Lessons in VRBOing

During my time as a digital content producer for Lowe’s Home Improvement, I traveled to some really cool cities and had an amazing “local” experience – thanks to sites like VRBO and HomeAway. Here’s what I learned.

 

  1. Research the neighborhood BEFORE you book.

People are fantastic house flippers – which means you must look at more than the property itself. In some neighborhoods, one street made a WORLD of difference. Take Google Earth for a spin around the hood; ask friends; poll your social channels. It’s better to do the legwork on the front end instead of trying to get out of a bad situation at the last minute.

  1. Arrive early, if possible.

Many owners allow for early check-in if they can manage it. This gives you plenty of time to set up, buy groceries and get oriented.

  1. Most importantly . . . run the hot water.

If you don’t, your first shower – which is the one you’re most desperate for after a day of travel – could be lukewarm. And that’s a real buzzkill. Just turn on the hot water while you’re looking around. (Believe. I learned this lesson the hard way – more than once.)

  1. Inventory the property on arrival.

Typically, you wouldn’t think to check for an extra blanket until you wake up cold in the middle of the night. Do it when you arrive and save yourself the shock that there isn’t one. When you know early, you can contact the homeowner or property manager for additional supplies.

  1. Unpack right away.

If you’re staying more than a few days, settle in and make yourself at home. That’s why you chose a rental over a hotel, anyway, right?

  1. Mind your senses.

Sensitive to light and sound? An eye mask and good earplugs will save your sanity. Sensitive to smell? Carry some dryer sheets or room spray along with you to give the place your scent. You know how you like to live. Make accommodations for your preferences.

  1. Be willing to live a little differently.

Settle into the experience and know that it’s not going to be “just like home.” Simply set your mind to savor the unique aspects of each new property and make the most of it. You can do almost anything for two weeks – even if it means washing your own dishes in the sink. (Surprise!)

All told, I absolutely loved my rental experiences because I could live like a local. Plus, I could enjoy bonuses like having more space than a hotel room and buying my own groceries so I didn’t have to eat out every meal.

Just be sure to practice patience when you travel this way. Unlike hotels, every property, every owner and every management team differs. And they may not have any idea that their extra blankets walked away! So, when/if this happens, communicate openly and honestly about your accommodations, but mind your manners. Most people are more than happy to help you have a comfortable stay.

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Jesus Take the Wheel

My brain misfires sometimes . . . often, in the form of old song lyrics, loud and off-key, while performing mundane tasks. Read: cleaning, taxes, trips to the grocery store. (Much to the chagrin of other shoppers.) During my latest outburst, I channeled some good ol’ Carrie Underwood, “Jesus take the wheeeeeeeel, take it from my hands, I can’t do this on my own.”

And it hit me – it doesn’t matter if Jesus takes the wheel if I don’t get my foot off the brake.

Sit with that for a minute, because I’ve been sitting with it for a couple of weeks now.

Now, I know that my friends don’t procrastinate. I mean, my friends are ON IT. But, me? Well, I’m a bit of a dawdler. Especially when it comes to my “real” work. (Which, I’ll admit, I’ve yet to absolutely define, but know it has nothing to do with a 9 to 5. That’s why I’m asking for guidance from above.)

I believe we all have the capacity to hear what the Bible calls the small, still voice. In I Kings, it says God isn’t in the fire or the earthquake, but in a gentle whisper. But, in my life, sometimes it’s a hurricane of whispers. Mostly because I have trouble listening the first time. (What child actually listens the first time?!?!? “If I have to tell you one more time, I’mma come over there and . . . )

So, what’s a girl to do when the whisper is with me?

Yogi Bhajan’s second Sutra for the Aquarian Age says, “When the time is on you, start, and the pressure will be off.

So, I start. I lace up my sneakers, I sit down at the keyboard, I go to the grocery store to buy veggies. I start. And, I start. And, I start again . . . because, I stop.

That’s why the hurricane of whispers and inklings and desires – because they’re all pushing me in the right direction. They’re all serving to steer me to the right path if I’ll stop, process and act on the divine guidance I receive.

You see, Jesus always HAD the wheel. He always steered me towards the right people, the right places and the right circumstances to get me where I need to go.

The trouble is that in the times I made the least progress, I’ve had my foot on the brake!!!

Today, I’m beginning again, and again, and again. I listen for the small, still voice and inch forward with tiny acts because I believe there are far better things before me than behind me.

If you want to go on this journey, hop in. Jesus has the wheel . . . and I promise I’ll try not to clothesline you with my arm if (when) I slam on the brakes again!