Turning a Passion for Travel into an Exciting Encore Career

Steve S. of Massachusetts has always been in love with Paris. Maybe even a little obsessed. In his spare time, the former college professor, 58, visited the city every chance he could — by his count at least 50 times over the past decade.

As an academic, he naturally took copious notes during those treks — keeping track of quality hotels, lesser-known attractions, educational side-trips, affordable restaurants, easy transportation routes and even packing tips. Friends and acquaintances began asking him for advice as they planned trips abroad. One even told Steve he should turn his notes into a book for Paris-bound travelers.

So he did. His book debuted in 2009, and along with a second edition in 2014, has sold about 20,000 copies to date.

This success led to Steve’s “aha” moment.

“People started asking me if I’d set up trips for them,” he recalls. “All of a sudden, I thought, ‘Wow, what a great after-retirement job this would be!’”

Charting a new course

With the idea firmly planted, he decided to retire in 2010 from his 31-year career as a math and computer processing professor. Shortly after, he launched a small-group tour business geared to active adults.

Fast forward five years, and Steve has managed to parlay his passion for travel into a second act that he claims nets him more annual income than his previous professor’s salary. He now leads 10 to 12 trips a year, accompanying groups of between seven and 12 people who range in age from 50 to their early 70s.

Destinations and tour packages are customized and updated each year and have included Paris, Normandy, Italy, Peru, Denmark, Norway and Iceland. Trips to Austria and Spain are planned in 2016.

Careful planning paved the way

Steve’s encore pursuit isn’t something he just stumbled upon. His journey, he says, actually began in his 20s after a professor in a college course on personal finance repeatedly stressed the simple wisdom of “paying yourself first,” which means taking saving seriously, if you want to retire comfortably — and early.

He took the advice to heart. “From that day on, I saved every month, even if it was only $25 or $50,” he says.

He credits his disciplined saving, along with his book profits and his teaching pension, for helping to finance his post-retirement venture. He also started small, expanded slowly and made key connections with trusted American expatriates — many of whom are also former professorsturned-licensed guides — to lend expertise on tours.

As gratifying as his second act has been, Steve acknowledges its challenges, not the least of which is his working knowledge of French.

“It’s much harder than teaching a statistics class!” he laughs. Steve says he’s often working from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. when mapping out all the logistics that go into planning an upcoming trip. “My biggest concern is doing too much.”

So Steve draws the line by refusing to travel during the summer. Instead, he spends those months at his lakeside home in western Massachusetts. All in all, his complaints are few.

“My life in retirement wasn’t just a spur of the moment thing; it did evolve over time and it certainly had detours along the way,” he says. “Planning for it, however, and having the freedom to do what you want, I think, is the ultimate goal for anyone.”

So far, he says, “it’s exceeded my expectations.”

This article originally appeared via Retirement Report, published by The Kiplinger Washington Editors, Inc., 1100 13th Street, N.W., Suite 750, Washington, D.C. 20005. www.kiplinger.com. ©2016 The Kiplinger Washington Editors, Inc. Reproduction in whole or in part prohibited, except by permission. All rights reserved. 

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