Travelling the world is one of those things we all want to do, and its something that many of us take time to plan, plan and plan even more. Half of the planning goes into “Where to go” and the other half is “Where to stay”.
As a travel addict (like Rishi), we’ve travelled all over India and a number of countries in Asia. Walking around on at a train station in a random city with a backpack, and eating food from a random cart is not out of the ordinary.
In planning our latest trip – we had decided on the cities to visit (after having a few drinks, and a veggie dinner with Rishi and D), and staying in 5-star hotels was an attractive option for us – but in our opinion, Hotels are a constant anywhere in the world round … Same ol’ bed, same ol’ ugly bed cover, same ol’ drawers, you get the drift…
So my wife and I explored other options and found an alternative that really fit into our vision : http://www.airbnb.com (Rishi’s Note : It looks like paid Couchsurfing – and you get your own place, if you want … so I like it)
Most of us travel to get the “full experience”, why ruin it by staying in a regular hotel? This was our chance to make our regular trip into a storybook trip that we wanted!
On our recent trip to Bali – My wife and I found an incredible villa – Villa Jondin – owned by an Australian couple, who have locals who clean and maintain the house. Our choices were hotels that cost $100/night, or an entire villa with a private pool for a few dollars more…
Before arriving, we thought the pictures were taken by some professional, and there is no way it would look like that… We were wrong – the house looked EXACTLY like the pictures. The Villa even had its own house cat, that meow’ed and wanted us to feed her… The place felt like a home, rather than a “sterile” hotel… for us, travelling should be an experience, rather than “the same ol’ thing”…
Currently, we’re in dream mode for the next trip… Need to start coming up with ideas on places to visit… Currently on our list is San Francisco, and Kenya.
Popped onto the website, and found a tree house in San Francisco that really looked cool … where else would you be able to stay in a tree house … unless you’re at some eco-tourist hotel that would charge an arm and leg for the privilege … and this included Includes TV, Wi-Fi, DVD Collection, heaters, and a cooked meal…
Here’s an example of a boat house in Amsterdam, its cheaper and definitely has a lot more personality and charm than some of hotels that we’ve stayed at.
Jumped over to Nairobi, Kenya (I think this will be our next major trip), and found this place. A giraffe hotel. How cool is it to stay in the Giraffe Lodge – where long necked monsters pop join you for breakfast… We pay to go to a Zoo, and take pictures, but to stay at a place where you can feed a Giraffe by hand, falls into bucket list territory.
Finally, We’ve been to Amsterdam. Its a nice city to visit. Seen the history, and seen the rest of it all as well (it comes with the territory). Lets say you’re interested in trying something totally new. Something ‘out of the box’ – a Boat on the Amstel River. Its romantic, quirky, and totally different. (Note – you’re renting a room on the boat – not the whole thing to yourself)
Now that you’ve seen whats possible, now you’ve got to make it happen. Some things that we learned when dealing with the owners on AirBnB.com based on our first experience …
- Created a profile on the website – show that you’re a professional, and that you’re not the type of person who’s going to trash someone’s house. Make sure you include a picture – it will help with the negotiation.
- Look for places with a review – so you get a true perspective on the place. Its kinda like tripadvisor – but not on tripadvisor.
- Apply to the owner to stay at their place – let them know that you are interested, and asked for a quote.
- Negotiate! – This isnt a hotel website… Negotiation is allowed. We saved $55/night in Bali (there were no reviews at the property that we stayed at – it was a risk for me, and an opportunity for the owner)
- Respect the home when you get there… Otherwise, you will get a negative review – and future people might not rent to you.
- Leave feedback on the place
As you can tell – there are a couple more steps involved in booking a room with people renting out their own space – but its well worth it. You’re applying for the place, proving that you would be a good renter. Its not just “Here’s my Platinum/Gold/Black Visa card – swipe it”, but a personal connection with the person renting their home. Kinda Bed’n’Breakfast style, but with a lot more space availableMake travelling an experience, rather than “the same ol’ thing”…
Our next trip is to Quebec City – I’m now looking for the 100 year old – exposed brick wall property to stay in… It might cost me a few dollars more than a hotel, but its all about the experience.
Until the next guest blog
Vishal – aka Rishi’s Guju Friend.