strong impulse or longing to travel.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition • More at Wordnik

I think “wanderlust” is the right word for me. There’s a part of me that takes comfort in routine. I have a little bit of OCD and having a day-to-day routine keeps the anxiety level down.

But there’s another part of me that appreciates change and that enjoys the unknown. That’s the part that I want to win out more often because that’s the side that brings the adventure and makes the most memories. It’s the part that keeps us from looking back and thinking, “Wow, time has really flown… I wish we had done xyz.”

Every time we settle down somewhere, that itch eventually surfaces to travel again… wanderlust.

Living in the country of Panama for almost 3 years helped to quell the wanderlust itch to a degree (though we did still travel while there). But then we moved back to Ohio and got back to a “normal” life for a while.

In the spring of 2023, I wanted to do something different again but I wasn’t sure what that was. That’s when Lisa and Faith helped brainstorm and Lisa came up with the idea of buying an RV and traveling across the States (they get wanderlust, too!). So that’s what happened… well, it did after we knocked out a month-long trip back to Panama! 🙂

We bought an RV and a towing vehicle, let our apartment lease lapse, moved all our stuff into storage, and moved into the basement of my mother-in-law’s house for a few weeks. Then, in October of 2023, we started our monster travel experiment.

We moved into the RV and started our travels across the country in 3 different loops with the idea of coming back to Ohio periodically to see family and friends.

You can read more about the game plan in my post, You Gotta Spend Money To Make Money, Right? Our Monster Travel Experiment.

So wanderlust has taken us on a pretty big adventure. Loop 1 is complete (though not without some stumbling blocks). This weekend, we’ll be pushing off onto Loop 2. We’ll be taking it a lot more slowly on this trip so we can enjoy everything more. A big pro that wanderlust caused is that we’ll escape from most of the winter snow, too.

We should return around March for a couple of weeks before continuing onto Loop 3 out west. Our time out west will likely take us into June sometime – maybe less, maybe more.

But then what? What will happen in the summer of 2024?

That’s the million-dollar question and one that we’re still not sure of an answer to yet.

A lot of this depends on what Faith decides to do. We’ve been homeschooling her since we moved to Panama in 2019. Next fall, she’ll be in high school and we’re leaving it to her to decide if she wants to go to a physical school or continue homeschooling.

For a while, she was leaning toward going to a bricks and mortar school so she could socialize a little more. However, since we moved back to Ohio, she’s been taking horseback lessons again and has been spending time volunteering there as well. In the process, she’s made some really close friends there, including another homeschooler.

So now she says she’s leaning toward sticking with homeschooling because, apart from the social aspect, there can be a lot of advantages over traditional schooling for the right kid.

We’ll see what happens but she’ll need to make her decision in the next couple of months. If she wants to go to school, we’ll need to decide where to plant roots so we can make that happen. That would likely be in Ohio just because of family being close by but that also means I’ll be back to suffering through the winters again, which I’m not looking forward to (but would for her).

If she decides to continue homeschooling though, we now have a lot more flexibility in our choices. One thought we’ve thrown around is to become snowbirds and live in Ohio in the summer and let our wanderlust dictate where we go each winter. That could be Florida, South Carolina, Panama, Mexico, or wherever! Other countries are a great option because normal apartments in places outside of the U.S. generally come fully furnished. If we stay in the U.S., we’d either have to look at something like an Airbnb or figure out another option.

Another idea would be to just move somewhere that doesn’t experience the harsher Ohio winters but is still relatively easy to travel back and forth to Ohio to visit. We seem to always toss Tennessee and South Carolina out there but who knows?

So 2024 is going to be a pivotal year for us but I’m without an answer right now. Stay tuned as we let the year unfold and start to make some decisions!

Outside of the living situation, I’ve been missing cruising (that wicked wanderlust strikes again!). Depending on what the year brings, I’m hoping to sneak in a Caribbean cruise sometime later in the year (maybe for Thanksgiving?). I’m still working on trying to get a free cruise, which is something I’ll post more about if we make that happen, but if not, I’m willing to pull the trigger on dropping the dough for it.

So there you have it. I’m extremely grateful for the past 5 years of early retirement and the options and freedom it’s given us. 2023 was a great year for our nest egg and the traveling to help satisfy our wanderlust. The mind and body side of things continue to improve as well and that’s just as important.

I think our plans for 2024 will continue to build on 2023 and provide some new experiences along the way.

Cheers to you and I hope this year proves to be everything you desire as well!

Plan well, take action, and live your best life!

Thanks for reading!!

— Jim

You know you wanna share this!!

18 thoughts on “Wellness, Wealth, and Wanderlust: Paving the Way for 2024”

  1. Jim,

    Happy New Year

    Thanks for the post. Would you please share your booking process on your Caribbean cruise.


