Travel Accommodations: Rent an Apartment!by Julie Chaumont
published January 10, 2013
A different way to stay
Your plane tickets have been booked, you’ve jotted down your itinerary, and now all that’s left is to find a place to stay. Rather than shopping for an expensive hotel room or settling for a dingy hostel, try renting an apartment instead. It’s a less expensive option, and will also add a dose of local flavour to your trip.
How does it work?
Almost all short-term apartment rental sites function using the same principal: on the home page, type in your preferred travel dates, select your city of choice, and click “Search”. The results will consist of a list of available apartments. Click on any listing, and you can access all details of the rental (price, internet access, parking, air conditioning, pool, big screen TV, etc.), photos, as well as comments from previous renters. Take the time to read the latter, as they can offer pertinent details about the host, the neighbourhood, as well as the apartment. After contacting a prospective host, you make your reservation and proceed to payment (the process varies among sites). Once you arrive to your home away from home, you’ll be greeted with your key, and a list of nearby places to visit!
“We are a community marketplace for unique spaces.” That is what Airbnb.com states on its website, founded in San Francisco in 2008. Whether it’s for a night, a week, or a month; whether you want to go to New York, Berlin, or Paris; whether you prefer the big city or country life; whether you’d like to stay in an apartment, a home, or even an igloo; you’ll surely find what you are looking for on this site. With all kinds of rental options in 192 countries and 26,000 cities, and a satisfaction guarantee protecting you from an unpleasant experience, it is the place for your travel needs. What’s more, Airbnb takes the reins when it comes to payment between the two parties, so you won’t end up with any surprises.
Flipkey offers 170,000 vacation rentals in over 7,000 cities across the globe. Brought to you by TripAdvisor—a key resource for many a traveller—the website assures you a fabulous stay thanks to trusted hosts. Whereas Airbnb acts as an intermediary between host and guest, Flipkey does not offer this service. You therefore have to arrange payment with the host, which is done securely through PayPal. To protect yourself, Flipkey does offer the possibility of insurance, with costs varying depending on the reservation.
HomeAway offers up 325,000 residences around the world. Like other sites, you simply select your country, your city, your vacation dates, and then customize everything to your liking. Like FlipKey, you must arrange payment with the host yourself, and insurance is available starting at $39.
Tips + words of caution
* Send a message to any potential host prior to making a reservation. This first contact will allow you to establish a connection, and allow you to clarify a few things (any cleanup fees, internet access, nearby parking, etc.).
* Take the time to read reviews from other travellers who have previously stayed there. It is the best way to find out if the location is right for you.
* In order to avoid any surprises, book your stay with well-known and reputable websites, and pay with a credit card or use PayPal. Avoid wiring money with Western Union or Money Gram.