Travel can be exhausting. Ok, that complaint it’s hardly up there with toothache in the pain stakes, but after years of roving around the globe, there are times when I just get tired. Bone-wearily tired. It happened to me in Asia last year and I ended up bundling up my things and returning to Europe early.
In many respects, it was an exceptionally good idea because I got to spent a month in Italy, but it was also a flat-out poor decision because it found me scrabbling for hotel rooms for the entire high-season period. The result: my exhaustion expanded and left me with the not insignificant worry that maybe I wasn’t just tired of moving around. Maybe I’d gotten tired of travel.
At a point that saw me selling the last of my location-based possessions and making my strongest commitment to nomadism to date, it was a thought that scared the hell out of me.
As 2013 drew to a close, I realised that I’d long lost count of the number of places I’ve stayed around the world. From dirt-cheap hostels in Asia to swanky hotels in Europe, from boutique to quirky in between, I’d stayed in a whole range of place. Yet one thing remained constant – none of the places ever felt like home.
That realisation contained one of those rare but wonderful moments of clarity. Maybe I wasn’t tired of travel at all. Maybe I was just tired of the way I travelled. And so an experiment began. Arriving in Berlin, I decided to do something different. I dismissed the idea of hostels and hotels, of sleeping on a stranger’s couch, I decided to find a place I could call home…if only for a little while.
The Surge in Living Local and Vacation Apartments
There has been a significant shift in the past couple of years in the way people experience new destinations. Previously, a well-known, big-brand hotel might be the accommodation go-to option for a stop in Europe. However, more recently, tourists have been exploring options that provide a more “authentic” experience of local life – an experience often best achieving through a vacation apartment rental.
It used to be the case that an apartment rental in a foreign country equalled a minimum 3 to 6 month stay complete with legal paperwork, deposits and a headache of “I-can’t-be-bothered” proportions. But things have changed for the better.
With websites like GowithOh, you can rent a vacation apartment on a short-stay basis across more than a dozen European cities. With fatigue returning after spending a month touring Andalucia, checking-in and out of one room after another, I was ready to set up home.
For nearly a week in Berlin I settled myself into an apartment in Mitte, an area in Berlin that is central enough walk to most of the main sights, but with a decent enough hit of hipster to not feel like you’re staying in “Tourist Central.”
For nearly a week, I returned to form – exploring the city, experiencing the nightlife and doing the things that I get to do so rarely – settle for even the shortest time. With a set of house keys in hand, I got to enjoy Berlin with all of the comforts of home.
For nearly a week I had access to a kitchen where I could cook, clean and play house (ok, I ate a fair bit of take-out too, but that’s not the point); I didn’t have to lock or unlock my valuables for the purpose of my insurance; I didn’t have to worry about the continual interruption (usually when I’m sleeping): “knock-knock housekeeping”; and, joy-oh-joy, I had access to the speed of wi-fi that you only get at home.
Let’s also not overlook the fact that I stayed in an apartment that ticked every beauty box on the dream-home list – whitewashed wooden floors, contemporary furniture and decor, high ceilings, big windows, flowing curtains, and natural lighting that danced from room to room according to the time of day. The apartment I stayed in featured the kind of composition vibe that boutique hotels spend millions trying to re-create but can never quite manage due to the fact that for every additional room they add, the homeliness of the space evaporates.
After nearly a week of sightseeing, work and…I will confess, a not so little amount of nightlife, I left Berlin having reached an important conclusion.
I was right.
I wasn’t tired of travel. I was just tired of the way I’d been travelling. More than three years have passed since I’ve had a home to call my own and my stay in Berlin made me realise that I’m ready for something a different. I’m ready for a style of travel that offers me a deeper experience; the kind of experience I achieved thanks to my discover of renting short-term apartments.
GowithOh and I share a simple viewpoint on life. They say, “Do More of What Makes You Happy.” Returning the keys as I said goodbye to my short-term home in Berlin I knew I’d had a revelation. Using a vacation apartment wasn’t a way I’d really travelled before and I realised it was a way of travelling that made me happy. So I’ll be adding more of this kind of accommodation to my itinerary in future.
Want to read more about finding accommodation? Click below.
My happiness experiment was courtesy of GowithOh.