Open letter to an Airbnb rental

Dear Airbnb Rental

We’ve known you for what seems like years. We’d meet for the occasional weekend getaway or at most a week-long stay while on vacation. Sometimes it is just us, but you’ve also been there when we’re traveling with a big group of friends or family. There’s just something about a home away from home we find more appealing than a Hotel. Honestly, for the longest time that was where we wanted to leave the boundaries of our relationship. Renting an entire home or apartment meant the space was ours, even if it was only temporary. At least that’s what we used to think. In the past year, our relationship with you has changed, become more intimate. I can’t say we’re exclusive, we do get a Hotel from time to time, but only because it is convenient for a quick overnight stay. And I know we’ve been seeing more House-sits. Trust us that it is only a work thing. Being with you has not only become more frequent, but we’ve also broken our own rules about how we see you. Renting a room in a host’s home was scary at first, but with greater risk can come great reward.

I’m sure you’re wondering why the change of heart. We might as well just come out and say it. In the last year we’ve become Nomads. Don’t worry, we haven’t joined a clan of Bedouins and we don’t own a camel. While it does mean we no longer have a permanent home, we have no desire to camp in the desert. Instead of roaming the countryside in search of food or fresh pasture for livestock, modern day Nomads travel the globe looking for experiences in new cultures. I can understand if you’ve never heard of us, our numbers are relatively small. To put things in perspective, a few years ago renting out a spare room to a complete stranger you met on the internet was a pretty obscure concept as well.

We like where this relationship has taken us. In the last twelve months, we’ve met up more than 25 times in over 10 different countries. We’ve encountered countless hosts who open their homes not just for monetary gain, but also for the love of meeting new travelers from different walks of life. Occasionally they will also want to have a tea or cocktail or share a meal with us to learn about our travels. This interaction has been very rewarding and something that rarely happened with a full house rental. These hosts are often a wealth of local knowledge, giving insight into how the locals live their lives and can direct us to restaurants, events and attractions off the common tourist track.

In every relationship there comes a time where it needs to change and mature, or it will wither on the vine. As Nomads, our number one need in an accommodation is comfort. This will differentiate us from other guests you may encounter. We often stay in one place for weeks or even months at a time and it becomes our temporary home. Idiosyncrasies that a normal tourist may see as “cute” or “kitschy” become annoying when dealing with them day in and day out. We don’t want to say the honeymoon is over, but there are some things that we need to discuss before they become a real problem.

Being perpetually on the road, we are literally living out of our suitcases. When settling into a place for an extended period of time, the first thing we want to do is unpack a bit. Giving your guests a place to do that helps to start things off on the right foot. All we ask for is a couple of drawers in the bedroom and a shelf or two in the bathroom. That isn’t too much, is it? If a kitchen is part of the deal, of course we would like space there as well. We understand your collection of knickknacks from around the world are likely dear to you and key to the décor. If they occupy key storage space and there are no other alternatives, we will be gentle when moving them out of our way. Sorry if that sounds cold.

It saddens me that I have to even mention this, bathrooms are a necessity and should be treated as such. Shared bathrooms are inconvenient and should be avoided at all costs. Allocating a half-bath to be exclusively for the guests’ use while maintaining a shared bath/shower (or an even stranger arrangement where the opposite is true) is really only half a solution. Retrofitting an en suite bathroom into part of the bedroom must be approached with caution as a cramped bathroom is almost worse than no bathroom at all. For washing one’s hands, the space saving powder room half or corner sink is ideal. However, any advanced maneuver will result in more water on the floor than goes down the drain. Finally, be honest in the listing when the bathroom is on a different floor than the bedroom. Some need multiple bathroom trips throughout the night and navigating a ladder or narrow staircase while half asleep is a recipe for disaster.

If a kitchen is offered, assume that it may be used to cook a meal or two. Nomads eat enough meals from restaurants, street vendors and the grocery store ready to eat aisle. This gets expensive, both from a monetary and health standpoint. An electric kettle and microwave isn’t sufficient for anything more than the local equivalent of a cup of tea and a frozen burrito. We don’t always expect to be able to whip up a gourmet meal, but with a hotplate and sufficiently large sauce pan we can dine on a mean plate of spaghetti. Outfitting a kitchen can be expensive and giving second hand kitchen gadgets a new home makes a lot of sense. Knives barely sharp enough to cut warm butter, toasters with only two settings (off and burnt), and coffee makers that produce a little coffee with your cup of grounds should be permanently retired.

Laundry facilities are a welcome bonus when we can get them. Coming from the States means that we’re unfamiliar with the concept of air drying our clothes, but we’re slowly getting the hang of it (pun painfully intended). However, it does require that a clothes line or rack is provided. Clothes washers and other appliances for that matter are notoriously cryptic with only symbols emblazoned on their many switches, buttons, knobs and dials. Please make it easy on us by providing a cheat sheet with the simplest “get clothes clean” settings.

We live in a modern age where much of our work, entertainment and communication happens online. In fact, that is how we found each other in the first place. Imagine the irony when during our stay the internet speeds are so slow that even checking email is painful. If you can’t reliably provide connectivity, don’t list it as one of your amenities.

It feels good to get all of that off our chest. Like we said, this is just a chance to air some concerns that you may not even be aware of. I hope you don’t think us too high maintenance, because we really do want to see this relationship flourish. Finding you is by far the best thing that’s happened to us and we couldn’t imagine living Nomadically without you.

With love

Can Do Latitude (Bob and Fara)

2 Replies to “Open letter to an Airbnb rental”

  1. Hi Bod and Fara, I got a new ‘cloths dryer’ designed for Ireland. The greenhouse now has a door 🙂 I take all your points as valid items and as a Airbnb host I fully understand from kitchen to bathrooms and every other point mentioned. When I added my home to Airbnb it explicitly asks if the bathroom is ‘en-suite’ or shared. In my case ‘shared’ with other guests as I do not want to fit a bathroom into a cupboard.

    A Cara, a friend, keep smiling and have fun on your travels.

    1. Hey Paul!
      Don’t worry, none of my “suggestions” were directed at you personally. You and several other hosts we’ve encountered on our travels have got it figured out and are head and shoulders above the others I’m targeting here. Keep up the great work and your hospitality and kindness will be repaid many times over. You will always have a friend where ever Fara and I end up landing. See you next time we’re in your part of Ireland.

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