    1. Hi Jack – Happy New Year to you as well! I do plan to share what I’m working on with getting a cruise but I want to make sure that I know it works first. Sorry for the teaser but I don’t want to share any misinformation until I know if there are any cons to this. As soon as I can successfully book it though, I will absolutely have a post out the following week on it. Right now, I’m just waiting for a date to match what we’re looking for. 🙂

  2. I get having wanderlust. We’ve determined about every other month of some travel helps. This year we are going on our first cruise (Jan), then a week to Texas for a music festival (March), 4 days at a resort north of us for another music festival (May), three weeks in NY where we grew up (June). Haven’t decided if we will road trip out west after that or not. If we like the cruise we may do another one in the fall. Next Christmas we will spend in Pittsburgh area near our son. Lots to look forward to which I think is the trick. In between we have our “normal” retired life of golf, book club, theater and music concerts and house maintenance.

    Hopefully you will have a great next segment. Looking forward to hearing all about it!

    1. Wow, those sound like a lot of great travel plans! I hope you have fun with all of them and fingers crossed you enjoy the cruise (that’s my favorite vacation!). I believe it was Scott Keyes from Going (formerly Scott’s Cheap Flights) that said instead of just taking one monster trip each year, for example, it can be better to take multiple smaller trips. He said by queuing up vacations, you’ll always have something to look forward to since that’s half of the excitement. Great words of advice and it sounds like you’re nailing it! 🙂

  3. Temp setback to our planned winter RV trip to AZ – surgery on gas pedal foot has parked us for this winter. Nonetheless the scheming is beginning for a different cross country trek across northern US – just have to marry it to 40th anniversary expectations and hope temporary paid project work doesn’t interfere.
    We did a FL loop last Feb. If you can camp near the Space Center you may get to see a Falcon 9 launch – Musk has 1 or 2 launches a week. Better than actually going to the Space Center ($$$) – and next to the Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge. But our best time was in south FL – Key West (which is still fun even if you aren’t drinking because seafood, music and pie are all excellent), Biscayne Bay NP (rent a kayak and also do their island key tour), and the Everglades. Lots of campsites in the Everglades. Good boat tours, etc.
    Wishing you all the best in 2024.

    1. Happy New Year, my friend! Ouch, that sucks – hope your foot is ok. Best of luck on the northern US trip – I’m sure you’ll figure out a good plan for it.

      That’s a great tip on the Space Center – that would be an awesome experience! We’ve only been to Key West once as a stopover on a cruise but maybe we’ll get a chance to check it out again on this trip. I’ll add Biscayne Bay NP and the Everglades to some of the places we dig into as well. It’s going to be fun figuring out all the different places to go, especially because we’re not on a schedule this time around.

      Have a great year and good luck on the foot!

  4. Hi Jim and family, been following your journey. Looks like you will be heading right by us on your trip up the Florida east coast. Let us know when you’ll be on the Treasure Coast, We’re 10 minutes off the exit! Enjoy the warmer temps!

    1. Oh, that’s cool – I was wondering where you guys have been! We don’t know exactly where we’ll be in Florida yet, but I’ll definitely give you a shout if we’re going to be anywhere close. Happy New Year to you and the hubs!

  5. Happy New Year Jim! Yea you’re right, hanging with the buddies is certainly something I miss too. I did get to go back home to St. Louis over the Holidays and had a couple lunches with different groups of buddies and it was a blast, I do miss it. Look forward to seeing what 2024 holds for you!

  6. Jim, that’s an amazing life. We all have our ups and downs, but you’re working through it. It sounds like you’re doing much better now so that’s great. Nice job.
    I’m getting older and health is job 1 this year. I’m going back to the gym! It seems I can’t exercise at home. It’s too comfortable.
    I’m getting wanderlust as well, but I can’t take off. My wife and kid have committments here. We’ll take a big vacation this year somewhere, but mostly stay at home. Enjoy!

    1. I am doing much better – thanks, Joe. Glad to hear that you’re going back to the gym – you’re an inspiration to many and when you were documenting your path to better health before, that wasn’t any different. Best of luck! I get it on the commitments, which is why I keep pushing us to take advantage of the opportunity we have right now without that to worry about. Hope you have a great vacation wherever you decide on! Here’s to a great 2024!

  7. Hi Jim,
    nice summary. It’s been a while since we last spoke/wrote but I can relate on many levels (Wanderlust, restlessness, missing “buddy” time etc.) and I’m also looking for ideas on what to do with my life over the next years. Our daughter (14) decided to go back to regular school, so that limits my options quite a bit. Anyway, if you are in the Orlando/Cape Canaveral area on your second “loop” ,and if you feel like it, we could meet up somewhere for coffee or a meal.
    Enjoy the RV life.

    1. Things look pretty similar on our lives, Olaf – best of luck on finding the right path for you! If you’re not already doing so, I’d recommend checking out Fritz’s The Retirement Manifesto blog (and book). He focuses quite a bit on the transition and figuring out how to make the most of retirement… just a thought.

      And yes, I’ll keep you in mind if we make it over that way during our trip!

  8. I have an annual walk / jog goal, and finally got to Scotland this summer. Friends were sure I’d get many miles towards my goal. While I got lots of steps most days, I only count purposefully walked miles and ended the month at 40. Travel can be amazing in so many ways but definitely changes and challenges our fitness routines.
    Wishing you a Happy 2024!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.