Booking Accommodation with Airbnb

We love Airbnb, but I found out recently that not everyone else does; some people have concerns that they’re going to be conned or that the property won’t be safe.

Let me just say, we have never had a bad experience with Airbnb… This isn’t to say that every place we’ve stayed has been 5* (some have been pretty close though), but you get what you pay for and we were fully aware what we were booking for all of our trips!

We use it for most our holiday stays and we usually find that it’s quite a bit cheaper than hotel rooms or holiday apartments, so I thought I would share some handy tips and advice for booking with Airbnb – you may soon love it as much as we do!

Check the sleeping arrangements

One of the first things that I check when booking with AirBnB are the sleeping arrangements. Just because you put in a certain amount of guests, doesn’t mean there are always that same number of actual beds available. Sometimes, they have sofa beds and futons, often meaning someone’s ‘bedroom’ will in fact be a communal space – and someone has to draw the short straw! On the main overview, underneath amenities, you will be able to see the sleeping arrangements where it tells you how many bedrooms, and what type of beds are in each.

Let’s face it, if you’re on a romantic getaway then twin beds in separate rooms isn’t exactly what you would want to see when you walk into your stay….

Sleeping arrangements when booking with AirBnB

Read the reviews!

Okay so in all honesty, I think the reason we have never had a bad stay is because I won’t book anywhere that hasn’t been reviewed yet. If it’s a brand new property that’s only just been listed, I won’t stay in it – let’s face it – nobody wants to be the guinea pig! The more reviews the better, as you get a clearer idea of the place, but even just a couple of reviews to confirm that it’s trust-worthy is enough!

The actual reviews themselves are important, as they give you honest feedback from previous guests about what works and what doesn’t with the accommodation. If you’re a light sleeper for example, the reviews will usually tell you if there are issues with the street noise, how effective the blinds/shutters are and any other information that you need to know! There’s also a search bar above the reviews where you can search for specific terms that people have used which are important to you i.e. pool, mattress, location etc..

Unique stays

Airbnb doesn’t just have people’s houses and flats available to stay in – oh no! You can find yurts, camper vans, lighthouses and castles! At the top of the page, under ‘more filters’, you can scroll down to ‘property type’ and ‘unique stays’ which have a huge range of different properties for you to whittle it down to.

If sleeping in a windmill is on your bucket list, Airbnb is a great place to go!

How to find unique stays when booking with AirBnB

Check amenities

If you’re like me (you pack half of the house when you go away for a weekend) then I’d glance a look over the amenities! Most stays will offer the basics – sheets, soap and toilet roll – but things like hairdryer, shampoo and towels can save a load of packing space, and can help you travel a lot more efficiently! It could be the difference between a cabin bag and hold luggage.

View the check-in info

This is especially important if you have a timeline that you need to stick to. Some places have very specific check-in/check-out times, which can sometimes be an issue when you have a particularly early or late flight somewhere. It’s always worth checking this before you book to be able to see whether there is any flexibility and if it fits around your schedule! Usually, the properties that offer self check in (normally the key is kept in a lock box) are best for unsociable times!

Take note of the cancellation policy

Some places on Airbnb let you cancel up to a few days before you’re due to arrive in order to get a full refund, and others only let you cancel within 48 hours of booking. If your fights and plans are all set in stone, then it shouldn’t really matter, but if you’re just going for a weekend break in your own country where plans can change, it might be an idea to choose a stay with more flexibility! It’s also worth noting this when you book anyway, just so you are aware of your rights and are prepared if the worst was to happen!

Entire place, or just a room?

To some people, the thought of staying in a room in someone’s home sounds exciting as you get to meet new people and feel safe if travelling to a new country. For us however, we prefer to stay in a place on our own so that we can feel free to come and go as we wish, and don’t have to worry about staggering in at 3am if we chose to spend the night bar-hopping and gallivanting around. At the top of the page with the filters, you have the choice to pick your ‘type of place’, where you can choose from either entire place, private room, shared room or hotel room. Private rooms are generally cheaper than the entire place, so it all depends on your preferences and your budget.

