Aaaand we're back! What is it about certain kinds of vacations where you feel MORE tired after they're over than at the beginning? That is sort of what's happening to me right now, but even if my body feels more tired, my mind feels rested and happier :) So I went to Miami for an extra-long weekend vacation and it was great! I have been there before several times, but (at least from our country) Miami can't be beat price-wise as being one of the cheapest international destinations you can pick for a vacation. I want to share with you two new things I tried to make my 305-vacaction extra budget friendly (I will try almost anything if it means more money for shopping, ha!): flying with Spirit Airlines and staying with an airbnb host instead of booking a hotel.
from couches to castles: airbnb
If you haven't heard of airbnb before, it's an online service that matches people looking for vacation rentals with people in a ton of cities who offer from their couch, to private bedrooms or an entire house/apartment. You can even rent a freaking castle or an igloo on this site. I will admit, I was VERY hesitant about not staying at a hotel, most of all because of safety issues (I was a girl traveling alone), so I did do a LOT of research. I ended up booking an entire apartment, which was lovely and can't recommend enough if you're in Miami.
clockwise from top: a castle in Britain, a luxe loft in Tokyo, an igloo in Slovenia
and a private island in Fiji, all for rent on airbnb.com
why I would use airbnb again (and you should too!):
1. There are no fixed check-in or check-out times, which is great if you're traveling at odd hours. This worked great for me because I was arriving at 7am and leaving at 11pm. You just have to check with the host first to make sure there's no problem with the hours
2. The price - there are rentals available for every budget and the 3% fee you pay airbnb will always be lower than the taxes you pay for booking a hotel room. More money for shopping!
3. Access to the comforts of home - Having a fridge and a kitchen is very useful and budget friendly, because you don't have to eat out for every meal. If you don't like cooking or refuse to do it because you ARE on vacation, you can buy meals at the supermarket (loved everything from Whole Foods) and heat it up when you need to.
a few tips:
1. Contact the host before booking! I can't stress this enough, it's very important to do the research and ask all the questions you might have before booking. Also, read the entire listing before contacting them, check if they will have everything you need (free parking, free internet, etc)
2. This is not a hotel (duh), so check with the host to see if they have a hair dryer, towels and toiletries.
3. And also because this is not a hotel, try to clean up a bit after yourself. Don't leave trash all over the place or a pile of dirty dishes, be nice.
4. Do research on the location of the rental. Make sure it's in a safe neighbourhood and close to where you want to go. Google is your best friend for this.
5. READ THE REVIEWS before booking your rental. Of all the tips, this is the most important one. Take the time and read every single one of them to make sure that your stay goes as smooth as possible. Safety-wise you just have to do this: make sure a masked axe murderer isn't waiting for you in your castle.
Full disclosure, I did find a couple of horror stories about terrible airbnb stays on google. However, I do get the feeling that they're the exception and not the rule for this site. I would 100% use it again, most of all for expensive cities like New York or London. Tomorrow I'll be reviewing Spirit Airlines :)