Where to stay? A Guide to Finding A Home Away From Home

For weeks you’ve been contemplating your next travel destination. Tickets are bought, or at the least the hunt and hope for cheaper tickets to destination has begun. The question that begs is: where to stay? No two cities are alike.  They have distinct neighborhoods and places of interest which are generally scattered, so how do you determine where you will sleep?

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Photo credit: Skyler Smith via Unsplash

It’s a formula of how many days do I have in said place divided by the places I’m most keen to see based on my research and hearsay to the exponential of what is my budget and lifestyle preference while away.

Days ÷ Attractions = Budget^Lifestyle

Okay, so it does not actually require math, but here is my review of the sites to help find a home away from home, whether on a tight budget, for a short or long stay, or on golden nugget days when you are going all out in city centers and hideaways deep in the country.

AIRBNB

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Photo credit: Padurariu  Alexandru via Unsplash

Airbnb is swiftly becoming my all time favorite way to walk the walk of a local in a new city. Assuming you’re staying in a place for a few days, this is a fabulous way to take in all the sights and scenes you can fill your time with and still enjoy an apéro or even a home cooked meal in your temporary abode. Not only does this allow for some downtime entertaining at home — it’s also a great money saver, say if you want to eat dinner in and go out for drinks, or fill up on breakfast so that you have a day of exploration cutting your meals out down to two instead of all three.

There are a few ways to rent on Airbnb.

Rent the entire home

This allows for full privacy, just as if you were in you’re own home and you get to play house somewhere else.

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Photo credit: Paweł Wojciechowski via Unsplash

I have done exactly this in cities including Reykjavik and  London and the countrysides of Montana, Asheville and upstate New York.

In every instance, I have been pleased with the cleanliness, likability of my hosts as meeting them is generally part of the process (i.e., key exchange), and have not felt misled by a listing. I hope that I have not just jinxed myself in saying so!

In New York, there has been a lot of back and forth about the legality of Airbnb although that has not stopped many of my friends from experimenting as landlords. It creates great financial opportunity for someone while they’re on the road and all the while sharing a more authentic New York experience with visitors from around the globe.

rent a room

If you asked me one year ago, I would have told you this option is not for me — not that I had tried it, I was just unsure of the idea. As my fiancé and I have thus made a year long voyage including a road trip across America for half of it, the discussion of budget came into play. And so I tried it in Nashville.

A friend familiar with the city recommended us a neighborhood and we stumbled upon a beautiful room in a brand new house of newlyweds who were not yet using their upstairs. They were warm hosts and provided a ton of knowledge about the area and the city, making our week there all the more enjoyable. I am sure there are varied experiences to be have when you live with your host, but ours was a great one. Andrew and our hostess even shared a mutual friend—it is a small world after all.

The third way is to share a room, however I’m not ready to venture into this option just yet.

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Photo credit: Breather via Unsplash

In terms of how to choose, Airbnb relies on feedback from the community from renters and landlords alike, and so I generally read the reviews closely to look for compliments or complaints. And, perhaps obviously, I look at the photos… closely. In terms of how to behave—if you’ve never been a renter in someone’s home before— basically, just be a good guest. Clean up after yourself and try not to break anything. While staying in an Airbnb in London’s Wapping neighborhood in the most pristinely white apartment, we realized on our third morning that chocolates had been placed under the pillows. Needless to say, we didn’t see them and felt terrible for the melted chocolate stain but our host took it with good humor.

THE HOUSE

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Photo credit: Luke Michael via Unsplash

At the moment, The House is unique to travel in Turkey. It is part café, offering delectable modern Turkish fare with fabulous ambience and it is part private residence and part hotel. Through several neighborhoods in Istanbul, travelers have the opportunity to stay in sleekly designed apartment or now a hotel with all its perks.

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Photo credit: The House

I stayed in an apartment a few years back (I do not believe there was a hotel yet at that time) and had a private balcony with rooftop views and enjoyed meals and libations on more than one occasion at the hip café/bar associated with it.

PRICELINE

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Photo credit: Sarah Kante via Unsplash

Sometimes you just need a place to stay. You’re arriving to a place too late to coordinate an Airbnb. You’re only in town for a single night and don’t want to nor have the time to organize your stuff in the morning and appreciate a hotel and it’s conveniences.

Priceline has truly gotten us out of many a pinch and I highly recommend their Express Deals. Essentially, you select a star rating and a neighborhood, and while the hotel is not revealed to you until you have booked the room—you’re guaranteed your chosen level of accommodation, desired area and you pay a huge discount on the going rate of the same hotel if you book it deliberately.

VRBO

Through VRBO we discovered Giljaland, a quaint cabin in the southeastern part of Iceland and we had a glorious stay.

VRBO works much like Airbnb except for one rather major flaw—the calendars are not up to date. In most of my experience using this site, whenever I’ve found the spot I want to call home for a trip, it’s not available. But how can this be? How can I possibly plan a trip, when the dates are generally the only element you can absolutely plan on, without knowing if a place for said dates is actually free? It also wastes time. I only use it if I haven’t found something already via Airbnb, as at least when you do find something available, the listings are generally good.

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There are still so many resources I have yet to try to find a home away from home. Following are on my list to try. What are your favorites? And have you given whirl at any of the below?