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I’m Taking a 2-Week Blogger Retreat

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Hey everyone, I’m taking a 2-week blogger retreat, aka quarantine. Why quarantine? I’m on my way to see my parents in Thailand. My mom has dementia and it’s getting pretty bad. She can’t walk very well anymore and functions at the level of about an 18-month-old toddler. Fortunately, her long term memory is still pretty good. I need to go see her while she still knows me. She was diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment in 2018. Sadly, her condition deteriorated pretty quickly. So this trip isn’t exactly a vacation. If you’d like to read more about dementia, let me know in the comments and I’ll write a longer post about it. Anyway, international travel is still very difficult due to the Covid pandemic. Anyone going to Thailand has to quarantine in a hotel for 14 nights (15 days). This might sound painful to a regular tourist, but I’ll turn lemons into lemonade by being productive. Being stuck in a hotel room for 2 weeks will become a blogging retreat.

I’m going as a Thai national so the country will pay for my quarantine. If you’re a tourist, the quarantine will cost $1,000 to $4,000 each, depending on the hotel. Tourists can choose from a list of ASQ hotels. Thai people can pay for an ASQ hotel room or get randomly assigned. I think the Thai accommodation can be anything from an upcountry Army barrack to a nice hotel with a beach view in Pattaya. Wish me luck… Also, I’ll be stuck in the room for the whole time. The ASQ hotel guests 30 minutes of outdoor time per day after they test negative for Covid. The quarantine includes 2 tests. Tourists also need a lot more paperwork and extra Covid health insurance.

If you’d like to see more of my travel and quarantine experience, follow me on these channels.

  • YouTube – I plan to eat awesome Thai food and post some videos.
  • Instagram and Facebook – You can see what my quarantine meals look like.
  • Twitter – Check to see if I become unhinged after 15 days in the hole.

Retreat goals

I’ll take this time to accomplish some of my New Year goals. Here is the list of what I plan to accomplish.

  • Revamp Retire by 40
  • Lose 7 pounds
  • Detoxification

More details for each line item below.

Revamp Retire by 40

There are several things I need to fix on Retire by 40 – new theme, new banner, new landing page, fix caching, update plugins, etc…

Our WordPress theme doesn’t update anymore so I really need to change to a new theme. I wanted to get it done in 2020, but everyone was home and I couldn’t focus at all. I also need to fix several other backend issues. Since I’ll be in quarantine, I can focus on accomplishing this New Year goal. This will be a last-ditch effort. If I can’t get this done by March, I’ll hire someone to do it for me. I procrastinated on this goal for 2 years already.

If you have any idea on how to improve Retire by 40, let me know. I also plan to continue to publish 2 posts per week while I’m in quarantine.

Lose 7 pounds

2020 timeline

Most of us spent a ton of time at home in 2020. The RB40 household snacked a lot more than usual and we all gained weight. I gained 12 pounds! That’s about 10% of my bodyweight. Ugh!

At the end of 2019, I got down to 130 pounds. That was the lightest I’ve been since college. I did it through exercise and intermittent fasting. When the lockdown began, everybody work/school from home. It became difficult for me to exercise because it’s disruptive. Mrs. RB40 also baked a ton of cookies and cakes last year. I kept up with intermittent fasting, but that wasn’t enough to keep my weight down. I need to exercise and minimize snacking as well*. Everything needs to work in concert to achieve the best result.

PF detour

*This is why I don’t believe in the “Big 3” theory. Some people say you just need to focus on the big 3 expenses – housing, car, and food. If you keep those expenses under control, that’s enough. There is no need to worry about the little things like getting a latte, subscribing to Netflix, and spending money on luxury purses. I disagree. We minimize our big 3 expenses and everything else too. To achieve the best result, you need to give your best effort.

Back to losing weight. I heard state-sponsored hotels don’t give people a lot of food. That’s understandable because the serving size in Thailand is smaller than in the US. It sounds like the food is highly dependent on the hotel. It seems people are bringing all sorts of snacks in their luggage and plan to order extra food from room service and 7-Eleven. However, I’ll take this opportunity to eat less and lose weight. Also, I’ll exercise in my room. Hopefully, it’ll be enough to get back to 135 pounds, my normal baseline weight.

Here is a sample meal from a YouTube video. I’d eat everything provided except for the rice. I’ll leave 80% of the rice, too much carb.

thai food

Detox

Lastly, I might as well throw detox in there. I’m already halfway there with quarantine.

