5 Tips to Furnish A Rental Property (from a Full Time Airbnb Dweller)

Hey guys. If you’re reading this, it’s probably because you own a rental property and are ready to post it on Airbnb. That means we have a complicated relationship. I love you, I fear you, and sometimes, I even hate you (I’m sorry!)

Why?

I’m a full-time traveler and have lived in Airbnb apartments and short-term rentals for 16 months now. Oh, and I move to a new one every single month.

That means I’ve seen the inside of A LOT of properties recently. Some good, some bad, and some just plain ugly.

Lucky for you, I’ve decided to vent my frustrations in a helpful post on how to furnish a rental property straight from someone who is actually living in them.

I know most people who rent your place are just passing through, but the digital nomad movement is on the rise. Using these ideas will make your rental property more appealing to long-term renters, who always have an eye on the reviews looking for small details like these.

So, without further ado, here are my five biggest tips to furnish a rental property that every guest will love!

 

cute kitchen

 

1. Live In It

It’s so simple, it hurts. I’m honestly surprised more hosts haven’t actually spent time eating, working, and cooking inside their own properties.

Welcome to a week in my life. During it, expect episodes like: getting all prepped to make that new Pinterest recipe, only to realize you don’t have a grater.

Or, a situation in which: you unpack a suitcase full of clothes only to realize there is not a single storage space for them (yes, this has happened to me more than once).

The list goes on and on.

Honestly, this is really the only tip you need to quickly learn exactly how you need to furnish your rental property. However, I know most of you just don’t have the time or energy to do it so I’ll continue with the rest below…

 

2. If You Want a Clean Apartment, You Need to Provide Cleaning Supplies

Fun fact (or is it?): the only host who complained about the apartment being dirty when I left was also the only one suspended by the Airbnb security team because his messages to me were so unhinged.

Well, the reason his apartment wasn’t spotless when I moved out wasn’t because I already paid a cleaning fee, and it wasn’t because I lived in it for a month rather than the usual two or three days (although, I feel these are both valid reasons…) it was because he didn’t provide a single cleaning supply! Not even a broom!

I’m more than happy to take your apartment through a weekly clean on my own because I’m not an animal and don’t want to live in my own filth. But, that requires a couple spray bottles, a mop, and maybe an old rag or two as well. Stock a cabinet with cleaning supplies and if your next tenets are anything like me your apartment will be sparkling when they move out.

 

3. Your Kitchen Needs More Than You Think

I have never once moved into an apartment that has spices in the kitchen. Never. My garlic powder budget has become like $60 a year and counting. A basic spice rack would seriously be a godsend for cooks like me, who often get stuck using salt only for weeks… so boring.

While you’re in the kitchen aisle, you should also buy a corkscrew (even though I’m now a pro at getting wine bottles open with a bobby pin and a spoon, contact me for more details), chip clips, a pitcher, a grater (clearly I’m passionate about shredded cheese), and a large pot with a lid (this is rare for some reason). Also, any sort of coffee maker is required (please don’t make me consume any more instant sludge), and Tupperware and aluminum foil are very appreciated as well.

Finally, take a moment to honestly evaluate your counter space. I’ve been in more than one Airbnb with so much random stuff on the counters that I’m unable to actually cook. Get rid of it, and cook a meal or two in the kitchen to make sure it’s fully stocked and usable.

 

 

4. Consider the Small Stuff

You would be surprised by how many apartments I stay in that don’t have a single lamp. When my choices are overhead lights or nothing at night, it’s hard to relax in the apartment.

Other furnishings that have been seriously lacking in most rental properties I stay in include hangers in the closets, coasters so I don’t destroy your tables, and a full-length mirror. Also, please put a trash can in the bathroom. I’m sad that I even have to ask.

Another great tip is to never furnish a rental property with anything white! This freaks me out!

The one I’m in now has white sheets, white towels, a white tablecloth on the coffee table, and a white throw blanket on the couch. I mean, it looks nice, but there’s literally no way I’ll get out of here without accidentally destroying something, and I would really prefer not to do that.

If you really wanna be a stellar host, include details like converters, charging cords, travel-sized shampoo and conditioner so I can shower before I go out shopping for the basics, and a card with the wifi password prominently displayed. Small things like that make me feel like a human again when I get into the apartment after 30 hours of traveling, and are much appreciated.

