Keith and Tina Paul have been married since they were 24. They had two children who are now grown and living abroad, and they both had successful careers. But rather than wait until age 65 to retire, they decided to find a way to retire early and travel. They made it happen and are now sharing their advice and experiences on their website, Retire Early and Travel. Their blog is about living an international lifestyle and covers retiring as early as possible, living abroad and traveling to new places to learn about and experience different cultures. They join us this week to share their story.
Tell us about your background and why you started a blog at this point in your life.
We both came from successful careers. Keith was a Chief Technology Officer in Healthcare and I was a Naturopathic Doctor and had my own practice. We were not writers, but our jobs demanded that we write and write well. We had a blog for my business, so blogging was not new to us.
We knew we were moving far away and that our friends and family would feel we were leaving them, so our initial thoughts were that the blog was going to be a way for our friends and family to keep up with what we were doing. From the decision to move abroad until we were living in Ecuador took us seven months. During that time we had so many people interested in how we were retiring early that we decided to make it a blog that could help people to do just that.
We have always traveled, and people would ask us for advice and our itineraries, so that is where the travel part came in. We also thought that if we could create a successful travel blog, we could use it to help offset our travel expenses.
You’ve gained solid traffic and impressive social media follower numbers much more quickly than most other beginning travel bloggers. What strategies did you use to ramp up faster than normal?
We put a lot of thought into our name (brand) so when someone sees “Retire Early and Travel,” they think to themselves, “I want to do that, I want to retire early.” We also optimized our website for mobile use from the beginning because a good portion of people today view a site on a mobile device. While we do good SEO on our titles and content, we get most of our traffic from social media. We worked hard on our social media from day one to boost traffic to our website.
While most experts will tell you to concentrate on 1 or 2 social media platforms when you’re starting out, we have done them all. We post on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest, Google +, Tumblr, VK, Diigo, Delicious, and Medium. About 1/3 of these are done with an auto poster when we publish a post. But we ALWAYS, answer/like any engagement on all the platforms. Responding to questions & comments timely is very important. We also cross-promote on platforms where available. Such as Instagram allows your posts to automatically go out on Facebook.
Anything you learned the hard way along the way that you’d like to share?
Finding our way on social media was difficult at first. There are so many experts on how to “do it right.” We’ve changed our methods on some platforms along the way. I think joining Facebook groups on the different platforms and really reading the questions/answers will help you determine the best method for you. You also need to be flexible and change things up when the trend says to.
What are some of the most popular posts so far?
Our most popular page overall is our About Me page. That’s an important page to make good. If people like you, they will go on to your articles. The most popular blog posts are ones on retiring early with the top one being “How to Retire Early in 6 Easy Steps at Any Age”.
Since your site is about retiring early and traveling, what’s the easiest way to do that if you’re not a multi-millionaire?
Participate in 401K. Hopefully, you work for an employer that does some matching of retirement funds. If so, make sure you max it out. We think that working for an employer that does retirement matching is so important that it needs to be a significant consideration when looking for a job.
Make it a habit early in life of saving and the concept of compound interest. If you live on more than 80% of what you take home, you are living above your means. Lastly, if you have a job that affords you to work remotely, consider living abroad in a lower cost of living country. It will help you save tremendously for an early retirement.
What’s it like to live in Ecuador? What are the pros and cons?
Living in Ecuador is wonderful. It is not the same as where we lived in the US, so every day is an adventure. It’s a very laid back lifestyle which limits stress in your life. The people are so nice, and the cost of living is low. We have high-speed fiber-optic Internet access so working online is easy. We live in a walkable city, so we don’t have a car, we just walk everywhere. The side effect of that is a healthier body.
Pros: Low cost of living, Great climate. Friendly culture. Only a 4 ½ hour plane ride back to the states. And Ecuador uses the US currency.
Cons: Can’t get everything you may want quickly (in stores or mail order). Living in a walkable city can be noisier and there is some pollution from buses (in areas they run).
Retire Early and Travel is a blog about living an international lifestyle. From retiring as early as possible to living abroad to traveling to new places to learn about and experience different cultures. We want to experience, first-hand, as many different cultures as possible and meet as many different people as possible. We bring all of that adventure to you in our blog. Connect with Keith and Tina on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.
Interview conducted by Tim Leffel, posted by Terri Marshall.
Terri Marshall is a freelance travel writer, editor and blogger. Happiest when she's globetrotting, Terri has covered destinations all over the USA, Europe, into Central and South America and to Antarctica. Favorite adventures include crocodile tagging in Belize, reindeer driving in Norway, and hanging out with penguins in Antarctica. Keep up with her adventures on her website at www.trippingwithterri.com join her on Facebook and Twitter or email her at terri [at] trippingwithterri.com.