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Running From Irma Part 2 – The Ride North

Anyone that has evacuated from a hurricane knows it’s a hard, emotional decision. You’re not only leaving the possessions of a life time behind, but you are leaving your friends, and as you pull on to the highway you feel that hollow feeling in your chest that is an equal mix of dread, sorrow and anticipation.

We chose to leave at six in the morning on Thursday.  As I set my cruise control in the moderate morning traffic of I 95 North my mind wandered thru the million thoughts that mirrored  the emotions of the evacuation. Evacuation is not travel. When you travel your emphasis is on where you are going. When you evacuate your emphasis is on what you are leaving. You don’t think about where you are going you worry about the friends and life you are leaving behind. As we drove by Melbourne the sun began to rise and our first day as refugees from the threat of Irma began.

Even though evacuation is not travel, the travel tools that we use when we travel still had  huge value as we evacuated. The first and probably the most important tool was again the little WAZE app that is owned by Google. This app is a free app and after the experience of our evacuation it is an app every one has got to get on their smart phones.

In Part 1 of the series on our evacuation I mentioned that I could not only find gas stations, but tell if the stations had gas. The way I did that was to look at the time that the WAZERs were inputing the price of gas. On the right is the gas price page on my app in Banner Elk above the price in red you can see when the input was made. When I was in Port St. Lucie there was a lot more input so by looking at the time of input I could identify stations with gas. Because I was out hunting gas early in the morning I went to stations that had gotten gas price inputs in the last 6 hours and sure enough they had gas.

We also use WAZE during the trip to anticipate traffic jams and plot alternate routes this part of the app allowed us to know that we needed to start looking for a significant slow down in traffic, about a half mile before the actual slow down took place, which saved us from that last second slamming on of breaks before the traffic that was traveling at 70 miles an hour has almost miraculously slowed to one mile an hour. After about ten hours of this very chaotic driving the traffic monitoring portion of the WAZE app was a real asset.

Finally we were using the WAZE app to get alternative routes which over the course of our first day of driving probably saved us about two hours of bumper to bumper traffic. For a great tutorial and discussion of WAZE and how to use this great little tool, you can go to this tutorial at

After about 12 hours of difficult driving we were only to Ridgeland South Carolina and still had about three hundred miles left to get to our resort. We were both worn out and it was clear that the demands of the stop and go traffic combined with our exhaustion made it necessary for us to stop for the night.

At  a rest stop while Charlene took a short walk I got on the Choice Hotels App and searched for Hotels by our location. Before Charlene finished her walk I had us a reservation at a Quality Inn Hotel in Ridgeland only 12 miles from our location. The room cost us 10,000 Choice Points and included a  hot breakfast. The various hotel apps are great assets to find last-minute lodging.

For us lucking out and finding our room on the Choice Hotel app allowed us to use our points and save around a hundred dollars on our room.

Evacuation is expensive, you need supplies, you need gas, you need rooms, you eat out, but the whole time if you have the right travel credit cards you are building travel assets like miles and points. I know that may sound petty considering our circumstances but during the two days we evacuated to our resort in North Carolina we spent ~$140 on gas, ~$200 on groceries and ~$180 dollars on restaurants. Using our American Express EveryDay Preferred credit card for gas and groceries we amassed around 1300 American Express points and using our Chase Saphire Preferred card on our  restaurant costs we got another 540 Chase points. I value the points we got from our drive North at around $37 worth of travel assets. That is about a 7% return on our evacuation costs just because we have a developed travel credit card strategy.

Sometime on this blog it feels like I’m harping on the same things but the reality is if you want to travel or even evacuate and save a lot of money, doing it ,you have to embrace the full spectrum of Geezer Tools we teach on this site. As I mentioned above evacuation is not the same as travel it’s a lot more stressful and emotionally difficult but using tools like a good navigation app, an app that led us to a free room and travel credit cards that eased our financial burden made a big difference.

We built to help our retired friends understand the tools they have to make traveling as cheap as possible and as stress free as possible so they will be able to get out and enjoy the adventure of travel more.

The opinions expressed in this article are shared with the belief of the author that they are accurate but the author is unable to guarantee the offers expressed herein. at the time of the writing of this article receives no compensation from any of the businesses mentioned above the businesses mentioned above are listed because they are businesses the author has found to be helpful in saving money while traveling.


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