An Airbnb Tour of Europe

High over Ireland

High over Ireland

For a long time, I wasn’t a great fan of Airbnb. Whenever I looked for short or medium term housing, their prices were high and their fees numerous and excessive. We were always finding better deals elsewhere.

That changed on our ~4 month European tour. We stayed 77 nights in 20 different private apartments across 19 cities in 7 countries, with an average price inclusive of fees of ~$106/night. (We also spent 8 nights with friends, 16 nights in free hotels, and another 10 nights in paid hotels (average $110/night.) Average price for the whole trip was ~$84/night.

The private apartments found on Airbnb were incredible value compared to hotel options across Europe, with full use of a kitchen, a living space for lounging and computer time, and a bedroom for Jr’s naps, all in an ideal central location for easy walking and access to public transit.

We had a wide range of amazing experiences and a few that were lessons learned (more details below), but we would definitely choose Airbnb for future travel in Europe.

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16 Months, 16 Countries

"Hey, You!"

“Hey, You!” (Top of Old Town Hall Tower, Prague, Czech)

GCCjr recently achieved the ripe old age of 16 months. By coincidence, he also recently visited his 16th country. (Japan, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Vatican City, Czech Republic, Germany, Denmark, UK, Ireland, Iceland, US… Taiwan apparently is not a country.)

At current pace, he should be able to visit all 195 countries of the world by the time he is old enough to drive, making him the youngest person ever to achieve that milestone. But accumulating passport stamps just for the sake of passport stamps isn’t a goal, so our pace is likely to slow. Still, he’ll probably be a full member of the Traveler’s Century Club.

When we first started traveling with the little guy we didn’t really know what to expect. Based on the numerous questions we’ve received during the past year, it seems many others are in the same boat. So here are some thoughts on traveling with kids based on 16 countries worth of experience.

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Retirement Has Already Cost Us At Least $5 Million

Mmmm...

Mmmm…

When the dessert cart rolls around after dinner, difficult decisions must be made.

“If I eat the tiramisu… then I won’t have room for gelato*… And what is this? A complementary serving of limoncello!?”

In economics parlance we might call this gastrointestinal dilemma the opportunity cost; When we choose one option, we lose any potential gain or enjoyment from alternatives.

A couple recent articles highlighted the financial opportunity cost of not working, either short term for raising children or long term for (early) retirement. These articles inspired me to recalculate the opportunity cost of our own decisions.

The Center for American Progress evaluated taking a few years off to raise children, and concluded that you should work instead, because parenting has zero financial value (and on those extra difficult days, maybe even negative value 😉 ) Sounds like progress to me.

The Finance Buff discussed how early retirement is the ultimate luxury purchase.

I’ll buy that 😉 When we decided to retire in our 30s, we chose to forego the income we could earn in our 30s, 40s… 80s…

After nearly four years of early retirement, this cost already exceeds $5 million.

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Book Review: The Simple Path to Wealth

I’ve read a lot of books in my day. A large part of childhood was spent with my nose firmly between the pages of one tome or another. I loved how the Hardy Boys and Sherlock Holmes discovered the truths hidden behind deception and clever disguise, and the worlds where magic and sorcery were more powerful than science.

Whenever my mind grabbed hold of a new interest, it was the library that enabled me to share the experience and knowledge of my elders and superiors. Through books I learned about the brave adventurers who explored our planet and those nearby, the inventors who pioneered new industries and created the futuristic world of today, and how there is nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come.

So it is no surprise that when I first started to think about investing and early retirement, I returned to the library. I’ve read hundreds of books on topics as broad as personal finances, taxes, stocks, bonds, stock options, clever real estate investing, and more.

Why then is my list of recommended books so short?

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Snail Mail and Paper Checks in the 21st Century

You've Got Mail (photo credit)

You’ve Got Mail (photo credit)

Nearly 45 years ago the first email was sent. Around the same time, banks began transferring money electronically.

So it makes perfect sense that in the year Two Thousand and Sixteen we still chop down trees, process them into paper, print words on them, load them on to trucks and airplanes, move them around the world, and then pay people to carry them to our door through rain, sleet, & snow… where we drop them into the trash.

I’ve done my best to avoid this whole mess by opting out of all paper mail, and exclusively using email and online tools. Still, the USPS only cares about their main revenue source (bulk mailers), the IRS and other government agencies like licking stamps, and credit cards are physical (for now.) And some companies (even pure online businesses) are in love with paper checks, even though they cost more than ACH transfers.

So for the last few months we’ve been processing all of our mail with Traveling Mailbox.

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