Tag Archives: travel

I Spent Six Nights at AirBnBs and This Is What I Learned

I am a Luddite Lite when it comes to advances in technology and the digital economy: I embrace some of it and am confused or skeptical about the rest.

I am a dedicated Facebook poster but use Twitter occasionally. I don’t really understand SnapChat, Instagram and Reddit, and therefore don’t use them.

I am fine with ordering stuff online but I don’t get the attraction of Uber. What is wrong with hailing a cab?

So it was with a bit of trepidation that my wife coaxed me into using Airbnb for the first time — for six nights in a row.

For those unfamiliar with Airbnb, it is a digital service in which you book a stay at a stranger’s home.

You can arrange for one or multiple nights and you pay a charge that varies by location, amenities, etc.

You show up and then hope you do not wake up in a bathtub full of ice and missing a kidney!

Haha! Just kidding (mostly) about that last part.

Really, it’s more like a one-night stand minus the sex.

My argument against staying at Airbnbs was: What’s wrong with staying at hotels? You know, those places with fresh towels, privacy and a bathroom you don’t have to share with other guests?

But being the adventurous sort (read: Meg convinced me this would be a good idea), I agreed.

It was a little weird.

In five of the six places we stayed, the hosts were there to greet us and engage us in happy conversation. It was like we had a babysitter.

I felt a little creepy like we were peeking at how people live, how they decorate and what they stock in their refrigerators and pantries.

It’s roughly the equivalent of a party guest snooping in your medicine cabinet but in this case there is some expectation that, as an Airbnb host, parts of your life will be on display.

As a dutiful guest, you make sure you clean your dishes, tidy the bed and leave things in good order.

There is an incentive to make sure you do: You write a review about where you stayed and the hosts review you – all of which is shared on the website.

It is a bit like having your school report card made public.

The hosts were warm, engaging and very accommodating.

But when I told a friend about our trip, he was stunned that most of the hosts were there during our stays. He thought they cleared out in advance of our arrival.

When I told him they wanted to engage us in conversation, he said: “No way. I don’t like people. I don’t want to talk to them. This is not a making friends tour.”

To some degree, I have to agree. The benefit of a hotel is you don’t have to worry about being social, you can come and go and not fear disturbing other guests and the mess you leave is the responsibility of housekeeping.

I would score the Airbnb experience as different but as with any trip away, I’ve got to say there’s no place like home.


My Travel Travails With a Teenage Daughter

Traveling with a teenage daughter is an experience.

Traveling with me is no picnic either.

I am no world-class traveler by any measure, and I get so nervous and anxious going through TSA security at the airports that on a recent trip I was stressing over my belt, shoes, jacket and my quart bag of three ounces of liquids, that I forgot to remove my laptop from my backpack.

Consequently, my bag was placed to the side after being scanned and then it had to go through a complete bag check.

At least we were early for this flight.

But now I had to wait for security to empty my bag and swipe test the contents since I was obviously trying to hide something in my aging laptop.

This was all very embarrassing but the TSA agent was quick and did not judge.

I did not have to submit to a body search, although I did have clean underwear on.

My daughter handles this much better than me, but dealing with all the items and paraphernalia that she packs for her hair and hygiene is astounding. She avoids the carry-on 3 ounce rule by checking her suitcase with all that stuff in it.

Speaking of that, our hotel bathroom sink and shower was strewn with all of her stuff.

My black bag of personal bathroom items was neatly confined to one corner of the sink and I used the soap and shampoo provided by the hotel to save on what I needed to bring.

Maybe I should book my own room next time, even on a different floor maybe?

The rest of the room also belonged to her: suitcase open on the floor, clothes flopping out, desk covered with her stuff, etc.

I felt sorry for the maid service.

I, in turn, hung my shirts, and kept the rest of my clothes in drawers or in my closed suitcase on a table.

Catching our flight home was an adventure.

It was an early flight, but it took her so long to pack that I blame her for missing our flight by one minute.

She blames me.

Here’s how it went.

Drive to airport.

Dad misses drop-off sign and takes the car rental into the employee only area.

Daughter did point this out (to her credit) but you know how Dads are — don’t question us!

Had to turn around and head back to drop-off.

Five minutes lost.

Check her bag, then onto crowded security check, 15 minutes until last call for flight.

Get through that, run to the gate while holding my pants up, as I did not have time to put my damn belt back on.

I can see the plane through the windows.

My daughter literally got there a minute after the posted gate close time.  Door was closed and we were not allowed through.

Missed the flight.

At least her bag will get there on time.

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Thanksgiving Travel: It’s In the Bag

Thanksgiving Day, the whole family is together.

My son is home from college, my daughter is making cookies and we just finished preparing the candied yams to bring to the family feast at my brother’s house.

Running late as usual, I think we can finally start heading to the van.

Wait. My oldest daughter is still not dressed after running the hair dryer for what seems like the past hour in the bathroom.

“C’mon! Let’s go!” I can’t believe this. We have a two-hour drive and we needed to leave an hour ago.

Van packed and ready: yams, cookies, and a bottle of Fireball to share with my bro’.

Finally on the road, the two youngest girls in the back, college boy and oldest daughter in the middle row, all with their respective devices and ear-buds, and the lovely wife riding shotgun.

Running late and moving along quickly, my son scarfs down a couple of snack bags of chips since he didn’t have any breakfast.

That’s when things started to leave the rails.

I am not sure how the chips hit his stomach — maybe with the bouncing of the van — but I hear a cough behind me, a wet gurgling cough that erupts with a force of expulsion (can you just hear that?) that prompts me to ask if he is OK.

He says he is OK. He caught the up-chuck into the empty bag of chips.

Ugghh!! Oh! And then the smell!

His sister next to him starts dry heaving and we need to crack the windows open.

Before we can find a place to dump the puke, my youngest in the back starts to heave.

Here I am, driving and looking in the rear view. I see her cover her mouth with her hands, and as everyone knows, that never works.

The next thing I hear is “blarghhh!” and my other daughter screaming and, oh, that smell again!

Oh my God! Open the windows!

Now I’m seriously looking for a place to stop. Luckily, we find a convenience store and pull in. Everyone jumped out, except for the puker.

I didn’t even check the damage and went right into the store and bought lemon-scented cleaner, wipes, air freshener, garbage bags and a roll of paper towels.

Got back to the van and opened the door. I wanted to scream.

Actually, I did scream.

I didn’t know where to start: The back seat, the floor, her pants, her jacket, even her ear-buds! I started spraying, wiping and tossing it all into a garbage bag.

Repeat, repeat, repeat, and repeat some more.

Finally made it to my brother’s house just in time for the Thanksgiving meal. I can’t believe what I just went through but I am thankful for surviving it and still being able to spend time with my family.

And yes, I think I’ll need to trade that van in a lot sooner than I first thought.