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Travel

Day 745 and Restless Travelers Scrolling

Coming of age in the golden era of digital hospitality had an enormous effect on my expectations for flexibility on the road. I rarely book ahead, I never worry about finding a place to stay, I overpack luxuries and I am always uncomfortably on the hunt for my personal totemic signifiers of safety. You need things on the road to keep your rituals intact so you don’t drift.

I know how to search for a place to rest and I restlessly pursue it on the road. Singles browse dating apps like I browse Airbnb. I spot red flags on apartment listings like a woman who has been on one too many bad dates.

I spent much of my childhood traveling. My most potent recurring nightmare is packing for a trip that never arrives. I have lived in a perpetual state of readiness to get up and leave. I bring endless tiny compacts and one singular pair of high heeled shoes for a night out I never go on. I am ready for glamour on the road but all I find is the anxiety of instability.

It’s this perpetual readiness to flee that has made me an exceptionally good picker of hotels, rental units, vacation homes and other short term stays. I couldn’t afford a deposit for an apartment in New York for so long that I could find an under-market illegal sublet on Craigslist on a moment’s notice. It’s a handy skill set.

Naturally I’ve come to take this talent for granted as I’ve cultivated it. I’m confident that I’ll pick a decent rental because I can spot issues from miles away. I admit I’ve looked down on complaints about how bad Airbnb has become. I thought I’d avoid the quality control issues. It’s no longer a better value than hotels generally speaking but the real crime is that it’s troubles are not worth the hassle for many. It’s not seamless like a branded hotel.

I felt the hassle was worth it for the comforts of home on the road. But I think I’ve crossed my personal Rubicon on Airbnb in Prague. I won’t default to it any longer. The costs are now basically identical. You’ve got to weigh the costs of friction against having your life a bit disturbed. Hotels specialize in hospitality. It’s probably worth remembering.

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Travel

Day 713 and Travel Logistics

I’m planning my first international trip since we moved to Montana. I will be going to Prague for a couple weeks in January if you happen to be around. And the logistics are very much only for experienced travelers.

I’ve not yet had to fly out through the Bozeman Airport but Alex tells me it is easy and straight forward. We have many short hops to international airports. The real issue seems to be that with a pilot shortage getting out of hand, arranging layovers eats up more of your travel time. Airlines are less able to do hub banking with their flights so I will be enjoying a six hour layover in Munich. Finally all my German lessons on Duolingo will get a property stress test.

I love optimizing for Airbnbs when I travel. I have a lot of little details that I look for when I’m going to be somewhere long enough to settle in. For instance, I like to cook my own meals. I like to be walking distance to a grocery store so I can pick up ingredients and cook when the mood strikes. That can be trickier if you are staying in a downtown area. So I look to be near the major neighborhoods but maybe just a bit off the beaten path.

I managed this quite well in Frankfurt last year where I was a short 10 minute walk to a high end grocery store in one direction while also being only 15 minutes from the main shopping area and farmers market in the other. I didn’t take a single cab or Uber the entire time except to get to the airport. It was absolutely perfect planning for enjoying living as if Frankfurt were my home.

I think I’ve achieved this for Prague. I found a cute spot that is equidistant to to most of the sights I want to see as well as the errand and obligations on my itinerary. I am yet again attempting to help someone with an American visa so I wanted to be near the embassy. But the embassy row isn’t much for other amenities like grocery and nightlife so I found a spot on a small park next to all the crucial shops. I am excited so if you have suggestions I am all ears.