I have been wanting to start blogging more about my travel tips and tricks for a WHILE now. I feel like most people wonder how I travel so much and how I’m able to afford it. The truth is, I am a BARGAIN shopper when it comes to traveling… from the flights I book to the places I stay, I will hunt for deals for WEEKS before booking anything. We booked our roundtrip tickets to Europe for under $950 each (and that’s insane for Europe!!), and the entire 3-week trip so far has only cost us less than $1,500, and all that’s left to book is… the place we’re staying in London. Now, to be fair, we have family and friends in Germany, Austria, and Italy… so in those three countries, our accomodation was covered. But for London, we don’t know anyone! So I had to put on my travel agent hat and consider the options. The first place I went was my favorite place in the WORLD for booking accomodations: Airbnb!!!
Airbnb is, quite simply, the best thing to grace planet Earth since Jesus. For the avid traveler, Airbnb opens entirely new doors (literally) to where you can stay and what you can experience when traveling somewhere new. In short, Airbnb allows people to open their vacation homes or rent out their extra rooms to travelers. Instead of staying in a hotel, you can stay in a local’s house… and have a kitchen, living room, bedroom, etc. and prime location to all the spots you want to hit. The best part?! It’s CHEAPER than a hotel!! You can set a limit for how much money you want to spend per night and even whether you want an entire home, a private room, or a shared room (like a hostel). See below.
It’s almost too good to be true, right? I mean, there HAS to be a catch to this… those were my thoughts the first time I was browsing this site. But here’s the KEY to booking successfully with Airbnb: Only look at places with a minimum of 25 reviews. And read those reviews… chances are, the owner is really dedicated to keeping his or her star rating as high as possible, so they’ll often write back on any and all complaints about how they’re working to fix any problems (like a leaky faucet or rickety front door knob). Reviews. Are. Key.
This is for an apartment in London. For me to see the number of reviews and the high ratings across all categories, that’s a green flag, and I’ll then add it to my “wish list” for that city before choosing my favorite (usually based on location +ratings over appearance), and then I’ll contact the host to request booking. It helps that my profile has been certified by Airbnb through identification verification and a background check, so renters know that I’m not some criminal or kidnapper… or something.
I’ve stayed with Airbnb several times in the past, and I don’t hesitate now to go straight here when traveling. This will be my first time staying in an Airbnb site abroad, but we are SO excited. I’m already asking all the hosts for the best places to see in our 5 days in London. They’re usually REALLY nice, and some even leave you chocolate on your pillows… :) This place below was the first site we ever rented through Airbnb. Christy was a PHENOMENAL host, and she even visited with us for a bit and told us all about her life in New York City and what her favorite restaurants and attractions were. The NYC apartment was clean, tidy, and just really neat. We felt like true New Yorkers!!! We were sold ever since on the magic that is Airbnb.com. So the next time you’re looking to travel… check it out! And tell me about your experience!! I’d love to hear all about it (and add your favorite sites to my wish lists for the future… :)