(Photo Detail: Hayman Island, Australia)
One of the things I looked forward to when I retired was the chance to travel more frequently, and for longer stretches of time. Home-exchange has turned out to be a great way to stretch the length of our trips without straining our travel budget. But the big advantage of retirement is being able to get out of town whenever opportunity knocks.
And opportunity to travel with friends has knocked many times over the last six years of our retirement. I can only think of two or three times during my working years that we were able to coordinate a vacation with our other working friends. But now we can be flexible and spontaneous, so we’ll say yes(!) to just about any adventure our friends want to share with us.
Since I retired, we’ve been to Hawaii five times with four different couples. We've also tagged along with one of those couples to Vegas, Tahoe and Yosemite. When we exchange homes each year to New York for a month, we entertain a steady stream of friends that come out to visit, in addition to enjoying lots of time with our friends that call New York home.
This year we said yes again to some friends that invited us to join them in Thailand to celebrate their birthdays. They’ve invited several of their friends and family members to join them at an enchanting villa on the island of Koh Samui, followed by a few nights in the excotic city of Bangkok.
Our journey to get to this part of the world will take us 23 hours--not counting layovers. The longest flight we’ve ever taken was our 14-hour flight to Sydney, Australia a couple of years ago--in coach. Neither of us could sleep sitting upright on that flight, even with those funny little neck pillows, so we had a really hard time with jet lag when we arrived. We spent four nights in Sydney and only made it out to dinner once. The other three nights we “took a little nap” at 4pm and didn’t wake up until the next morning!
So the last several months we’ve been working all the mileage deals, and were finally able to book free business-class tickets for this journey. Free! We’re hoping the lie-flat seats will help get us started on better footing this time. I really want to enjoy dinner every night in this part of the culinary world.
In any case, 23 hours is an awful long time to fly somewhere for only a week-long trip. So we’re starting with a side-trip to Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam, where we will be meeting up with some new friends that we haven’t even met yet, at least not in person.
I know a lot of people don’t really like Facebook, but this is one of those things I love about it. The tour group we are traveling with on the first part of our trip sent us a list of fellow travelers last week. We’ll be joined by folks from as far away as Switzerland and Brazil, to as close as Arizona and get this--the town three highway exits away from us here in the Bay Area. And through the miracle of modern social technology, this couple was able to not only see that we have a friend in common, they were able to introduce themselves to us through Facebook. We’re going to get together before the trip to share our excitement and exchange some travel stories.
Anyway, I know I don’t need to give you excuses for having been away from my blog for so long. But honestly, planning this trip has been a full-time job. Between working out all the deals to get free flights, to getting the proper immunizations and travel visas, booking hotels, and studying up on the culture and history—well blogging has taken a backseat for sure.
I’d love to get back to a more steady blogging stride, but first, we’re headed on another trip that we were able to say yes to: a short cruise to Mexico with Doug’s family.
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