By George Wentworth
At the Outbounds, we strive to make sure our guest outbounders have an outstanding experience every time they stay in one of our properties. Why? Because we put service first and we are outbounders ourselves.
I chatted with our awesome team and made this list based on the great tips they shared with me, and added in a few of my very own.
Have a clear concept of what you will need in the space to ensure you have a comfortable and productive stay. Consider the length of your stay and what you will be doing while there: relaxing, enjoying outdoor activities, working remotely, or a combination of all three. Read the listing’s description carefully and ask the host questions on anything you didn’t see explicitly described on the listing: Is there off street parking? High-speed internet? A dedicated place where I can set up my laptop and notebook? Is there good phone reception for your carrier?
If you’re like me and need white noise to sleep, ask if they have a fan or air purifier or white noise machine. This way, you know what to pack for your trip. Which brings us to the second tip...
There’s more to packing than bringing an extra pair of socks. Understanding the area you are headed to, the place where you will be staying, and the activities you plan on doing while there will ensure you pack what is needed and don’t waste valuable luggage space with items you won't use. Some are obvious. Going to a beach resort town in the summer? Pack your swimwear. Skiing in the mountains? Snow gear is a must. Remember, these items will also likely be for sale at a much higher markup in the area where you are going. Look at the weather forecast for when you will be enjoying the Outbounds. Depending on the season, it's common to be shorts weather in New York City and then need a jacket at night in the Catskills. Check with your host on certain amenities to make sure they are included on your rental. Does the place provide hair dryers, shopping bags, coffee, and toiletries? Not all hosts are created equal.
Ask your host about check in and check out times. This will be important as you plan your first and last days of your trip. Sometimes hosts can accommodate an early check in or a late check out – oftentimes for a fee – and you will be able to plan and budget for it. If the times aren’t flexible, you can find activities to do in town prior to check in. If a host has a late check in, you can make the time work for you. When going to a new place, it can be fun to get there early to walk around exploring the stores, art galleries, and parks. If there's a visitors' center, check that out for ideas on what to do while in the area. You could always enjoy a meal at a local restaurant and then leisurely check in to your new temporary home.
Many rentals will offer a guidebook with the owner’s recommendations for places to shop and eat, with locals’ favorite activities around town, etc. It can be very helpful to read those ahead of your trip whenever possible. This way, you can have a better idea of the area you will be staying in and this will also give you the ability to plan a lot of your activities before getting into town. If you arrive on a Saturday, then you need to be making that hard-to-book dinner reservation well before you arrive. If your whole trip is designed to end with a limited-seating sunset cruise for a romantic Sunday afternoon end-of-weekend celebration, then you need to make sure you have the tickets in advance. Having the guidebook will also familiarize yourself with the area and get you in the travel spirit faster.
Another very handy item to have is a user guide for the property. Every home has its quirks; the owners might have a high-tech heating system, or a window with a trick to it, or even a 21st Century smart hot tub... Whatever it is, it will save the hassle of trying to figure out the puzzle or having to contact the host if they provide a user guide for the home and you check it once you arrive.
Planning your schedule while away on a trip is the most efficient way to ensure you get the most out of your travel experience. This is especially true now that we are in the middle of a pandemic and many businesses are operating on a much smaller capacity than before. Some restaurants might only be able to set one quarter of the tables they usually can accommodate. If you are planning on going on a guided hiking trip, the number of open spots will be limited. If you want to ski, you might need to make a reservation ahead of time. Some businesses might be closed during your stay. In order to get the full experience out of your trip, it is important to do a bit of pre-travel work and contact the places you want to go. That way, you can make sure you can actually do whatever activities that attracted you to the area in the first place.
At The Outbounds, we have great relationships with many local businesses in every area where we operate. Because of this, we can help guide you towards the experiences you are looking forward to, and even make some reservations on your behalf. Check out our listings and availability (insert book now link) to get the most of your work and life in balance.