What to Bring When You Run Away From Home

    To make our vacation rental feel more like home, we packed a few of our favorite things from a coffee maker to light bulbs to a 5G router.

    Last week we left Los Angeles having sold our home of 7 years, putting most of our big stuff into long-term storage, packed up the car, and headed to the mountains of Utah. Over the next 9 days I stayed in 3 Airbnbs and 3 hotels. We are now in a somewhat anonymous 1970s condo on the side of a mountain for what will hopefully be the next 4 months. It’s quiet, it’s calm, and altogether different than living in downtown LA. We even have a small gurgling stream just out back.

    Having done a test run on this sort of out-of-office lifestyle in the spring, we had learned a few lessons. My general rule, pre-Covid as well as now, is that stays of under 4 days are best done in a hotel. I love hotels. They are run by professionals. They have teams of people at corporate headquarters who obsess about how to do the thing they were designed to do: give the guest a good night’s sleep in a safe, clean, pleasing environment. That means a great bed, quiet room, black-out curtains, and climate control. All the other amenities are great, but a hotel must absolutely get that stuff right. The best hotels are dreamily cinematic, dropping the guest into another world altogether, but even moderately priced business traveler hotels are predictably comfortable. 

    Not All LEDs Are Created Equal

    Vacation rentals, on the other hand, are less predictable. The first thing we did in ours here was replace all the light bulbs. All 3 of the vacation rentals I have recently been in have lighting suitable for a Super Max prison: 5500k LED lights. They are horrible. Besides making everyone look like a ghoul with their blue light, they are also exactly what one does not want to be looking at anywhere near bedtime as they will seriously disrupt one’s circadian rhythms. I get the long-term cost savings of using an LED bulb, but not all LEDs are the same. We changed ours to 2800k color temperature, and the whole place felt much more livable. My motto: if you don’t like it, customize it. 

    Items to Make the Space More “Us”

    Based on some of our previous learnings, we brought a number of things with us that instantly make any place we land in more “us.”

    Sonos One for music. The current condo has no less than 5 TVs, but not a single way to play music. Do people really need to have a TV in every room, but have no interest in listening to music? 

    Our own 5G router. Most rental wifi is the bare minimum and, if you are like us and on Zoom calls all day, you need a solid signal. We plug ours into the ethernet out-plug of the condo’s router and then all of our devices can use our very reliable home network. Bonus tip: no resetting of passwords. 

    Apple TV. Now we can watch Netflix, Amazon Video and YouTube. I plug it in replacing with an HDMI cable replacing the cableTV box.

    A good knife. We cook constantly and the knives in the rentals are generally flimsy and dull.

    Coffee maker. This is a pro move. These rentals will have a Mr Coffee or similar drip machine circa 1990. We brought our prized Breville Barista Express and use it several times a day. To travel it, we placed it into a garbage bag and strapped it into the back seat with a seat belt. No problems at all transporting our helpful coffee pet.

    Vitamix. If the rental has a blender it will probably not be up to the task of making my daily smoothie. We would kill a blender that thought it was born to just make an occasional margarita. 

    Books. I do a lot of writing, and for that writing I need reference material. Kindle was never my jam, so I brought 2 banker’s boxes of books with me. Because I devour reading material, I will probably have twice this by the time we leave here.

    Cords. Lots and lots of extension cords, power cords, and plug adapters. Our current place was built pre-code in 1977, and the electric is primitive — as in, a single outlet per room. An electric inspector would be horrified.

    Alessi Pepper grinder. I just like the way ours looks. It makes me happy to see it.

    Pillows, sheets and comforter. You just never know with these sort of places…

    Bowls. We eat almost all of our meals out of these 2 bowls that we got for Valentine’s Day 10 years ago. Another “it makes me happy” item.

    Printer. The rentals will never have a printer. It is not that we often need one, but when you do need one it can be a real problem, especially during Covid.

    Lots of clothes, coats and shoes. Because we don’t really know when we will return, or where we will be traveling over the next year, we brought a lot. During the spring test trip here I didn’t bring much, and ended up actually wearing things out. Not this time. Oh no, we are fully suited for all weather and occasions. Bring it on. 


    David Stewart
    David Stewart
    David is the founder and face of AGEIST. He is an expert on, and a passionate champion of the emerging global over-50 lifestyle. A dynamic speaker, he is available for panels, keynotes and informational talks at david@agei.st.

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