 

5. Throw Out Everything Decorative

Decluttering is all the rage right now, and it’s something every Airbnb host should accept deep, deep, into their hearts.

Things I’ve had to move/hide/stash when I moved into new apartments included: vases with dried flowers, framed personal pictures, candles, a very large, very strange decorative tree, musty books, an endless supply of knick-knacks, and once an entire table set for 10 in a one-bedroom apartment… just, why?

I don’t have much stuff, but I still need space to put it. If you truly insist on sharing your decorative taste with your guests, then at the bare minimum make sure they have an empty set of drawers for clothes, and a shelf or clear counter space in the bathroom. That’s all I ask!

 

Use These 5 Tips to Furnish Your Rental Property

When I’m looking for my next Airbnb, reviews are my best friend. Just a few positive words from another digital nomad who spent spending weeks in your apartment will automatically move to the top of my list.

So, take some time to furnish your rental property with a new eye, and full-time travelers around the world will thank you!

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Portland Inspiration Album

Just some of my favorite pics from my week long trip to inspire you to plan a trip to Portland, Oregon! Enjoy the delicious eats, beautiful scenery, and unique PNW vibe 🙂

 

Flying into the PNW

 

Tonkatsu Ramen from Marukin

 

The Voodoo Doll from Voodoo Donuts

 

International Rose Test Garden

 

International Rose Test Garden

 

Hoyt Arboretum

 

Pad Thai from Baan Thai Restaurant

 

Council Crest View Point

 

Burgers and truffle fries from PDX Sliders

 

Old Salmon River Trail in Mount Hood National Forest

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Old Salmon River Trail in Mount Hood National Forest

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The Reggie from Pine State Biscuits

 

Oceanside Beach

 

Oceanside Beach

 

Oswald State Park

 

Pittock Mansion View Point

 

Pittock Mansion

 

Lunch at Breitenbush Retreat

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breitenbush hot springs

Breitenbush Hot Springs

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Oregon really has it all. The amazing hikes, the beautiful beaches and coast, and of course a vibrant city with a delicious food scene and wild nightlife. If you’ve been considering a trip to Portland, book it! Just one week was all it took for me to completely fall in love with the city.

Love,
Di

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Breitenbush Review: The Clothing Optional Hot Springs in Portland

Breitenbush is a clothing optional hot spring and lodge about two hours outside of Portland. The whole wellness industry is big here, and you’ll find centers for it scattered all around the city. Most of them involve paying a set fee for a sauna and hot tub soak, massages, acupuncture, yoga, or all of the above, and Breitenbush is no different.

The retreat center has a large lodge, hiking trails in the scenic Mount Hood National Forest, multiple hot springs, massages, yoga classes, a meditation sanctuary, and cabins for overnight stays all spread across their remote piece of land. It sounded so very “Portland” to me that I just had to go check it out for a day, and of course write this Breitenbush review to tell you all about it!

 

lodge at breitenbush

 

Costs and Reservation

Breitnebush offers a sliding scale of payment, which means that a day pass can cost you anywhere from $20 to $35. They’ll just ask you on the phone and you can pick what you’d like to pay. I also had to pre-order any meals I wanted for $15 each. I opted for lunch only (served from 1-2), but they also have breakfast and dinner daily.

The actual reservation process is pretty old school. It’s still not possible to make one online (but you can check availability here) so you’ll have to call during business hours to lock in your slot and pay with a card over the phone.

 

river at breitenbush

 

Getting There

Breitenbush really prides itself for being off the grid, so they have no wifi or cell service and getting there can be a little tricky. The drive is two hours from Portland, and the retreat sits just outside the tiny town of Detroit, Oregon.

When I made my reservation, Breitenbush sent multiple emails that stressed that the backroads are treacherous and if I tried to use GPS I was doomed to be lost in them forever… but that’s not the case. All you have to do to get there is plug “Detroit” into your GPS, and once you arrive you can follow the signs for a few miles until you arrive at Breitenbush. Easy.

 

What to do at Breitenbush

The most popular activity at Breitenbush is definitely soaking in the clothing optional hot springs. They have four man-made spiral pools on one side of the land, and three natural pools on other with varying heat levels. The last one is the hottest, and also requires absolute silence.

