Where to Travel Next?

page of paper that says Lets Go TravelTravel mid-2018 and beyond!

Where in the world is Carmen Sandiego?  No idea!  As for me (a non-thieving, non-criminal budget retiree), my travel in 2018 was mostly domestic.  As a retiree, I finally have the time to visit my family members who are scattered all over the US and Canada.  I hope to travel internationally in 2019.

Travel to Colorado – 7/31-8/4

This short trip was to attend a family reunion in the Denver area, specifically Castle Rock.   Castle Rock has changed from the late-80s to mid-90s when I lived in Denver.  I used to go to Castle Rock to shop at the Castle Rock Factory Outlet Mall.   Back then, the sleepy town had less than 10,000 people.  Now, a lot of tech workers and new homes abound.   In any case, the reunion was fun.  I got to see my elderly uncle and aunt, and all the first cousins (now all grown up).   Now my cousins have young kids and (frankly) I’m not used to being around the noise and drama from the under-14 set.  Truthfully, it made me a little cranky!

Total Cost of the Colorado Trip

I spent around $500 in airfare for two roundtrip Southwest tickets- one direct flight for me from Las Vegas, and one direct flight for my son from Sacramento.  While I usually hunt around for the cheapest flight (which, in my case, would have been Frontier airlines).  I spent more on this trip because my son gets severely airsick.  Therefore,  I wanted a quick flight for him and wanted to arrive around the same time as him because my brother was driving 40 minutes to pick us up,   While in Castle Rock, I rented a car from a local Avis (not the airport) so we would have an extra vehicle.  Because my son was the second driver, the cost for the two-day rental was $98. I also spent a total of  $40 on Lyft service to go to and from McCarran Airport in Vegas.   While in Castle Rock, I spent $80  for travel clothes from the Columbia store and $70 on coffee and meals.  So the total trip set me back about $800.  It was slightly more than I intended to spend (I hadn’t planned to buy more clothes!).

Travel to Texas- 8/17-8/20

I flew to Austin, TX for a short weekend trip on 8/17-8/20.   The University of Texas at Austin is my alma mater, but I left Austin in 1987 to take a job in Dallas.  In 1989,  I moved to Colorado and then overseas,  When I returned to the US, I had no reason to visit Austin.  The next time I returned was in 2001 for a funeral.  Of course, I did not do any sightseeing then, but what I saw of Austin was shocking.  It was no longer the cool, hippie town I had navigated by bicycle for 7 years.   It seemed very busy:  traffic was a nightmare, and there was so much new housing.  Now, 17 years later, I was going back to Austin.

On this trip, my little sister, who lives in Dallas, joined me.  The reason for the trip was to assist some acquaintances who had a business dealing with my late father.  They wanted my legal opinion on their position.  So, on Friday 8/17, our friends met us and we had dinner at one of my favorite college haunts (The County Line).  The brisket and bread were just as I remembered them.  Sadly, the decor was dated.  Our acquaintances picked up the tab, which was sweet of them!.   The next day, my sister and I spent all day reviewing documents and discussing the legal issue.  It was 7 pm before my sister and I got back to the hotel.  My sister got dinner.  The next morning (Sunday),  I spent with my sister – I got us breakfast and lunch ($35), and my sister treated me to a mani-pedi at Viva spa.   We also did some shopping at this new shopping complex called the Domain (I spent about $12).  It reminded me a bit of Seattle.  In fact, a lot of Austin reminded me of Seattle!  My sister left that evening and I lazily ordered room service ($25).

Total Cost of the Texas Weekend

My travel costs for this getaway was $170.   My flight was essentially free using Alaska Airline miles (which cost a little under $12 for the service fee).  As for my hotel stay, I used 73,000 Hilton Honor hotel points that I acquired working for the federal government  (I did have to pay $17 to make up for the few points I lack and I tipped housekeeping $3 a day).   Taking Lyft to and from McCarran Airport, with tips, ran a little under $40.  Meals and shopping came in at  $72, plus I spent about $20 at the airport for coffee and lunch (I had 3 hr layovers in San Francisco both going to and from Austin).

As for Austin, you really can’t go home again. I saw glimpses of the cool city I used to love, but for the most part, she seemed rather cold and distant.    It makes me feel sad … and old!

