Meet Teresa Roberts, NABBW’s New “Living Abroad” Associate, Whose Expertise is in Affordable Long-Term Travel

by Anne Holmes on January 30, 2013

A very worldly welcome to Teresa Roberts, a Baby Boomer in traveling shoes, who is NABBW’s newest Associate. We’ve just named her our National Association of Baby Boomer Women “Living Abroad” expert, as her expertise in in finding creative paths to achieve goals. In Teresa’s case, her goal was to leave behind her 27-year career as an elementary school teacher and principal and find an affordable way to travel the world.

There is no doubt she succeeded. For the past eight years she’s been an international house sitter, a line of work which allows her to lead a very unconventional life.

Finding the GypsyHer first published book, Finding the Gypsy in Me – Tales of an International House Sitter, is about her world travels and the international house-sitting business that helps to make these travels possible. It is also about a different way of looking at time, money, and travel. Teresa says that once she was able to imagine what she wanted her new life to look like, her eyes were opened and she discovered a most extraordinary method to make her dreams come true.

Teresa could be the poster girl for finding adventure at any age and on any income. She blogs about creative living and is committed to a debt-free life, as she believes his is the only way to put a stop to what she sees as a life of indentured servitude.

While Teresa and her husband still maintain a home in the United States near their son and granddaughter, they are able to escape to a new life abroad for periods of up to 90-days at a time.  These escapes have included stretches in Malta, Prague, Ireland, England, Spain, Mexico, the isle of Saba and more. She notes that she’s even lived on a 57-foot boat in a marina in Baja, California.

She  is proud to be an “untourist,” and feels qualified to be the poster girl for adventurers of any age on any income. She published her second book, Creative Paths to Freedom – How to Live Your Dream Life ASAP,  in 2012. She has met lots of people, all over the world, who have also designed a most uncommon life of adventure. Many of those people’s stories are featured in her book. Creative Paths

When she’s not house sitting or writing her own books, Teresa travels, writes articles and does freelance writing. She’s quite excited to share that when editor Mark Evan Chimsky’s newest anthology “65 Things to Do When You Retire – Travel”, is released in a few days (February 2013) it will include her essay about traveling the world as an international house sitter.

Teresa continues to be fascinated by people who find creative ways to live the life of their dreams. If you think that you have found a path to freedom that is inspiring and interesting, please feel free to contact Teresa. She would be happy to share your story on her website. As she says, “May we all celebrate the lives we were intended to live!”

Meanwhile, we caught up with Teresa recently, and published her first Associate column for the NABBW. We also made time to asked her our favorite questions. Here are her replies:

Using one paragraph, tell us a bit about yourself?

Teresa RobertsRetiring at age 54 from a lovely career as an elementary teacher and eventual principal of a large public school in the state of Maine, I was ready to explore other aspects of life, in particular long-term travel.

I went on to establish an international house-sitting business which has given me the opportunity to travel all over the world for months at a time on nothing more than my state pension.

From that successful endeavor came an unplanned second career as an author/blogger/freelance writer.

I feel extremely grateful to be able to share my experiences as the happy “untourist” with other adventure seekers. The fact that I can make money from combining the two things that I love best, writing and traveling, is gratifying. It’s a brave new world for baby boomer women!

 Tell us about your family; married, divorced, children, grands, boomerangs or parents living with you, etc.

I have been married for 43 years to my husband Gary. We have two grown children and one little granddaughter. After I retired, we sold our house in Maine and 98% of our worldly possessions in order to travel.

We have been wandering the planet for eight years now. A year and half ago, we purchased a smaller home in northeastern Indiana near our son and family. When I am stateside, this is where I reside.

 What is your favorite childhood memory that is reminiscent of growing up in the 50s, 60s or 70s?

Growing up on the road, I can safely say that one of my favorite childhood memories was the year that we lived in Guatemala. You have to take into account that this family adventure took place almost 40 years ago. It was a wild escapade for the time period. Living in a small village where we were the only foreigners, we were also one of the few families that owned a car.

We had no telephone, no electricity after ten at night and only cold running water. I loved it! I was supposed to be home schooled, but my dad never got around to it, so I skipped the entire 6th grade. It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to figure out where I got my adventurous spirit.

What qualities do you have that speak of our generation of women?

I believe that my generation of women made working and raising a family the norm. The world of work was going through a transition period. More and more women were working out of necessity, not just to expand their horizons. It may very well be that we were the hardest working group of women ever.

Many of us had demanding careers, but we were still running our homes like our mothers had done. In other words, we did it all.

Our husbands had not yet evolved into the brave young men of today who share equally in the rearing of children and household tasks. They were still mowing lawns and keeping our cars running like their fathers before them — men’s work. As a result, I learned to multitask and developed an independent spirit.

What inspires you?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABesides being with my family, I am the happiest when either planning a trip or on a trip. Material things have never really meant much to me. They often feel like an impediment to freedom.

I get a kick out of experiences, instead. Traveling, seeing the world and total immersion in cultural adventures are what make my world go round.

 What brings you the most pleasure in midlife?

My granddaughter holds the highest spot in my life. She just turned three and there is nothing in the world that can compare to the affection and plain old entertainment that she provides. However, once again, traveling takes second place to her. I am a travel junkie.

Do you have any interesting hobbies?

I write, write, write, and write. Oh, and when I am finished, I write some more. It has been a love of mine since childhood. I have more writing projects in my head than time to get them on paper.

