Ever since February, when I spent a month in Arizona for the cost of a $35-a-night Airbnb, a cheap rental car and bargain plane tickets, I've been bragging.

Ever since February, when I spent a month in Arizona for the cost of a $35-a-night Airbnb, a cheap rental car and bargain plane tickets, I've been bragging.

"You, too, can do this," I've said to other parents of grown children who live across the country. "If they live in great places and your schedule's flexible, you can still spend time with them and not go broke or be underfoot."

So it was with great confidence that I set out with family and friends to celebrate my daughter's graduation from a Chinese-medicine program in Portland, Oregon.

Given my great record of success, I put myself in charge of arrangements: five nights at an Airbnb down the street from where she shares a house; four nights in a Vrbo house with a washer and dryer on the Oregon coast; and two nights downtown at a hotel. What could go wrong?

Well, for starters, the house down the street. The host misentered the lockbox code before going AWOL in the Oregon mountains, and short of breaking in a window, we had no way of getting in.

With other guests already couch-surfing in my daughter's house, we scrambled for a hotel and found one designed, unfortunately, for expense-account travelers. There was an extra charge for everything but the cucumber water in the lobby.

Not to worry, though. In a day or so, East Coast cousins arrived and offered to share rooms in their Airbnb, which, unlike my booking, had a working key and all the advertised amenities, including a well-stocked kitchen. This immediately inspired us to haul in a load of Oregon organics, including several pounds of free-range, air-chilled chicken, and cook until it was too hot to cook.

"No problem," a cousin said. "Freeze the meat and take it with you."

This made sense, since the cooler coastal destination also advertised a well-stocked kitchen.

It also advertised itself as allergy-friendly -- but after 10 minutes inside, the allergic among us were wheezing and coughing.

At 9 p.m., laden with quickly defrosting chicken and loads of dirty laundry, a hotel wouldn't do. Fortunately, the graduate located another Airbnb 45 minutes down the road. This one had a kitchen and a beautiful view but only two available nights and no washer or dryer.

When our coastal stay was up, I launched a campaign to drive inland to Eugene, which featured -- well, not much, except for a still-empty college campus and an abundance of Airbnb homes.

With a cooler stuffed with now-cooked chicken and suitcases full of laundromat-washed clothes, we headed to allergy-friendly Shirley and Joe's place. It featured a large new deck that looked out on the mountains -- and by evening on an emaciated doe lounging listlessly in the backyard.

Thanks to Google, we diagnosed her with chronic wasting disease and called a wildlife center, which recommended calling the nonemergency number for the police department in case she needed to be put out of her misery.

Armed with flashlights, the police tromped back to diagnose the deer, which -- light shined in her eyes -- quickly regained her strength, charged in our general direction and out the same broken fence through which she probably had entered. This was fortunate for the deer and probably for us, since the house rules forbade noise (likely including gunshots) after 9 p.m.

Joe apologized for the fence.

I'm happy to say that, in the end, I negotiated full refunds for being locked out and nearly asphyxiated and got the corporate hotel to waive something called an "early departure fee."

I have given up, though, on my find-a-need-and-fill-it idea of a consulting business for parents who want to spend their winters near grown children in summery climes at bargain prices. I hope someone else takes up the gauntlet, though.

I promise to be first in line.

Balancing Act author Pat Snyder is a northwest Columbus resident and life-balance speaker and coach. Find her at PatSnyderOnline.com.