After I got my first short-term rental up and running, my mind started buzzing about a million miles-per-hour thinking about the possibilities of the business. Especially once I strengthened the automation of my same-state rental homes, I thought about what it would look like to have homes in other places…further away places…places I would want to stay for my own vacations. In this post we’ll discuss one of my goals for my business, something I’m calling “Travel Hacking” and how you can use it to make vacations easier for you and your family.
For my first two short-term rental properties, I focused on a cozy, waterfront town just an hour and a half away from home base. It’s far enough away from my suburban neighborhood for a vacation-esque getaway feeling that potential guests would find appealing. And, it’s close enough for me to be able to make weekend trips for fixes, restocks, and whatever else I could anticipate a guest needing mid-stay. The proximity’s main benefit is probably the confidence it has allowed me to build during my first year of ownership. Soon my trips to the houses got less and less frequent, with more time and more guests in between. I learned how to trust my cleaning partner, my lawn caretaker, my security cameras, and the smart locks on my doors. I learned the right color towels to use to promote longevity and less replacements. I could go on and on… The point is that it was the right decision to start closer to home as I learned to work on my business with less and less hands-on activity.
Like a worried parent sending their child off to college across the country, it was then time for me to trust my skills and my processes with something a little further. I wanted to try my hand at an out-of-state rental; something that would force me a little further from my comfort zone (literally). Plus, I was excited about having a place to stay should I want a quick Middle America vacation of my own. I went south about 6 hours to find my third house. In an earlier post, I mentioned my decision process when I was debating taking this leap.
At the time of writing this post, I am just a few days away from closing on this house. It has been an unusually long process and part of that has to do with the distance. Nonetheless, it’s getting close to being done and the keys being in my hand. This property is going to test my ability to set up the automated business as well as possible right from the start. I won’t be able to, nor will I want to, make extra trips on weekends because I forgot to take care of something for the Airbnb guests. From using long-lasting batteries in the smart devices, to writing ironclad house rules that will help protect my investment from afar, to finding a cleaning service that would supply their own cleaning supplies, there are plenty of things that I can do to ensure the business can run without me being nearby. Anything that required physical access to the house or the area needed to be outsourced or delayed.
I have no question that there will be mistakes made along the way as I strive for fully remote operation of this hub of my business. The drive isn’t so far to where I can’t make the occasional drive down to the property when absolutely needed. I am anticipating a trip every 10-or-so weeks, whether to replace/repair something, to ease my worrisome mind by actually seeing the house, or for a getaway of my own during a slow weekend of business.
The goal isn’t perfection off-the-bat – it’s to prepare me for an even bigger leap.
Far, Far Away
After I learn more about remote operation and perfect my from-afar approach to the business, I am anticipating going more extreme for one of my next purchases.
With growing confidence that I can manage and Airbnb property from nearly anywhere, endless possibilities will open up. My vision will start to include the question, “Where do I want to visit and explore?”.
Imagine this: It’s Wintertime in your Midwest neighborhood (if you aren’t from the Midwest just go with me for a minute). It’s cold and wet and you’re overdue for a vacation in a tropical climate or scenic mountain cabin. Instead of shopping rates on Airbnb for the perfect pad that isn’t price-gauged by the surge of other snowbirds doing the exact same thing, you head to your Airbnb listing and simply block off a few days for yourself to enjoy your investment decision. While you might miss out on some revenue, you will get the comfort of knowing you get to stay in your home-away-from-home, rather than deal with the uncertainty of booking a random stay.
Now we’re Travel Hacking. You pay the mortgage (if you have one) via the guests coming in and out during the year and you reward yourself with a “free-ish” getaway whenever you so please. What an awesome goal! Right now, for me, this looks like Miami, Hawaii, or Alaska; places I would love to both do business and vacation.
We all start somewhere in our hosting journey. That journey may begin in your home state, your neighborhood, or even in the extra room in your house. For many, that’s as far as they want to distance themselves from the action, and that is perfectly fine. For others, though, the challenge of running a rental from many hours away can be extremely rewarding in more ways than just financial.
Many hosts operate short-term rentals from across the world! I still have a long way to go before I’m ready for an international residence, it’s great to know it’s possible.