My kids are developing mad skills for the future by living from Airbnb to Airbnb.
Or the human side of an automated world.
The time is 7:45 AM, the place doesn’t matter for the purpose of this story, what matters is what needs to happen between then and 10 ish AM. It is the check-out time, a departure from a place we have been calling home for approximately five days. Ideally, most of the packing happened the night before, so the time and energy only go to the last minute things. There is a sense of nostalgia kicking in, a feeling of “man, I was finally getting used to the sounds, the location of things — like the door or the bathroom, the smells, etc. and now we must go.” We get a rush, to make sure we leave everything like it was when we arrived, and to not leave anything precious behind. Once most things are packed, cleaned and ready, we begin preparing food to take on the road. In some instances, depending on where we are, we might go grab one last cup of coffee at the corner bakery to say bye to the waitress we have gotten to know, or the paleta store down the street to thank them for helping our oldest daughter have dairy-free ice cream, and in the case of our latest home, to ride “our” bikes one last time. As we get ready to walk out the door, the kids do a last run through to check every drawer, closet, and under each bed, to make sure we got everything. And sometimes, when we are fortunate enough to have the host live nearby, we even get to do a selfie with them, and dream up places to meet up around the world.
While all of this is happening, my digital nomad kids are building up some mad human skills I had never dreamed they would develop at such young age (6, 8 and 11.) Skills they would never learn in school or by staying in their comfort zone. I believe these will come in super handy in the future when a lot of daily tasks become automated or ran by robots…
Respect and Reciprocity.
Because Airbnb is based on a ratings system it becomes important to follow rules, go beyond the expected, understand needs, and behave with care and love. Do onto others what you like done onto you. What a great concept, simple, yet so hard for people and even governments to embrace/implement. Sometimes I wonder, could Airbnb become a nation? I would move there in a heartbeat.
My heart melts everytime I hear my kids telling one another to be mindful of the things in the houses we rent. It is obvious they are embracing this idea of having fun and being free while playing by the rules. It wasn’t easy at the beginning, but being exposed to this system, has helped them understand this concept clearly. ❤
Curiosity and exploration.
Every new encounter with a host and a new place demands asking questions, actively listening, and exploring beyond what we are used to. As new things and situations tend to be, they help us become more aware of what we don’t know and feel comfortable asking questions and not knowing all the answers. From something as simple as turning on the shower to something as complex as finding the right subway connections.
They get to see it and experience first hand with every doorstep they cross. Mainly from the owners of the places we rent, who believe in a system that requires people to be good to others; and also from themselves.
Planning with Intuition.
Before we reserve a new home, we spend time with the kids searching for the our ideal one, one that meets our needs: There is a grocery store nearby as we like to eat at home, the kitchen is well equipped, there are at least 5 beds and 2 bedrooms, the wifi is good (this only happens 50% of the time, yet every host will claim their internet is good), there is a park or an area for runners, and there is a hospital nearby because our oldest girl has a severe anaphylactic allergy to dairy. Once we find something we like, we then begin to research the area, read reviews, and start communicating with the host. We never instantly book a place without connecting with the host first. It is our veting system, it is amazing how much you can tell about a person by reading a few of their lines.
Negotiation and Storytelling.
Our budget is $120/night, and it is 6 of us! Because we are running this world exploration on our own dime, we have become pretty good at sticking to our limitations around spending. This includes sharing our story with hosts so they can help us stay within our price range. We send them personal notes that include our adventure, travel plans and learnings. The kids are also part of this process and have learned ways to share their reflections of being worldschooled with the hosts.
Vulnerability and Empathy.
Moving so much stretches anyone beyond their comfort zone. For kids (although it is more true for the adults in the group,) this can be challenging sometimes, as getting used to a place involves many emotions and feelings. Being able to identify and express them has become part of our operating system as we move from place to place. Setting the culture and acknowledging that at times a new place might be stressful or nostalgic for one or a few in the group.
Being Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable.
