Ellen and Ted "Tedly" Kortan are Earth Vagabonds -- retired budget travelers. They retired early to travel the world while they were still are young enough, and healthy enough, to easily travel. They are slow travelers. They take their time. They often stay in a location a month at a time so that they can get a big discount on their Airbnb rentals, and so that they can really get to a know a city or town or region.
Ellen and Tedly were good enough to answer a few of our travel questions below.
Ellen and Ted: Being from the north, we always took two winter vacations during our working years. We started noticing how much more authentic foreign experiences were, and how inexpensive travel can be if you get out of the tourist areas and the "all-inclusive" resorts.
Ellen and Ted: Our specialty is slow, retired budget travel. We don't stay in five-star resorts -- but we are comfortable with our accommodations and lifestyle. We like to say we live how we would live in the U.S. -- but better. Our money goes so much further in some foreign countries.
Ellen and Ted: Before there was electricity on the beach, and before the road was paved to the beach, we stayed in Tulum, Mexico, on many of our winter vacations. It was magical. This is going back to the early 2000s, when a cabana on the beach cost around $10 a night. But then, it was "discovered." Now, it's almost all high-end boutique accommodations costing hundreds of dollars a night.
Ellen and Ted: We've always wanted to see Southeast Asia -- and we are there right now. We are writing these answers from Malaysia, and making plans to see Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and more in the coming months.
Ellen and Ted: We carry around a one-cup drip coffee maker. As Americans, we have a preference for drip coffee, but few Airbnb apartments outside the Americas come with coffee machines.
Ellen and Ted: Keep an open mind and get away from the all-inclusive packages, tour groups, and tourist-area restaurants as much as possible.
Ellen and Ted: We read some early retirement blogs and we are in some Facebook communities. Our favorite group is Retired Budget Travelers: Earth Vagabonds. There are a lot of people there like us, and we learn from each other.
Ellen and Ted: We stayed at a camp in the Sahara Desert with camels and Berber nomads, and no WiFi.
Ellen and Ted: Just recently, we discovered cendol -- shaved coconut ice, rice jelly strips that look like bean sprouts, red beans, various fruit, a scoop of ice cream. A different sundae that is new to us, and is popular in parts of Malaysia.
Ellen and Ted: We live out of carry-on bags, because baggage fees can be hefty. Also, we buy tickets as early as possible, and we have used discount airlines, like Scoot in Southeast Asia and Volaris in Mexico. Sometimes we build our travel plans around the deals. We flew direct from San Francisco to London on Norwegian Air for about $150 dollars each.
Ellen and Ted: "What are you waiting for?" An old sailor friend of ours urged us to quit the rat race and travel the world as soon as possible back in 2003. But we waited until we were more comfortable with our financial situation. We were still young when we retired -- 43 and 52 years old.
Ellen and Ted: Safety. To us, the United States seems to be the most dangerous place on Earth.
Ellen and Ted: Pickpockets are real, and good at their profession. Despite being well-traveled, street savvy and alert, we were pick pocketed in the Athens, Greece, subway. Our advice: in crowds or anywhere people are jostling you, put your hand in your pocket over your wallet and hold on to your purse.
Ellen and Ted: Mexico. Seafood to salsas to street food -- even chocolate and beer. Can't beat Mexico for the variety and price.
Ellen and Ted: Romance is a state of mind, not a place. That said, Venice, Italy, or Barcelona, Spain, even places in Morocco can help set the mood.
Ellen and Ted: Mazatlan, Mexico, is the most beautiful city at the best price. We stayed there nearly two months. It has miles of beaches along a malecon, or seafront walkway. Its downtown is refurbished and vibrant. Mazatlan is more of a "working" city instead of a tourist resort attraction, so its prices can be really low.
Ellen and Ted: We've never been on a cruise, but we are intrigued by the pricing on some of the "repositioning" cruises.
Ellen and Ted: We recently volunteered in a refugee camp for a month in Greece. We'll never forget the people and their stories. They are some of the most kind, resilient, resourceful people we have ever met. We fully realize how lucky we are to have American passports.
Ellen and Ted: Any place and every place is good to travel solo. We spend time apart at each of our stops. We believe it's healthy for any couple to have separate interests.
Ellen and Ted: We've never taken a class, but we do take walking tours when we first arrive in a new city. Even though we stay away from tour groups, walking tours are a little different. They are run by a local who is like a teacher, and who basically capsulizes the history and reveals information on the culture you'd never know unless you read a book on the place.
Ellen and Ted: We cannot stand when tourists don't tip. Often these people are Americans. It especially irks us when these same people have been demanding and receiving extra service.
Ellen and Ted: Albania deserves more interest. We stayed a few weeks and were so impressed by the formerly closed country. People really liked Americans, and we don't get that everywhere. Albanians seemed to have an optimistic energy about their future and it was refreshing. Also, the prices were low.
Ellen and Ted: Your health is not guaranteed. We would advise people of any age to get into shape. World travel will be less enjoyable if you are obese, rely on medication, or need frequent medical care.