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How I Decided to Repurpose My Travel Money

By Liz Kitchens May 12, 2024 Travel

I love traveling, especially to major cities. When contemplating a trip to an urban area with its requisite museums, sculpture parks, cafes, and rococo/classical/art deco architecture styles, I’m as excited as a dog gets when its owner jingles the car keys. 

And Speaking of Dogs…

I recently bought one. A bougee dog that cost in the four digits (and the first number isn’t 1). We had a hole in our hearts from the departure of our beloved Jozy (hard to use the word death in conjunction with our Jozy). So, we did the only rational thing possible. We bought another labradoodle.

While Jozy was considered large, Rosie is considered mini, meaning her max weight is 35 lb. While Jozy was black, Rosie is apricot. Both females, and yes, I know their names sound like they rhyme but the spellings, as you can see, are different. So, see, very few similarities. 

Owning a Pet Is a Lot Like Owning Children, Full of Paradoxes

And yet… I’m in love again, though different than my love for Jozy which filled my heart for 13 years. This love is five months old and very fulfilling. Owning a pet is a lot like raising children, full of paradoxes. As author/journalist Jennifer Senior wrote in her book, All Joy, and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenthood, “children are economically worthless and emotionally priceless.”

The same can be said for pets. Friends who have had pet losses hesitate to repopulate their empty nests with new furry friends. “You won’t be able to travel without the hassle of finding a pet sitter and pet sitters are pricey!” They will tear up your furniture and make your 70-plus-year-old skin bleed from their needle-sharp teeth; they will keep you up all night; they’re expensive! The vet bill and bougee dog food alone will cut into your retirement budget.

Yes, yes, and yes. All true.

But, I would argue – worth it.

Values, Priorities, and Goals Shift as You Age into Your 70s

I don’t think I realized how much one’s values, priorities, and goals shift as you age into your 70s. Although I still value travel and varied experiences, I’m realizing I want to stay in a destination longer and delve deeper into the fresh environs.

I want to explore and form deeper relationships within a new neighborhood. I want to use my temporary home base as a launching point for travel to adjacent destinations. Both of my adult children and their families live in Illinois, so it is highly likely our temporary digs will be in either the northern or southern part of the state. 

My Travel Dollars Are Limited

I’ve had a craving to visit Arches, Redwood, Yosemite, Joshua Tree, and Yellowstone national parks. It is easier to explore the west and its requisite national parks from Illinois than Orlando. Plus, I’ll have free dog sitters in the form of kids and grandkids.

Speaking of family, I want to spend more time with people I love instead of those I would only superficially get to know on a 10-day cruise. Now, don’t get me wrong. The thought of a 10-day cruise is intoxicating, and I can feel my blood pressure start to drop just thinking of such a relaxing venture.

Realistically, however, my travel dollars are limited. And my husband’s recent scary cancer diagnosis has made us re-think international travel. We need to stay closer to a home base and consistent medical care. 

But Back to the Dog…

The other cool thing about getting a longer-term rental in the Chicago/Southern Illinois areas (with access to children and grandchildren) is that I can bring my dog! I can have the fun, comfort (and responsibility) of being with our furry family member in a new locale.

I look forward to exploring more of the Midwest about which I know little and spending extended periods cultivating relationships I really care about. Novel experiences are invaluable for brain health and a good quality of life, and travel fits that bill perfectly. Travel, however, comes in all sizes, shapes, and locations.

Here are photos of people I really want to spend my travel dollars on.

So, I guess I’m saying, at this point in my life, I want to use my hard-earned travel dollars differently than I used to. 

Let’s Have a Conversation:

What are your priorities in your 70s? Are they different from those you had set in your 60s? What is your take on the issue of using travel $$ differently? How have you adjusted your travel based on your priorities, values and goals?

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Kay Madison

Nicole shame on you for being so judgemental.

Deb Mosley

Congrats on your new fur baby! I loved your article. Rethinking how to spend travel $ is excellent food for thought!


I totally understand wanting to be near family and wanting a new pup. No better budget allocations than love, 2- or 4-legged. I have two kitties and have been thinking about a dog. Why not? This season of life, I just want to stay home.