This works in both senses of the word; the physical and the emotional comfort. The first night always comes with light sleep. The new pillow, the bed (most of the time not the right type,) the sounds, the fear of “oh shit, I am in someone’s house, is this safe?”, the temperature, etc. Being in that space brings a level of awareness about who we are, what excites us, what worries us, and what scares us; that I had never experienced before. Some places are easier to get accustomed to than others (language plays a big role in this,) but in every single instance, all of us are beyond our zone of comfort. Which is where most learning happens. If anything, with this experience we are all getting know ourselves really well, and the adults are having to unlearn many old habits, many times learning from the kids’ untainted view of the world.
Collaboration and Autonomy.
A lot of effort and energy goes into arriving and departing a home. Especially when we only stay 4 to 5 nights. Another level of complexity to add to the mix is the fact that we are working remotely and world schooling as we move from place to place. So these are perfect elements to develop self-driven goals, independence and a sense of community. We are only as good as the help we provide to one another. We try to understand each other’s needs constantly by asking “how can I help?.”
Connecting at a human (and animal) level.
We have met some outstanding and like-minded people along our journey. People we now consider friends. The kids now have developed the ability to genuinely show interest in others, get to know them, understand their beliefs and tolerate their differences.
Gratitude. Living in the Now.
Thanks to people opening up their homes to us we are able to explore parts of the world that before would have been impossible to access. While there is no perfect place, we are making each and everyone perfectly good for us. Some kitchens are better than others, some beds suck, some showers are amazing, and some wifi connections work half the time… This forces us to truly focus on what works, and to understand that every experience (good and bad) is temporary, so we make the best out of it. I am writing this post from what is possibly the worst Airbnb choice I have made, the learning there is, I booked it in a rush and by myself without input from the rest. To the kids however, this place is home.
I am sure there are many other skills being developed that are not visible yet… I will update this post as I see them pop up.
From a professional side, I can think how an experience like this (for even 6 months) can help many executives in leadership roles learn new ways of working and leading their businesses and their teams. Perhaps a new Master's Degree?
Some facts about our journey:
We work and study (the kids) remotely as we travel (good wifi is our biggest point of friction), we have been on the road for almost 11 months now, have stayed in 17 Airbnbs (we do not do hotels,) slept on 37 different beds, in 14 cities, in 11 countries.
The places we have made our home:
Tel-Aviv, Israel Stunning apt 100m from the beach
San Antonio, Texas Big & Comfortable in Stone Oak area and Casa Perla
Madrid, Spain CAIXA FORUM — ELEGANT STAY, SOL. Cozy apt Historic Center Madrid 3 BD and New Apartment for 5 in Madrid City Center!! (worst host experience ever. Because it is a company and not a person)
Spicewood, Texas Chez J, a Rustic Restful Retreat
Lima, Peru Perfect place in Miraflores Heart!
Nazca, Peru Casa de Campo en Nasca, Ica — Peru
Sao Paulo, Brazil Ótima Localização Apto Grande
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil ON THE WAVES OF THE LEBLON SEA
Paraty, Brazil Casa Ecologica Paraty for 10 near Historic Center
Granada, Spain Casa Granada (City Center)
Rome, Italy Renewed, colorful flat for families up to 7 guests
Tuscany, Italy Villetta toscana ottima posizione
Parma, Italy The Animal Farm
Athens, Greece Flat near Archaeological Museum ATH
❤ Upcoming booked places ❤
Milan, Italy Sunny apartment with two bathrooms
Viena, Austria Spacious 125 m2 flat close to center
Prague, Czech Republic COMICS Apartment-TERRACE
Note: I do not work with/for AirbnbReview nor they sponsor us. This is a genuine post about our experience.
Follow our adventure:
Video diaries on youtube (edited by our 11 year old,) daily tips for parents on instagram, live videos about learning moments on Facebook, and if you want to know where we are in the world we are on polar steps, Swarm, and Google Maps . We are funding this journey ourselves so if you believe in what we are doing and would like to pitch in, you can donate to our campaign here.
Waving hello from Greece: