Tag Archives: airbnb


8 Oct

Here I am hanging out in Central Texas. I wouldn’t exactly call it a vacation. But it is at least a little sweet and serene just the same. My recent house and pet sit just completed in Austin. So often on this crooked journey at the very last minute, something workable or even remarkable comes in at the nick of time to save the day. But not this time. Not so far.

After hunkering down with family for a few months, I took the leap to head on down to Texas for a house sit. In truth, I wasn’t sure what to expect in current circumstances. Wasn’t sure how long it would last and if I would find myself heading back up to the midwest with family. So I did my best to go with the flow. And flow I did… for a little bit. A great sit in Wimberley, TX. Then a long term sit in Hill Country which – due to unforeseen circumstances – was cancelled. A little shift left. A little jolt right and… I moseyed on over to rural Texas outside Austin for a bit and then a last minute miraculous sashay back to Austin. And then…. [insert cricket noise]

So here I am… on Limbocation. Still exploring options. So far my experience is similar to that of other full time travelers. The landscape has changed. Fewer people traveling. On house sitting platforms, more house sitters vying for a handful of sits.

With that said I am open… to seeing what unfolds. A new housesit? A light caretaking job? A wonderful workable work exchange? Or perhaps something else… something unexpected… If you know of any options or opportunities, at present I am available and would love to hear about them.

With that said I am open… to seeing what unfolds. A new housesit? A light caretaking job? A wonderful workable work exchange? Or perhaps something else… something unexpected

And in the meantime I am slowly making my way back up towards the Midwest doing my best to surf the rough terrain and smell the roses along the way despite the unmistakable discomfort of it all.

How is the terrain in your corner of the world? It’s always great to hear from you!

Travel Tips for Freedom and Flexibility

26 Jun

When planning for a vacation, dream journey or family excursion, it never hurts to have a bit of flexibility.  In my past three years of wandering and international travel, flexibility has been a key theme.  Plans change.  Sometimes quickly or unexpectedly.  In my global escapades, I have found myself in France one day… and the next being offered a job in South Korea.  In a matter of weeks… I rerouted my life back to the United States and began the long process of acquiring a Korean Visa.  Ah, flexibility… a good partnership in the exploration of freedom.

No matter what your 5th grade teacher or high school boyfriend told you, it’s okay to change your plans or your mind.  It’s alright to be flexible.  In fact it is essential in the exploration of a created life.  For me personally, flexibility does not always come easy.  Despite the wide assortment of change in my life, I like to have my plan. This lesson for me often includes some growing pains.  But a dose of flexibility goes a long way.

Flexibility and travel plans might seem like an oxymoron.  In these days of cheap internet flights and travel deals, flexibility may seem like an antiquated story told by your old Aunt Nellie.  But it is possible and often optimal to build a little flexibility into the foundation of your travel plans.  Here are a few tips that will help put the flow back in your travels.

1.  Get the Facts on Your Flight.

Regardless of which search engine or budget travel site you use, before purchasing any airline ticket, take a little time to find out how refundable your flight is. What happens if you cancel? Does it make a difference if you cancel one day or a week before your flight?  If you cancel, can you get a full or partial refund?  Being informed with facts can put some swagger in your travel foundation should your plans change… for any reason.  A ticket that is slightly more expensive, but has a better refund policy may in the end be the better deal.

Money Back Guarantee?  Some flight search engines and travel sites offer extra insurance and money back guarantees for modest fees.  Before checking that purchase box, read the fine print to see be clear about the conditions of that guarantee.

Recently I purchased a ticket from Tripsta at an impressively affordable rate.  In an effort to support my travel flexibility I purchased the add-on Money Back Guarantees and Premium services.  When my plans changed and I wanted to cancel, I was disappointed to learn that the guarantee was only under certain circumstances (death, hospitalization, alien takeover…).  And so, while I did get a partial refund for my ticket, it would have served me well to get 100% clear about these services before making my purchase.