  • No alcohol – Alcohol is banned during the quarantine. I heard they don’t really check your luggage, but I won’t bring any alcohol anyway.
  • No snacking – 3 meals per day. That’s it unless you order delivery from a convenience store. Some hotels may provide additional food via the room service menu.
  • No junk/processed food
  • No coffee – There might be some instant coffee. I’ll avoid them.
  • No soda pop
  • Minimal dairy – There might be a small milk box once in a while.
  • Minimal gluten – Most meals are served with rice, but there might be a few pieces of bread here and there.

I’ll bring plenty of green tea to drink. Also, I got a box of Uncle Lee’s Dieters’ tea. Apparently, this tea will cleanse… I’ll let you know how it works out.

Oh, I didn’t add an Amazon link above because they closed my affiliate account! They also aren’t going to pay me for December, the best month of the year for Amazon associates. That’s $150! I guess Jeff Bezos isn’t rich enough yet. Go ahead, take some more money from me. I’m seriously considering boycotting Amazon.

Wish me luck

Alright everyone, wish me luck. Some people had a really hard time with it and some enjoyed the downtime. Follow my social media accounts to see if I can stay sane for 2 weeks of solitary confinement.

  • YouTube – See what life is like in Thailand in 2021. Due to recent outbreaks, many parts of Thailand are locked down. This trip won’t be like the usual beach vacation.
  • Instagram and Facebook – I’ll post lots of pictures.
  • Twitter – Stay in touch and give me some encouragement.

I arrived safely at my quarantine hotel after 29 hours of travel. Whew! The room is actually pretty nice. Check it out! In the video, I said it’s a 2-3 stars hotel, but it’s nicer than that. I was just too tired to appreciate it.

Image credit: Nathan Dumlao

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Joe started Retire by 40 in 2010 to figure out how to retire early. He spent 16 years working in computer design and enjoyed the technical work immensely. However, the job became too stressful and Joe retired from his engineering career to become a stay-at-home dad/blogger at 38. Today, he blogs about financial independence, early retirement, investing, and living a frugal lifestyle.

Passive income is the key to early retirement. This year, Joe is increasing his investment in real estate with CrowdStreet. He can invest in projects across the U.S. and diversify his real estate portfolio. There are many interesting projects available so sign up and check them out.

Joe also highly recommends Personal Capital for DIY investors. He logs on to Personal Capital almost daily to check his cash flow and net worth. They have many useful tools that will help DIY investors analyze their portfolio and plan for retirement.

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  • Helen January 17, 2021, 5:36 pm

    Hi Joe, good luck! Good to hear you have made that super long trip. Hopefully the days go fast, and you can see your mom and family there very soon. Take care.

    • retirebyforty January 17, 2021, 6:53 pm

      Thank you! I’m looking forward to getting out of solitary confinement in 10 days or so…

  • Mr. P2F January 17, 2021, 9:08 am

    You’ve got a healthy agenda for your trip! Glad you have the opportunity to see your family but I’m sorry for the circumstances. I wish you well with the 14 days! I think I’d be “ok” for a couple of days and then the walls would be closing in on me…

    • retirebyforty January 17, 2021, 6:52 pm

      It’s day 4 and I’m okay so far. It isn’t too bad at all.

  • Lazy Man and Money January 17, 2021, 4:17 am

    Amazon closed your affiliate account? I had that happen to another friend, but he wasn’t an active blogger and I don’t think he more than $20 a year. This is different. That’s the problem with the tech overlords. They can just cancel your income and you have no recourse.

    Looks like you had good luck with the hotel from the video.

    I look forward to the redesign. I need to badly do it with my own site, but nothing seems simple or easy. I liked Wordpress much more when it wasn’t a bunch of spaghetti code and themes inheriting themes with page builders.

    • retirebyforty January 17, 2021, 6:51 pm

      Yeah, they gave me a warning in December and didn’t tell me what the problem was. I fixed a few things and they closed my account right after New Year. If they tell me the specific, I could fix it. Instead, I guessed wrong and got shut down.
      Redesign is pretty tough so far. I’m trying to learn from YouTube. It’s a slow process.

  • Sharon January 16, 2021, 5:27 pm

    Good luck, safe travels. I too want to visit my overseas family but fortunately don’t have such an urgent reason so I’m waiting for the vaccine…. take care

  • David @ Filled With Money January 16, 2021, 4:41 pm

    Good luck Joe!

    I’ve had first hand experience with a loved one experiencing dementia as well. It’s amazing how long term memory stays intact and how they can recognize you by your face even during battling this horrible disease.

    Wishing for the best.

    • retirebyforty January 17, 2021, 6:48 pm

      Thanks. Dementia is terrible. Hopefully, the medicine will help in the future.

