In 2012, Debbie and Michael Campbell were living in Seattle, Washington, when their daughter spotted the couple’s travel bucket list hanging on the refrigerator door and introduced them to Airbnb.
At the time, neither had considered retirement or foresaw that it would mean living out their travel passion full-time, even though Debbie had always said they both had at least one last adventure in them.
Fast forward five years: the couple have visited 70 countries and have spent more than 1,500 nights in 178 Airbnb homes along the way. What began as a six-month trial run has since become a lifestyle fuelled by seeing the world, meeting new people and experiencing the kindness of strangers first-hand.
And the couple, who call themselves “Senior Nomads”, have no plans to slow down any time soon, having just spent the last 10 weeks travelling across Australia and New Zealand. During their travels, the Campbells visited Auckland, Wellington, Nelson, Dunedin and Christchurch in New Zealand before heading across the ditch to Melbourne, Canberra and Sydney in Australia.
During their visit, the Campbells immersed themselves in local activities – from watching a T20 cricket match in Auckland and taking in the pristine beaches and world class wineries of Waiheke, to experiencing the fierce team rivalry of AFL in Sydney, touring The Great Ocean Road just outside of Melbourne, and taking a bush walk in the Blue Mountains. They spent two days at The War Memorial in Canberra and even took a tour of the Federal Parliament.
Since leaving Seattle the Senior Nomads have used 55 different phone numbers, cooked in 178 kitchens and travelled on 40 airlines. They average about 9,000 steps per day. They’ve bunked in a sailboat off the shores of Italy, an apartment carved into rock in Salzburg, Germany and a caravan in Taupo, New Zealand. They travel light, but they always take take their personal pillows to each new home.
And it seems that while their particular adventure may be unique, they are not alone in their passion for travelling. In fact, Airbnb data shows senior travel is on the rise with bookings by seniors increasing 64 percent over the last year.
“The bottom line is that our Airbnb hosts have made us feel welcome on all six continents we have visited,” Debbie says. “We need to feel at home – and that is at the heart of why we use Airbnb.”
Despite the breadth of cities they’ve visited, they’ve learned that “hospitality is a universal trait that is not defined by country,” Debbie says.
When you’re in a new country every few weeks, connections matter – not to mention a kitchen, room to relax, and a neighborhood to call your own. “This makes all the difference to us and of course, with every stay we are making new friends all around the world,” she says.
At almost five years on the road, and celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary later this year, the Senior Nomads emphasise that with a mix of imagination, planning and flexibility, travel dreams can be within reach for those at any age.
“We only go round once in life, so find your north star and shoot for it,” says Michael.
‘We decided early on we’d keep doing it as long as we’re healthy, having fun and staying close to budget, and we’re still in love,’ he says.
See a full list of the Airbnbs the Senior Nomads have stayed in on the road.
Photos courtesy of Debbie and Michael Campbell, George Chumakov (header photo), Scott Smith (second photo)