A writer, entrepreneur, and motivational speaker documents her post-retirement travels.
After moving to Las Vegas, Woods (Climbing Out of the Rabbit Hole, 2005) learned she was allergic to the city’s summer heat. Given the choice of moving or taking medication, she decided instead to travel, beginning her peripatetic life. In order to cut costs for the sort of long-term lodging she required, she explored home exchanges and travel clubs for seniors. When friends expressed concerns about her journeying alone and staying in strangers’ homes, she allayed their concerns through emails. An experienced journalist, she parlayed these messages and diary entries into a series of essays, providing vignettes of her trips and the people she encountered. Part of the reason Woods’ globe-trotting method worked for her was she could see the good in people or places instead of just highlighting the negatives—such as enduring the stare of a taxidermic moose or sharing not just a room, but also a bed with a snorer. Although she headed primarily to Europe, with frequent visits to Italy, Woods’ explorations also took her around the United States, especially Texas and the Northwest. Her memoir does not spotlight the sites she visited so much as the people she met, depicted with subtle humor and—almost always—appreciation for their best qualities. In one of her few critical accounts, the author deftly describes dealing with the moose along with a bathroom with all three components—toilet, shower, and sink—in different areas of the house. The seventh stay “proved to be the makings of an uncomfortable, but now, funny story.” But Woods is not some Suzy Sunshine; she just chooses to find joy and comedy in most situations. Still, some readers may question her decision to continue traveling and rooming with Joan, the snorer. The author’s background as a journalist is obvious in her flawless, breezy writing style. The book concentrates almost exclusively on her captivating adventures, with only hints at her own life story, which sounds equally intriguing. The enjoyable work covers 15 years of her travels, from 2001 to 2016 (presumably only the highlights), occasionally mentioning concurrent world events.
An entertaining, optimistic glimpse into the world of travel clubs and home exchanges.