I enjoyed soaking in the springs for a couple hours during my trip, especially when a family of five deer came and ate in the field right in front of us! It was cool to connect with the wild so closely, and I won’t deny it’s an extremely unique experience. The view from all of the springs are beautiful, but the last silent pool was definitely my favorite.

 

breitenbush hot springs

 

Because I arrived around 11:30am, I only had about an hour before it was time for the 1pm lunch in the cafeteria (or you can opt for silent eating in the library as well). I felt like I was back in school lining up and hitting the buffet, but honestly the all-vegetarian food was really good. The menu is ever changing but I thoroughly enjoyed the falafel sandwich, salad, and basil lemonade.

After lunch, I went on a short hike on the trails and then soaked the hot springs again. Around 3:15 I decided I was done, hit the showers, and packed up to leave. However, heading out at 4pm was a mistake because I reached Portland juuuuust in time for that rush hour traffic. I’d recommend timing your departure either earlier or later to make sure you miss it.

 

sandwich and salad for lunch at breitenbush

 

So, Would I Go Back?

Honestly… no. I really wanted to love it and feel ultra-relaxed, but the truth is I just wasn’t a huge fan.

I like wifi and meat, I suck at yoga, and I get bored in quiet places. I know there are plenty of people who are into meditation and getting unplugged to find their inner self, but the vibe just wasn’t for me. It was kind of relaxing, but by the afternoon the pools were starting to get cloudy (ew) and I was definitely ready to go after only four hours at the lodge.

If Daniel had been there though, I think I might have enjoyed it more. I’m glad I went, but I also thought $40 payment was a bit steep and think there’s other, better things to do in Portland for the price (like go for a free, easy hike in Mount Hood National Forest and then use that money on dinner, drinks, or a million other things).

 

river at breitenbush

 

Breitenbush Review

Honestly, I know that there are plenty of people who love this place and I really get why they do, but the Breitenbush retreat isn’t for everyone. It has its pros: nice mountain views, delicious food, and natural hot springs, and some cons: far from Portland, kinda pricey, and no wifi or cell service.

You all know yourself best, and know if you’d enjoy the place or not! If you’re interested, give it a try and let me know what you think!

All my love,
Di

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Old Salmon River Trail: An Easy Hike in Mount Hood National Forest

If you’re looking for an easy hike in Mount Hood National Forest, the Old Salmon River Trail is a great choice.

When my sister and I went visited Mount Hood in late March we thought we would be able to hike anywhere, but we were so wrong. The snow was still packed in on almost all of the trails! Unfortunately we were not prepared for snowshoeing or winter hiking, so we had to return to the Zig Zag Ranger Station and the trails at the start of the forest, where the snow was melted.

We asked for an easy hike in Mount Hood National Forest, and the ranger recommended Old Salmon River Trail. It’s almost two miles out and back (four miles total) and has very little incline. It’s also located in a surreal and stunning moss covered forest along the banks of the wild and rushing Old Salmon River.

This hike does NOT have views of Mount Hood, but if you’re in the park on a rainy or cloudy day and want to experience the classic PNW atmosphere, this is a great choice for any and all skill and fitness levels. The best way to get there is to just plug the “Old Salmon River Trailhead” into your GPS, or stop by the Zig Zag Ranger Station that’s just a minute or two up the road for directions.

If you’re still on the fence, check out my photos below to see why you should add this easy hike in Mount Hood National Forest to your Portland to-do list!

 

old salmon river trail, portland, oregon

 

old salmon river trail, portland, oregon

 

old salmon river trail, portland, oregon

 

old salmon river trail, portland, oregon

 

old salmon river trail, portland, oregon

 

The Old Salmon River Trail is beautiful, easy, and a great hike during the spring or fall when options in Mount Hood National Forest are limited from the snowfall. Explore the trail, enjoy the scenery, and comment below to let me know what you think!

All my love,
Di

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Have you heard of Grabr? This App Will Pay You to Travel!

Ok, I’m super excited to share this app that I somehow just learned about, despite it being around for years!

One of my readers, Scott, emailed me about it in response to my latest newsletter: “6 Ways to Make Money While Traveling.” He mentioned that I should try the Grabr app, and told me he was about to get paid $450 to go to Lima! What?! I did some investigating, and I am now here to tell you all about it!

