It took four short months for Lynne and Tim Martin to decide to sell everything and “get the hell out of Dodge” once the last of their four kids had finally taken the exit to adulthood. The Martins traded their charming house in California’s wine country for a couple of 32-inch suitcases and took off to travel the world. Now, four years later, the Martins (Lynne is 74, Tim is 69) have lived in Mexico, Argentina, Turkey, France, Italy, England, Germany, Portugal, Ireland and Morocco—and they have no intention of ruining all the fun by putting down roots. “Being together all the time is a joy,” says Lynne. “We’re great companions!” In fact, the Martins wish they’d started their adventure sooner.

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Now fully ensconced in their nomadic lifestyle, they’ve found that living on the road costs no more than living in a permanent house. “We have no property taxes, roof repairs or home insurance, so all of our spendable income is used to fund our new way of life,” says Lynne. “We do have small suitcases, an appetite for new experiences, good computers, and the savvy and flexibility to make ourselves at home in almost any situation.”  They apply the same no-frills approach to money matters: “We are certainly not wealthy,” says Lynne, “but this lifestyle does require some capital and a great deal of planning. We take a regular allowance from our investments and do not tamper with our nest egg. The goal is to be financially independent for the rest of our lives, so we live carefully.” If that means the occasional lumpy pillow in a less-than-stellar vacation rental, so be it.

The Martins ( are proof that life after kids is a wide-open proposition — a tabula rasa waiting to be etched with new and indelible experiences. While at least 36 percent of empty nesters plan on selling their existing homes and downsizing, others are taking a more radical approach by trading their brick-and-mortar base for the freedom to roam the world — gypsy-style. They go where they want, stay as long as they like, and move on when they’re ready. And, in the process, these pioneers have completely reinvented the meaning of “home.” They find purpose and passion, rekindle their romance, and even manage to impress skeptical children. See if any of these stories spark the wanderlust in you.