Retirement Talk

WHAT to do with the rest of your life?


Episode 006 – Road Trips – How we Travel

This is Del Lowery with “Retirement Talk – the Rest of Your Life.” This is the first in a series of programs looking at “Road Trips”, and “How We Travel”.

Travel is high on the list of most recent retirees. “Road trip” is a favorite phrase. Hit the open road. Wouldn’t it be nice to just go out and turn the key and drive away from it all.

We may jet off to foreign land, but almost all of us want to see America . Most of we retired people still remember the old commercial that advised, “See the USA in your Chevrolet , America is calling you to see…”  We mighty leave out the Chevy part today, but America is still “calling us to see”.

One of the first questions newly retired travelers face is: do I take my car, or buy an RV, - if so, what kind? Are there other choices that may be even better?  In this series, I want to explore the advantages and disadvantages of different types of transportation; the family auto using hotels, motels or tent camping; traveling by bicycle, motorcycle, small camper vehicle and the larger motor home or RV. If you opt for a different mode, my hat’s off to you. You are doing the right thing.

For some of these broadcasts I am going to reach out to some friends and acquaintances via the phone and explore with someone who has “been there”.  My wife and I have traveled via the family car using hotels and motels, and tenting.  We have traveled by bicycle and ferry along the inside passage from Alaska to Washington State . We have made two extended travel trips in Europe via our bicycle. We have also traveled with a motorcycle on several trips. We have not traveled in a small camper vehicle or large motor home. For those I will have to rely on outside help.

In this program I want to discuss traveling via the family car using motels and hotels. My wife and I have taken many trips using this mode of transportation.

It requires no extra purchase, storage, or knowledge, other than just climbing in our four door car and driving away from the house. Nothing could be simpler.

In our daily life, we like the idea of living with just one car, or vehicle. We have found that a four door car with a back seat that folds down serves our needs very well. This car takes us on long road trips and it can also serve us most of the time around town as a small truck. We can even haul wood home from the lumber yard. But on a trip we can secure both of our bicycles in the back. We can take a guitar, sleeping bags, tent, and all that camping requires in the locked car. And for many years our German Shepard traveled in the rear seat. The four-door Sedan is a versatile vehicle.

Once we are on the road the Sedan is handy. We can keep up with traffic traveling at 70 miles per hour with no problem. We can drive crazy, curvy mountain roads with ease.  Or we can drive into busy city-centers and park our car with no problem.  The value of these features cannot be underestimated. Again, it is very adaptable to all driving conditions.

Another big advantage of traveling with our car is that my wife does not have to cook. “I am on vacation,” she says. Now don’t get me wrong; my wife loves to cook. But, “I don’t want to cook when I am on vacation”, she adds. “Vacations are supposed to be different. No cooking for me”. I don’t object because that means I don’t have to do dishes. Another great aspect of not cooking is finding wonderful restaurants all over the country.

A little hint at finding a good restaurant is to always leave the main road. If it is a couple of miles into the downtown area of wherever, we always go the extra mile, or miles. For good food, we have found that we need to drive, or walk around the downtown. Sometimes we will stop people on the street and ask if they can recommend a good place for lunch or dinner. We have rarely been disappointed. But it has always been worthwhile to drive away from an Interstate and find the downtown. For one thing you get to see the town. Get out of the car, walk along the streets, look in the windows, and perhaps, strike up a conversation with a local. After all, seeing something different and meeting people that live there are some of the main reasons for traveling.

We do the same for coffee stops. And we always stop for coffee. After all, we live in the Pacific Northwest where good coffee is a staple of life. Again, it is off the Interstate and into a downtown area. Most of the time we find a small, funky, local place that has flavor not only in its coffee but also its atmosphere. Here is where we find modern art, young people, and local folks. This experience is highly valued in the way we travel.

Where do you stay each night when you take your car on a long road trip? That is always an interesting challenge. We again leave an Interstate if we happen to be on one and head downtown. We try to find an old hotel that has been updated. It is amazing what we have found. Across this country, many smaller towns have found it possible to help reinvent their downtown around an old hotel that has been restored. We have found some beauties. These places make great lodging. They are always unique – in contrast to the chains, and always seem filled with local lore and opinion.  In the hotel lounge we often find conversation with local people. From our doorstep we can walk among the businesses and houses of the town; see the churches, schools and explore the local museums or art galleries. When we drive out we always feel like we have seen Wallace , Idaho , Tonopah , Nevada , Arcadia , California , or wherever we might be. After all, that is why we are traveling.

Concerning costs – we do have to pay for a room each night. We figure if we spend less than a few thousand a year on renting rooms we are money ahead. We have no money invested in a special vehicle. We have no extra insurance, nor exorbitant gas bills, nor licensing fees. We do not need to provide extra space in our driveway, street, or garage for a special vehicle. Whenever I mention getting another vehicle, especially one for traveling, my wife always reminds me of the parking or storage problem. “What are we going to do with it when we are not on the road?” she asks.

I’m trying to think of the downside of traveling via your own family auto. You do have to pack and unpack some stuff each night. You can’t stay in the quiet forest or sleep alongside a calming lake. That’s another negative. You may be able to rent cabins in similar places, but this doesn’t happen often. If you want the quiet forest and calming lake, you will have to carry a tent and sleeping bags in your vehicle. It can be done, and we will talk about it in another series treating traveling and retirement.

We love a road trip in the family car. We feel free and like we are truly on vacation.

This is Del Lowery with “Retirement Talk”. If you have a comment or story related to today’s topic, please visit our website and drop us a note. We will read it on the air or perhaps call you and let you tell your story through the podcast.



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