It has been about 10 months since I first started doing one month long Airbnb rentals to explore different states/cities. One of the main questions I get is how I choose my next location to explore so I’m going to take some time to dig into my thought process around that. There are a few key parameters I keep in mind when choosing my next spot to visit. I have recently settled upon visiting Scottsdale, Arizona for a month in April-May so I will walk through my thought process using that as an example.
First I consider what season I am traveling during. (Or what season you are vacationing during!) This means I already know roughly what dates I am planning to travel. I recently spent February in Salt Lake City which was during the winter so I had to pick a location I could enjoy during a winter month. My next trip is in April which is springtime so I looked at locations I could enjoy in the spring. I do not necessarily enjoy Colorado in the spring. The ski season is coming to a close as the slopes get slushy and it is mud season in the mountains so the trails are wet, icy and muddy – not very fun to hike on! It’s a funky shoulder season so springtime is the perfect time to leave Colorado for another location I will enjoy more.
My second consideration is what activities I want to prioritize during the trip. (Or what you want to do during your vacation!) As you know, I love the outdoors! My activities are typically based on getting outside e.g. hiking, snowshoeing, skiing, paddling, etc. The activities I can do depend on what the season is so since ski season is typically closing down by April, I want to kick off hiking season and start getting in hiking shape for a fun summer! Other things I like to do when I travel are join a workout studio, drink good coffee and have yummy bites to eat so I account for that in this step.
My third consideration has to do with driving distance. (If planning a vacation- What is your mode of transportation and how will you get to the activities you want to do?) I typically like to choose places that I can drive to in a day or two. If I cannot drive to a location, I need to figure out a different mode of transportation for the month which adds cost if I have to rent a car. When I travel by myself I don’t like to drive for more than 8.5 hours in one day. When I spent my months in Salt Lake City and Cedar City they were right at the 8/8.5 hour drive time from Denver so it was perfect day trip length. Scottsdale is 12/12.5 hours from Denver so I will break the drive up into 2 days which works out as there are fun stops on the way! I also look at driving distance from the location to the activities I am there to do. I don’t want to spend all my time in the car so I like where I’m staying to be pretty close (5 min to 1 hour) to the activities I plan on doing.
After I consider season, activities and driving distance, I typically have some places in mind that fit the criteria outlined. That leads me to my fourth consideration which is sentiment. I think about any pros/cons I’ve heard from friends or resulting from research I have done on the places on my list. I take into consideration if I’ve been to the place before and want to go back to explore more or if it’s a net new location I’ve always wanted to check out. At this step I want to understand if I am interested in exploring any of the places on my list more than others. Usually at this stage I feel drawn towards some locations over others and I’ll listen to that. A lot of this has to do with which location I think I will enjoy most at this time in my life or which will help me check off something I’ve had on my bucket list for a while. I’ve only ever spent a weekend in Scottsdale, Arizona, loved it and knew there was much more to come back and explore. I’ve also wanted to go to the Grand Canyon for as long as I can remember and my Scottsdale trip will allow me to check it out!
My fifth consideration is cost. (If vacationing, what is your budget and if needed, what things (activities, location) are you willing to compromise on to make it work?) After narrowing my list down further through location sentiment, I then start to look into how much it will cost to stay at the places that made it to the end of this process (usually only 1 or 2 options are left by this point). I have a housing budget I use as guidance when I am looking at Airbnbs to book. Some places I have wanted to visit in the past became not feasible at this stage due to housing costs. If I run into an issue where there is not a great Airbnb option within my budget I will expand my search to outside that location or look at my other options. As an example, I wanted to stay in Sedona, Arizona for April but after researching Airbnb costs, it was out of my budget. As I widened my search in Arizona, I settled on Scottsdale and am very happy with my decision to pivot to something that fits within my budget and still has so much to offer in line with what I enjoy. Cost is never my first parameter because there are so many workarounds to make things fit within your budget. If you want to do something bad enough, you will find a way to make it happen!
This process takes me anywhere from 2 weeks to one month to complete and book my accommodations for my next adventure. It takes a lot of research (hours and hours and hours) on different areas and Airbnb’s but I have been very happy with each location I have chosen to spend a month in. Hopefully this little guide will help you narrow down locations for your next adventure too!
Until the next tale… Happy trails.