A friend asked me about how Kathy and I began to consider prepare for and experience BOLT (Black Old Lesbians Traveling) life. As I answered her, I decided to also share my answers in this post.
Kathy and I have talked about a life of travel from the moment we met. It was something we always considered. We traveled a lot even while working. We found we travel well together.
In 2014, after years of caring for my mom (an ancestor now) and being at my job for 32 years, Kathy and I set our intention to be”home free” travelers by the time I turned 60 in September 2015.
It took us about a year of preparation and letting go of stuff, property, etc to be ready to hit the road:
- We had yard sales, donated stuff, gifted things to friends. We sold our house and cars.
- We made living wills as well as traditional wills.
- We got bank accounts with no ATM fees (Charles Schwab is good).
- We digitized all our important documents and keep them in the”cloud”.
A few guidelines and agreements we made:
- We could each have one rolling bag, one backpack and one purse which must hold everything we need.
- We limited ourselves to one bin of stuff to save: pictures, mementos from my kids, etc. These are in Kathy’s mom’s garage.
- We made budgets and savings plans.
We talked a lot about what we wanted to do and where we wanted to go.
Then we set out. The 30 day cruise was the perfect way to begin world travel. We went to over 10 new destinations and traveled from Seattle to Singapore with no jet lag.
I still had too much stuff, broke our 1 rolling bag rule and had to give a bunch more stuff away while traveling. It worked out ok because the the cruise and hotel staff benefited.
After a year in Asia we decided to pursue another dream: RV travel. I love road trips and seeing beautiful North America has been wonderful. But full time RV life is not for me. I like mixing it up with long term stays in foreign countries. I have not found the same connections to community with RV life.
Somethings I’ve learned about myself are:
- I don’t like fast travel. In the beginning we would stay places a week or less and they became a blur.
- I like staying in places long enough to get to know folks, find meetings, activities etc.
- Kathy and I get along well in small spaces but it’s important for us to have solitary time daily. I have quiet time in the morning and I take a solo walk daily.
- I’ve always been a neat freak but in RV life it’s super important. A place for everything and everything in it’s place!
- I’ve learned I don’t need as much stuff or variety of stuff as I thought… cosmetics, vitamins, hair care stuff, jewelry are some of the many things I carry only small quantities of.
I’m not sure if I answered my friend’s questions but these reflections have been rewarding to me and I hope helpful to someone. If you have any questions about a life of home free travel, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are on the road, heading to DC and then Alabama. We are taking it slow. Probably no more than 300 miles a day. Using our Thousand Trails membership we took a nice break at Verde Valley in Cottonwood, Arizona. It’s really hot here (100 degrees) but I did take a walk and got some pictures of this lovely park.
We found a nice shady spot for Winnie.
There are many interesting walking trails.
The pool was very inviting.
I think the thing I liked best were all the beautiful varieties of trees.
You can stay here permanently if you choose.
But we will be leaving in the morning… heading to Sedona!
5 Thai embassies
There are many types of visas obtainable for travel to or living in Thailand. If you are visiting for less than 30 days this post is not for you. You are able to fly in and obtain a visa exemption on arrival at no cost.
However, for those who wish to spend a significant amount of time in Thailand here is some information you might find helpful.
There are 5 Thai embassies here in the U.S. Luckily there is an embassy right here in Los Angeles. While it is possible to obtain many types of visas in Thailand we found the process much easier here.
If you are 50 years or older you can get a retirement visa, good for a one year stay. The big advantage of getting it in the U.S. is that you only need to provide proof of 800,000 Thai Baht (approximately $25k) in the bank. If you get this visa in Thailand you must put your money in a Thai bank. This is probably perfectly safe but we do have some concerns. The cost of this visa is $200. See the link above for all details.
Another good visa option is the Multiple Entry Thai Visa.
No matter what type of visa you want, read the information provided in the links carefully and do your best to follow the directions to the letter.
Some things we found out:
- No matter the type of visa, you must pay by cashier’s check or money order. Cash is not accepted. We saw several people turned away because they missed this in the instructions.
- Arrive in the morning. Long lines but the service is pretty fast.
- Don’t pay for expensive passport photos. Take your own. There are several apps that can help. We saved over $60 dollars doing this!
- Have all your paperwork in order. The more organized you are the easier it seems to go.
- For the retirement visa you must obtain notarized statements from your bank. Our credit union provides free notary service which made it easy.
- Also for the retirement visa you must have a clearance from your doctor and a letter from local law enforcement. The instructions say these must be notarized as well. Turns out this means that you sign the clearance reports and have your signature notarized.
