On February 1st, we arrived at our first Airbnb in Gainesville. It’s a cool little mid-century modern gem located walking distance to downtown and close to our favorite nature preserve. We were happily anticipating five weeks of relaxing and enjoying the abundant nature and cultural opportunities that Gainesville offers.
The reality has not been quite so idyllic, LOL.
When Reality Doesn’t Live Up To The Reviews
We opened the door, and I thought, “This is cute!” And then I looked closer, and thought, “This is disgusting!” The shower tile grout was thick with mold, there were giant balls of dog hair rolling around the terrazzo floors, elaborate spider nests festooned each corner, and the freezer had three inches of ice. The cockroach stuck to the front of the stove just about put me over the edge.
We’ve stayed in Airbnbs a half-dozen times over the years, and I know what to look for. Places that are attractive in good locations catch my eye, but a high rating for cleanliness is always at the top of my list.
Something obviously went wrong here.
Endless Days Of Cleaning
It was late afternoon and we had just driven 200 miles. I took pictures of the nastiness and sent a message to the owner. I will spare you those photos.
I told the owner the place was cute, but not the standard of cleanliness I expected from her stellar reviews. She was apologetic. Apparently, she had recently undergone knee surgery and her husband took over the cleaning. (He clearly needs to go to cleaning school.) We settled on a refund of the cleaning fee and the pet fee, and she agreed to have to have the area rugs steam cleaned. I set to work.
I cleaned every square inch of the apartment, including pulling out the appliances and cleaning behind them, defrosting the freezer, killing the mold in the shower, cleaning the air conditioning filter, and washing the terrazzo floors and baseboards on my hands and knees. It took me three exhausting days. I figure I made about $2 an hour for my efforts.
Meanwhile, Eric worked in our trailer on the street, preparing it for its final trip to the consignment lot. He meticulously cleaned it, made a few small repairs, and even polished the cabinets, giving it a loving send-off.
Saying Goodbye To Our RV
In late 2014, we bought our 27-foot Arctic Fox travel trailer, upgrading from our previous 21-foot Bigfoot trailer. It was perfect for our full-time travels, with all of the comforts of home. But we realized last summer that we no longer need such a big trailer.
Of course, after seeing our Airbnb, I had doubts about about giving up our comfortable, well-organized, and CLEAN trailer. But for a variety of reasons, we know it’s time to let go. It’s too big, it’s 10 years old and some expensive things could start to fail, and I’m not comfortable towing it, which means Eric has been the sole driver. (Actually, I would have towed it, but Eric was not happy that I only wanted to drive 45 miles an hour and refused to pass anyone, haha!!)
So with sadness, and much gratitude for nine years of glorious travels in our Arctic Fox, we bid our trailer a fond farewell.
Experimenting With A Different Style Of Travel
We’re in an in-between phase in our lives right now. We know for sure that we want to keep traveling, but we’re not certain as to whether or not we’re going to get another trailer.
We’re experimenting with long-term travel in Airbnbs. Which of course, requires fitting all of our belongings into a vehicle, including Magnolia, her cat tree, her catio, and all of our paraphernalia. And we want to downsize to a vehicle smaller than our truck.
This is my fear:
We Have Too Much Stuff
In planning for our Airbnb experiment, we pared down what we usually carry in our trailer to what we thought we might need for long term Airbnb living.
We brought our own cookware and utensils, because we don’t want to be stuck with ancient Teflon pans. We brought our own pillows, because…pillows. And of course, we brought our clothing, computers, cameras, and personal items. Our favorite gooseneck electric kettle and coffee grinder also made it into the category of “essentials for daily living.” And 16 jars of various herbs and spices (that’s half of what we usually have). Don’t laugh.
Once we hauled everything in from our trailer, we were appalled at how much we had. Witness my clothing below. It is ridiculous. And that doesn’t include what is hanging in the closet. The pile on the left will continue to travel to Airbnbs, and the pile on the right will go into storage until we get settled in our tiny house.
How in the heck did we fit so much stuff into our RV?
Between deep cleaning, dealing with our overabundance of stuff, trying to get organized, and recovering from selling our home and moving out, we are just now feeling settled into this Airbnb. Obviously, we have a big learning curve for Airbnb-style travel.
P.S. Despite all of the work to get settled, we’ve been getting out every day for long walks, exploring the nearby nature preserves, and finding all of the cool stuff there is to do in Gainesville. We’re happy to be here!
Click on photos for a larger image