News / Calgary

Calgary couple seizes downturn as opportunity to travel

After watching friends battling cancer, pair decides life can't wait

Mark and Janet Bec are planning to travel the world starting in late September after saving for the past year.

Mathew Silver / For Metro

Mark and Janet Bec are planning to travel the world starting in late September after saving for the past year.

Mark and Janet Bec found an unlikely answer to an all-too-familiar problem.

When both of them were faced with unemployment in an economic downturn, they decided to do what so many other fifty-somethings wouldn’t dare - they booked a year-long vacation in Europe.

But this wasn’t just some flight of fancy.  

The couple was forced to re-evaluate their priorities when they were devastated by the loss of six friends to terminal illnesses.  Mark and Janet realized that retirement just couldn’t wait, and decided to make their dreams a priority.  

“When you see tragedies happen – friends facing cancer – it makes you put things into perspective,” said Mark.

The couple will celebrate their 30th anniversary in Italy and renew their vows, something they have been itching to do since they visited Italy almost a decade ago.  

This time, their travels will take them through Scotland, Ireland, England, Serbia, and Slovenia, with a visit to Carnivale in Venice for good measure.

The couple began saving about a year ago, and have created an extensive spreadsheet to earmark their spending.  Mark and Janet have left their two children on house duty in Calgary, and plan to save money by house-sitting abroad and staying in Airbnb’s.

According to the Becs, some cheap accommodations, reasonable flights in Europe, and a few home-cooked meals along the way will allow them to stay within their budget.

Let me guess, you want to know how much it costs to eschew employment and travel across the world for the year? Mark said that number is right around $50,000.  

They even plan to stay in a dorm room when they take language and cooking classes in Italy.  And while they can only imagine who their roommates will be – maybe some beer-guzzling students? -   they said certainly won’t shy away from the nightlife.

“We plan on trying the wine in every region that we’re in,” said Janet.

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