Passport up to date? Friends and loved ones excited to gather in-person outside of backyard settings?
Tune into Netflix’s latest series “The World’s Most Amazing Vacation Rentals” for ideas about locales, experiences and places to stay; it’ll have you jonesing for travel.
During the eight episodes, viewers are treated to adventures to Bali, the American Northwest/Southwest, Hawaii, gourmet food retreats, bizarre bed-and-breakfasts and private islands. The audience gets to take the 30-minute escapes with YouTubers Megan Batoon (a design gal and self-professed DIY-er), Jo Franco (a lifestyle and travel influencer) and Luis Ortiz from the Bravo reality television series “Million Dollar Listing New York.” During each episode, the trio picks vacation rentals based on various price points: Batoon chooses the best budget vacation rentals; Franco shows us unique vacation rentals; and Ortiz handles luxury rentals. The group stays two nights in each property to test them out, while providing tips and cultural details about the area and property. The journeys range from a four-story “Bird’s Nest” in the middle of a rice field in Bali to an upscale resort in Alaska that makes cocktails with ice from a glacier.
“I think vacation rentals, especially going into summer travel and moving ahead, they’re a great option for people who want to be a little bit more secluded, who want to have more privacy and space,” Franco said. “There are so many options. So many of these kinds of shows where you’re seeing extraordinary homes or vacation rentals, the pricing is really not relatable, but in our show that’s not the case.”
We talked with Franco prior to the show’s Friday premiere to find out what travelers can expect in a world that is still reeling from the pandemic and its effects. Franco has traveled to more than 50 countries and speaks six to seven languages (she’s currently learning Egyptian Arabic). The following interview has been condensed and edited.
Q: Are all of these properties on Airbnb and VRBO or are they hard to find?
A: These places are listed on these vacation rental platforms; it’s really just a matter of digging. What’s cool is the show is like a catalog of the best places. We did the searching, we found some really amazing stays and life-changing experiences — that’s my side of travel. I’ve traveled for a decade and when I travel, I look at it as, Let me go learn something new — learn a language, learn the culture, meet the people. So, the vacation rentals that I chose, you see that interaction with the hosts or you see us diving into the context there — that’s what was really special to me. These platforms are allowing us to look at the world as more of a classroom and less as a place to just stop in as a tourist.
Q: Has the pandemic shifted your travel perspective?
A: I think the pandemic has made safety top priority for most people, as it should. The pandemic showed us how global we really are: One thing would happen in one country, and then next month it’s happening in another, and that is a very tough thing to swallow. But it hasn’t necessarily changed my thinking that travel is the best education. If we’re doing it safely, if we’re protecting ourselves and others, it’s still how I personally live my life and how I encourage others to explore and to learn about themselves in the world. I’m excited to see travel opening up again. What I hope people get from the show is encouragement to just get out there, see the world and really look at travel not so much as this glitz-and-glam unattainable thing, but as an opportunity to experience a rich life, to learn things that you wouldn’t have ever learned. And to just realize how much bigger the world is.