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Florida spring breakers, may your Airbnb checkout be satisfying
The more complicated, the better. Don’t forget to reset the thermostat!
Great job cleaning up this house, everyone!
Great job cleaning up this house, everyone!
Published Mar. 26
Updated Mar. 26

You know how it’s fun to clean someone else’s house and an absolute persecution to clean your own?

At home, your laundry is acquainted with the ceiling, Tostitos are wedged in couch crevices, and your most prized art installation is a stack of Valpaks. Before you consider dusting anything, you must catch up on the guy who found shrimp tails in Cinnamon Toast Crunch. I don’t make the rules.

But the second you visit some other house, you are Monica from Friends. “Oh, let me grab these dishes,” you say, while your partner looks on in disgust. “I love to dry.”

Now, transfer this phenomenon to an Airbnb; that’s where the real magic happens. It is high tourist season in Tampa Bay. As we know, lots of people who aren’t all Floridians are in Florida for spring break, making us look bad on a national stage. This happens every other Thursday.

My family recently returned from a sort-of spring break, or as we call it, “Oh, good, more time together.” We took three similar trips, all within four hours of Tampa Bay. Read about them all right here. The goal was to stay out of airplanes and hotels, visit parks and trails, and reduce our human footprint.

Related: Taking vacation in coronavirus times? Use this form letter.

Proper distance requires a good home base. Whether Airbnb, VRBO, Glamping Hub or Larry’s Giant Rentals, they have check-out instructions ranging from “Just leave the door ajar” to “We will need three samples of blood.”

One of our houses came with no guidance other than a piece of tape over a light switch. We asked the owner how to help clean, and he said, “Nah, don’t worry about it.” This was deflating! How could he do this? I still put all the towels in a satisfying pile.

Related: 3 unusual vacation spots, 4 hours or less from Tampa Bay

Rental owners, the more complicated, the better. I want your checkout packet to be 50 pages, laminated. Bonus if it’s in a binder, stacked on three other binders. I want to clean zealously, with zero personal growth at stake.

Tell me to peel off every bed sheet and gather them near the washing machine. You can even tell me to put them IN the washing machine. I can be trusted with a Tide Pod, despite what you may have heard.

Every dish must be washed and returned to its place, even that thing that might be a melon baller? Leave six soaps under the sink, and instruct me to use the “drops.” None of the soaps should be labeled “drops.” This is part of the vacation logic and skills test.

Remind me to clean out the fridge. I must not, under any circumstances, leave food behind, unless it is ketchup, mustard, salt, pepper, olive oil, macaroni and cheese, a whole roast turkey, chateaubriand, beef bulgogi or Cinnamon Toast Crunch.

Don’t forget the thermostat, set one degree cooler than outside. In order to find the temperature, please leave a detailed map to a thermometer kept inside a squirrel statue on the porch. Draw this on the back of a local pizza menu.

To secure the key, direct me to page 34, which will direct me to page 38, to a paragraph with information on the history of the home and fun things to do in the area. If you take the first word of each sentence, assign each letter a number value and divide that number by seven, it will reveal the code, which is 1234.

All that’s left to do is head back home via the car, which has a faint smell of McDonald’s fries and was last cleaned by the dealership. Will I transfer any of this newfound responsible energy to real life? Silly. What kind of vacation would that be?

Related: Read more columns from Stephanie Hayes

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