Booking with AirBnB- property type

Check the map

A great perk of booking with Airbnb is that it has a great feature on the website (and the app) where you can look at an overview of all available properties which match your requirements, on a map! This is really handy if you know there’s a rough area of a city that you’re hoping to stay in, but in my experience, the prices that are shown on the map aren’t always accurate and will quite often end up reducing when you click into the property. Winner!

If you don’t use this feature to actually search for your property, it’s always useful to double check where your desired stay is on the map, in case it’s in a rough area or miles away from the centre of where you want to be!

So that’s just about it! It’s really not that complicated, it’s just about getting to know how it works and what to look for to ensure you have the very best stay! You can find some truly amazing properties on Airbnb, you just need to have a little look around and don’t always be fooled by the first image that’s displayed. Take your time to look into the details of the properties and you can find some great homes to make your holidays wonderful!

Airbnb have also got an area for ‘experiences‘ as well, which we’re yet to try. If you’ve used this then please let us know how you got on!!!

Our shots of the world

We book LOTS of holidays (as you may have seen through our travels), so we know it can be hard to decide where to go next. There’s so much information out there (sometimes too much!) and often you just need something short and snappy to help you narrow it down based on your wants and needs.

We have written whole pages on the specific countries that we have been to together, so we have now created this page to give a snap-shot overview of each one (hence the shot glasses). It’s worth bearing in mind that these are based entirely on our own experiences and we can only account for the countries that we have actually been to. Every time we go to a new destination, we will make sure to update this to eventually have a whole catalogue of countries! That’s the dream, anyway!


Eco-Friendly Travel – 9 Top Tips

The sad truth is, until engineers invent aeroplanes which run off reusable energy (and make them mandatory across all airlines), there isn’t an obvious guide for eco-friendly travel without increasing your carbon footprint. Of course, catching a bus or train is a lot better than a plane, but there really is no perfect method of transport to get you from country to country, whilst leaving no trace of damage on the planet.

Take a few minutes to read through our top tips for eco-friendly travel, and hopefully it’ll help give you some pointers to be as responsible as possible on your journeys.

Top Tips for Eco-Friendly Travel
Think before you leave

Oddly enough, the first step to helping the environment starts before you even leave the house. How long are you going away for? Two weeks… a month? Maybe even longer! Make sure to use up all of the food in your house in the lead up to you going away, and give any food that won’t keep to either a food bank or a friend/neighbour. Food waste is a huge issue which can so easily be prevented; all it takes is a little planning ahead!

Make sure to unplug any electronics that don’t need to stay on; your fridge/freezer should probably be the only thing remaining. Don’t leave your TVs on standby and turn off your water supply in case of any water leaks that could not only waste water, but also damage your home!

Plan your trips well

Planning your trip is so important, as it limits the amount of resources you are wasting and helps with eco-friendly travel. Make sure you’re going to places in the most logical order, and if you’re taking a trip across continents, try and make sure you are doing everything that you want to in one place before moving on. When you research the areas that you are visiting, find out if there are any laws or rules that you need to abide by (for your own safety) and also get to know a bit about the history of that place. This way, you’ll know exactly what issues the country faces (if any) and can bring the necessary supplies to donate and support their economy.

Reduce, Reuse and Recycle

It’s 2019, and there is absolutely NO need to be buying single use plastic any more. With a new age of travelling, comes thousands of products specifically designed to accommodate. For example, this WaterWell Foldable Squeeze Travel Water Bottle costs around £30 and in my opinion, is 100% worth it for the most eco-friendly travel. You can fill it from any fresh water source – even a puddle – and it will filter out the waterborne pathogens to create perfect drinking water. It also folds down into a really manageable item to carry around with you everywhere, so put it on your christmas list and stop buying bottles of water!!

If you do find yourself in a position where you need to buy something spur of the moment, don’t throw it out once you’re done. You may need it again on your journey or there may be another use for it down the line.

Walk as much as you can

Did you know, walking for 10 miles every week would remove 500 pounds of CO2 emissions a year!?! Not only is walking better for the environment, but it’s also good for the mind, body and soul; it will increase your mood massively and will give you a much happier holiday experience. Invest in some nice comfy trainers or walking boots, and see the sights on foot!

