Whenever Alex and I travel, we can’t help ourselves…

Two or three days into our trip, after eating at the neighborhood pizzeria and hitting up the local playground, we inevitably pull out our phones, scroll the real estate listings, and choose our “new” house. Money no object, of course — it’s all about how charming or cozy the place is. We get sucked into the fantasy of starting a new life in that town, imagining what our days would be like if we uprooted everything and replanted right there.

For example, while visiting California last week, we walked by this gorgeous cottage, above, in Mendocino. Don’t you love the purple hydrangeas and the fence with a heart? Pretty soon I was envisioning wandering over to the bookstore on Saturday mornings and commiserating with the neighbors about the ever-present fog.

My friend Ben takes it a step further: “If I’m driving on vacation and pass an open house, I’ll always stop by. I’ll pretend I’m looking for a place.” I laughed so much when he told me — picturing this single guy strolling through bedrooms, checking the water pressure, asking about load-bearing walls. “I love doing it,” he laughed. “It’s just one of those things.”

Do you look up real estate on vacation, too? Any other funny travel rituals?

P.S. The weirdest best part of vacations, and the #1 item you need for houseguests.