Sliding into 2017 with a hygge retreat

Happy New Year! We just got back from family parties in Los Angeles, followed by a snowy retreat in the beautiful Sierra National Park where we practiced the Danish art of hygge – slowing down, getting cosy, and enjoying winter with like-minded people. Our holidays were filled with sledding adventures, board games by the fire, and hiking among the giant Sequoias. Oh – and a distinct lack of Internet access.

That last quality was a BIG challenge for us (me especially) but it gave us a much-needed break from the always-on distractions of social media and email. We were forced to go outside, explore the world, and connect with the people around us – and each other. I played more games with my family this past week than I have in the last year – and got the chance to do some longer-term thinking & writing as well. A wonderful and much-needed retreat – and pontent reminder to put more hygge into our lives.

Blessedly, on this vacation everything went smoothly, with no hitches – thanks to several online services that I’ve come to rely on without even realizing it.

NextDoor is a neighborhood-focused service with verified identity – not just anyone can join, and you need to prove you actually live in the neighborhood. I use NextDoor during holidays & vacations to find someone to care for our 3 beloved cats.  This year, we found a wonderful local family with 2 cat-crazy kids who wanted to earn money over vacation. They took great care of our cats, sending me updates and leaving us a thank-you note.I LOVE giving neighborhood kids their first paid gig – and NextDoor’s verified identify system allows me to feel comfortable letting a stranger into my house.

Thumbtack is a service for hiring a freelancer or contractor that I’ve come to rely on.  It’s great for finding local help – and GENIUS when you’re traveling.

This holiday, we had a family mini-reunion in LA, complete with 4 generations of Kims. I used Thumbtack to find a local photographer who could meet us in my mother-in-laws backyard during a 1-hour window of opportunity. It worked great – the photographer was prompt & professional and the photos came out great.

During this trip, we booked a mountain lodge for snowy fun – and used TripAdvisor to research and choose our vacation digs. For longer stays we use AirBnB and HomeAway – but when I want someone else to make breakfast and worry about meals, finding a great price on a hotel that’s just right for us is a wonderful service. We also used Tripadvisor to book a quick 1-night hotel room in LA when the guest room wasn’t available – and again, it worked out great and was perfect for us.

For the drive to and from Montecito-Sequoia, we used Kayak to find a 4-wheel drive vehicle with snow tires, which weren’t that easy to find.  Now, I’m not an expert snow driver – and the car we rented was GREAT – it got us out of numerous slippery situations during our time in the mountains. I found exactly the features I needed and a great price through kayak – and frugal person that I am, I LOVE knowing that I’m getting a great deal.

I appreciate that power of verified identity, search-friendly reviews and socially-sourced recommendations — that’s what helped us zero-in on what works for our particular family and situation. In the coming years, I think we’ll see more systems with these properties – especially as big data and machine learning leverage the growing body of social knowledge that we’re all generating every day, with our digital footprints & activities.

Until then – enjoy your Winter & get your hygge on! 🙂