Vacations are perfect for some collaborative housing! The fact that we stay there for limited time gives us more courage to share some spaces and activities. We often rent a place together with friends and family, eat together almost every evening and… we love it! Interesting to think how we could bring some of our vacation spirit to our everyday life, sure… we leave the sea behind and have to be all practical and efficient. Nevertheless, I think it is possible, but, to begin with, in the two following posts I would like to speak about collaborative vacations.

Last year I had a great experience in a place called Gran Pino. My daughter was to be born in summer and we planned a very relaxing time. Some friends suggested a place in Toscany. They told us that it is great because it is just 5 minutes walking from the beach, all meals are cooked for you and since many parents are attracted to the space there is a lot of collaboration between people, helping each other and socialising. The price was also interesting… so we booked two weeks.

Gran Pino is a house that is rented by the association “amici della natura” or Friends of Nature. The association takes upon itself to offer houses for self-management in very good prices, so that tourism can become more affordable and based on people’s organization. This house was the first one in Italy. It is a big house from the ’70 with many rooms, a kitchen and a big area around it.

My first impression was: “oh my god! Where did I come with my 3 weeks old baby? This place is falling a part!!”  We had a very small room, one of the few rooms with toilet. The garden had an abandoned look, some games for children were falling a part, and generally everything seemed a bit left to its destiny. It did not take much for us to understand that the place is self-managed, so if we wanted it to be nicer we could just do it. A small clean up in front of the room, a small tent for the children and some other small stuff made the place feel more like home.  Eating together is also great, and when meals are cooked for you, it is even better. During July and august, it is to difficult to let people manage the kitchen so a cook makes three meals every day with fresh products from the vegetable garden. A bell announces lunch and dinner and the cook comes with big pots to serve everyone, like in a big family. Each one of us had to wash the dishes after eating, dry them and put them back in the place. As we were there with a group of friends, we took turns. Each room is responsible for cleaning some of the common areas two times a week. (for example the toilets, the showers and the dining area.)

By contributing ourselves we managed to have a very nice vacation, spending only very few. The feeling of being part of a group is great and adds a lot to relaxing, especially if you have children. Sure, some work has to be done to improve the house and the garden that requires more effort and money. Luciano, one of the founders of the association in Italy told us they are not having an easy time in Italy and therefore cannot offer things as good and cheap as they would like. The state did not give any help to the association, where in other countries for example Germany, some houses are given for free to the association.

So, relaxing by he sea side without going to the other side of the world, enjoying good and fresh local food and collaborating to have better prices and sociable moments. This is what I call a collaborative sustainable vacation!

This year, I used a collaborative service you all probably know: Airb&b. I will write about that in my next post. In the meantime, good coming back to the routine!