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Road-tripping family makes a Tulsa temporary home as part of Airbnb program | Home & Garden


Last July, a mother, daughter and grandmother from Maryland got some life-changing news: The three of them were selected to participate in the Live Anywhere on Airbnb program, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to live any travel junkie’s dream. They will spend a year traveling the world, staying in the Airbnb listings of their choice, all paid for by the company.

This multigenerational trio, however, is traveling with a bigger purpose.

Airbnb selected 12 individuals — digital nomads, creatives, journalists, retirees, new parents and more — from nine countries for the program. Participants were encouraged to bring up to three guests and are tasked with logging and sharing their journeys to help Airbnb improve the customer experience, especially for long-term travelers.

Airbnb selected Lindsey Miller-Voss; her mother, Bev Howard; and her daughter, Anna Miller, who uses a wheelchair, from a pool of over 314,000 applicants.

As they travel across the United States, the trio is on a mission to advocate for those with disabilities, imparting the message that travel should be accessible to everyone.

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As part of their Live Anywhere on Airbnb adventure, the family decided to call Tulsa their home for a month, hoping to explore the city’s culture, food and history, all while serving as an example that travel should not be limited to those who are able-bodied.

“I’m showing people that even if you are in a wheelchair, that doesn’t mean your life is mediocre,” Anna Miller said. “My wheelchair isn’t actually what slows me down; it’s what sets me free and allows me to travel to so many different places.”

Miller-Voss’s passion for travel started in childhood and continued to grow, informing much of her adult life and her decision to apply to the Airbnb program. Before starting the program, Miller-Voss and her family traveled extensively both internationally and within the country. When planning their year-long adventure, the group decided to stay mainly in the United States, traveling via minivan with their dog and cat, roadschooling Anna along the way.

“I remember growing up and always doing impromptu, fun summer road trips with my mom,” Miller-Voss said. “I have a lot of really great memories of that, which is what inspired us to use this Airbnb opportunity as a road trip, as opposed to international travel. We want to make sure we’re getting as many experiences as possible during this year.”

The three women have always maintained a close relationship, with Howard often stepping in to help Miller-Voss with educating and caring for Anna both at home in Maryland and on the road.

“In the past, I’ve traveled and been in based different places for work, so my mom has come along to help with Anna, and then when I started graduate school, she moved in with us full-time, which was so helpful as a single mom,” Miller-Voss said. “It’s just been us — our powerful trio — for quite awhile. We’re all about this girl power group we’ve got going here — we’re Team Anna.”

Just before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Miller-Voss converted to a fully remote position as a communications director for a nonprofit organization — allowing her and her family the flexibility to travel freely, making them the perfect applicants for the Live Anywhere on Airbnb program.

Anna Miller has osteogenesis imperfecta, a genetic disorder that causes the bones in the body to be brittle, often leading to fractures or abnormal bone formation, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine.

Miller-Voss was unfamiliar with OI at the time she chose to adopt her daughter. The new mom took to the internet to find other families with children affected by the disorder, which helped her learn more about Anna’s disability and know what to expect for her life.

The experience of navigating the world in a wheelchair inspired the mother-daughter pair to share their story with the world, Miller-Voss said.

“We realized that other people could benefit from seeing that if they’ve got a child in a wheelchair, it doesn’t mean their family can’t go out and do amazing things — it just takes a little more research,” Miller-Voss said. “If you’re a family who’s new to life with a wheelchair, those early stages of trying to explore the world can be really frustrating, and that’s what we’re trying to help with.”

Through her Instagram account and blog, Anna Miller documents her travels and discusses which destinations are accessible to people with disabilities, hoping to both inspire and be a helpful resource to other people using wheelchairs, she said.

The trio has a strong interest in long-term travel and appreciates the opportunity to immerse themselves in the culture of wherever they’re visiting, Miller-Voss said. After learning about the Live Anywhere on Airbnb program — which requires participants to stay in each location for at least one month — the family made the decision to apply.

“When we wrote our application, we were able to present to (Airbnb) that we have multiple generations; we’ve got an awesome, vocal teenager already sharing what it’s like to travel and adventure with a disability on her platforms, and we’re also traveling with our pets in tow — we hit a bunch of marks,” Miller-Voss said.

When the family learned of their acceptance in July, they immediately started creating a plan for their travels, hitting the road in September. The trio started their adventure in Portland, Maine and then headed to Newport, Rhode Island, for Thanksgiving. Savannah, Georgia, came next, then Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Tulsa wasn’t initially part of the plan, Miller-Voss said. After an issue with a reservation came up on their way to Albuquerque, the crew decided to take a rest stop in Tulsa for a few days, max. Soon, though, the group pivoted to turn a short trip into a long-term stay.

“We have a notebook of about 45 different cities we might visit at some point, and we track what we might do in those cities,” Miller-Voss said. “When we started filling in the page for Tulsa, knowing we’d be here for a few days, the list just kept growing and growing. By the time we had almost 20 things we wanted to do, we knew we needed to be here for a whole month.”

Anna Miller — who describes herself as a history buff — said she enjoys combining her roadschooling with visiting the sites where historical events took place. The trio’s downtown Airbnb provides the perfect home base for exploring Tulsa’s unique history, Miller-Voss said, and the group already has visited the Woody Guthrie Center, Route 66, several art and Cherokee National museums, and Greenwood Rising.

“We knew parts of the Greenwood story, but we’re planning to go back again, because there was so much to absorb and take in,” Miller-Voss said. “The house we’re staying in is very close to the parts of the community that were destroyed, so it’s been fascinating to experience this part of history in a very hands-on way.”

The family has immersed themselves in the local food culture, already trying such Tulsa classics as Empire Slice House and, of course, Coney I-Lander. (“How can you turn down a restaurant that’s 94 years old?” Miller-Voss said.) The trio is also looking forward to trying local staples like the Coffee House on Cherry Street and Antoinette Baking Co.

After a few more weeks of calling Tulsa their home, the family will relocate to their first international location, Cozumel, to enjoy its Carnival celebrations. Afterwards, the group will head to their final stop of their Airbnb journey in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

To follow the trio’s journey on the Live Anywhere on Airbnb program, visit therealannamiller.com or follow @therealannamiller on Instagram.

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