My HOA has breed restrictions; can’t just go for a mystery dog… an overwhelming percentage of shelter dogs here in the Midwest US are pittie mixes. Not allowed for me. Plus, I’m really smitten with Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. Never going to find that at a shelter. I see nothing wrong with seeking an ethical breeder. Enjoy your new doggie and those grandkids!

Liz Kitchens

I too faced the same problem with dogs. I found an ethical breeder and our Jozy is such a happy part of my home


Cavaliers are amazing! They are so sweet, gentle and endearing! I am and have been a groomer for many years and see all breeds. There are specific breed rescues that can help you find a particular breed. I have fostered many dogs and have learned first hand some are so damaged it is difficult to help them. Of course, most are very responsive to love and kindness, too. Please don’t let anyone shame you for your choices.


My folks have found the same when they entered their 70’s …..the travel landscape altered by being closer to home and they added checking out local festivals and conferences that they never knew existed. I recall my Mom saying how despite the comfort in hotels she would miss her duvet, body pillows and those comforts of home.


Shame on you for buying a dog, when you could have saved 2 lives by adopting one!


Oh I wholeheartedly agree!!


Such an unnecessary and unkind comment. How is it any of your business what someone else chooses.


I agree. It’s not ok to shame anyone.

Kay Madison

Shame on you for being so judgmental.


Nicole, shame on you for being so judgmental! I have 3 Maltese. 2 are from a reputable breeder. They are the sweetest dogs ever. 1 is from a rescue situation. Although I love her dearly, she is a hot mess. She is so fearful and anxious. It took several months before I could even pick her up. She will not potty train. She eats her feces and the other dogs as well. She will not walk on a leash or go down stairs. I have worked with dozens of dogs and have fostered many rescues with great success. Callie is so broken. She has come a long way in the 11 months I have had her, but I really doubt she will ever be fully recovered. Not everyone can make the commitment. I do understand your concerns, but I would sincerely hesitate and evaluate adopting another rescue.
… on that note, Callie is home. She will only know love for the rest of her days.


I hear you Beth and bless you for giving this gal safe space to recover from her trauma. However, most rescues do not have the issues you speak of and statistically, pure breds have more of these behavioral issues in addition to shorter life expectancies and health issues due to inbreeding (see latest article form Westminster and NYT article out in May 2024 if you’d like to see the data). By definition, breeders whether you consider them “reputable” or not, participate in forced breeding using a bitch over and over again in what I consider rape of the dog. I truly hope everyone will become more educated on this issue and give these animals the respect and common decency they deserve.

Liz Kitchens

I so agree but our shelters have been really empty and I found an ethical breeder.


No one should be shamed for making decisions that suit their own needs, dreams, beliefs, or lifestyle if they aren’t hurting anyone else. We should all support and care for each other regardless of our different choices and beliefs.


I agree with you Nicole. Though I may not say shame on her I would say it is a crying shame that folks spend thousands of dollars for an overly inbred animal when there are so many at the SPCA who have better life expectancies and are already desperate for a home. If truly set on a “pure bred” there are rescue groups for every breed. I would give anything to irradicate the exploitation of animals including forced breeding and inbreeding causing shorter life expectancies and health issues, which is every pure bred dog now according to the Westminster Kennel Club. I hope everyone reading this will give careful consideration when adopting their next furry companion.


Shame on you for being so judgmental.

Viktoria Vidali

As has happened to me on several occasions trying to adopt from a shelter, it doesn’t always work out for one reason or another. On the other hand, sometimes the administrative process doesn’t stand in the way of adoption. My friend in California saved a beautiful Malinois from being euthanized, a magnificent-looking creature, just in the nick of time.

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The Author

Liz Kitchens is the author of Be Brave. Lose the Beige! Boldly Breaking the Rules after 50. Her blog, Be Brave. Lose the Beige! focuses on women of the Baby Boomer Generation, Lady Boomers, as she has dubbed them. Liz is the founder of What’s Next Boomer? a website dedicated to helping Baby Boomers navigate retirement or semi-retirement options. Liz can be contacted at

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