- We felt kind of overwhelmed by the amount of paperwork… breathe deeply, take your time, check, double check and recheck.
- The laws and regulations can be confusing, they change a lot too. Be sure you visit the official Thai government websites and don’t hesitate to ask questions (I called the embassy at least 4 times).
I hope this information is helpful. Thailand is such a wonderful country, the visa processes are relatively easy and most importantly…BOLT will be there! We hope to see you soon.
There’s a little piece of heaven in Los Angeles, just east of Crenshaw on Olympic Blvd. The Olympic Spa is a traditional Korean style spa and a place of respite and bliss.
I used to come here a lot when I was primary caregiver for my mother, now deceased. For $15 I would enter, turn off my phone, sink into the mugwort tea hot tub and let all my cares float away. The $15 is now up to $25 which is still a great value. Called the “simple soak” it includes use of all the spa facilities including jade laden steam sauna, the hot “mugwort” tea pool, The Himalayan salt therapy room and the healing heat of the mineral sauna.
You can stay all day (the spa is open 9 to 9) and even enjoy a delicious Korean meal in the cafe. I always take a little nap on the heated jade floor too.
Thailand has spoiled me with regular massages. For this visit I decided to treat myself to the Goddess spa treatment.
According to the website it is
“the ultimate moisturizing experience. We start with a full body Korean Scrub to exfoliate the skin, followed by an aromatic seaweed body shampoo. Now relax and enjoy a wonderful Aromatherapy Massage to melt all those knots away. A rejuvenating essential oil scalp massage will instantly lift your spirits. It doesn’t end here, your face is then massaged with toxin releasing strokes and a purifying facial mask is applied to refresh and tighten the pores. After an aromatherapy hair shampoo and rinse, a luxurious body emulsion is soothingly applied to hydrate and moisturize. This treatment is exclusive to us and not available anywhere else.”
They do not lie or exaggerate! Expensive by my Thai standards it was 1 hr 45 min of pure bliss for $155.
The Goddess includes use of all the spa facilities. In addition to the mugwort bath, I especially love the Himalayan salt therapy room. It is a super heated cave like room filled with Himalayan salt crystals. It is a great idea for detoxing and relaxing.
For obvious reasons, I couldn’t walk around the spa (naked women everywhere) taking pictures. So I grabbed the above images from the web. While doing so, I came upon this sister’s blog post. It’s a beautiful blog about her dance with cancer. Turns out the Olympic Spa was one of her favorite places. Rest in paradise, Caridad, thank you for sharing.
Kathy and I recently joined the Thousand Trails RV system. For about $500 dollars per year we can stay for 2 week periods at a wide variety of RV parks in California, Nevada and Arizona. Additional states can be added for under a $100. This seems to be a great deal for RVers. The average one night stay in most RV parks is $30 in California.
The Palm Springs park is our first Thousand Trails stay. I’ll be reviewing all the parks we visit.
This is a very small, basic park. It’s like a big parking lot. However, we find it quite pleasant. There are palm trees everywhere and I find them beautiful.
There’s a wonderful pool and hot tub…very clean, uncrowded with plenty of lounging areas.
There are nice, air conditioned areas for family and adult activities like games, poker and billiards.
There’s a very small playground but not much else for children to do. It’s very hot so the pool is the spot to be.
There are really cute little cabins that visitors without RVs can rent.
Our first Thousand Trails experience has been a good one so far. We will be here for a week. If you are interested in a Thousand Trails membership please let us know. We are happy to answer any questions or help you to arrange a visit.
Compared to our last border crossing (Tijuana with a 6 hour line of cars and bomb threats), today’s crossing was a breeze. We left Puerto Penasco this morning around noon headed for the border at Sonoyta.
Sonoyta is a small town in the Mexican state of Sonora. It’s right next to Lukeville, Arizona. The crossing station is only open from 6am to 6pm daily and is little used. There was one car ahead of us when we crossed at 11:30 am.
We had our passports ready and encountered no real problem. A U.S. Department of Agriculture agent did come into Winnie and left with a carton of eggs, some frozen chicken, potatoes and soy chorizo. Had we known we could have left those things in Puerto Penasco. Here’s a link for what foods can be brought from Mexico to the U.S.
The drive after crossing was quite lovely. Lots of cacti and small towns. We took highway 8 all the way. Right now we are spending the night in Campo, California and enjoying a beautiful sunset. One great thing about RV life is that home is where you parked it!