Easy peasy, stress free travel planning – Part 4 (the finale)

 

champ2

So it’s been so long since the Part 3 post, AGMA forgot where I was…

I think I was lecturing everybody about not sleeping with bed bugs.

Not a hard sell (I hope…)

The lodging piece is such a very important part of your travel experience.  It can make or break a trip.  And of course, you want it to make the trip…

…absolutely fabulous, darling!

For our upcoming trip to France (coming up really fast for an unprepared AGMA), we have booked a combination of small hotels and AirB&B’s.  It just all depends on the location, the cost and the parking situation as to what I booked.

We’re going to be traveling with another couple, so getting a two bedroom apartment through AirB&B in several cases was MUCH cheaper than booking two hotel rooms.

AGMA has had wonderful AirB&B experiences and would not hesitate to recommend using them if they make sense for your trip.  I truly believe that 99.9% of AirB&B hosts are NOT going to have a hidden camera in your room.  And if they do, they will be horribly disappointed with AGMA staying there.

Like watching paint dry…

IMPORTANT: ALWAYS read the reviews on any AirB&B’s you are considering.  A-L-W-A-Y-S.  And stay with a Super Host if you can.  These are folks who are…Super Hosts. Very smilier to Super Heros (can you tell I spent last weekend with the grands?), they give you a fantastic, heroic AirB&B exprience.

Our AirB&B host in Epernay, France last year had our fridge stocked with her own brand of champagne!

Eddie and Patsy, com’on over!

AGMA is a “thrifty” traveler. And I generally don’t like to pay for 100% of my lodging up front, which is how AirB&B used to work.  Booking with AirB&B all depended on the host’s cancellation policy (which you need to read and understand.).  With a flexible    policy, you can generally cancel several days before your trip and get a full refund minus the service fee.  Those are the ones AGMA liked to book.

Now, AirB&B has an option to pay 50% of the cost at the time of booking.  Yes please!  The balance is due something like 7 to 10 days before your stay.  Again, you need to pay attention to the date you will be charged for the balance.  It’ll automatically be put on your credit card.

But you still need to be aware of the host’s cancellation policy.  And AGMA still wants to only book the flexible ones!

Check in procedures for AirB&Bs can vary widely.  They will be posted by the host on your reservation which is why you need to have the AirB&B app on your phone so you can refer to them when you’re driving into town!

If you booked an entire apartment or studio, some hosts want to meet you to see how many tattoos and piercings you have (just kidding…sort of) and show you around the property.  This can make coordinating schedules a bit tricky between your travel and their schedule.   But we’ve always been able to make it work and actually enjoy meeting our hosts.

Other hosts give you a code and you get the key out of a lockbox so you can arrive at any time.

If you are renting a room in a home (which I have done on numerous occasions), you will always have to coordinate your schedule with your hosts.

On rare occasions, I have also booked lodging through Priceline or Hotwire.  If you haven’t used these two booking sites yet, they can offer incredibly cheap lodging at your destination, however you don’t know exactly where you’ll be staying until after you pay 100% in advance and book.  And the booking is non-refundable if you cancel.

Ugh.

With Priceline, you can “name your own price” for hotel.  If they accept your bid, again, you don’t know where you’ll be staying until AFTER you pay for your non-refundable booking.  There are bidding strategies to use in order to increase your chances of getting your bid accepted, but that is out of scope for this post.  Sorry…

Google “How to bid on Priceline” and you will get bidding strategies out the wazoo…

Clearly, this is a risky venture if you want to stay in a specific location at your destination or in a certain class of hotel.  Or both.  Both sites show you a radius of the area their hotels are located in, but it’s usually a pretty big radius.  And I’ve also found out that their hotel rating system doesn’t exactly agree with AGMA’s rating system.  Their 3 star hotel might be my 2 star hotel.  Bummer.

There’s a “helper” website called Betterbidding.com that can give you insights from other travelers on they hotels that Priceline and Hotwire are using in specific cities. Many times Better Bidding also has discount coupons for both sites.

AGMA used the Better Bidding site for researching bidding on a hotel in New Orleans because it’s such as walkable/scooterable city.  We got a killer deal at the Royal Sonesta  Hotel on Bourbon Street which would normally be waaaayyyy out of our price range.  It was a gorgeous hotel and we had a spectacular time!

I know that there are many more options for budget travel lodging like house swapping, house sitting, hospitality clubs, friends of friends of friends, Couchsurfing.com, but AGMA hasn’t done any of those so you don’t get to hear about them.

