Jo Ann Jaacks: Flying through the air

I’ve been aware of Airbnb for some time. I even researched interesting destinations for a weekend getaway with my husband once we moved to New England. We both immediately preferred bed and breakfast lodging as opposed to a hotel or non-present hosts.

I used a website for the purpose of comparing all the available B&Bs in the area. Each one was unique because it was someone’s house. There was a personal touch of directly booking on the phone with the owners, they greeted you upon arrival and for breakfast and asked how you wanted your eggs done. Our little dog was welcome in a lot of them and most owners had their own pet.

Oh, and the breakfast menu always included a fancy entrée like eggs Benedict, crème brulé French toast or ricotta hotcakes, and there were warm cookies or other treats in the afternoon. Some B&B owners also welcomed us into the living room and offered glasses of sherry to be sipped as we chatted in front of the fireplace like long-lost friends.

The hosts gave us the lowdown on local happenings and the perfect trail to take either for hiking, leaf-peeping or historic monuments or museums. One woman was running a delightfully vintage B&B in Vermont which featured one room solely used as a library and another one with a huge movie screen on the wall with hundreds of movies to choose from. I didn’t miss watching television with all the other choices. She even drove us around the hills to “secret” spots with the most spectacular fall foliage. She told us, “We’re technically trespassing on private property, but all these people know me.”

Those are all delightful memories. When a friend recently bought tickets for us both to a fabulous concert at the Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center in Old Saybrook, there was a possibility in late November that there could be snowfall by then and we didn’t want to be driving in the dark all the way home. We agreed to find an Airbnb reasonably priced and close to the concert venue.

After googling the website, I quickly realized that Airbnb was a lightly regulated home-sharing site that was going to be in charge of my search “for safety and security.” I gave them my parameters of town, date and cost and they extracted a lot of information about me and then began sending me stats on possible homes for an overnight stay. I made a choice based on the interior pictures and cost and was pleasantly surprised that we had the entire home for our use.

I was then requested to write a few paragraphs about why my friend and I wanted to rent her house. I gave her more than a few paragraphs, explaining how charming it looked from the pictures, that we were all excited to be going to the concert at the Kate and happy to be able to spend more time in her town the next day, etc. Evidently, I passed the safety and security test, and once I sealed the deal with my credit card, I was given the first-name-only of the host, but not the address. She texted me with a welcoming message and I explained our situation of wanting to see the outside of the home in daylight so we could easily find it at night. I was then given the address and my friend and I made a trial trip.

I know if we are to have crème brulé French toast for breakfast, I better start Googling local restaurants.