2. Know the Cancellation Policy of Your Accommodation.

When it comes to accommodation I am always looking for the best balance of affordability and quality.  I have only recently discovered how important a location’s cancellation policy is when weighing its pros and cons. Yes it may have everything I am looking for, but how much do I pay if I cancel one day or five days before my arrival.  In the spirit of flexibility, a more relaxed cancellation policy is a huge bonus and can be a deciding factor if choosing between a handful of places to stay.

Recently I booked two different accommodations for a vacation that, in the end,  I did not take.  As I often do, I booked through Airbnb.com and found a couple of places I was really excited about.  I checked their cancellation policies but unfortunately I looked at the information incorrectly and was misinformed.  When it came time to cancel…I waited too long and was out a little more money than I expected.

The best practice is to write your perspective host and ask specifically for the details of their cancellation policy to be sure you are correctly informed.  When you are clear and understand the terms of the agreement you can make your choices accordingly.  Then, if you need to fly the flag of flexibility, there won’t be any expensive surprises.

Do you have any tips on flexibility and travel?  Any great experiences or resources to share?

Thanks for reading. It’s always good to hear from you!


Two Days in Paris

5 Sep

It was almost a miracle to me that I was able to carve out two days in Paris.  After spending the summer just hours away I wasn’t sure I would make my way to Paris.  But I found a way to do it… even on my very small gypsy woman budget.

The cornerstone of my stay?  An inexpensive place to stay!  We are talking unbelievably inexpensive…  Through the website airbnb.com I booked a place called Paris B&B for Girls.  Now, the term B&B may be stretching it a bit but for the remarkable price of 8 Euros a night (about ten dollars) I got my very own bed in a group room.  While it was far from “fancy” it was a very clean place run by a nice family who spoke good English.  It was tucked away in a safe neighborhood that had easy access to all there is to see in Paris.  They even offered complimentary croissants and orange juice in the morning!

After my first night’s sleep on Friday I woke up on Saturday raring to go.  I hit the streets walking and purchased an overpriced map of Paris.  I became a shameless tourist, map in hand and camera not far behind.

For me Paris was a visual feast.  Here are some of the highlights of my two days in Paris!

That’s me in front of Notre Dame.

Notre Dame Cathedral 
There she was in all her glory.  I was easily led there by my trusted map companion.  Just arriving there felt like some sort of personal victory for me.  I soaked up the fair weather day as I admired her flying buttresses.  It is free to enter the cathedral and I eagerly joined the queue.  Within minutes I found myself inside gripped by the sense of majesty in the silence.  I wondered around looking up at the ceilings and down at the floors.  I was in awe of the stain glass windows.  Being there felt epic and I felt large and small at the same time.  I wandered through an exhibit on St. Teresa the Little Flower and then stayed around for mass.

Sacre Coeur Basilica
I almost didn’t go here.  It was “out-of-the-way” from where I was visiting and staying.  But one night I found myself heading in that direction and gave way to a visit.  I wandered down the nearby Avenue de Clichy and couldn’t help but be struck by the contradictions.  As I walked down the street I passed the Moulin Rouge and various other sex shops and shows with their bright colors flirting with the tourist crowds.  And then a quick left turn, a short walk up a hill through a crowded street and Sacre Coeur was in view glistening in the evening sunlight.

I have to say she didn’t disappoint.  I may have even gasped in wonder at first sight.  There she was on top of a hill overlooking the city.  I made my “pilgrimage” to her, one step at a time, one flight of stairs at a time.  My ascension was surrounded by street musicians and vendors.  Shameless tourism danced and played all around the Cathedral.  There was a puppet show of Noah’s arc and designer knock-off purses for sale.  I paused from my determined trek up the stairs and turned around.  I felt my heart leap as the city of Paris opened up below me.  Around me there were people laughing and lounging while beer and water were peddled to the masses.  By this time it was early evening on a Saturday night and the monument had turned into a party.