Use public transport

You won’t be able to walk everywhere, especially if you’re travelling across distances. Instead of just jumping in a taxi to get from A to B, why not get a bus or train. This can require a bit of prior planning, especially if travelling long distances, but you will be able to soak up the scenery better and normally save quite a bit of money. Public transport can also be a great way of experiencing authentic culture, as you’ll be in amongst the local people living their day to day lives.

Invest in solid toiletries

One of the main reasons that solid toiletries are more eco-friendly is because they are usually plastic free. All liquid toiletries – shampoo, body wash, conditioner, and deodorants – come in containers which are normally made from plastic. Even if this plastic is then recycled, its usually made back into plastic packaging, and is still completely unnecessary. Nowadays, you can get solid bars of soaps, shampoo and even powdered toothpaste; an extra advantage of this is that it takes up far less space and can be taken onto an aeroplane as hand luggage. Win win.

Buy local

Whilst you’re on your travels, make sure to buy local in order to boost that country’s economy! Buy your food from a local market rather than a large supermarket, and if you need any clothes or toiletries whilst you’re out there then shop from smaller, local shops as opposed to big chains in the cities. None of this should make too much of a difference to you but will be of huge benefit to the community.

Do at least one good deed in every country that you visit

I love this idea (if I do say so myself) as not only is it a way of helping the planet, but it’s also a great challenge to have on your bucket list! Some examples could be to give money to a local cause, litter pick, help a stranger or do a volunteering day. The opportunities are endless, and this way you can feel like you’re making a difference whilst travelling.

Look for volunteering activities

In my opinion, this is one of the best ways that you could go travelling. If you are on your gap year, or are looking to go away for a longer period of time, there are hundreds of really fun and exciting volunteer programmes that you can sign up to, which can take you all over the world! Build homes and wells in Africa, save the wildlife in South America, or become a foreign language teacher in Asia – there will be something for everyone. Everyone I know who has gone down the volunteering route said how much of a life changing experience it was; from the life-long friends you make, to the difference that you make in the community! Some opportunities you even get paid for, so you can hop between jobs, exploring new countries and making a difference as you go!

Scott and I try to practice eco-friendly travel as much as possible, but I know there is always more to be done! We are always open to suggestions on how to improve our carbon footprint whilst visiting new places, so feel free to let us know!

15 Present Ideas for Travellers

Buying presents can be daunting at the best of times, but what do you get someone who spends half of their time out of the country? Short of buying a plane ticket (which by the way, isn’t on the list but if you can afford it, do it!), it’s hard to know what to get that’s not a waste of money, and isn’t going to sit at home and gather dust.

I’ve put together a list of 15 present ideas for travellers and wanderers amongst us, from £5 to £100!

