We'll we've tried playing closer to home. It hasn't work out all that well. Even though there are many couples in our local area who are interested in playing, there are issues. One issue is hosting. Couples state that either they can host at their home or not. We never plan on hosting at our home. We have kids. That's that. And we don't want people knowing our last names or where we live. Doesn't seem safe -- just in case. We also don't like the idea of going to someone else's home, at least not at first. What if they're criminals or worse: messy! So we've always played at a hotel. We pay for the room, always.
The advantage of playing closer to home is obvious: less travel and more flexibility. But that's also the disadvantage. It means that it's easier for us to back out if we need to. And this has happened twice in the last two weeks. We had something set up for a night and we got a hotel arranged. But then one of our kids got sick, so we had to reschedule for the following week. Next week, the same thing. (We wouldn't dare ask that couple for a third chance and if we were them, we probably wouldn't give someone a third chance. And it's likely that they think that we're lying about having a sick kid).
When we travel out of the area, we leave our kids in the care of someone responsible and we're too far away to rush back for the sniffles. Being far away also takes us mentally out of the picture and give us time to mentally separate from the worries of the home. It doesn't work well to leave home at 6 pm with the dogs messing up the yard, the kids working on homework, the visiting teachers just having left brownies on the doorstep, and then be having sex with another couple two hours later. Not enough time to set the mood.
The other problem with playing so close to home is that it could occur more frequently. Some may say, "that's great!", but if it becomes an every weekend thing then it takes some of the exciting buildup out of it, and it becomes routine.
We've also discussed the issue about becoming friends with the other couple. We don't mind become FriendsWithBenefits, but we are more interested in the benefits part than the true friendship. Concerned about what could happen if the friendship became too strong and affections began to be shared. Then an affair could happen. (We've had some friends in the lifestyle who we've soft-swapped with a little, but it wasn't anything to write home about. We weren't really into them. So we like them more as friends now rather than play-partners). I think at most, we'd like the friendship to be no more than 30% of the relationship and sex to be the other 70%. Any more than 30% friendship is too risky, and anything less than 10% means there's no way to have a conversation - just sex. We like the sex, but we've at least got to be able to enjoy a dinner with them.
So, it's hard to give up the idea of finding easy couples in the local area to hook-up with more easily and more regularly, but I think we're going to have to give up that idea and just keep doing the travel thing until the kids are grown.