  • Aaron January 14, 2021, 1:21 pm

    Good luck with your trip. I think readers could benefit from your experiences in dealing with a parent with dementia. Unfortunately in the USA, longterm care planning is a significant expense and something many people will have to deal with for a variety of reasons. Your thought process and planning could help someone else.

    • retirebyforty January 17, 2021, 6:47 pm

      Thank you! I’ll wring about dementia after I see my mom. Unfortunately, it was a quick decline for her.

  • Tawcan January 14, 2021, 10:14 am

    Good luck Joe. Hope you get to see your parents soon.

    I’m guessing you’re there by yourself? The 2 week would be much harder with kids. Friends of us went through 2 week in Australia with 2 kids under 4.

    • retirebyforty January 17, 2021, 6:47 pm

      Yes, I’m here by myself. I was going to bring my son, but it got too difficult. This room is too small for 2. We’d drive each other nuts.

  • Lily January 14, 2021, 9:12 am

    Mediation and reading are going to help a lot. Take care yourself, buddy. Looking forward to see your blog’s new look and your experience in the quarantine. Maybe you can watch Bridgerton (the latest hottest Netflix TV show). :p

    • retirebyforty January 17, 2021, 6:46 pm

      Unfortunately, I’m not doing either of those. Yoga is similar to meditation. I didn’t bring any books, but I checked out some audio books. They are very helpful. I can close my eyes and listen. 😀

  • revanche @ a gai shan life January 14, 2021, 2:28 am

    It’s a shame that not much has changed since twelve years ago when we were going through this with my mom til recently with yours. I hope that your visit with her goes as well as possible, if she still remembers you as an adult that would be really good.

    It sounds like your quarantine will be a little bit of a throwback to the quarantines overseas we were hearing about back in Jan through March before we had to face it ourselves. Your to do list should burn that two weeks pretty quickly, I’m guessing! I look forward to seeing what changes you manage with the blog. I used to update my design somewhat regularly but definitely haven’t felt the urge for several years. I think it coincides with having kids 🙂

    • retirebyforty January 17, 2021, 6:44 pm

      I think there are some new drugs coming out. That’s really great news for our generation. Dementia is so terrible.
      She still remembers me as an adult. We talked a bit online. She is very slow, but can recognize me. I’m afraid it’ll decline pretty quickly from here on out.

  • Andreas January 14, 2021, 2:01 am

    Wow that is tough and a challenge! Best of luck to you!

  • Dave @ Accidental FIRE January 14, 2021, 2:00 am

    Joe, BEST of luck and I hope you can spend some quality time with your Mom. As far as losing weight, I think your diet strategy is good but don’t forget about the other end of the equation – exercise. You mentioned exercising in the hotel room and even though that kinda sucks, there are tons of great bodyweight workout videos to follow on Youtube. Also great yoga videos as well.

    Good luck dude!

    • retirebyforty January 17, 2021, 6:42 pm

      Thanks! I exercise before breakfast and then do yoga before dinner. This is way more than I usually do at home. 🙂

  • Mr. Tako January 14, 2021, 12:33 am

    Wow, 2 weeks in one small hotel room. That’s gotta be tough! Unfortunately, that’s just the way the world is these days. Adapt and overcome.

    Good luck Joe!

  • GYM January 13, 2021, 11:41 pm

    That quarantine meal doesn’t look bad at all! Awesome that it is free for you.
    Will you have to quarantine when you get back to US?
    Why did Amazon close your account?

    I gained weight too over Christmas, too much baked goods! I have been doing Hiit exercises (Jordan Yeoh fitness is good) and lost 2.5lbs so far, it’s been one week.

    Safe travels and look forward to reading about Thailand.

    • retirebyforty January 14, 2021, 12:09 am

      The meal looks okay to me. The quantity looks smaller than US portions, but that’s a good thing.
      Amazon said they couldn’t track some of the clicks. It might be from my email newsletters. Who knows? They don’t even try to help resolve the problem.
      Thanks!

  • Brian January 13, 2021, 4:16 pm

    I heard drinking Uncle Lee’s Dieters’ tea cures covid and makes Jeff Bezos pay you the money he owes you at the same time…best of luck Joe 🙂

  • PatriciaT January 13, 2021, 2:59 pm

    Wishing you all the best luck Joe!!! I’m so glad to hear that you finally will get a chance to see your parents… I also really wish that I could visit mine soon in Indonesia 🙁
    pending time with them will be the most amazing thing ever! I look forward to your next posts, quarantine will pass in no time 🙂

    • retirebyforty January 14, 2021, 12:08 am

      Thank you. Hopefully travel will be easier in the summer. It’s tough everywhere right now.