I stood around and took in the scene.  The musician playing his guitar and singing to the crowds.  The performer swinging from the street lamp while juggling a ball with his feet.   And then finally… I entered Sacre Coeur.  I was greeted by the gentle but awesome energy of the  mosaic of Jesus with his arms open wide and his sacred heart.  I let the basilica, her beauty, her history, move through me as I walked around.  Until… it was time to leave and I made my way back out to the party.

On  the way down I discovered there is an elevator of sorts that looks almost like a ski lift or a carnival ride to take tourists up and down the someone daunting elevation to Sacre Coeur.  Ever the budget traveler, I smiled at the idea of taking a ride then continued down the path by foot until once again surrounded by the streets of sex and scandal.  I found a metro station and made my way home.

In the Jardin de Luxemburg

Jardin de Luxemburg
I found this unexpectedly.  The Jardin de Luxemburg.  Me and my map had been playing around town and I was on my way to the Pantheon.  What a thrill to stroll the streets of a city speckled with so much astounding history and beauty.  A funny thing happened on the way to the Pantheon.  I got tired.  I mean really tired.  And in no time at all I was offered gentle respite.  It was an inviting reclining chair in a park-like setting.  I wasn’t yet sure exactly where I was, but for a good long moment I took it in and just enjoyed relaxing in the moment baking in the late morning sun.  As my body gave way to the chair and the moment, I couldn’t help but notice the sound of music coming from not too far away.  Like following the tune of the pied piper, my body, despite its fatigue, rose to find out where it was.

In no time at all I discovered a bandstand surrounded by a cafe in the midst of a garden and trees.  A Parisian jazz band was playing and the crowd soaked in their tunes.  A little girl was up front unabashedly struttin’ her stuff and I appreciated the musical respite.  In time I found myself distracted by a beautiful array of flowers framing the front lawn of the French Senate building.  As I investigated further I found a large fountain where children could rent and launch miniature sailboats.  The garden led me to neatly manicured cubist trees and locals and tourists alike enjoying a warm Sunday afternoon.  What a beautiful detour, distraction and delight!

Thrift Store Shopping
No, not the typical Parisian diversion.  A friend of mine suggested that I buy myself a little something at a local thrift store to remember Paris.  A great idea that fit my budget!  I am not a vintage or discount designer kind of gal.  It took a while to find your basic thrift store where one could find a sweater for just a few Euros.  But I found one.  It’s called Guerrisol.  A not-to-trendy but popular store with five locations throughout Europe.  It took a little effort but with some time I found a sweater that suited me for just a few Euros to take home.  I happily brought it to the check-out counter and handed them a 2 Euro coin.  The man took my money and smiled and said “c’est bonne”  which means literally “it is good”.  Yes it is!

As someone who doesn’t eat sugar and does my best to stays away from breads and pastries, France was not the best place to eat on a budget.  Mostly I ate very simply purchasing a few items at local markets doing my best to eat healthy simple food.  I found a beautiful little bakery in the streets of the Ile Saint-Louis that had lovely little open-faced sandwiches that were calling my name.  For only 3 Euros 50 I had a beautiful piece of toasted fresh bread with tuna, roasted veggies, lettuce and cheese for lunch.  Delish!

Croque Madame at Le Nemrod

For a treat one day I took myself to a local budget friendly restaurant called Le Nemrod.  I went there curious to try what is called a “Croque Madame” kin to the Croque Monsieur, Paris famous ham and cheese sandwich.  The croque madame adds a fried egg to the sandwich. I arrived at the restaurant after much walking.  Grateful to be seated at a table I was soon greeted and playfully teased by the local staff. I ordered my croque madam, a small cup of decaf coffee and a glass of water.  I enjoyed a little conversation from other waiters curious about where I was from.  Happily, I enjoyed my meal and for the bargain price of under 10 Euros.

Even with a very small budget, my visit to Paris was priceless.  The city itself has so much to offer and I am much richer for the experience!

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