You may have noticed a few changes to our site during the last few days. We’ve updated the look of Away is Home and welcomed a few new sponsors.

I wanted to take a moment to introduce these companies. I’d also like to explain how the sponsorships happened, what they mean — and what they don’t mean.

Kari and I have been talking about this trip for a long time — since before Iden was born, in 2004. We had always dreamed of taking our whole family on a road trip when the kids were old enough and showing them the real America.

We talked to a lot of folks, but we only invited a few to become sponsors. We didn’t just want to work with companies whose products we use, but also whose products we like.

We think we’ve found them.

The top two supporters you see on this site are providing product and major financial backing for this project.

We’ve used Skype for years, and when I told a friend at Skype about the project, the response was very enthusiastic. Skype is all about staying in touch through video calling, voice calls and instant messaging, and it seemed like a natural fit for Away is Home. No one has to twist our arms to use Skype when we’re on the road; we would still be using it even if it weren’t interested in a sponsorship.

Holiday Inn Resort is also a major supporter. I have a long-standing relationship with InterContinental Hotels, which owns Holiday Inn, and when I mentioned this project to them last spring, they wanted to be a part of it. We came up with a really cool project: We’re going to try to stay at every Holiday Inn Resort in America this summer. We’ll see if we can do it. Meantime, you can stay two weekend nights this summer at its hotels and get $75 to play. Get the details here.

In addition, we’re receiving support from Allianz, which is our exclusive travel insurance provider. Allianz welcomed us to their Richmond, Va., headquarters last summer and gave us an insider’s view on how travel insurance works. Here’s more on Allianz.

Hertz Rent-a-Car is providing our transportation. We’ve known the folks at Hertz for years. They get it, and they have cool cars. We just picked one up this afternoon from the airport, a VW Jetta featuring its clean diesel system. Goes 600 miles on a tank of gas. You can find out more about Hertz and its green collection at the Hertz website.

The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association has offered us essential support for this road trip in the form of RVs and trailers. We love the idea of a home away from home, and look forward to testing an RV later this year. Check out its website, GoRVing, for details.

The Vacation Rental Managers Association will be sponsoring our vacation rental accommodations. VRMA is one of our original sponsors, and without them, we would almost certainly not be here. We really see the value in staying at a professionally-managed vacation rental. Here’s more information about VRMA.

Travelpro is our official luggage supplier. For over two decades, Travelpro has prided itself on design innovation and durability in crafting the highest quality luggage for the experienced traveler. What’s more, Kari and I both used Travelpro luggage long before they became a sponsor, and like the other supporters of Away is Home, we will continue to do so after this project is over.

What sponsorship means. We’re incredibly grateful for the support of our sponsors. Generally speaking, our supporters are happy that we also use their products, and they want us to talk about how we use them while we’re traveling.

So when you see us online talking about our Hertz car or our VRMA vacation rental, we will ID them as a sponsor and maybe tell you a little bit about how we’re using the product while we’re traveling. That’s it.

What it doesn’t mean. We maintain a strict separation between this site and our other projects. This can’t (and won’t) affect any coverage on my other sites or editorial outlets, or Kari’s.

In an ideal world, we would not need to find sponsors (ah, wouldn’t it be great to have a trust fund?) and we’d have the wherewithal to finance this trip independently. Not these road trippers.

Even if we could, we probably would be covering it in much the same way — talking about many of the same products and going to the same places. To us, that means we’ve found the right partners for this trip.

Interested in becoming a sponsor? Send us an email  for more information.