Places We Stay

How in the world do they figure out where they’re going to live and stay?  

If you’ve been pondering this question, here’s how we go about “making a home” in all of the countries we visit.  We use the following points to help narrow our search, prioritize where we want to go, and help us decide where we want to stay:

1. Within our budget
2. Location and proximity to good surfing and other activities
3. Strong, reliable wi-fi
4. Kitchen
5. Free parking (if we are renting a car) or proximity to public transportation

Sound easy? Think again!  This adventure is all about flexibility and compromise, both of which are difficult for two people who are drastically different in how they plan and execute trips/vacations.   Before we left California, we’d loosely discussed traveling to different regions of the world for 3-4 months at a time starting in Central America, then Europe, then Australia and lastly Asia.  At that time, we only had our first month’s accommodations booked because it was part of my yoga certification program in Nosara, Costa Rica.   It’s been fun figuring it all out along the way.

Apartment in Nosara, Costa Rica

Apartment in Nosara, Costa Rica

Typically, we begin our search with AirBnB, the popular online rental service.  We have found that AirBnB has the most reliable results in most places, and they allow us to filter properties by location, amenities, price, and also to read reviews from other travelers.  We’ve had the most luck with budget vacation rentals as opposed to hotels and resorts, which are often out of our budget and may not fit our needs.  Our first experience with AirBnB was back in Septemeber 2012; we used it to find a great apartment in Rome during a family vacation. We had a great experience with our apartment, gracious hosts, prime location and reasonable price.  If there are studios/apartments that we like, we reach out to them via the site’s email feature and ask about discounts for weekly or monthly visits, and verify that their property will meet our needs, in particular having reliable internet.  If all goes well we move forward and book the property on AirBnb.  Other similar vacation rental services we have used are HomeAway, VRBO, FlipKey and TripAdvisor.  We’ve also found that many cities have dedicated vacation rental companies/websites that specialize in their specific region.  For example, in San Sebastian we used FeelFree Rentals and in Ireland we rented an independent vacation home we had found through Google searches.  In Australia and New Zealand, we used Stayz.com and Holidayhouses.com.  There are endless possibilities to find affordable and beautiful vacation rentals.

Jungle Cabin, Cabo Matapalo, Costa Rica

Jungle Cabin, Cabo Matapalo, Costa Rica

 

Herdsman's House, Ireland

Herdsman’s House, Ireland

We love staying in rental apartments because they not only give us a “comfy home” feeling, they also give us privacy and allow us to live like locals.  We thoroughly enjoy visiting local farmer’s markets, bakeries and cafes to help us feel like we actually live in these cities.  We usually visit local yoga studios and public swimming pools to stay active and then come home to cook our favorite “American-Mexican-Asian” dishes with local ingredients. They don’t always come out exactly like they do at home, but close enough.  Another advantage that rental homes & apartments offer over traditional hotels & resorts is the personal touch & level of service you receive from the owner or manager.  For example, we had problems with our wi-fi connection in our Paris apartment, so the owner immediately came right over to help us install a new router for a strong signal.  It’s hard to imagine receiving that level of service in a typical hotel!

Essaouira, Morocco

Apartment in Essaouira, Morocco

The final step in our process is leaving feedback for the great hosts we’ve encountered during our travels.  Both AirBnb and TripAdvisor have a large network of reviews that we trust in order to make our decisions, so we like to return the favor by helping spreading the word about the wonderful places we’ve found through these services.

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