Staying in an Airbnb Triggers Me as an Introvert

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I’m not sure if you know this about me, but I don’t like people. I don’t like small talk. And I especially don’t like people who like to engage in small talk. The latter most often occurs with Airbnb hosts.

The boy is the social butterfly of the family and forces me to talk to people when I would rather sit around 10 other people with my headphones on and not discuss the current political climate in our respective countries.

In Rome, I booked an amazing Airbnb close to the Colosseum. It came with amazing reviews and it a really good spot. It’s a private room in an apartment and the owners live in the apartment next door with a door that we can knock on if we need anything.

Of course, I didn’t. So when she didn’t hear from us, she came a-knocking.

She asked us if we needed anything and then wanted to know more about who we were, where we were from, what we were doing there…typical CIA nosy old lady stuff. Jet-lagged and annoyed, I cut the conversation short, politely excusing myself to check on the boy.

In Johannesburg, we were lucky to get a self-check-in place, which didn’t require much communication with the host. We got the key from the guard and kept it moving. The host checked in on us only through the app and respected that I was antisocial.

In Amsterdam, this was the only time we shared the space with the host. And for that reason, we will never do it again. The place was nice, but the hosts stayed upstairs. Anytime they hard us come out of the room or come in from the day’s exploring, they would rush downstairs to greet us and ask us how things were going, where we’ve been, and suggest things that we should have done that were “less touristy”.

They were slightly annoying in that regard and a bit racist in others. We were living in Ethiopia at the time and when I mentioned we lived in Africa, his Dutch colonialism began to show. That place was my least favorite.

While Airbnb can be a great way to save money on lodging, get to know people, and stay in an area that makes the experience feel more like home, it challenges me to socialize under these shallow pretenses.

Now, I don’t dislike all people. I just like the people I like. And I like them because of the connections I was able to make with them when I first met them.

I’m not a fan of people who don’t stick to soup questions. Who just ask questions to be asking them to cut the white noise of silence. I’d rather be quiet than ask someone things that I don’t really care about.

Now, I do socialize. I talk to people. Sometimes.

And I do appreciate when people talk to me. Sometimes. Especially when it’s locals and I can get a deeper, unedited history about the country I’m visiting. Tour guides learn to whitewash and sugarcoat the history of their country to make it more palatable and fascinating. So, when I am interested in learning about a place, I do seek out locals to find my information.

But when I’m staying somewhere, most of the time I don’t want to talk.

Home is where I recuperate. Where I rest and recharge from the day’s events. And if my Airbnb is supposed to be my home away from home, I’d much prefer to be able to not have to talk to anyone when I don’t want to.

Which is probably why I’ve been staying in hotels lately.

I have to honor my introverted tendencies and the ways in which talking too much about nothing drains me. I know that while I am “renting” someone’s space for a time, this somehow confuses them into thinking that I owe them my time as well. While it seems mean and impolite, I am “nice” about it. I engage when I feel like it and kindly decline when I don’t.

For me, it’s less about politeness and more about remaining authentic in my interactions and preserving my energy for the people and things that ginuinely peak my interest.

The Kid-Friendly Amsterdam That Your Teenager Won’t Hate

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What comes to mind when you first think of Amsterdam? 

Windmills. Weed. Stroop Waffles. Tulips. Weed.

That’s what I thought. And so did my kid. 

The last time we went to Amsterdam, he told me it was pretty boring. He said that Amsterdam is only fun for adults because kids can’t do “adult things” and Amsterdam only has “adult things”. He actually did the air quotes.

But he’s not completely wrong.

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Propaganda, Hysteria, and Traveling During the Coronavirus Drama.

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We are now in Tanzania for a conference and we had a layover in Addis Ababa on our way to here.

While enjoying my Walia beer and French fries at one of the restaurants, I noticed an alarming amount of people wearing surgical masks. Even some of the flight attendants on our way from Bamako were wearing them, in addition to gloves. I’m not used to seeing these types of things outside of our time in Japan. 

There, people would wear surgical masks to not only avoid getting viruses and colds, but to also keep others from getting sick when taking public transportation. In Thailand, I would see people wearing them on their commute to avoid getting sick from the exhaust. In China we saw everyone wearing them to protect themselves from the pollution. 

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7 Tips for Staying Healthy on a Long Haul Flight.

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The longest flight the boy and I have ever taken was 16 hours from DC to Johannesburg on South African Airways. And let me tell you, if the boredom from being on a flight that long doesn’t kill you, being in a metal tube filled with germs just might.

There is nothing worse than coming back from a relaxing vacation with the coronavirus.

Flying in the air cramped with a few hundred strangers, breathing recycled air mixed with germs and bacteria, eating processed food isn’t exactly the healthiest of activities. Add to that, flying through multiple time zones and sitting in an uncomfortable seat (for those of us not living that business class lifestyle) will leave you feeling exhausted and dehydrated when you get to your destination.

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We Got a Dog!

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Say hello to the newest member of our traveling family!

Her name is Mochi. And she’s the sweetest and cutest little pup this side of the Niger River.

Mochi is a Chihuahua and Bichon Frise mix. She sleeps most of the day and doesn’t really bark all that much. She’s SUPER attached to us and follows the boy around wherever he goes.

We love having her around and can’t wait to take her on our next adventure!

AND!!!! She has an Instagram!

Time is the Big Unrenewable Resource

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I often engage in adventure travel with my son. While we enjoy museums and food tours, we are low-key adrenaline junkies and enjoy the occasional thrill.

We have zip-lined across the Zambezi River. We’ve ridden ATVs across the Sahara Desert and through a forrest in Chiang Mai. We’ve also flown in a helicopter to get a better view of Cape Town. We love snorkeling in the open ocean and riding roller coasters – the scarier the better! 

When you become a parent, you’re often faced with the thought of something terrible happening to your child. One minute you can be watching your child be silly or minding your business washing dishes and the next minute a flash of a terrible accident crosses your mind, briefly paralyzing you with fear.

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5 Things I Do When I Travel Anywhere in the World

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Traveling is not easy. And it’s not always cute and Instagram worthy. Don’t let anyone lie to you like that. You’re in a new land whose culture and language are completely alien to you. The people can be friendly or the customs confusing. The food and smells and be disorienting. Travel is an adventure and not for the faint of heart.

To date, I have been to 42 countries, visiting a few of them more than once. I’ve traveled with the boy, solo, or with friends and in each country I visit, I’ve developed a routine of sorts to help me move about a foreign land a bit easier.

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