 

 

What is Grabr?

Ok, so basically Grabr is an international person-to-person delivery system. People who want products that aren’t available in their own country can “order” them in the app or online. Then, you buy them in your home country and deliver them when you travel.

Each delivery has a “Traveler Fee” which is what you make money off of. This fee is totally negotiable and, just like a tip, it’s based on the total order amount. Higher priced items mean a higher traveler fee. I’ve seen delivery fees up to $80 and even higher just from scrolling through the requests today!

 

Why Use the Grabr App?

Grabr does a few things that I think make it worth using.

First of all, it connects you to all of the people who want goods from your home country.

Second, it forces the buyer to secure their money in the app before you pay for the product, so it gives peace of mind knowing a third party is mediating the transaction. There’s no sketchy situations here, and no way for the people to back out of payment once you deliver the item.

And third, as of today, if you deliver 10 orders, you’ll get a $100 bonus from the website! Nice!

I mean, if you’re going to the country anyway, you might as well throw a few extra things in your bag and make some money, right?

 

The Downsides

Ok, there are two small downfalls to this app that I noticed when I was reading about it.

The first problem is that it definitely requires some upfront investment. You have to buy the product yourself in your own country, then you don’t get reimbursed by Grabr or receive the extra fee until you complete the delivery. So, that’s a bit of a risk, and also not always possible for travelers on a super tight budget.

The other issue I see with it is that you have to waste valuable vacation time meeting up with people to deliver the goods. Also, what if they murder me?

Scott told me that because the people prepay for the goods, they have more incentive to meet up and not be flaky, and that he hasn’t had issues with this part of the Grabr delivery during his experiences. You can help mitigate this by only taking a few orders with high delivery fees (instead of a bunch of small orders to a bunch of people) and by always meeting in public spaces. No matter what, though, it sounds a bit inconvenient, and meeting strangers is not always the best way to start a vacation.

 

 

Would You Try the Grabr App to Make Extra Travel Money?

I feel the need to say that I am not affiliated with this company in any way, and I have actually never even tried it! I just learned about it last week and thought some of you guys may be interested in testing it out.

It’s really popular in South America, but also growing in other cities around the world. Unfortunately, I just checked and there is only one order for our upcoming trip to Sibiu, Romania. Too bad I didn’t know about this on my earlier travels, because I would 100% try it! Also,  I know I would have loved to get some stuff delivered from the United States during our two years teaching in the UAE.

If you do decide to try the Grabr app, please comment below or shoot me a message because I definitely want hear about your experience with international delivery!

All my love,
Di

PS Check out my Working Abroad series for more ways to make money while you travel, or click here to find out where I love to find the cheapest flights and the best vacation deals!

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Hiking in Mexico City: Cumbres del Ajusco National Park

If you’re looking for hiking in Mexico City, Cumbres del Ajusco National park will definitely be on your radar. Although I personally prefer hiking in Izta-Popo National Park because I enjoyed the erupting volcanos, during a long-term stay, Cumbres del Ajusco is worth visiting as well. Here’s is everything you need to know to get there!

 

 

Why Go to Cumbres del Ajusco National Park

There are a few reasons. First, Ajusco is the 4th tallest mountain in the country (Izta and Popo come in at third and second). Second, the park is cool because it was created in 1936 and is the third oldest national park in the country (only Desierto de Los Leones and Izta-Popo national park are older).

Finally, it’s unique in that it actually makes up half of the Mexico City Federal District! I was pretty surprised that one of the biggest and most polluted cities in the world was actually half national park…

 

How to Get to Cumbres del Ajusco National Park

So, you have two options. The first is to take an uber. This is what we did, and I though it would be super easy, right? Wrong! First of all, the driver had no idea where we were going (whyyyy pick up ride then?!) and didn’t know how to use GPS somehow… so we stopped and asked for directions multiple times despite me begging him to use my phone instead.

ANYWAY. If you choose to take an uber and your driver knows where to go, there’s still the issue of traffic. The ride will take you anywhere between an hour and an hour and a half depending on what time of day you go, so waking up super early will be your best bet.

When you go, make sure you use this address in your GPS: Cerro Pico del Águila km 21, Col. Héroes de 1910

The cost to get to the park from Mexico City by Uber should be around 250 pesos. We paid 220, but if you get stuck in a lot of traffic, I think the price can go up.

