Funding the Nicaragua Trip

When I first considered traveling abroad with the kids this summer, I assumed I would fund the trip with the money we would be saving by not paying for day care in the fall. Then I did more research and realized the chances of us getting into a TK were pretty much nil, and that the chances of us getting into the pre-school at my daughter’s school were even less (it is a needs-based pre-school so families who make MUCH less than us have priority), so I started reconsidering my options. I do have some extra money that remains untouched from our 125B tax-deferred child care account, but I’m guessing that will be spent on the water damage we still haven’t dealt with (and then some). I’m also not banking on our tax return, especially since I’m one of the lucky ones in a coastal city with high state taxes that will be hit by the new tax bill. So what then? I could try to save, but I don’t think I’d have enough by the time summer rolls around. Luckily, I have a third option.

I plan to AirBnB my house.

How can I do that when I have a husband who won’t be traveling with us. Oh, and a cat?

Good questions.

They will be staying at my in-law’s house. The chances of my in-laws actually being in California this summer are VERY low. Even if they are here, my husband and cat can still stay with them. If they want to leave their condo sitting vacant for a huge portion of the year, that is fine, but I’m going to take advantage of it.

{Also, I feel I should mention that one can AirBnB a house WITH a cat occupying it. The guests just agree to take care of the cat. I’m sure they get a better deal on the house that way. My friends has done this dozens of times–she actually camps all summer so she can make money AirBnBing her house! I just don’t think our cat could handle it. She is not the nicest feline.}

Of course, AirBnBing the house is not a panacea. Getting it ready for paying guest will require a TON of work. But it’s work I want to do (or better said, it’s work I want done), and having a tangible, date-specific reason means I’ll actually do it. There is also the fear that our guests will do something to our house. We don’t have anything that is worth much (and what we do have will be stored at our in-laws, ::cough:: the electric cargo bike ::cough::), but that doesn’t mean damage can’t be done. The thing I’m most worried about is someone bringing in bed bugs. I’m going to look into the guest ratings and see if I can choose who actually rents the place. If I can, I will only pick people who have been scored highly.

So yes, there are drawbacks, but the reality is, living in San Francisco, I can make A LOT of money renting out my house while I’m away (seriously, it’s A LOT of money). Probably enough to finance the whole trip – including airfare).

I think we might even rent it out while we’re in St. Louis. I would use the money to pay for those flights.

So yeah, that’s my plan. My parents have rented out their (much nicer) house on the peninsula many times without problems, and I know many friends who have done the same in the city. We really don’t have anything I am worried might be stolen (only the TV?); the biggest issue is clearing it out enough to be ready for guests.

So, AirBnB it will be.

I’m sure everyone has AirBnB horror stories they want to share. Feel free. I’d much rather be aware of the potential problems. 😉


  1. Great idea! We rented out our place when we were abroad with no problems whatsoever. And San Francisco’s new strict airBnB rules (I think you now have to actually live in the property and register it with the city) will undoubtedly reduce supply, making it easier to find good renters.

  2. Wow! This is a terrific idea! I hope you write more about it!

    I would never leave my cat for renters to take care of. I have panic attacks when we leave for the weekend, needing to know that I saw her right before we left the house so I know she’s safe, not locked in a closet, not outside, etc. Brian has been known to turn around after 10-20 miles to give me that peace of mind! I’m terrible!

  3. I actually have zero horror stories – I’ve used AirBnB many times with great results (that’s actually how we found our house we are staying in when we go to Paris next month!). My close friends here in town rent their house out through AirBnB probably 25% of the time (at least a week a month), and they make SO MUCH MONEY doing it. They’ve never had an issue, and it totally allows them to pay their mortgage AND take a fun vacation every year. When a potential renter reaches out to you, you 100% get to review their profile and either accept or deny their request. Another upside is it will really encourage you to declutter your space even more, because the more “hotel-like” your space looks, the more you’ll get for it (and the less you’ll worry about anything happening to your stuff). Great idea!

  4. I know someone in LA who put his house on air Bnb and funded a trip to Italy for four people. It helped that he used air bnb in Italy and got a discount because they stayed for four weeks and he had 4 different groups in his house so there was no long term discount. His house was booked within 2 days of putting it up on air bnb. Also, he lived in a perfectly nice part of Los Angeles but his house was a good 30+ minute drive to anything remotely cool so hardly a tourist hit spot. But he still covered air fare and lodging in Italy with money left over. He put clothes and personal items in his garage and bought a lock for it.

  5. Super plan!!!
    I think it will go well!
    Have been user but know someone who is owner and has done well with no problem tenants.

  6. AirBnB sounds like a great idea.

    One note on taxes – the changes kick in this year (so will be reflected in the tax return you file in 2019). The tax return you’ll file this year for 2017 is still under the old rules.

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