We’re approaching 12 long months of pandemic restrictions. But there are signs of hope like vaccine progress and dropping case counts in the US. At this point, former travel addicts have one thing in mind: getting out of town this spring and summer.
Most major US companies still allow office-based employees to work remotely. So, a new type of vacation enters the scene: the remote work-cation.
I’ve been traveling and working remotely via Airbnb during COVID-19 for the past seven months. I’ve learned a few tips and tricks for staying safe and ensuring a rental home is well-equipped as a virtual office!
Obviously, when it comes to the safety advice, I am no doctor or medical expert—these are just some of the strategies I’ve used, and I’ve made an effort to link out to supporting official advice where available. Please travel responsibly when visiting an Airbnb during Covid, and follow all local requirements for quarantine and testing.
First time Airbnb user? Use my referral link to sign up and you’ll get a discount (and I’ll get credits – win, win!).
5 Safety Considerations When Booking a Vacation Rental or Airbnb during COVID-19
- Is this rental within driving distance of my home? While airlines advertise how safe planes are, I still personally wouldn’t get on a flight right now unless it was essential. It’s true that plane air filters work pretty well. But you’ll also need to spend time in the airport. And if the plane stops to refuel, they usually turn off the filtration system which could leave you exposed. If you want to travel further away, consider taking off an extra day or two and camping along the route. This can make the trip more fun and allow you to reach a more far-flung destination!
- What are the host’s cleaning policies? Most hosts have adopted enhanced cleaning polices implemented by Airbnb during the pandemic. But I feel even more reassured when I read the additional precautions they take. For example, when I recently stayed on Cape Cod, the host asked us to turn on fans and open a window in each room when we left to minimize risk for the cleaning people.
- Is contactless check in an option? In the past, I enjoyed meeting my Airbnb hosts upon arrival but these days, I’d prefer to keep it contactless. Most hosts these day offer a keypad entry or key in a lockbox, but it’s worth double checking.
- Are delivery services available? While you can’t usually get the complete address of an Airbnb before booking, by looking at the map you should be able to find a nearby point of interest where you can look up a zip code. Then, you can head over to apps like Instacart and DoorDash to confirm if delivery is offered in the area. I prefer to have everything delivered contact-free when possible to minimize the chance that I brought COVID to a rural area.
- Can I afford to book an extra night or two before I arrive? Since COVID-19 is now known to be airborne, this is an extra safety step you can take if guests or cleaners were in the house before you arrived.
- Is there an outdoor space at the home—or easy access to local parks, trails, etc.? Staying in a city apartment might have worked well when you could spend the day bar and restaurant hopping or visiting museums, but in the age of COVID-19, it’s important to ensure the place you’re staying feels like a vacation itself. Look for things like a patio, a yard, pool, hot tub or park within walking distance. Otherwise, you might go stir crazy!
3 Ways to Stay Safe after You Check in for Your Airbnb Work-cation
- Air it out. Upon arrival, open all the doors and windows. Get the fans going, and air the place out. Consider going for a walk and leaving the windows open, if in a safe area from burglaries.
- Improve the air quality. Consider packing an air purifier and/or humidifier if you have one to help improve the air quality. While neither are 100% proven, the worst case scenario is you end up with fewer allergies and less dried out skin!
- Sanitize. Skip the hygiene theater, as there’s no need to do a deep clean when you walk in. Instead, wipe down “high touch” surfaces with bleach wipes before unpacking. That includes doorknobs, commonly-used kitchen cabinets and surfaces like the kitchen table.
My Favorite Hack for Saving Money on Your Work-cation:
Did you know that sometimes, with Airbnb, a longer stay can be cheaper than a shorter trip? It sounds crazy, but it’s true. There are two reasons for this:
- Many hosts offer discounts for longer-term stays. Usually, these are offered for weeklong and month-long stays. The discounts can range from 10% to up to 50%! So, if you are considering a five or six-night stay, it might be worth checking the price of a seven-night stay as it could cost less.
- Taxes. In some areas (like Georgetown, Colorado), there are high taxes on short-term rentals. However, if you stay for longer than a certain number of days (usually 28 or 30), you don’t have to pay that tax. If you’re going for a month, make sure to test out a few options for the reservation.
If I can’t or don’t need to actually travel for those extra days, I use them for safety booking tip #5 to ensure the house is empty for a day or two before I arrive.
Save Your Sanity (and Your Job) By Ensuring Your Airbnb During COVID-19 Has These 3 Things:
- Extra room(s). You’ll want enough rooms that the number of people in the household who need to work or attend school can do so privately. This is less critical if your job doesn’t entail many meetings. But Nick and I are both on video calls all day long. It would be impossible to get anything done if we were constantly talking over each other. Usually, in cheaper areas, we try to get at least two bedrooms so that our sleeping space doesn’t have to double as an office.
- Doors. You’d be surprised how many Airbnbs don’t have doors, which might be fun for a romantic getaway but not so great when you’re trying to work from home and need peace and quiet. We’ve stayed in a couple places where the bedroom was a loft setting and didn’t offer any quiet.
- Strong enough WiFi. While there’s a search filter on Airbnb for WiFi, few hosts disclose the actual speed. Trust me, you’re going to want to ask about this before committing. We’ve stayed in a couple places that could not support multiple video calls at once. It wasn’t a great look at work. Now, we always message the hosts and ask them about WiFi speeds (for two people 25 mbps should suffice). We’ve even had a host offer to upgrade the speed for us, so it doesn’t hurt to ask!
Packing for Your Work-cation
I’m a big fan of ergonomics, so when I’m traveling and working remotely, I am not packing light. I bring it all: a foldable desk/table (affiliate link, but this is my actual desk) that has enough space for me to rest my elbows while typing, a monitor, a mouse/mousepad and even a desk chair (we unscrew the seat so it fits easily in the trunk of the Jeep).
Many Airbnbs these days offer desks, but they are often too small to accommodate an ergonomic setup. That might be fine for a day or two, but for longer stays, the right set up is critical or else you’ll return from “vacation” feeling tighter and more stressed than when you left!
Additionally, I recommend bringing comfy clothes and layers to wear while working. Some vacation homes can be quite drafty as they were built with the expectation that visitors would be out touring all day.
Make the Most of Your Trip
Most importantly, make sure you actually take vacation time during your workcation. You’ll be able to fully explore the area and get the R&R we all need from the burnout that is a year of being stuck at home, isolated.
Have you been on a “work-cation” or visited an Airbnb during COVID-19? I’d love to hear about your experience in the comments!