Where to Travel Next?

page of paper that says Lets Go TravelTravel mid-2018 to the end of 2018

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.

Domestic Trip: 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!).

Domestic Trip: 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!

Domestic Trip: 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.


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.”


For Christmas, my son visited me again in Vegas.  He’s so busy in grad school, he needed another break.   The only expenses were for gifts for the family, which totaled $550.


In this new year, my goal is to decrease my expenses. I have an issue with impulse shopping and my building hobby is not only expensive, I currently have no room for my creations! My family keeps telling me to take up photography, but I am not passionate about taking pictures. I think, for the time being, I will take online classes in subjects that interest me. Maybe something will spark my passion?

Update: I enrolled in two new Udemy courses – a Spanish course and a creative writing one.  Now, I need the discipline to actually start!  My friend J told me to create more structure in my life so I stop wasting time.  The plan is to start the creative writing course on (May 1)  and alternate with the  Spanish course.

Meanwhile,  I traveled to Charlotte from 4/10-22.  My son joined me.  All of us love Game of Thrones and my sister threw a small premiere party on  April 14.  I spent more on this trip than I wanted  -$333 for airfare, $45 for Lyft to and from the airport, $350 on gifts, and $150 on eating out.

I returned home on 4/22 and immediately listed my condo for sale.  If it doesn’t sell by mid-July, I’ll take a trip or cruise. I’m looking at booking a long cruise in July just to get out of the heat, although it might be cheaper to fly somewhere and stay at an Airbnb for a month.

When I get back, I might rent my condo and move to a more desirable area.


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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