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AirBnB Appreciation... (and other tips on 'affording' travel)

The most common question I've been asked both before and after travelling Europe was how I could afford it... the answer (amongst 'student loan' and the other things at the end of this post!) is simply... AirBnB. A concept that I've found those who haven't used it struggle to get their heads around... the basics of it is that people (hosts) who have some 'spare space' post it up on AirBnB and people who need somewhere to stay can rent it from them from the duration of their visit. This usually places the visitor in the heart of an authentic local neighbourhood, gives them the oppurtunity to meet the locals and get first-hand advice on the city or patch of countryside they're visiting... and there are all manner of 'spaces' up to rent, from spare rooms to boats to whole villas. One of the biggest concerns people had when I told them about the way it worked was whether the hosts stayed 'with you'...there were options both ways. We primarily chose to rent whole apartments, just because of the convenience of being able to come and go at strange times without disturbing anyone, the need for some privacy after like 14 hours or often more out of the house everyday and the fact there was little difference in cost anyway. However, when we did stay with the host we honestly only saw them maybe twice(!?) and had no issues with sharing the bathroom/kitchen/etc. In fact, in more or less a month, we had no problems with the 8 or so AirBnB properties we stayed in (apart from some creepy neighbours!) but all were spotlessly clean, the arrivals/departures were so smooth, the locations were amazing and they were incredible value.

Personally, I am converted, I want to travel with AirBnB again and again!!!

My clothes casually hanging out in Cinque Terre.



A little taste of the places we stayed!

 META (for Sorrento, Capri, Pompeii, Amalfi and Positano)
Ursula was amazing-such a motherly caring attitude, she arranged us transport from the airport and showed us fireflies!!! The apartment was split with a mezzanine level and included a secluded shared courtyard area.


ROME
(This one was my favourite! Soooo homely and you could just sense, the host, Irene's creativity!)


FLORENCE
Cleanest, most convenient location and such a bohemian, yet authentic Italian, vibe just all around the neighbourhood!


More apartments we loved (...but didn't remember to take photos of!):

  • Venice - on the mainland rather than the island, but there is a regular bus service. Amazingly handy for the airport though and sleeps maybe even 6 people if you used the sofa bed!
  • La Spezia/Cinque Terre - not technically one of the Cinque Terre towns, but sooo close by local train. The colour combinations of this apartment were on top form. ;) Anna was another incredible and so so organised host and picked us up from the station when we arrived after a 7hr train journey! I also loved how her car and clothes matched the colour scheme of the apartment...
  • Barcelona - could not have asked for a better location! Located halfway between the beach and the best area of El Raval, El Gotic and the Ramblas, this time we only booked a private room but our stay was flawless. Mattia was soo chilled out and just generally awesome too. I am definitely going to stay here next time I go to Barcelona - my favourite place of the trip!


Other money-saving tips when booking:

- Book waaaay in advance! And I mean really REALLY far in advance.
And book everything, I know that's not the spontaneous way people should travel, but if you want to save money I'm afraid it's the way forward. Unless you're drowning in cash, book every train, coach, flight and accomodation in advance. And remember connecting trains/airport buses etc too!

- DON'T buy an interrail ticket. Again, this is fab for spontaneity and don't get me wrong, could I have afforded it, I would have loved to just go with the flow and move on whenever, but we saved maybe £150 just buy booking our individual trains through TrenItalia and SCNF, which ranged from €5-€20 a train. It also gave us the options to use coaches or even flights instead.

- Plan a route, change the route. We began by listing the places we wanted to go (the list was ridiculouslyyy long), then prioritising the places we were realistically going to go, then plotting them on a map and drawing a few different routes between them that we thought would be most convenient. We tested several possibilities just to make sure we had the best value, even if it meant some silly moves... France - Spain - France being one of the silliest. And replacing Nice-Marseilles with totally striking Marseille off because of the €80 train and heading to the way-more-exciting Spain for around €20 instead.

- Don't stay in youth hostels. There is nothing wrong with youth hostels at all and I have stayed in plenty with school etc throughout my life, the only reason I say this is that as travelling has soared in popularity, the price of all good hostels has also soared. For every city we stayed in we compared the cost of Hostels/Airbnb/Budget hotels and nearly everytime AirBnB won out... with the need to stay in only 2 budget hotels (Nice and Paris) still cheaper than hostels!. Remember also though, that you are going to end up spending VERY little time in the accommodation, probably ONLY sleeping there - so in my opinion, as long as it has a bed and your stuff is safe, anywhere will do.

- Take only your hand luggage. The people I travelled with went half and half on this one, personally I took only my one backpack - I coped fine with that much stuff, had space for souvenirs (and clothes shopping!) and over four flights saved myself around £80. This does raise the issue of liquids, just make sure you check out the restrictions on each of your airlines.

- Use SkyScanner.net when booking flights. I am always shocked when people who regularly travel by plane haven't heard of this site. It's soooo easy to use, you literally just put in where you want to go and when and the website compares the fares of EVERY airline from every airport nearby and gives you the cheapest option. Using this we discovered that in some cases (Nice - Barcelona and Barcelona - Paris) the plane cost under £20, which was much cheaper and sooooooo much faster than the train or bus.

- And when you're going, use a pre-paid Euros card! I opted for EasyJet's. The benefits of this are the money you save on withdrawing from ATMs and using cards instore, which would both be charged on a debit/credit card. But more importantly for me, it meant I could keep track of my spending and wouldn't accidentally end up aimlessly spending and going over my budget - which was tighter than the people I travelled with as unlike them I didn't have a job lined up and waiting for me for when I got home!



If you've read this far and don't feel the urge to book a holiday or complete travelling trip, what is wrong with you!!? 


Go on, book a spontaneous weekend away!

Naomi x

5 comments

  1. insightful post and I'm definitely saving it for the future, i hope you had an amazing time on your trip!

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  2. Great tips! Saved to my pocket and pinned for future adventures :) sounds like you had an incredible trip, although even the planning of it sounds quite complicated/ exhausting to me (partly brain fog though) never mind 14 hr days etc!

    I'd be interested to know what you packed in your bag, & whether there was anything you wish you had, or perhaps took and didn't need. Foodwise did you mostly cook yourselves or eat out? Also what surprised you about the trip? is there anything you'd do differently if you were doing a similar trip again? (Perhaps longer/shorter time in certain places etc)

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  3. AirBnB sounds really nice. Also the laces you've stayed it looks pretty comfortable!
    Jade x

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  4. I hope you had an amazing time! these pictures are so lovely

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  5. Thanks for sharing this! Hello from Cbloggers on FB :) Interesting to get a look into what Air B&B places are like :)

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