Probably the biggest expense after your airline tickets is the cost of your accommodations. I am no expert in this field. I have only stayed in hotels when my husband and I have travelled except for this last vacation. After listening to a great recommendation from our neighbours, we booked with Airbnb this time and absolutely loved it. (Please note: I am not in any way affliated with Airbnb. These are just my opinions.) Not only can you book accommodations with Airbnb, but you can also book all types of different tours and activities as well. It is a great site to book all your vacation needs.
Airbnb is an easy site to use. We had a rough idea where we wanted to stay in Ponta Delgada and Madeira. After searching Airbnb’s map for places to rent in both cities, I was able to book a place in the downtown areas. In both Ponta Delgada and Madeira, we were able to walk out our doors and walk to anywhere within the city that we wanted to. Grocery stores, restaurants, buses and shops were close by. We had both cities at our feet. Now, I only based my picks on where the apartment was located, the price, and especially on the reviews left by previous visitors. These reviews help a lot. It allows you to see if there are any problems with the apartment or the location or the individual (host) who is renting it out. Hand in hand with that, the host who owns the apartment can leave a review about you for other hosts to have some knowledge about you as a renter. You can also book homes or apartments where your host lives with you. This is not for me, but for others it may add to their vacation in that their host can advise them where to go and what areas of the city they should experience.
In Sao Miguel, Ponta Delgada, we rented a one bedroom, small apartment from a lovely woman who also ran a hostel close by. The only trouble we had is our plane landed at 6:30 in the morning and we couldn’t get into our apartment until 2:00 in the afternoon, but she allowed us to hang out in her garden behind her hostel which was beautiful. The cost to us was $45.41 Canadian per person, per night (we stayed for 3 nights) for a total of $272.43 Canadian. The kitchen was fully equipped with a refrigerator, a heating plate, kettle, toaster oven along with all the essential items you would need in a kitchen. We had two twin beds in a nice size bedroom, a bathroom with a stand-up shower, a small living room with a table to eat at, a small couch and a TV. Everything you could need.
In Madeira, we rented a place smack in the center of Funchal (Madeira’s biggest city) which was fantastic for walking and getting about. We rented what used to be a two-floor office that had been fully renovated into a house for $42.53 Canadian per person, per night (we stayed for 25 nights) for a total of $2,126.27 Canadian. This house/apartment provided a kitchen that had everything available to cook meals, a washing machine, a living room with TV and a dining area, and upstairs was a large bedroom with a queen-size bed, generous closet and drawer space, a bathroom with a large shower and a room off of the bedroom to hang your laundry. It was beautiful and we began to feel quite at home here.
Airbnb allows you to also book different tours which may be less expensive than booking tours at your destination. As mentioned in my last post, Travel Cheap Tip No. 2, booking tours in a city you are travelling to before you get there will save you money rather than booking them on the spot once you are already there. Once you are in a destination, proprietors feel they can scam you for more money because they feel it is something you are desiring to do right then and there and chances are you won’t walk away even if the price is hefty. Booking through a site like Airbnb gives you a chance to review the tour, see what is included, talk to the host of the tour, and see what others who have taken the tour have to say about it.
I found hotels to be much more expensive than Airbnb. All in all, I would definitely book with Airbnb again but you always need to do your research before you book accommodations. An article by Niall McCarthy on the Forbes website gives you an idea of the cost of hotels compared to Airbnb in 8 major cities, including New York, Toronto and Paris. It seems Airbnb comes out cheaper every time. Not everyone likes to have to search for accommodations on Airbnb. They would rather have the ease of booking a hotel room and not have to worry about locating the Airbnb after they arrive at their destination and then meeting with the host to collect your key. I think it is worth the time and effort, however, because it will certainly put some money back in your pocket.