The Messy Suitcase travel blog presents a revolutionary kind of retirement, through travel and adventure, experiencing new things, and constantly growing and learning. We hope by sharing our interesting life post-work, we will inspire other people to try it, too! You don’t know how many revolutions you have on this planet. Don’t spend them all working 40 hours a week if you don’t have to!
Bob Greenawalt and Lisa Hamm-Greenawalt are reinventing retirement. We left Colorado in 2018, packed up our Tacoma Tacoma truck with two bikes, a few suitcases, three musical instruments, and three cats, and hit the road to explore this planet. First, we spent five weeks traveling around Europe, then a couple of months in the northeast USA saying goodbye to family and friends. In January 2019, we headed south. (We had Gavin, our high school graduate on a gap year, for the first 9 months.) First stop in this hemisphere … México!
Our plan: Live well with fewer things and less money. Drive less and walk more. Open our minds and our hearts. Collect experiences instead of stuff. We live for about three months at a time in different communities all over Mexico – mountains, magical villages, beach towns, and urban centers. We avoid high-crime areas, a common-sense strategy we would use anywhere we lived. We avoid US expat havens and are working to learn Spanish so that can really get to know the Mexican culture and its people.
We have been derailed from our travels now and then by family obligations and, currently, the Coronavirus, but even then, we live life as an adventure, wherever we are!
We now summer in the USA, so our college kids can work summer jobs, and spend the rest of the year in Mexico. One cat went off to live with Gavin at college in Vermont in Fall 2019 and another passed away in early 2020, but Kaylee the orange Maine Coon still travels with us, most recently enjoying her balcony off our apartment in Mexico City. Her new nickname is Esponjosita, which means Fluffy in Spanish.
Life is short, and the world is big. Join us on the journey!
I adore kayaking, so I booked a Kayak Tour of the Sabana River, which is at the other end of the playa from our condo in Luquillo. We got so much more than we bargained for! For just $30 apiece, Bob and I found ourselves on a fascinating eco and historical tour offered by Ramon …
Here’s an important Spanish word for you to learn if you’re going to read our blog while we’re in Puerto Rico: Playa. It means beach. Puerto Rico is covered with gorgeous beaches — the northern ones facing the Atlantic Ocean and the southern ones the calmer Caribbean Sea — and we want to visit as …
The first time I set foot on the island of Puerto Rico was Jan. 6, 1994, when I moved there from Manhattan to become Caribbean Correspondent for The Associated Press. The AP flew me down and put me up in a beautiful hotel right on the ocean. When I arrived, I surveyed the pristine golden …
We started our journey accompanied by three cats who reluctantly became intrepid travelers. They drove from Colorado to Vermont, Vermont to Guadalajara, Mexico, and then back to Vermont again, in 2019.
The cats didn’t like the car. Ellie would cry and Noxy would vomit. However, they found the places they have lived to be very interesting. They loved to explore, once they arrived.
In August of 2019, Ellie Smoit went off to live with our youngest child, Gavin, at the University of Champlain. She is an emotional support cat who often needs emotional support from Gavin! Gavin’s roommate Alex also loves the cat. Follow elliesmoit on Instagram!
We lost our dear cat Equinox, a.k.a. Noxy, on Feb. 8, 2020, in Mexico City. It turned out that he had an undiscovered heart disease, known as the silent killer. He is dearly missed, especially by his buddy Kaylee. Get to know him a little in our memorial video:
Kaylee is now the lone, spoiled cat in our household. She doesn’t like being cooped up in her carrier for hours at a time, but once she is strapped into the car, she sits serenely like a little Buddha and watches the world pass by. In Mexico City, she enjoyed watching a dog who just moved into the apartment across the way. In Vermont, where we retreated due to COVID-19, she has enjoyed playing with chipmunks out on the deck.
To keep Kaylee company, we have been fostering cats in Vermont. The first was Stella, who stayed with us three weeks before she was adopted. She explored the house, and Kaylee couldn’t stand her. Next was a mother-daughter pair of shy cats, Minnie and Daisy. Kaylee can’t stand them, either.
We promise to keep the cats’ adventures coming as we travel!