  • Waterproof/adventure camera – Nearly everyone has a smart phone nowadays, which all have amazing cameras, but one of the downsides is that they aren’t generally very robust and they don’t come with all of the accessories. A Go-pro, or cheaper equivalent, is great as it has so many attachments to allow you go hands-free and take it everywhere with you – even underwater! This one is just £50! (Scott got me this for Christmas so I’ll be able to review it on our trip to Australia in Feb!)
  • Backpack – Whether you’re buying for a traditional ‘backpacker’ or just a frequent holiday-er, this £30 backpack from IKEA is perfect to travel with! It’s got so many compartments and can hold a LOT of stuff (think of it as a Mary Poppins bag), and so is great for carry-on luggage. The top can be folded right down to a smaller, more manageable size rucksack, and used for day to day adventures as well.
  • Potable Charger – This is an absolute MUST HAVE for travellers. With so much beauty that the world has to offer, social media is the best way of sharing their holiday pics with friends and family! For this reason, smart phones generally run out of battery very early on in the day. For a decent charger, you’d probably spend around £25, but make sure to buy one as compact as possible for easy transportation. In my opinion, this is one of the most practical presents!
  • Scratch map – This is a great idea for people who travel a lot, as it’s a creative way of keeping track of where they’ve been. Scott and I have one each and we’ve framed them ready to go on the wall! They start from £10 and you can find loads of variations on Amazon.
15 Present Ideas for Travellers - Scratch Map
  • Wash bag – The chances are, they will already have a wash bag of sorts, but it’s really important to make sure it’s both waterproof on the inside and out (to avoid any spillages or stains) and is relatively flexible, to enable it to be packed or shoved into backpacks.
  • Travel bottle – Pretty self explanatory this one. Help them save the world (and some money), and buy a reusable water bottle. This WaterWell travel bottle costs £30, and filters out 99% of pathogens from any fresh water source (taps, lakes, streams, and even puddles). They also do a 1 litre fold-able pouch for £25 which is even better for easy storage.
  • Walking boots – If you’re looking for present ideas for travellers who do a lot of exploring on their holidays, why not buy them some new walking boots? A decent pair could cost you anything from £30-£100, so a perfect gift regardless of your budget, although you could always just stick to a comfy pair of socks instead..
  • Personalised photo album – I got Scott a personalised photo album for his bucket list last Christmas for £60, but they start from £25 on Not On The High Street. I know that technology has taken over, and most people keep their photos on their phones/laptops, but there’s something quite nice about having an album full of memories! Imagine ‘Ryan’s trip to Thailand‘ or ‘Sophie’s gap year 2019‘ – this is one of those presents that you don’t know you want, until you have it!
15 Present Ideas for Travellers - Photo Album
  • Kindle – Exploring the world is amazing, but let’s be honest – the actual ‘travelling’ element can sometimes be a bit boring and long-winded. A Kindle is so compact and holds thousands of books; it’s the perfect way to pass the time and relax in between adventures. You can buy a Kindle for around £80 on Amazon.
  • Personalised collectable travel key-chains and jewellery – Bit of a mouthful. This is a lovely gift for people who like mementos, and can be for both men and women. Vagabond Life offer engraved travel rings which you can add to key chains, bracelets and necklaces, to keep track of every country that you visit. El Camino is another great place for bracelets – they are effectively charm bracelets, however instead of collecting charms, you collect location beads.
  • Shewee – Okay, some people may find this more of a jokey present, but for girls who are into walking and hiking (where toilets aren’t always accessible), this is actually a VERY practical gift. They start from about £5, so are perfect as a stocking filler, or Secret Santa present!
  • Travel books – When Scott and I look to book our next holiday, we have three go-to travel books; Lonely Planet – Where to go When, Lonely Planet – The World, and 101 Weekends in Europe. All three of them are under £20, but there are hundreds of travel books out there depending on which best suits.
15 Present Ideas for Travellers - Travel Books
  • Solid toiletries – From shampoo and soap to deodorant and toothpaste powder, solid toiletries are cheap to buy, and have many benefits; they are normally much more eco-friendly as the plastic packaging is reduced/non-existent; they take up a lot less space; they’re brilliant for taking through as hand luggage and you don’t have to worry about decanting to get through airport security! You can find these in shops like Lush and Ocado.
  • Bum bag – Everyone needs a bum bag. Rucksacks are great when you need to carry a lot of things, but just day to day they can be quite a nuisance to watch out for and carry around. A bum bag (AKA fanny-pack) is just the right size for money, phone, camera, and your water pouch (see bullet number 6).
  • Travel diary – If you know someone who loves writing and documenting their trips, then a travel journal or diary could be perfect. There are LOADS out there, in stationary shops and online, starting from around £10.
15 Present Ideas for Travellers - Travel Journal

Quite a few of these ideas came from presents that Scott and I have given each other in the past (and a couple are now on my wish list).

Follow us on Instagram for other travel ideas and tips!

Visit America

Miami, Florida

In 2017, my friend Stuart and I flew out to America on Christmas day, to stay in Miami over the new year. We hired a Mercedes (we wanted to hire a mustang but it was $600 dollars a day) to drive out to Quay West for one night – the above photo was taken on our drive back into Miami. This was around the time I started talking to Alex, and Stuart met a lovely Colombian girl on NYE on a boat party in Miami; they are still together to this day.

There is still a lot more of America that I’d like to explore, and i’m sure Alex and I will explore them in future.