Up North

There was an annual Kwanzaa celebration yesterday, and I’d planned to attend and take pictures. But I missed it, just as I’ll miss everything else between now and early 2015. I’ll be spending some much needed time away in frigid Montreal this holiday season, just as I did in August.

Sometimes we need a break from our own lives, our environment – to dabble in someone else’s day to day. With family and friends I used Airbnb to rent two apartments from vacationing Quebecois families.

Forget those sterile hotels and desolate downtowns. Real places are best. I’m talking that “the key is on the back balcony under the big pot” real. One of the apartments even has “make sure you don’t scratch the new kitchen table” authenticity. We’ll be careful.

It pays to put up with those small hassles. Yes, vacation rentals may be a bit more pricey per person than dorm hostiles, and they lack the daily housekeeping of immaculate grand hotels. But with washer dryers, televisions, reliable internet, more space, and private kitchens, they’re the best combination of economy, location, and comfort. By a long shot.

Comfort is most important when you have no rules, no concrete plans – when you play each day out by ear. Somehow, you end up in the right place when you follow those traveler’s instincts.

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