We are Dean and Kanchana, two aspiring world travelers who retired early from our jobs, got rid of all our possessions and moved to Thailand. Our plan was simple – live a minimalist lifestyle, make Thailand our home base, and travel in and around Southeast Asia.
– Our Life, Our Story –
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Over the duration of our working years/careers, we learned that all the wants, desires, and “American” dreams that most people wish for end up not living up to our grand expectations.
We were very fortunate to be able to achieve the things that we had always wanted and dreamed about. But yet, once we got there we realized that we wanted more. After all that is the American way right …wanting bigger and better things – a bigger house, a nicer car, buying and owning lots of stuff, etc.? Nope – not for us! We found that less equals more. That’s right, we had to get rid of all our things and possessions to achieve our dream…
Trading it All for Life Experiences!
But this didn’t happen overnight, it required a well-thought-out plan that would take three years to achieve.
It all started back in June 2016, when after much discussion (and running numbers), we officially decided to retire early on July 1, 2019.
During the summer and fall of 2016, we started the process of getting rid of/selling all our things. We worked on this monumental task on and off up to the point when we sold our house.
In the spring of 2017, we started the process of getting our house ready to sell. All of this along with going through and getting rid of things ended up taking much longer than we expected but we kept chipping away at it until we got it done.
We were able to officially put our house on the market in October 2017. We accepted an offer on a house in December 2017… while in Thailand! We thought that it was “fitting” that we technically sold our house while visiting Thailand. We closed in February 2018.
The day we’ve been counting down for three years officially came on June 28, 2019 – Our Retirement Day and Last Day at Work!
We flew to Thailand on September 1, 2019 – officially starting our new life of moving, living, and traveling around Thailand!
After we arrived in Bangkok Thailand we allowed the first few weeks as our “vacation” period – staying in a couple of nice hotels on the Chao Phraya River.
After this, we started our quest to find a place to live in Bangkok. After checking out a few places, we settled on a new condo facility in Samut Prakan – moving in on September 11, 2019.
Now that we had a new home it was…
- Visiting family in Kanchanaburi (End of September 2019)
- Bangkok Chinatown Vegetarian Festival (04 Oct 2019)
- Chak Phra Festival (Pulling the Buddha) in Surat Thani (11-19th Oct 2019)
- 13-Day Cultural Tour of Bhutan (07-19th Nov 2019)
- 5-Day Trip to Tokyo Japan (5-11th Dec 2019)
- 18-Day Multi-City Tour of China (28 Dec 2019 – 14 Jan 2020)
On December 31, 2019, the first case of “Pneumonia of Unknown Cause” was reported in Wuhan, China – while we were traveling in China! Thank goodness Wuhan was not part of our itinerary but we did travel to destinations around it. Zhangjiajie was the closest we came at 250 miles from Wuhan. Luckily we were able to complete our itinerary and return home to Bangkok on January 14th – only 9 days before China locked down Wuhan (and surrounding cities were locked down days later).
- 25-Day, 8 City Family Tour of Southern Thailand (26 Jan – 19 Feb 2020)
Thanks to COVID-19 – life, as we knew it in early 2020 all quickly, came to an end!
Thailand’s First Case of COVID-19… On 13 January 2020, Thailand’s Ministry of Public Health announced the first confirmed case, a 61-year-old Chinese woman who is a resident of Wuhan. She had not visited the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market but was noted to have been to other markets. She developed a sore throat, fever, chills, and a headache on 5 January 2020, flew directly with her family and a tour group from Wuhan to the Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok on 8 January 2020, where she was detected using thermal surveillance and then hospitalized. Four days later she tested positive.
Before this though, we had traveled approximately 30,593 miles! This distance is greater than a trip around the world (24,901 miles) and also equal to 11 “coast to coast” trips across the US (the horizontal width of the United States is 2,680 miles).
From the beginning, our plan to retire early and travel was all about doing it while we were still young. We wanted to maximize our remaining youthful years to be bold, move to Thailand and travel the world. We got 8 months’ worth of these plans in before COVID-19 changed the world! It was fun while it lasted! It just goes to show how life can be so unpredictable.
We were very lucky to wrap up our 25-Day, 8 City Family Tour of Southern Thailand before COVID-19 cases started to rise. With Kanchana’s family safely returning back to the United States at the end of February 2020, we decided that it was probably best that we start laying low and staying indoors.
In early April 2020, Thailand issued a nationwide state of emergency, a 10 pm to 4 am curfew, and a travel ban for all foreigners entering the country.
