'Tis the year of sharing a cabin with quarantine buddies. If your bubble is new to splitting a big Airbnb, you may not realize how quickly a group cabin trip can devolve into chaos. As a survivor of many a vacation share—including some in our seven favorite Washington towns for house rentals—I swear by these tips.
Choose Bedrooms Carefully
In the heat of the booking process, that house that sleeps eight looked enormous—but on arrival day, who's stuck with the twin-sized bunk beds? One system: Tell trip-goers that they'll select bedrooms in the order they paid the booker for their share. Suddenly it's a race to commit and pony up. (And that trip planner? First dibs on the master bedroom, considering it's their credit card on the damage deposit.)
First Stop: Hot Tub
No, don't jump in right away—but test the temperature of any private hot tubs soon after arrival. The controls may have been cranked down during an empty period between renters, and once reset it'll take some time to warm up again for a first-night soak.
Focus on Each Other
It's a bummer to travel to a vacation destination only to see everyone's nose buried in their cell phones. One trick I encountered on a girl's ski trip years ago: We all agreed you couldn't be on your own phone in the common area. (That trip allowed a loophole for being on someone else's phone, which led to a goofy group Tinder session that probably confused the heck out of some Whistler bachelors.)
Make Mindful Menus
Besides asking everyone about food allergies in advance, think graze-ready foods like tacos or sandwich bars. Assume that if you're not cooking a particular meal, you're cleaning. Oh, and don't cook fish indoors—there's not a lot even the hardiest of cleaning staffs can do about a fishy odor.
BYO Kitchen Tools
Would you stock your rental property with high-end, easy-to-steal chef's knives, or would you toss out a block of wobbly Ikea blades and call it a day? Most well-reviewed rentals have everything you absolutely need in the kitchen, but bring your own version of anything that makes or breaks your meal prep—a nice kitchen knife, a giant roasting pan, or tongs for the grill.
A narrow driveway may not fit the four or five adventuremobiles you've brought on vacation, which can make impromptu grocery runs a pain. Park the car with the most carseats/chillest owner nearest the street, and toss the keys in a central location for everyone to share.
If your crew is mostly adults, then your refrigerator can easily end up as mostly beer, and once college is over no one wants to dig through six packs to find breakfast eggs. In a Washington winter, the back porch is plenty cold for beverages: The world is your beer fridge.
Run the dishwasher after breakfast. Maybe after lunch. Definitely at night. Whenever you think of it, the dishwasher is probably already full, and nothing ruins a group meal like realizing that there are no clean forks. Always be washing.