I also travel, but I have already mentioned that. What is so amazing is that I can now combine the two which provides double the fun, double the pleasure.

Do you have a favorite book or movie? If so, tell us why it’s your favorite.

When reading for pleasure, I love a good mystery. Ruth Rendell has held a spot in my heart as an all-time-favorite author for years.

One of my favorite movies is a film called Enchanted April. It is about two middle-aged women who boldly travel to Italy, rent a villa and explore their adventurous sides for the first time in their lives.Enchanted April

Do you travel and if so, who are your favorite travel partners and where do you like to go?

Well, by now, you know that not only do I travel, but I probably travel more than most people. My favorite travel partner is my husband. Having said that, I can add that I have also done a lot of solo travel in my time. My husband has not retired yet. He quit his job for a few years and traveled with me. We lived on my state pension at the time.

I am the poster girl for how to have travel adventures at any age and on any income. Whenever we return to the states for more than three months, he has to work. I have taken care of many houses without him knowing that when he does retire, we will return to long-term travel together again. I have also traveled with my sisters before. That’s fun!

 Do you practice preventive medicine? Please elaborate.

I am wholeheartedly interested in alternative methods of healing. I am a certified hypnotist, embracing the many aspects of the mind/body connection. I also have a strong commitment to not popping pills unnecessarily. I am proud to say that at age 62, I am not on any long-term medications.

What do you stress about?

I don’t stress about many things. There has been something so wonderful about getting to retire early and then establish a business where I work for myself that eight years later I still do not take it for granted. I love not having to leap out of bed and hit the road running in the morning.

My first career was great, but now I am truly living the life that I was intended to live. Deep down inside, I am a free spirit. However, when I do stress, it’s normally when those I love are facing difficulties. It can be hard for me to be 100% happy if someone who I love is suffering.

Is it important for you to retain your youthful looks, and if so, to what degree are you willing to go?

It is important to me to look my best for my age. Most people do think that I am younger than my age. That always tickles me. Yet, I can’t say that I dwell on it much.

I worry a lot more about losing my gray cells to old age, disease or lack of use. I am a very cerebral person. Writers live in their heads a lot. When I am in the zone, I am hardly aware that I have a body.

As long as I have avid interests, passion for a learning curve and new experiences to greet me, I think I can deal with the aging process.

Have you re-invented yourself, and if so, how?

I mentioned this aspect of my life early on, but I can add that not only have I reinvented myself, the process is still evolving. It’s this unexpected evolution where I find myself continually on a learning curve that gives me a sense of fulfillment.

Going from public educator to happy international house sitter, to author, to freelance writer and blogger has been a trip. I can honestly say that I feel that I have just begun to scratch the surface of possibilities, too.

Do you plan to retire?

I did retire early, about ten years earlier than most of my colleagues. I took a hit to my pension, too. Do I regret it? Not one little bit. It was one of the best decisions that I have ever made in my life. Yet, purely by accident, I find myself working again. I continue to insist that I am retired, but when passion is combined with work, the process is inspiring.

 Are you doing anything to GO Green?

I recycle. I drive a small car. I am not a big consumer. For three years, when traveling abroad full time, I didn’t own a car. Walking and public transportation were my options. I loved it!

 Can you pinpoint major turning points in your life that led to your life’s work/play at midlife?

I always dabbled in writing and the arts. Traveling was always important to me, too. When my youngest graduated from college, however, I just knew that it was time for me to switch gears. Having been blessed with a good imagination, all I needed was a fearless spirit and the sky could be the limit. Taking the first step is always the scariest.

Do you still have unfulfilled dreams, and are you doing anything to accomplish them?

My bucket list consists almost entirely of seeing more and more of the world. I want to visit more of Asia, in particular Thailand, China and India. I also have some books that are dying to be written. So far, I have specialized in nonfiction, but I know that I have a few fiction tales bubbling below the surface.

How do you make a difference in the lives of others, your community, your world?

I like to think that I am a good role model for aging well, having an adventurous spirit, and living unconventionally. I believe that there are a lot of free spirits in the world who are seeking something other than working 9 to 5 in order to just buy stuff.

By promoting debt-free living whenever possible, I am able to demonstrate to people of all ages that you can live well on less. Too much stuff is a hindrance. When anyone dares to be different and seems happy doing their own thing, it presents a case to the world that different just might be a good thing after all.

 Who has had the biggest influence on your life and why?

Harlan Hubbard. He never worked a conventional job in his entire life. He wrote several books about his life, Shanty Boat Journal and Payne Hollow. He was an artist. He traveled down the Mississippi for seven years on a shanty boat.

Eventually, he and his wife Anna settled on the Ohio River where they built a home in the woods and lived a self-sufficient life well into old age. I was fortunate to meet these two fine people when I was in my early twenties. They were a shining example of how to step away from the pack and lead a custom-designed life.

 If you were to have a personal mission statement, what would it be? Feel free to be as serious or fun as you choose.

My mission in life is to experience freedom from convention, self-imposed restrictions, and cultural borders. I am a citizen of the world and as such I strive to wander this planet in order to be inspired by its sheer beauty and vast differences. I relinquished my hold on material things a long time ago. It is experiences that I seek.

If along the way I can inspire others to be exactly who they were intended to be that would be wonderful.

On a lighter note, I also love to have a good time!






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