Throughout 2020 there were sporadic COVID-19 cases across Thailand but for some unknown reason, the high number of cases that were happening in countries around the world didn’t happen in Thailand until late 2020 and early 2021.
There were a few super spreader/cluster events that took place at the end of 2020 – starting with 10+ cases from Thai women who had illegally crossed the Myanmar border into Mae Sai District (late November 2020), a spike of 576 cases from Mahachai Seafood Market Samut Sakhon (late December 2020) and a few hundred cases from an illegal gambling den in Rayong (late December 2020).
Thailand’s most serious COVID-19 wave started in April 2021, when the emergence of the B.1.1.7 variant (Alpha) from clusters in Bangkok entertainment districts. This would end up being the largest surge in the country to date – with sharp increases in daily cases over the course of the month.
Like many countries around the world, Thailand had a lot of difficulties acquiring COVID-19 vaccines. At first, all that they could get was the Chinese-made Sinovac (with the first shipments arriving in February 2020). But by the end of 2020 and early 2021, things started to improve with the Thailand government acquiring AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines.
Decisions, Decisions, Decisions…
With the ongoing restrictions in Thailand, lack of vaccines, and many businesses, hotels, and restaurants being closed we decided it would be best for us to return to the United States.
With so many unknowns at the time, we didn’t know how long we would be staying in the US. Realizing that we could end up staying up to a year or more we worked out arrangements with my brother to live in a rental home (in the mountains of North Carolina). Our early plans were to buy a car and start taking some road trips across the US.
Back in the United States
We arrived in Tampa/Apollo Beach on June 24, 2021. We were very nervous about traveling around the world unvaccinated but in the end, everything went perfectly! All of our flights and experiences at each airport went very well.
With us arriving in the US unvaccinated, we decided it would be best for us to self-quarantine in a hotel in Apollo Beach for the first few weeks. A few days after we arrived, we were able to get our first Pfizer vaccine (thank you USA!). Three weeks later we were able to get our second Pfizer vaccine shot.
Bought a New Car
By the middle of July, we were still thinking about traveling across the US so we started looking for a new car. We didn’t know how long we would be keeping the car but we wanted something nice that would hold its value when it came time to sell. We settled on a loaded 2022 Subaru Outback Touring XT. These were hard to come by but luckily a dealer in Bradenton, Florida was able to find the one we wanted.
Visiting Family in Mountains of North Carolina, Change of Plans & Visiting Family
After spending time with family in July and part of August in Apollo Beach it was time to move on to the mountains of North Carolina. We arrived at my brother’s home on August 20, 2021.
We had been going back a forth about our plans while in the US and later decided that we would not be staying at my brother’s rental home. Since we were planning to start traveling across the US (spring 2022) we decided it would be best for us to just stay in Airbnbs along the way. We did however stay with my brother through the middle of September 2021 which gave us plenty of time to visit family in the area.
Visiting Family in Greensboro, Doctors/Dentist Checkups & West Virginia Fall Colors
During the months of September 2021 through February 2022, we spent time visiting family in the Greensboro/Summerfield area and getting caught up on doctors and dental checkups. We were able to take a short trip during the middle of October to see the fall colors in Lewisburg, West Virginia which was very nice!
Changing Our Plans Again – Decide to Go Back to Thailand
Also during this period, we changed our plans again! We decided we wanted to go back to Thailand! With the recent improvements with COVID-19 cases dropping (fingers crossed that it continues) and many countries reopening or looking to reopen, we decided that we would like to go back and pick up where we left off – resuming our original plans of living and traveling around Thailand! At the time we decided this, we were not sure when but we were thinking maybe sometime in May or June 2022. A lot depended on when Thailand would reduce some of its entry restrictions.
Sold Our Car
Now that we were planning to go back to Thailand we started going through the process of selling our car in the middle of February. After getting a few buy-back offers, CarMax gave us the best deal of offering $2,000 over what we paid for the car new!
Final Family Visits Before & Preparing for Our Return to Thailand
In early March, we got one last family visit back to Apollo Beach, Florida (for a few weeks). After this, we returned back to Greensboro/Summerfield to wrap things up before moving on to
With our time back in the US quickly coming to an end, we returned back to the mountains of North Carolina for a final family visit before leaving for Thailand.
We Made It Back To Thailand!
We arrived in Bangkok on May 12th, early Thursday morning. We arrived on time but unfortunately, our bags did not! But it’s all okay as they arrived the next morning with Qatar Airways delivering our bags to us at our hotel.