This Seattle Retiree Couple Sold Their Home And Traveled The World Living On Airbnbs
When Debbie and Michael Campbell retired from their jobs in Seattle in 2013, Debbie was convinced they had “one more adventure” in them. Instead of working for the weekend, they created a lifetime of adventure – one that spanned eight years and more. Switching from one Airbnb to another, the Campbells have already visited 270 Airbnbs in 85 countries.
“We’re probably the most prolific users,” Debbie says. “We are not on vacation. We live in Airbnbs. We live our daily life with other people.
Their Airbnb jump caught the attention of Airbnb, who hired the couple, who blogs as The Senior Nomads, to mentor the winners of a promotion called Live Anywhere on Airbnb. The 12 winners will live in Airbnb units for free for 10 months starting in September with up to three friends each. Debbie also wrote a book called “Your Keys, Our Home” for rental hosts, and together they did a three month internship for Airbnb.
“What [Airbnb] learned during COVID is that they have had a very significant increase in the number of people booking long-term stays. So instead of working in your basement in Ballard, you can work on the Bahamian beach, so people would do that. So they set up this program, ”explains Debbie Campbell.
“Michael and Debbie have lived in Airbnbs for eight years, so when we decided to launch the Live Anywhere program on Airbnb, they were an obvious choice to help us educate and onboard the attendees who would live in Airbnb listings for the next year, “an Airbnb spokesperson said via email.” We will be holding information sessions in August to help attendees prepare for their September departure, and Michael and Debbie will host a session with tips and tips from their experiences living at 270 Airbnbs in 85 countries. “
This month, the Campbells will host an information session with the contest winners to share tips from their experiences living on Airbnbs.
“We have so much we want to share with them to help them achieve their own travel goals, including travel tips, the best ways to find the right Airbnb, what to take and what to take. must be left at home, ”said Michael.
In exchange for sharing their expertise, the couple is paid by… what else? Airbnb credits.
Speaking on a Zoom call from their Airbnb in Samois-sur-Seine outside Paris, where they were visiting their daughter and grandchildren earlier this summer, the Campbells show no signs of slowing down. One of their daughters lives in the village with her husband, so their grandchildren can come there for a visit.
The couple made the most of their post-retirement nomadic life. Debbie, 65, a former owner of an advertising agency, enjoys exploring the artistic and historical aspects of new places while Michael, 75, who once headed the Seattle Sports Commission, can watch live sports like football and tennis around the world.
“It’s hard not to see how transformational the journey is, it opens up your world view,” says Michael Campbell.
The initial idea was born years ago when one of their daughters mentioned a friend who worked long-term remotely.
“We just didn’t know what we wanted to do when we retired,” says Debbie. “The assumption was, could we retire, live in other people’s homes, and spend the same amount we would spend if we had stayed in Seattle? “
Airbnbs were the coin that made the budget work, compared to hotel stays, the Campbells say. They rented their house, sold their car and boat, put their things away and hit the road. A six-month trial period became “a two-year period, ‘Guess we’re doing this!’
They occasionally return to the United States to visit their three other children, family and friends, to have medicals and in 2020, to volunteer in political campaigns in Colorado, Montana and Alaska in the last election. presidential – and to get vaccinated.
Living in a suitcase and adjusting to new digs with each new city and culture can be a strain, but they team up and play well together. Already sitting next to him, Debbie hits Michael with her shoulder or tilts her head towards him, laughing. They appreciate each other.
No matter who you are with, what makes the trip so exciting is you never know what you are going to find.
“[Staying at ] 270 houses mean 270 different beds, showers and kitchens, ”Debbie explains. “I have seen all kinds of cuisines. There are Martha Stewarts who wouldn’t refuse, and others are – really? Do you want me to cook with this pot?
In Rwanda, chickens walked around their kitchen, because it was open to the outside. In Kyoto, Japan, they couldn’t have four people in the room.
One thing almost every residence they’ve stayed in have in common, she says, are elements of IKEA, the inexpensive housewares store that transcends borders.
Fortunately, they didn’t have any serious health issues, even during the pandemic when they locked themselves in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico for months. The lowest points of their trips – being stolen twice – are far overshadowed by unforgettable experiences and helpful people, who walked them through town to a pharmacy or helped them get money. at an ATM.
Although Michael is studying French on the Duolingo app, the Campbells are only fluent in English. They learn key phrases like “excuse me”, “may I please”, “hello” and “thank you” at every stop. When they need help, they look for the youngest adult they can find, who may have some knowledge of English.
To save time, Michael likes to have key phrases ready on Google Translate screenshots on his phone.
The couple formed a ritual to settle in and inaugurate each new “home”. They set up their pillows, then Michael checks that the electric lights and Wi-Fi are working – preferably before the guard leaves – while Debbie searches the kitchen for staples and supplies like sauté pans. Besides avoiding rental cars, they cook regularly to help stretch the budget. For some reason, Debbie explains, Airbnb hosts tend to forget to provide cutting boards, so she carries one with her, along with two knives.
Non-negotiable? The next stop is a shopping spree to buy a bottle of wine, Diet Coke, cereals, bananas, orange juice, milk and peanuts so they are ready for the next 12 hours, whatever. the meal that comes first.
Besides cooking utensils and pillows, their phones, e-book readers, and computers, they get carried away lightly with diapers for varying weather conditions. Debbie loves her packable Uniqlo quilted coat and washable wool Allbirds sneakers. Their travel technology has improved over the years. They went from buying SIM cards for their phones years ago to American television on their Amazon Fire Stick.
“Right now we have plans for maybe the next six months. We feel so blessed, we are so healthy, and none of our children are worried about us. In fact, they don’t even know where we are sometimes, ”says Debbie.
“As long as we’re having fun, learning, staying close to our budget, and still loving,” says Michael. “We are curious and continuing learners and just can’t wait to see as many people as possible before we reach the finish line. ”