We are overseas as this post publishes on Monday morning in the USA. We left yesterday for our summer vacation to Japan. We are going to spend 11 days in Tokyo & Kyoto. It is our first trip to Asia as a family and our first since early retiring in April.
Many people leave for a dramatic trip immediately after retiring. My friend John left for a 3 week trip to Germany (including a river cruise on the Danube) just a few days after hanging up a 30+ year career at his company on the May 31st. Still, another friend is waiting for the end of the year before taking a European vacation because his wife is still working and they are going to cap off her early retirement when she finishes up in December.
Our trip schedule has been mostly dictated by our son’s schedule. I retired on April Fool’s Day, but he still had two months left in his senior year of high school. After the graduation ceremony came all of the graduation parties – four full weekends of events at all of his friend’s houses – many of which my wife and I attended too.
Our trip to Japan is a ‘gift’ to our son. He (like a lot of teen boys his age) is very interested in the land of the rising son. Having grown up in a world of electronics with Nintendo, Pokemon, and anime movies, he has been very influenced by the Japanese culture. We surprised him on Christmas Day last year that we would go to Japan this July.
It has been fun planning the trip over the last 6+ months. I enjoy getting trips booked early, so that we can get all of the details well planned out and learn a bit about the place we are going through books, shows, and movies. Since we booked the ridiculously expensive tickets last January (snagging one of them on a frequent flyer points award) we have had a lot of time to prepare.
If fact, we were so well prepared all three of us had our suitcases completely packed more than 24 hours in advance of leaving on Sunday. Never had we been so far ahead of the game. Early retirement means that there was no last minute work obligations to interrupt our planning. Plenty of time to run to the store for last minute errands. Plenty of time to make sure the packing list was double and triple checked.
That certainly takes a lot of the stress out of planning to go half away around the world. In fact the other thing that makes this trip different is that there isn’t any work obligations to think about ON the trip either. No projects to hand off, no updates to give in advance of leaving. We took a spring break earlier this year without access to email, but I did sneak a few texts back to the office to check on a couple of things while I was gone.
We haven’t planned any more trips after this one. When our son leaves for college in September we plan to head out for at least a week somewhere, but we haven’t talked in depth about where. Should be good fun to start planning when we get back!