In Europe and Australia/New Zealand/South Africa many kids go backpacking overseas on working holiday visas/gap years when they are around university age. They haven’t made any money yet, so they don’t miss it, and instead happily live on next to nothing while they see the world. They are also young enough to not be too grumpy/spoiled/gentrified to happily stay in youth hostels or live in overcrowded group houses located in dodgy parts of town.
For many people this period is the high point of their lives… responsibility free (no kids/nagging spouses/mortgages/careers). Most are unlikely to experience that free feeling again until they are old aged “empty nester” pensioners who have managed to pay off their mortgage.
The problem with the “life lived backwards” idea is that the money acquired during a working life (some combination of career, accumulating investments, starting businesses, establishing passive income streams, etc) is what supports/sustains the worry free retirement at the end. Unfortunately for many people it takes them so long to get there that physically and mentally their best days are behind them before they do.
That is why I think everyone should aim for FI at an early age, so they have the option of enjoying their “retirement” (or mini-retirements or sabbaticals or whatever) before the excuses have become reasons, and they are too old to realistically pursue whatever adventures they may be chasing.
For most of us climbing Mt Kilimanjaro or hiking the Camino de Santiago de Compostela as a 70 year old isn’t going to be a viable option, so it would be a real shame to put it off until traditional retirement age.
Of course the other alternative is to cash in your chips now, head for somewhere near a beach in South East Asia, and become that clichéd ex-pat bar fly! It’d be a one way trip (at least until your health failed), but it would likely be an enjoyable one spent someplace sunny and warm where you probably already have enough money to live comfortably for the rest of your days.