Sorry.

But if you’ve had any experiences with any of those, please comment – we’d love to hear about your adventures!

Every day’s a school day.

Happy travel ya’ll!!

P.S.  Can’t sign off without mentioning the devestating fire in Notre Dame.  I still can’t believe it.  USA tax deductible donations for her restoration can be made at www.notredamedeparis.fr or just Google “Friends of Notre Dame”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

21 thoughts on “Easy peasy, stress free travel planning – Part 4 (the finale)

  1. Thanks for all the info on the Airbnb’s. I don’t travel, but Cordelia and her hubby will be taking a trip in a month or so where they have booked an Airbnb at a really reasonable rate. Since I’m not overly familiar with the city they’re traveling to, and totally unfamiliar with Airbnb’s, perhaps now I’ll have a few less nightmares while they’re away. And they’re driving – so I won’t have to worry about predatory fake Uber drivers.

    Liked by 1 person

      • I did indeed. We found an amazing place through VRBO in Cabo San Lucas. We are going on a short National Geo trip starting in La Paz on Dec 29 and when it ends on Jan 2, we will head to the condo till Jan 7.
        Dates were chosen to get the best air prices.
        I have used both AirBNB and VRBO and have had luck with both.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I’ve found several times that a listing will be on both AirB&B and VRBO, and VRBO has been generally a bit less expensive. But not so much that I double check all the time…. I get lazy sometimes! I was in La Paz and Cabo in 1975 – I’ve heard both changed a whole lot since then… 🙂

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  2. My wife and I used AirBnB twice last year. Both worked out fine and we didn’t met the host in either case. The just send the key code and we were in.

    My normal easy of booking hotels for vacations is, “Honey, can you book a hotel for us?” Works most of the time.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. My first thought on seeing that fridge photo was that you stole a screen shot from Absolutely Fabulous!!

    I’ve only stayed in one Air B&B and it was HORRIBLE (despite good reviews). The host (of a shared apartment) was a complete weirdo. I mean there’s a point of giving us our space and then there’s NEVER speaking directly to us and running out of the room the minute you see us (seriously, he would be in the next room and would STILL only communicate by email – WTF!???).

    But, we’re steadfastly giving Air B&B one more chance on our upcoming trip to France this fall.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh do… Just make sure you read all of the details of the arrangements and the space and all of the reviews. I’m quite surprised that his “interesting” communication style did not come up at all. People are generally brutally honest in those reviews. Unless he’s normally not there maybe? To be honest with you, we usually don’t do a shared situation if we can afford not to. We like our own space and Hubs is a bit of an introvert. However, we did a shared one in Belgium last year and the host’s fridge in the guest space was jam packed with Belgian beers and he told us to help ourselves! Score!

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  4. We have our flights booked for France for this Fall. Our Anniversary celebration. We have homeswapped with our vacation home for years …always went well considering an Airbnb …it will be our first time . I will be following your experience.

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  5. Love your advice, AGMA, and can appreciate some of your special travel circumstances, as I have recently had my share of those, too. Stayed in an Airbnb for the first time recently. Chose this particular one since it was a salvaged and updated historic home, something that I would like to have in the town where I live now. The guy who did it is now filming an HGTV show based on this type of work called Gritty to Pretty. My only complaint was that some of the really new interior equipment was so new that this old fart had trouble figuring out how to use it! In my recent searches, I found that VRBOs were slightly more expensive than Airbnbs. I’ve also found some attractive deals on Travelzoo, and noticed that Priceline is not as good as it used to be, in my experience.

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    • Totally agree about Priceline. I used to get AMAZING deals bidding on rooms. Now I don’t think you can bid anymore. 😦 Hubs and I are going to Nice, France in February and I rented a studio from VRBO. I must have looked a 100’s of listings on all kind of sites, and only found this one on VRBO. Elevator – check, parking – check, good, central location – check, in our price range – check, a studio but with a large area for the bed set off from the living room and separated by a curtain – in my mind a one bedroom! This trip is the first one in a long time we aren’t doing an AirB&B, but I couldn’t find what I was looking for at each of the locations we’ll be staying on AirB&B. Sometimes it just takes a while to find the right place! And I LOVE that you couldn’t work some of the equipment in your AirB&B!! You sound like me! Sounds like it was a pretty amazing place!! I’ll have to try to find Gritty to Pretty!!

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