Retired couple leaves their home behind to become travel 'nomads'

Retired 'Nomads' Travel Europe One Airbnb At A Time
Retired 'Nomads' Travel Europe One Airbnb At A Time

When Seattle couple Michael and Debbie Campbell realized the slower life of retirement wasn't for them, they packed their bags and never looked back. Over the past 600 days, they've been to 69 cities in 29 countries and stayed in 48 different homes.

The couple, who joined HuffPost Live from Greece for an interview on Thursday, had always sought adventures in their lives, so they weren't quite ready to change that once they retired.

"We had been sailors for a long time, and we had thought for a long time about going into the sunset on the boat, and that wasn't it. And earlier we had lived in England with the kids, when they were little, and that was fun, and Michael ran for Congress, and there were all kinds of interesting things that we've done," Debbie said. "I just felt like we weren't ready to just hit the rocking chairs."

Although the couple worried they couldn't afford to live abroad, their daughter, who lives in Paris, introduced them to Airbnb, a site that allows budget travelers to find short-term room and home rentals all over the world.

"The short version of the story is, [our daughter] was able to tell us about Airbnb and that we could travel for less money than we had ever imagined," Michael said. "So we started looking into it, and by July of 2013, we were on the road."

To facilitate their constant travels, the Campbells had to completely downsize their belongings (The New York Times reports that the couple sold their boat and car and are renting out their townhouse) and look to the people they meet while traveling to help out where they can.

"We each have a rolling suitcase ... and we keep them totally between 20 and 23 kilos so we buy nothing. If you buy something you have to replace it. And we have two backpacks and my purse. That is it. And then we rely on the kindness of strangers. We get to their houses and rummage through their drawers and see what they've got that we can use."

Michael told HuffPost Live host Nancy Redd that learning to live simply has been freeing.

"Maybe one of the best things is not acquiring more stuff. If you think of our life as sort of a bell curve, we start out with not much and then we accumulate a lot and somehow we shed it as we get toward the end of our life. ... We have a small storage unit in Seattle with some furniture, because at some point we may want to be in some sort of a home, but otherwise we just don't buy anything, so we're not good for all of the tourist shops we visit," he laughed.

Check out the full HuffPost live conversation with Michael and Debbie.

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Originally published