FIAR: 5 Mini Retirement Ideas Focused on Travel

FIAR – Financial Independence / Abbreviated Retirement

FIAR is for people who are interested in financial freedom, but don’t want to wait until they are old to have an extended experience away from their day jobs. With FIAR, time away is used to fulfill a lifelong dream or go on a life-changing adventure.

An abbreviated retirement is essentially a mini retirement, which is the perfect solution for those who would like to travel for a year or two before returning to a day job.

But who knows, you may be inspired to something completely different when you return. Travel experiences can have that kind of effect on you.

Mini Retirement Ideas

There are countless ways to spend a mini retirement, and not all of them involve travel. But for many, traveling is one of those activities that you can’t do from your 9-5 office. A mini retirement, therefore, provides the perfect opportunity to spend quality time visiting places you’ve dreamed about and pictured in your mind.

Here are 5 mini retirement ideas that are travel-centric, frugal-focused experiences to get your excitement and travel inspiration flowing. Included are options that are good for solo ventures, couples, and families.


When you travel you realize the myth that you have of a place is not reality. Extended time in foreign places gives you a deeper insight into the culture. This isn’t something you can do on a 2-week vacation. That’s what makes FIAR so powerful.Click To Tweet

Backpacking is a form of independent, low-cost travel that involves staying in inexpensive lodges and hostels and carrying all of your necessities in a backpack. There are many forms of backpacking. Some involve sleeping in forests and spending time in nature, while others involve visiting more urban settings in foreign cities.

A backpacker is someone traveling for whatever reason, but instead of carrying a suitcase and luggage, is carrying everything in a backpack.

A backpacking tourist is someone who travels on a budget, usually for longer distances, seeing many different countries and for a longer time than normal holiday travelers.

There are so many variations and options when planning an extended backpacking adventure. Part of the fun is researching and making decisions about your own flavor of backpacking.

Europe, Asia, and South America are great places to target when researching an extended backpacking mini retirement.

Become an International Volunteer

Organizations like the UNV mobilize volunteers to enable more people to be directly involved in humanitarian, peace-building and post-conflict recovery, as well as sustainable development and poverty eradication work of the UN.

All around the world, UN Volunteers help people lead more productive and fulfilling lives, such as through their work on projects in quality education and improved healthcare, or by ensuring equitable access to community resources and sustainable practices. UN Volunteers at times also work with governments and other local partners, helping to boost local capacity and augment knowledge.

If you are drawn to humanitarian work in foreign countries, this might be a great option for your mini retirement.

Minimum requirements to volunteer with UNV include a university degree or higher technical diploma and at least two years of relevant work experience. Profiles in high demand include technical specialists (IT, engineering, logistics, transport), legal and medical professionals, political scientists, public information officers, administration and finance experts, and professionals with experience in development, management, humanitarian affairs and peacekeeping.

Sailing the World

Sailing the world, or maybe just a region of the world, is a lifestyle that is growing in popularity. I discovered this idea for a mini retirement ten years ago, and it has been my dream ever since.

This dream has driven me to work harder, save faster, and get to a place financially that I may never have without the hope that one day I could walk away from corporate life and spend a year or three traveling our earth’s oceans.

My husband and I have spent countless hours watching and learning from Youtube sailing vlogs. We’ve learned so much from other couples who have lived our dream.

Sailing the world is something we want to do with our young children, and I believe its a great lifestyle for kids. The cruising lifestyle is brimming with challenges, problem solving, learning about new cultures, learning to be part of a functioning crew, and gaining a plethora of skills, from diesel engine maintenance to harnessing the wind to propel you from one end of the planet to the other.

Sailing isn’t a vacation. Its a way of life. Its not for the risk adverse, but it is for those who understand that risks can be minimized using modern technology, skills, and familiarity with weather and currents.

From navigation to seamanship, there are so many aspects of this lifestyle to force you to learn and grow. Nothing excites me more.

There are many websites that quantify the “cost of cruising” for families. This site provides a list of sailors who have provided their own costs of cruising, so you can compare and contrast.

Choices that affect the cost of sailing the most include:

  • Financing or paying cash for a vessel
  • Choice of vessel
    • Monohull vs Catamaran
    • New vs Used
    • Blue water vessels can range anywhere from $50k to $750k or more
  • Anchoring out vs. staying in a marina
  • Running the engines less vs. more
  • Provisioning well vs eating out
  • Caribbean vs Mediterranean

And many more factors.

If you feel this may be an option for your mini retirement, I highly recommend watching the following Youtube vlogs from Start to Finish:

Coastal Cruising ASA Study Hall
On location for our 5-day sailing school, studying for our Coastal Cruising test.

Climb Mount Everest

Climbing Mount Everest is no small feat of planning, training, or executing. Its also not cheap. In order to pull it off, you will spend months getting in shape, learning the requirements, and planning for the ultimate hiking accomplishment.

This adventure is certainly not the cheapest. Foreigners must buy an $11,000 permit from the Nepalese government, plus pay other fees. Additional expenses include travel, gear, oxygen and weeks of food and camping while acclimatizing at Base Camp (17,600 feet). [1]

There are many dangers, including pulmonary edema, cerebral edema, blood embolisms, frostbite, and death. With an estimated 300 bodies of hikers littering the peak, there are no guarantees on success. This fact will dissuade some, and motivate others.

Mount Everest Base Camp Nepal

National Parks Bus Tour

Traveling through national parks with your family or significant other is a great way to stay state-side, and still have a strong purpose for traveling.

Planning for this type of mini retirement will involve purchasing or financing an RV.

How much does it cost to visit every national park in the United States?

According to Steven & Lauren at Trip of a Lifestyle, they spent around $35,000 to visit every national park in 2019. That included their full cost of living during their travels.

They traveled in a van purchased for less than $13k, so keep in mind that costs can vary greatly.

Factors that could increase costs include:

  • Choice of Van or RV
  • Eating Out
  • Excursions
  • Where you park the van
  • Gas
  • Hotels
  • Other transportation needs
Travel-Centric Mini Retirement Ideas ideal for solo, couples, & families.


Regardless of which of these travel-centric mini retirement ideas you decide on (and there are many more beyond the five in this article), I’m a huge advocate of taking extended time away from your day job to go on a life-changing adventure.

Go while you’re young enough to fully enjoy the experience.


For information on how F.I.A.R. differs from F.I.R.E., check out FIRE vs FIAR – Which One is Right for You?

FIAR: 5 Mini Retirement Ideas Focused on Travel


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