Retirement Talk for Boomers, Seniors and Retirees

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Episode 110 Road trip Part 3 – Lodging

When it came to sleeping, our host, Joe Pop, the Baboon Man in Kenya that year, told us to, “bring our bags”. Late that night we walked out of the main house and into the dark. He opened the door to a small round building – maybe 15 feet in diameter. We shinned our flashlights around the inside. There were gecko, or animals like them, spiders and other creatures scattered around the walls. They all darted from the glare of the light. It was late and we had drunk a lot of wine. We entered and threw our bags on the floor. I remember hearing the familiar sound of leopard and lion. I’m glad he had told us about the leopard bars on the windows. We slept soundly. I was 37 then and on the Serengeti Plain in Kenya. As we approach our extended road trip in the US thirty years later, I want to take a bit more care selecting lodging for the evenings.

This is Retirement Talk. I’m Del Lowery.

Traveling always presents the challenge of finding comfortable and affordable lodging each evening. Possibilities vary from tents, RVs, Interstate motels and then there are the 5 star hotels in major cities. What to do? When you are going for several months the challenge is not to be taken lightly, or else the trip can become one long grind of physical discomfort.

We have decided on spotting major basis spread out along our route. We first determined the general route and vague time table. Then we started to schedule bases every five hundred to thousand miles. Our moving goals were: the Sacramento area – Sutter Creek to be exact - where our daughter lives. Then Scottsdale, Arizona where we have a home exchange arranged. When we leave Arizona, we will be three weeks into the trip and will have had to pay for accommodations perhaps four nights.

The next phase of our trip will take us to Ruidoso, New Mexico on our way to Big Bend National Park in Texas. We may stay with friends in Ruidoso or we may be looking for hotels during those four days. Our next major stop will be in Austin, Texas where we have arranged a great home exchange for a condo right downtown. We are looking forward to that one as well as the one in Scottsdale.

We will leave Austin and spend one or two nights on the road before our next base which is New Orleans. We have again arranged a base home exchange in a Victorian styled home in Algeris Point which is a short 5 minute ferry boat ride straight across from the French Quarter. It is suppose to be a great place to stay and a great place to bike. This will provide us a base from which to see the city for four or five days.

I should explain this home exchange thing for some of you who are unfamiliar. You can go on line to Homeexchange.com and join this internet based network of people from around the world. I think the fee has now escalated to $100.00 per year to be a member. We have been members for several years and have found it a great way to travel and meet people. You just agree to exchange your place for someone else’s. You can pick from countries around the world.

When you find something you like you just contact them via email and see if they might be interested. Of course, they may not be, but then again, they very well might be. Sometimes the exchanges are simultaneous and sometimes they are not. We have exchanged with several people under both conditions. Some people have second homes they retreat too, or perhaps exchange. We have done six exchanges so far and they have all worked out storybook perfect. There is no money exchanged. You just trade straight-up. A description and pictures of all places are listed on the website. You can browse as if looking through a travel magazine.

It is exciting to get emails from around the world. People make suggestions that may entice you. They live in someplace you perhaps never thought of going but of a sudden you find yourself looking at pictures from their part of the world and reading of points of interest. It brings a bit of serendipity into your life.

Trust is the guiding principle of the Homeexchange.com. It is amazing how quickly one can establish a rather close relationship with people. You trust your house and all of its’ possessions to complete strangers. You just send them a key or leave one under a rock and let them have total access. They do the same for you. Everyone has left our condo in perfect shape – clean and tidy. We have done the same with their places. I have never heard of a bad experience. You may want to try it.

Our next major base will be with a friend in Sarasota, Florida. He used to live in our town and then moved to Florida perhaps ten years ago. He returns to our part of the country every year and stays as a guest at our place for a week or two. We will return the favor this year. He has already talked about taking us to explore the Everglades.

We plan on taking a few days to amble along southern part of the East Coast. Our next base will be in Durham, North Carolina. We have again arranged a home exchange in the famous triangle area. This time we will be in house in the woods with a big forested park next door. We then intend to work our way north as far as Washington DC. Brenda has a brother that lives just 90 minutes from DC so we may use that as a base to explore the city. We have a couple of months scheduled so far and we will be using free lodging most of the way. It is not only free but it will be very nice.

Lodging for the return home is open. We don’t know if we will want to “hurry” home, or if we will want to wander a bit more casually. It will be winter and we may want to stay south on our return. Or, we may want to brave the north winds and just drive straight across the country seeing a few old friends and relatives as we go.

There are many ways to travel and I am not sure about our chosen method, but there it is. I like the idea of have a base in which to stop and explore the cities or areas. I like the idea of having a real house or condo in which one can relax a bit more than a commercial establishment. We will see. I will be sure to share with you the pluses and minuses.


This is Retirement Talk.