The other way to get to Cumbres del Ajusco National Park is by bus. Go to the Universidad Station and ask for the one going to San Miguel Ajusco. The trip costs 7 pesos per person and the ride will take about an hour and a half.

From San Miguel Ajusco, you’ll need to get a taxi to the trailhead. That will be about another 15 to 20 minutes, and will probably cost around 100 pesos because most drivers will be stuck doing a round trip. Make sure you put the above address in your GPS again, because there’s no real official entrance to the park (that I know of anyway) or trailhead, so your driver probably won’t know where to go unless you show him.

So basically, if you add up the taxi to the bus station and the taxi to the trail, the costs come close to just taking an Uber. The prices are similar but an Uber is faster, so that’s what I recommend.

 

 

Hiking up Cerro Ajusco

Yes! You made it to the park! When you’re getting dropped off, you’ll pass the GPS pin on your phone and see nothing but forest on the side of the road, just ask your driver to keep going a minute or two further until you get to the restaurants. There will be a couple on the right side of the road, and one on the left. There will also be a big sign with a map of the park on the left as well.

If you’re facing the restaurant on the left side of the road (or if you come from the other direction and my instructions are confusing, just make sure you’re facing the side with only one large restaurant and not a few small ones). Go to the left of the restaurant and you will see a trail leading into the woods.

Take the trail for a few minutes and it will come out onto a road. Keep walking up it and go through a gate and through a playground. Here you will come to a sketchy bridge. Cross it, and take the trail to the left.

Once you’re on the trail to the left, you’re good to go! It’s pretty well maintained, you’ll probably see a few other people on it, and anytime it splits there’s usually markers pointing you in the right direction.

The trail stayed flat for about 45 minutes, then started to go sharply uphill. The climb was really tough actually, especially in the high altitude (the park is at 12,795 feet). We decided to stop and just enjoy the view about halfway up instead of finish the climb. It really was beautiful, on one side the park stretched out, and on the other was Mexico City. Try to get there early if you can, we went in the afternoon and the skyline was pretty much totally covered in smog unfortunately.

If you do decide to go all the way to the top of Cerro Ajusco, it will take you about three hours (depending on how fast you hike) and then a couple more to get down. Definitely pack some snacks, enough water, and sunscreen!

 

 

What else to do in Cumbres del Ajusco National Park

So, this section is pretty much only for people driving in their own cars. Just from looking around google it seems like there is more to do in the park if you go to the right places, like ride bikes, go on a horesback ride, rent cabins, etc. I can’t find much info on where that’s located, but if you search in Spanish you may have better luck, or just drive through the park and stop where ever looks interesting! We only got to see a small piece of it, but there’s definitely more to do if you have the time.

 

Lunch in Cumbres del Ajusco National Park

Ok, back to the hike. Once you get back down to the road, eat at the restaurant where you started! The food is really good, and really cheap. I had a beef sope and barbacoa taco, and Dan had three tacos. Each item was only 25 pesos. When we were there the sun was shining and groups were day drinking, it was a super relaxed atmosphere. Too bad we had such a trek back home, otherwise I definitely would have stayed for a few more beers!

 

 

Getting Back to Mexico City

Ok, this is where the transportation gets kind of annoying. Theres basically no way to get back down the mountain because there’s no service to call an Uber, and no taxis driving by.

We asked the waiter what we should do, and he told us his dad would give us a ride! So, that was nice. We paid him 100 pesos to drop us off at the bus station.

From there, it was a 1.5 hour bus to Mexico City, and then a 20 minute Uber back to our apartment. The taxi plus bus plus Uber combo to get home took over two hours, and only cost four pesos less than the entire Uber trip on the way out… yeah.

I’d suggest skipping the bus and trying to get a taxi or Uber straight from San Miguel Ajusco back to the city.

 

Hiking in Cumbres del Ajusco National Park

I kind of have mixed feelings about hiking in Cumbres del Ajusco. The nature was really nice and the views were beautiful. However, the transport situation was annoying at times, and definitely long. If you have a car, this is a perfect day trip from Mexico City, otherwise, visit at your own risk!

All my love,
Di

PS explore my Mexico page for more Mexico City inspo including hiking, weekend trips, craft beer, and evening acitivites from my month in the city.

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