Nearly every mom on the planet has uttered the words, “I need a vacation,” in frustration and desperation at least once in their lives. Family vacations are supposed to be fun and relaxing, giving parents a chance to catch a well-deserved break from their everyday “household” duties. Yet, for many mothers, vacations hardly resemble a Hallmark movie and are anything but bliss. Moms often end up more exhausted than when they departed for a family trip.
This reality was captured in a 2013 “News in Brief” article posted on The Onion, which recently made its rounds again. The piece highlights mom Catherine Yardley “who has spent a much-needed vacation performing all her usual household chores while in closer proximity to the ocean.” The article might be satire, but given the number of times it has been shared, it obviously resonated with mothers who see themselves in Yardley’s shoes. Family vacations start the moment the trip is booked. And even that responsibility, and all the coordination of services needed while on vacation, typically defers to mom.
The Persisting Gender Housework Gap Extends to Organizing Vacations
It’s 2022 but the landscape of household duties is still gendered, with mothers carrying most of the responsibility related to home and family management. Even mothers who make more money than their husbands still do the lion’s share of the housework, according to a new survey of 6,000 heterosexual North American couples, both married and non-married but cohabitating.
A Gallup poll revealed that working mothers do the bulk of the laundry, cleaning the house, grocery shopping, and preparing meals. If we look at other studies that have analyzed childcare responsibilities, it’s safe to assume that moms perform the majority of these duties too. There are different theories to explain why this gender division of domestic labor exists. It’s certainly not breaking news. Traditionally, men were seen as the primary breadwinners who worked longer hours and, therefore, women assumed most of the household tasks.
Despite an increased presence in the labor market and higher earnings, the inequities women face continue to persist both in and out of the home – and even follow them to quaint beachside cottages and breathtaking mountain resorts. Moms are usually tasked with planning vacations, packing, and coordinating all the services and activities associated with the getaway. In fact, when polled, 59 percent of women say they shoulder one or more of these responsibilities.
Short-Term Rentals are Taking the Work Out of Moms’ Vacations
Moms dream of a vacation ripe with the occasional nap, built-in housekeeping and laundry service, and miles of pristine coastline to keep the kids entertained. As a female founder and mother, I crave a vacation. But I’m usually the one who finds and books the destination and, much like Catherine Yardley, once there, I spend a good part of my time doing all the laundry, dishes, cooking, cleaning, shopping, and so on, even with a supportive partner. Plus, I’ll frequently have to make last minute runs to the store for things like sand toys, sun block, and other necessities that we forget or leave at home.
I’ve always found planning and coordinating family vacations the most overwhelming tasks. For example, have you ever booked an island vacation and had to go back and forth with the property manager in order to coordinate and book all the services your family will need while there? Where can I find a chef? Where do I purchase ferry tickets? Can we get a massage therapist? Who rents the golf course? Oh, wait, that ship isn’t available? Well, is there another one? The last time I planned our family vacation, there were countless emails, texts, and phone calls back and forth. This not only takes up your time, it also causes a significant amount of extra work for the property manager or host.
This is one of the reasons I co-founded The Host Co., which is a digital commerce marketplace for short-term rentals. Today, many families are choosing STRs over hotels because they are cheaper and offer more flexibility. In this space, we’re trying to make moms’ vacations actual vacations by eliminating all this back and forth. We essentially provide a unique storefront for each rental property that includes seamless automated booking of the services moms need while on vacation such as mid-stay cleaning, laundry pick up, grocery delivery, and a variety of other services and amenities. Property managers and hosts can even add any last-minute items you request. Hello, extra firewood! Bring on the birthday party supplies! Things of that nature or things that you may have forgotten or left behind.
And it’s not just our company spinning the family vacation narrative. There are so many new technologies emerging in our world today. Many are having a powerful impact on the travel and tourism industry, particularly in the short-term rental space, as they alleviate the workload for property managers and hosts, while enhancing the experiences for customers of all types, including moms.
Bio: Former HGTV Producer and Creative Director at Facebook, and today an avid traveler and a successful Airbnb host, Annie Sloan is the cofounder and CEO of The Host Co., a digital commerce marketplace for short-term rentals. The company’s platform enables hosts to create an online store to sell anything in their property, from the snacks in the fridge to the art on the walls. There are also additional preorder services including “stock my pantry” and connections to local artisan products for sale. Guests can make purchases before or during their stay.