A few summers ago, we spend a week in Copenhagen. It was our first vacation as a family of 5, and we stayed in another family’s apartment (via airbnb). This family also had two young children, so the apartment met our needs perfectly. We got to experience how the residents of Copenhagen live. I loved the apartment – light-filled, airy, and simple. It put IKEA to shame! They had several large orchids and I loved how they brought a freshness to the room. I figured if they could grow orchids in Denmark, surely I could grow them in Ireland. (Since Denmark and Ireland are at similar latitudes, we get the same long summer days and short, dark winter days.)
The apartment had no formal dining room, rather an open kitchen with a long table that served as the dining table and also as additional kitchen prep space. I could go on and on, but you can look for yourself on their airbnb listing:
Flat in Frederiksberg, Denmark. Large 134 square meter appartment, with a nice shared garden. In our appartment you will find toys, books, a large dining kitchen with all appliances and a possibility to relax after a long and hectic day as a tourist in Copenhagen. The bathroom … View all listings in Frederiksberg
Soon after we returned to Ireland, we bought some orchids (at IKEA, no less) and moved our long dining room table into our kitchen. I was amazed at the difference those two simple changes made. Our orchids flourished, despite my attempts to kill them off, and we enjoy having more space in the kitchen for everyone to hang out, chat, draw, etc.
I share this story, not to convince everyone to run out and buy an orchid, rearrange their kitchen, or take a trip to Denmark, but rather to emphasize how travel changes us. By changing our environment, we change our perspective. We see how things could be done differently, and then take those lessons and experiences and apply them to our lives. We have stayed in apartments via airbnb several times, and each time, we have had a great experience. It’s easy to stay comfortable at home, with our usual stores, restaurants, schedule, etc. Traveling – near or far – forces us out of our comfort zone. Staying in someone’s home pushes us further into the local culture. Just writing about it makes me want to plan another trip! And my orchids are still living!