Lynne Martin is excited.
She has just returned from a neighborhood market on Staten Island and is excited about a find – burnt goat feet ($3.99 a pound).
“This island is full of ethnicities,” explains the author and world traveler in a phone interview, “so we go to a market for mayo and mustard and end up with these crazy things. This store has a whole goat section, and the best part about it is that all the labels are in English.”
English labels are a rare experience for Martin. That’s because she and her husband, Tim, spend up to nine months a year visiting countries where English in not the first language. In fact, the couple has no permanent home in this country because they sold it and most of their possessions in order to spend the rest of their healthy years “living globally.”
Martin has written about their first “home-free” year in “Home Sweet Anywhere: How We Sold Our House, Created a New Life, and Saw the World” (Sourcebooks; softcover; due out April 15 but you can pre-order from Amazon or Barnes & Noble.)
Their life experiment began on Martin’s 70th birthday in 2010 when she gathered enough courage to disclose a long-time fantasy to her husband: What would it be like to divest of nearly all possessions so they could travel the world nearly all of the time?
“I realized there were a lot of places I needed to see before I was too old,” she says.
Surprisingly, Tim had been thinking the same thing. So they crunched the numbers and put their Paso Robles home on the market.
It sold the next day.
“That was a sign to us that we should do this,” Martin says.
Suddenly they had only 45 days to sort, sell, donate and toss a lifetime’s worth of stuff.
“Our biggest concern was leaving family. They were reserved and surprised at first. They had to think about it a little, but since then, they are delighted and they come visit us.”
“Home Sweet Anywhere” chronicles the Martins’ stays in Mexico, Argentina, Turkey, France, Italy, Britain, Ireland, Morocco and Portugal.
“We aren’t wealthy,” she explains in the book, “but we have a smart financial guy who shepherds the little nest egg we’ve accumulated and sends us a monthly allowance …(C)ombined with Social Security, (it) is the basis for our monthly budget.”
Also helpful is Tim’s talent for finding the right deals for transportation, lodging and event tickets. It’s not unusual for the “travel agent extraordinaire” to spend hours on the internet.
“He has more patience than anyone I know,” Martin says. “He’s like a bull dog; he keeps at it until he finally gets what he wants.”
The Martins leave for Paris June 1 – their third visit.
“It is one of our favorite places,” she says. “To live there for two-and-a-half months is a big thrill, but every place has its charm. We’ve repeated London – we love living on the Thames so much – and we’re mad for Turkey and Berlin.”
Martin offers a few pearls of wisdom accumulated during their first home-free year:
Splurge and arrange for a car to take you to your apartment or hotel after a long international flight. “This eliminates drama.”
Good walking shoes are essential in old cities with lots of uneven ground.
In Argentina, ask the taxi driver before you get in if he/she will make change.
In Istanbul, stay close to the heart of the city. You can walk to major monuments and absorb the real flavor of the city.
If you buy new clothes, toss something. Otherwise, you’ll become a pack mule.
Three letters when you are driving anywhere: GPS!
Be philosophical; even the worst haircut grows out.
Travel light. The Martins keep it at two suitcases and two laptops.
E’Louise Ondash is a veteran, award-winning journalist who was an investigative reporter, feature writer and columnist for the Times Advocate and the North County Times. She has written travel features for The Coast News since 2003.