Meet the travelling retirees who have spent 3 years living in Airbnbs around the world

Senior Nomads in ParisCourtesy of Michael and Debbie CampbellThe Campbells (pictured here in Paris, France) are the authors of the forthcoming book ‘Your Keys Our Home.’

Since July 2013, retirees Michael and Debbie Campbell have consecutively lived in 109 different homes around the world, all booked through room and apartment rental service Airbnb.

Later this summer, a visit to Poland will mark country No. 50.

Throughout their Airbnb-hopping adventure, the Campbells have become a poster couple for the Silicon Valley-based travel company. They have visited Airbnb offices in Portland, San Francisco, and Dublin, spoken at a company conference in Paris, and penned a forthcoming manual for Airbnb hosts called “Your Keys Our Home.” They have also mastered the skill of travelling on a budget.

Business Insider recently caught up with Michael, 70, and Debbie, 60, over the phone from their Amsterdam Airbnb.

Scroll through to learn more about how they do it, and follow their adventure on their website, Senior Nomads.

The Campbells' journey as self-proclaimed 'Senior Nomads' began more than three and a half years ago when their daughter Mary was visiting them in Seattle for Christmas. Mary noticed a lengthy list of countries posted on the couple's fridge that they'd hoped to visit during their impending retirement.

Courtesy of Michael and Debbie Campbell
Tel Aviv, Israel.

Mary presented an idea: go visit those countries, but instead of spending money on pricey hotels, try an affordable rental service called Airbnb. Michael and Debbie were intrigued.

Courtesy of Michael and Debbie Campbell
Girona, Spain.

Michael, a former sports promoter, and Debbie, a graphic designer, had always been travellers, even moving themselves and their four young children from the US to London for five years to experience life overseas.

Courtesy of Michael and Debbie Campbell
Buckingham Palace in London, England.

After months of 'crunching the numbers,' the couple determined that Mary's idea could work. '(We realised that) if we took our Social Security and retirement funds and doled that out every month to travel and live in Airbnbs, we could spend the same amount we would spend in our rocking chairs in Seattle,' Michael said.

Courtesy of Michael and Debbie Campbell
Paris, France.

The Campbells -- who have been married for 37 years -- sold their car and beloved sailboat, pared down their possessions, rented out their Seattle townhouse, and bought a round-trip ticket to Paris, France, where Mary lived with her young family.

Courtesy of Michael and Debbie Campbell
Belgrade, Serbia.

From there, they would embark on a six-month journey around Europe, staying exclusively in Airbnbs with a nightly budget of around $90. After six months, they'd return to Seattle to reevaluate their scheme.

Courtesy of Michael and Debbie Campbell
Visiting Airbnb offices.

But the Campbells surprised themselves and within three months decided to keep going. Three years later, Michael and Debbie are still touring the globe -- and they haven't abandoned their budget.

Courtesy of Michael and Debbie Campbell
Pezenas, France.

In fact, the pair is so meticulous with their spending that they have filled a dozen notebooks with receipts and logs of every purchase they have made.

Courtesy Michael and Debbie Campbell
Michael and Debbie also track their daily activities in the journals.

Still, a strict budget doesn't hold them back. Michael is a sports fanatic whose choice activity in any city is attending the big game. Debbie, a lover of cooking and art, heads to the area's food markets and galleries. And together they take walking tours and look for free and affordable concerts.

Courtesy of Michael and Debbie Campbell
Cuypmarkt in Amsterdam.

The couple rarely eats out, but doesn't 'feel deprived,' Michael said. 'We try and live like locals ... we're shopping in the markets and doing things in our neighbourhood,' he said.

Courtesy of Michael and Debbie Campbell
In Mexico City, the couple ate three meals a day for under $10.

The pair said continuous travel has been a mind shift. 'We're not on vacation,' Debbie said. 'We're just living our daily lives in other people's homes in other countries.'

Courtesy of Michael and Debbie Campbell
Havana, Cuba.

The couple travels light -- and they'd like to keep it that way. 'If you can't drink it, eat it, write on it, or attend it, then you can't buy it,' Michael said. 'It's very freeing,' Debbie added.


Michael attending the European Athletics Championships in Amsterdam.

By now, the Campbells are bona fide experts at booking Airbnbs. Their list of must-haves includes wifi, a large table for working, reading lights on both sides of the bed, and ideally, a location in the city center. They prefer to book an entire house or apartment to themselves rather than sharing -- it feels more like home that way, they said.


The view from Michael and Debbie's Airbnb in Galway, Ireland.

'There's an art to picking an Airbnb,' they said. 'We read the reviews really carefully and try to ascertain from the reviews who's really a good host.' They then contact about five potential hosts and determine the best match.

Courtesy of Debbie and Michael Campbell
The couple's Airbnb in Havana, Cuba is one of their favourites so far.

'Our hope is that by the time we get there we have a friend who knows something about us and knows what we're interested in … someone who's doing Airbnb because they enjoy hosting people and hospitality,' Michael said.

Courtesy of Michael and Debbie Campbell
Michael and Debbie with their Airbnb hosts in Havana, Cuba.

Last summer, Michael and Debbie finally cut ties at 'home' and sold their Seattle townhouse, though two of their grown children still live in the area. They plan to keep travelling: 'We will keep doing this as long as we are having fun, learning, staying close to our budget and we're still in love.'

Courtesy of Michael and Debbie Campbell
Michael and Debbie in Ephesus, Turkey.

To see more photos and stories from Michael and Debbie's Airbnb journey around the world, check out their blog, Senior Nomads.

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