Do you dream of letting go of the dock lines and cruising to the next horizon and the one after that? Living on board a houseboat is the ultimate freedom. Travel anywhere the waves can take you, without leaving your home behind.
Most things can be done via the Internet now from almost anywhere: a job, banking, home schooling from kindergarten through college and even the online grocery store. Your MasterCard or VISA card is good almost anywhere and in dollars, pesos, Canadian dollars or Euros. However, not everything can be digitized.
Here are some things that can go anywhere with you. Consider keeping those you have and perhaps joining others.
If you own a road vehicle, AAA membership has obvious advantages but did you know that your AAA membership goes with you even if you leave your car behind? Want to rent a car in port? Leave the houseboat and fly across country for a family emergency? Your AAA member privileges apply when you’re in someone else’s car, or you just want to access AAA’s vast network of services ranging from restaurant discounts and rental cars to travel planning.
More than 650,000 members carry membership in this non-profit organization. Its features include discounts, boating education and the largest towing network in the country. With 600 towboats serving over 300 ports, you’re just a phone call away from a dispatcher 24/7. As you cruise, get BoatUS discounts on transient slips, fuel, marine gear and much more.
It’s tempting to take the sign-up bonus for individual store cards but soon your wallet is bulging with regional store cards you never use while your identity is in more databases than necessary. One nationwide giant is Walmart with more than 4,000 stores in the U.S. alone. In addition to being a useful credit card online and in person for goods and groceries, it’s worth a discount on fuel at Walmart stations.
Membership in a national gym or health club chain is a way to continue the same workout regimen, using the same fitness philosophy and type of equipment, everywhere you go. The challenge is to find a chain that has the most clubs in the most places. Make sure each member club offers guest privileges free or for a modest fee.
According to Men’s Health magazine, Gold’s Gym is the gold standard for fitness buffs who travel. It has more than 700 clubs and four levels of membership. Know what privileges go with each level.
Anytime Fitness has more than 2,000 locations and YMCA has more than 2,700 locations, but their facilities and guest requirements vary from place to place.
According to Business Insider, some of the best loyalty programs at national chains include CVS pharmacies, which track your purchases online and have an attractive cash payback, and Target, which gives a five percent discount on purchases, free shipping and other perks. Both cards are free. Some loyalty programs have a one-time or yearly fee.
Your membership in a national lodge, VFW, church denomination, or service club can gain you a welcome in cities nationwide.
Almost everywhere you go, your active or retired military ID is worth discounts, free admission, PX privileges, credit union membership and much more.
Before leaving your home dock, review any contract requirements for your houseboat’s service, repairs and replacements. Must the work be done by the original dealer or within a certain network? You don’t want to be miles away when you find out you don’t have national coverage.
Retail stores, including big-box stores, are closing right and left but membership in a COSTCO is good nationwide and may still be worth the $60 a year to you. As of 2019 there were 770 stores, so there’s a good chance you can make use of them as you cruise.
YACHT CLUB MEMBERSHIP
Many yacht club memberships come with reciprocity or guest privileges at sister clubs nationwide and even internationally. Dockage or use of facilities may be free or at a small price. However, they may be limited to, say, so-many nights dockage or so-many visits per year.
About The Author
Janet Groene is a professional journalist and a member of Boating Writers International. She and her late husband, Gordon Groene, lived full-time on the go for ten years. “Living Aboard” is a recurring column that focuses on living on your houseboat. Janet’s newest book, The Survival Food Handbook (International Marine Books), is a guide to provisioning and cooking with common supermarket ingredients to carry in your pantry. Janet posts new galley recipes weekly at www.BoatCook.blogspot.com and writes the Yacht Yenta Mystery series under the pen name Farley Halladay.