Financial freedom has many, many benefits. Far too many to go into here. But there’s one new one that’s appeared recently that’s worth talking about. And that’s the ability to use your financial freedom to give yourself options in these ever-changing times.
The pandemic continues apace and Europe in particular is struggling to manage. Another lockdown in the UK as numbers continued to rise. The best hope for a few days grace at Christmas – so make sure you’re not on that naughty list boys and girls 😉
As regular readers will know – with our new found flexibility we often head out to warmer and sunnier lands as the British winter descends. Living our part-time digital nomad life. This year has been trickier than usual with rapidly changing requirements and a whole host of new things to consider. But not impossible.
Our 'Great Escape'
We love travel but not at any cost – both from a safety and financial perspective for ourselves and the country we are visiting. As S wisely said;
It’s a privilege to be able to visit a country – so we treat it with the respect that deserves.
I’d been watching the ever-changing travel guidance and entry requirements like the proverbial hawk. So when the UK Government removed the Canary Islands from the blanket FCO ban, it seemed like a winner.
To cut a long story short – I pulled together a five week trip in short order. Taking the time to fully understand the local rules and guidelines, like with our trip to Prague earlier in the year. Then came the curve balls…
To Test Or Not To Test?
First up was the ever changing test requirements. After the big announcement of being open for tourists, the Canary Island government wanted to bring in testing at the airports. Fair enough, seems sensible.
Being an autonomous region of Spain, it has a fair amount of power over setting local law different to that of mainland Spain. But pressure was applied to be consistent and the “conversation” was rumbling on and on as the tourists began arriving.
After a lot of to-and-fro’ing, the local government decided to go with what was in their remit to actually do. And put the burden onto the tourist accommodation providers to ensure anyone staying with them had a valid test. Eventually this was put into law and confirmed this would apply from Nov 14th.
What was interesting throughout all this is not necessarily the end result. What was difficult to handle was just how hard it is to be compliant even when you want to be – as things changed rapidly every day and correct up-to-date information takes effort to find.
Again, not impossible – just an additional hurdle to ensuring your trip is successful.
So having finally nailed that one we started the final countdown to leaving when the next curveball was lobbed our way…
Can We Actually Leave The Country?
Just as we started to feel a tiny bit confident in unearthing the sunscreen – the UK Government started muttering about another lockdown. In the traditional British way, it was leaked badly bits at a time through a variety of media.
Eventually we established there was a pretty good likelihood that a ban on leisure travel was highly likely in the next few days. About 36 hours before we had booked to leave. Seriously??!
So we had a choice. Do we can the whole thing or see if we can leave earlier than planned? Wait and see if the official announcement confirmed the leaks or book on Twitter hearsay?
In the end I went for a middle ground. Doing the research to find the replacement flight that would work best for us. Listening to the on-going chatter on what would be announced and when. Not actually booking the flight until the lockdown start date was officially confirmed.
It worked in our favour for sure as by the following day prices for the same flight had tripled.
Again, what was tricky about all this was not necessarily needing to make a change.
What’s tricky is working on imperfect information to manage a lot of volatility around a constantly changing situation.
Again, it can be done. I now see it as part of accepting the “new normal”. A higher than usual amount of change and noise to deal with.
So was it all worth it?
Sitting on a warm, sunny balcony. Listening to the sea. Our fridge is full of delicious local food. Some beers. And bizarrely cheap good Spanish wine.
Tomorrow we will go out for a good long hike in the nearby mountains – one of our favourite things to do. We’ll enjoy a meal out, helping to support local businesses in tough times.
It’s a world away from being locked down in the UK. I’m really not that kind of person to be smug about it. Just a happy accident on our side. We’d already planned on being away after all.
But it got me thinking. It’s only through gaining our financial freedom that we’ve been able to do this. As the pandemic goes on longer – what new options could financial freedom open up?
A New Kind Of Health Tourism?
Ask anyone what’s most important to them and the chances are they will answer health at some point high on the list. Theirs and that of the people close to them.
How long does a pandemic have to go on before those with the means to do so choose to position themselves somewhere safer?
Not all countries are created equal when it comes to how they are dealing with the pandemic. It wasn’t our motivation for this trip but it’s easy to see how it would be a tempting reason. Especially if you or your family are in any of the higher risk groups.
Temporarily moving somewhere with low or no cases of the virus. With a robust private health service. Paying to increase the odds in your favour. Not hard to see the attraction – a good investment for your money for sure.
Pandemic-Proofing Your Life
I suspect not far behind health would come freedom as one of the things people value highly. The freedom to enjoy the things that matter to you.
Whether that’s having your family round for lunch, going out for a chilled glass of something tasty or whatever previously normal activity takes your fancy. Again, it’s not hard to see that temporarily relocating somewhere where these things are still viable would be a huge temptation for those with the means to do so.
Retaining a semblance of normal whilst the world figures out how to live with this long-term. Some places seem to be working it out faster than others.
Which gives rise to an intriguing thought experiment on how places could look to capitalise on their low-risk status, especially on the tourism front.
A Different Kind Of Tourism?
The recent news of a viable vaccine seems a big step on the path towards a pandemic-free future. Worth celebrating for sure as the start of the end with any luck.
But any event on such a scale as the pandemic will leave a mark on society. Much has already been written about the leap forwards for remote working and online growth. Impossible to put the genie back in the bottle.
You can’t help but think the same will be true for tourism. Will people have the same confidence in staying in massive all-inclusive resorts for example? Or will independent holidays continue to become more popular as a way to insure against a hotel lockdown?
Will island nations redevelop themselves as large covid-free gated communities? How cautious will places be in re-opening their doors wide to welcome the tourist dollar? The ever on-going balance of commercial needs vs domestic wants.
How long will a global vaccine roll-out take? Which countries will be deemed ‘safe’ first? There’s a lot at stake commercially on winning the race. A solid business case if ever there was one for investing in health.
Added Value Of Financial Freedom?
As said, all nothing more than an idle thought experiment. Prompted by our accidental escape from the UK lockdown. A possible but unlikely combination of outcomes if consumer confidence struggles to return as fast as it was lost.
Clearly not the most important questions of the day.
But ones which highlight the increased value of financial freedom. How it gives you options on how you could respond if needed or desired. And as any decent trader will tell you, the more volatility there is, the more an option is worth!
We’re hoping with a viable vaccine that the start of the end is in sight. Welcome news for all. But at the same time, we’re glad to have the options that our financial freedom gives us. A hedge against the unknown. A value not really appreciated previously.
Financial freedom was always a worthwhile goal – now it just seems to have one more string to its bow. What do you think?