Travel to North Carolina- 10/25-11/11

Well, I busted the budget during my trip to North Carolina to visit my older sister.  My flight on Southwest from Las Vegas to Charlotte was $222.  For my return home, I was originally going to use $156 in Alaska Airline wallet funds to depart from Raleigh; however, I decided not to rent a car to drive from Charlotte to Raleigh and, instead, eat the wallet funds and fly out of Charlotte for $222. (My reason for wanting to fly out of Raleigh was to see some friends; but, I decided I wanted to hang with my sister a few more days.)  While in Charlotte, I spent $200 on spa treatments, $140 on gifts, $60 on Lyft rideshares, and $160 on eating out.  So the total cost of the 17-day trip was a hair over $1000. I did lose the $156 in wallet funds, but (because I didn’t rent a car to drive to Raleigh -which would have cost $180 – or spend the night in a hotel – which would have cost $100), I actually saved some money.

Travel over Thanksgiving 2018

Where next? Nowhere.  My son flew to Vegas to spend Thanksgiving.  I reimbursed him the cost of his flight $338. The budget didn’t get blown too badly with my son’s visit. I spent $200 on meals, $60 at the casino, and $170 shopping (for Christmas gifts). In retrospect, I wish I didn’t waste my coins on the “one-armed bandit.”

Travel over Christmas 2018

No travel for me again.  For Christmas, my son cam back to Vegas.  He’s so busy in grad school, he needed another break.   The only expenses were for gifts for the family, which totaled $550.


Travel to Charlotte 4/10-22

My sister in Charlotte and I are diehard Game of Thrones fans.  So, for the premiere, my sister threw a party in her home (mansion) in Charlotte.  My son and  I traveled to Charlotte to join in the fun.    Unfortunately, I spent more on the trip than I wanted  – $333 for airfare, $45 for Lyft to and from the airport, $350 on gifts, and $150 on eating out.

CA trip 5/31-6/3

After accepting an offer on my condo and moving my things into storage, I had to travel to CA to deal with a smaller storage unit there.   For my trip, I rented an SUV for 4 days ($254) and drove the 8.5 hrs to Sacramento.  I used points for a reduced hotel rate at the Holiday Inn for one night in Fresno on 5/31 ($63)  because I left Vegas late (I can usually drive the 8.5 hours in a day).  When I got into the Sacramento area, I stayed at an Airbnb in Fair Oaks for two nights  ($137). 

I ended up donating half the contents of the storage unit to Goodwill.  After giving one box of items to my son, I hauled the rest of the stuff to my storage unit in Vegas.  Gas ran me $200 for the roundtrip.

ROAD TRIP 6/12-6/24

I sold the condo on 6/12/19 and hit the road to explore possible relocation cities in the Southwest.  During my 12 days of travel, I put over 2000 miles on the Mini Cooper.  Thank goodness I spent the $660 for new tires!

Anyhow, hotel costs were $960,  gas $250 and food $240.  I lost money -$121- on an Airbnb that I decided not to stay at after paying for it online (sketchy neighborhood).  However, as I state in a previous post, Airbnbs are generally a great way to save money!  

I also paid for a house inspection on a potential place I thought about buying but backed out when the inspection revealed problems ($200).

Total cost for the trip: $1661.

Lessons learned: I like small towns. I need to spend more time in Grants NM, and Belen NM. 

Where next? I’m probably going to explore southern CO in August (with a side trip down to Grants and Belen) and some small towns north of Austin TX in September.

Nashville 7/11-14

So, I need a break from house-hunting and am heading to a Game of Thrones convention in Nashville.  I went (and volunteered) last year in Dallas and had a blast.  I won’t have to pay for a ticket to the Con (since I get one for volunteering for six hours).  However, my costs so far are $352 for the roundtrip ticket and $690 for 3 nights at a hotel.  Believe it or not, this was the cheapest hotel I could find that was close to Music City Center, and it’s still 1 mile away.  The only bonus is that I booked at the Fairfield Inn (a Marriott property) and will get bonus points and free upgrades.  I consider this trip a reward and a cheaper escape compared to flying to Europe!  The only additional costs I foresee are Lyft rides, food, and perhaps some purchases from vendors at the Con. 




I am a 50-something retired woman, currently residing in Las Vegas, Nevada. This blog addresses the budgetary challenges and other concerns of "young" retirees. We are an overlooked group: too old to be considered middle-aged and too young to be called senior citizens.

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