  • Karen January 13, 2021, 2:49 pm

    Joe, bring some thera-bands or a pull up bar so you can do some resistance exercises, it might help while in quarantine. Your mom knows you love her and what a good thing it is that you are making your way to her. Best of luck.

    • retirebyforty January 14, 2021, 12:07 am

      I brought a yoga mat. 🙂 I’ll do pushups, squats, and other calisthenics.
      Thanks!

  • Ed January 13, 2021, 2:48 pm

    Joe, good luck with your goals. Most of all – I hope everything goes well with your mom. I’m glad you get to see here and can’t imagine how challenging it is.

    • retirebyforty January 14, 2021, 12:05 am

      Thank you! Life is short. We need to spend time with our loved ones before it’s too late.

  • Jim @ Route to Retire January 13, 2021, 1:55 pm

    I love that you’re going glass half-full on this! 2 weeks is one heckuva long time to be isolated like that, but it sounds like a great opportunity to get rolling on your goals. It’s kind of a perfect time to try to knock some things out.

    Have a safe trip and I hope everything goes well for you!

    • retirebyforty January 14, 2021, 12:05 am

      Thanks! I might ask you some questions about WordPress. I’m not so good at that kind of stuff anymore.

  • nicoleandmaggie January 13, 2021, 1:20 pm

    Wait– why did amazon close your affiliate account??

    Good luck with your mom and your goals.

    • retirebyforty January 14, 2021, 12:04 am

      They didn’t tell me why exactly. It’s something about not being able to track the links. I guess some people click over from my email newsletters. It’s ridiculous.
      Thanks!

      • Shnugi January 15, 2021, 10:57 am

        It’s pretty ridiculous how these companies that track everything punish publishers without any specific examples of violations or warnings so we can do better.

  • FIREQueenofPinOakhurst January 13, 2021, 12:33 pm

    Best wishes on your safe travel and great job turning your downtime into productive time. Looking forward to the changes and the reporting. I’m in detox mode right now myself and love the benefits I see. Good luck!

    • retirebyforty January 14, 2021, 12:04 am

      Thanks! I hope detox helps me feel better. 2020 was stressful.

  • [email protected] January 13, 2021, 11:49 am

    Joe,

    Best of luck with your mom and the trip. Coincidentally, I am giving up the same things you are, except for coffee, for the next month. It will be a challenge. I hope to go back to Thailand by July. We’ll see. Stay safe.

    • retirebyforty January 14, 2021, 12:03 am

      Thanks! Once you get the vaccine, it should be a lot easier to travel. I really hope things improve by summer.

  • Jonathan L. January 13, 2021, 11:01 am

    Good luck, Joe!

    Are you on the way to Thailand now? When will your 15-day quarantine begin?
    Very cool that the Thai government will pay for the hotel and food!

    • retirebyforty January 14, 2021, 12:02 am

      Yeap, just landed in Narita and waiting for the next flight. I think day 1 is tomorrow.

  • Financial Samurai January 13, 2021, 10:54 am

    Good luck and keep us updated! Very cool Thailand pays for your quarantine!

    Sam

    • retirebyforty January 14, 2021, 12:01 am

      I’m very grateful. I’ll spend the money to boost tourism there. They are hurting bad.

  • Backpack Finance January 13, 2021, 10:46 am

    Good luck Joe. I have been through 2 flights and 2 quarantines in 2020. You get used to it and find productive things to do.

    Like you are planning.

    Good luck!

  • Money Ronin January 13, 2021, 10:34 am

    Good luck with quarantine roulette. I hope you get a nice room, but the spartan nature of army barracks may help you focus on your goals.

    My grandmother suffers from Dementia as well, but her decline has been gradual. She still lives by herself and family members check on her almost daily. This disease is really not well understood.

    • retirebyforty January 14, 2021, 12:00 am

      The most recent videos are all from hotels. I think the barracks were early on when they were trying to figure out what to do.
      My mom’s condition declined very quickly. It’s really sad. I read there is a new drug. It’s too late for my mom, but it’ll be very useful for new patients.

  • Adam January 13, 2021, 10:25 am

    Good luck, Joe! Here’s hoping things go as smoothly as possible. I used to be good at this sort of seclusion, but last year I worked up to running 25km every week and now I’d probably go insane if I had to stay in a room 24/7.

    Please be kind to yourself. Even if your goals aren’t met, you’ll still have made tangible accomplishments toward preventing the spread of disease and honoring your mom. That sounds pretty good to me.

    • retirebyforty January 13, 2021, 11:58 pm

      Thanks! I’ll do some exercise, yoga, and maybe meditation.

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