Imagine this…..you’re sitting in a complete stranger’s living room, having just met them 2 1/2 hours ago and you are completely at home, un-self-conscious and comfortably chatting away with your new acquaintance/friend. I did just that last week as I made an impromptu trip up to the Mendocino coast in Northern California.
I was reading an article in some magazine a couple of weeks ago (around Nov 9th) about Mendocino and recalled how much I loved it the two times I’d visited with the was-band. I had the entire Thanksgiving week off and thought, what the hell, take a road trip. I’ll do a post of pics on the quaint hamlet of Mendocino in the future, as well as Carmel Valley Village, but this post is about spontaneity, and becoming an Airbnb convert! I planned and booked everything in a couple of days and left on Nov 20th.
I’ve rented apartments all over the world through VRBO, done home exchanges and would highly recommend both. My kids & friends have both done Airbnb, but I’d never booked with them. I’ve had an account for awhile, but opted for VRBO in the past because I was renting an entire place, not just a room. It seems a little scary, as a single woman over 50, just plopping yourself in someone else’s home, but, again, what the hell! It’s cheaper and why not meet new people along the way. I was not disappointed!
I checked out my Mendocino options on Airbnb and found “cozy cottage,” which sounded like just the place. My host could not have been nicer. She welcomed me into her home, showed the rooms available to me (living room, kitchen and my bedroom) and we sat down to share a bottle of wine. It’s amazing how much we shared in a matter of minutes…and then hours. What an interesting life she’d led….choreographer, producer, jewelry designer & world traveler…in her 71 years. It was off to bed for me and she stayed up and watched a movie. I wear ear-plugs to bed so I never heard a thing. I was up & out early, spending the day exploring a few coastal cities, but looked forward to chatting with her again that evening. Probably the most surprising thing for me was how comfortable it was just sitting in her living room reading, while she assembled some of her jewelry that had sold at a recent show. Sure, I could have holed-up in my room, but I would have robbed myself of a great experience and great new friend….that ended up not-scary at all.
The next day was another early up and out to head down south to my second Airbnb experience in Paso Robles at “inviting ranch home.” I stopped in Alameda to see and have lunch with my friend MK at one of our favorite restaurants, Burma Superstar. If you’re ever in Alameda you have to go! …there’s also one in Oakland and San Francisco. After a lovely, quick visit I continued on to Paso. I didn’t get there until 4:30, my host didn’t get home until 5:30ish and I was only spending one night there. It had been a long drive and day, but we sat and chatted while we each ate our dinners and then I retired a bit early to my room to watch the recorded Dancing with the Stars finale show that I had missed the night before. (There was no wifi or cell service in the Mendocino house, so I had some catching up to do with emails, etc…) Although I didn’t get as much time to chat with her as my Mendocino host because I was so tired, I definitely wouldn’t hesitate to stay with her again as she was a nice interesting person who collects antiques….which I love.
So…my synopsis of the whole Airbnb experience? Not scary, you can engage with your host as much or as little as you desire, and I think I’d like to try being a host too…maybe just once a month for a weekend? Both women said they met some really interesting people from all over the world and that’s something I’d love. A few things I learned for next time….
- Be clear on your approximate arrival time. I told both hosts that I’d call when I was about an hour away. That doesn’t quite work in all places, since there was no cell service west of the 101 freeway on my way to Mendocino and I had to go to a coffee shop to use their wifi to figure out logistics. It was just kind of irresponsible of me to think someone would just be sitting around waiting for their guests arrival….it’s not a hotel! (I knew there was no wifi in her house, but if that’s important to you, make sure to check the fine print and house rules.)
- I’d probably bring some groceries and maybe cook. I wasn’t sure how it all worked, but both women gave me carte blanche in their kitchens. Of course I wasn’t in either place long enough to do much cooking, but I got a feel for how the process works (I kind of thought maybe you just go to your designated room and didn’t interact much with the owners…wow, was I wrong!)
- I think I’d stay longer in one place to really get to know my host. They were both so nice and it’s hard to get to know someone and still explore your chosen vacation spot.
This was a quick getaway and I’ve learned that I love the Airbnb idea! Just the thought gets my mind thinking of where to go next!
You cannot direct the wind, but you can adjust the sails!
…off topic, but my family Thanksgiving was FAB…I hope yours was too!…a couple of pics….
How fun! We took a cue from Kate and Austin, and have just put our apartment on Airbnb–no use in sitting empty while we are traveling. We welcome our first guest this weekend: excited to see how it works out!
I think you’ll really enjoy the process and meeting new people..Fun!!
Pork curry and coconut rice, rainbow salad! I can taste it now.