Category Archives: Europe

5 tips for finding the best Airbnb

10th February 2015

5 tips for your next airbnb stay

Full disclosure: I’m an Airbnb addict. I’m one of those people who logs on just to see the places I could visit. I have 9 semi-organized wishlists, with over 300 possible rentals. I talk about it constantly to all of my friends.

Although Airbnb is definitely more mainstream these days, I am always surprised by the number of people who haven’t yet given it a chance. Hopefully these tips will be helpful for your next trip and maybe give you that extra push you need to try it out if you haven’t yet!

Airbnb rental in Stockholm, Sweden

Our rental in Stockholm, Sweden (lovely place, but definitely a 20 min walk to the metro, not 10!)

1. Stay at a place with 10+ reviews

Especially for newbies, I recommend filtering by number of reviews for your first few stays. Airbnb isn’t exactly juried, so it’s good to have the support of the community behind your first several picks, until you become more confident in your choosing ability. Whenever possible, I still prefer to stay at a place with ample reviews!

2. Take ratings seriously

Those little yellow stars? They matter. Each listing has an overall rating for things like “Location” and “Cleanliness”–and, in my opinion, these two are the most important. I like to think of it like when you ask your boyfriend how many beers he drank and he says 2. You know he really means 6. Same thing here, in reverse. Only 4 stars? Expect a 2. Things go downhill much more easily than uphill. Play it safe and demand 5 stars–it’s very possible!

Airbnb rental in Warwick, NY - Pioneer Farm

Our midsummer escape to a place with a pool in Warwick, NY

3. Pay attention to photos

In a similar vein, I put a lot of weight in a listing’s photos. If a host cares enough to have immaculate photos, plus they have good ratings and reviews, chances are they care about continuing upkeep in general. Some red flags? Places that don’t look lived in at all. Interestingly, I try to stay away from super sparse places, or hosts with multiple listings. Those signal a host who is doing this in bulk for money making, rather than a genuine host who cares about the place they’re putting online because they actually live there. (Plus, you might not get great tips and tricks for exploring the ‘hood if the person doesn’t even reside there!)

4. Be realistic in your searches

And I mean whatever is realistic for you! So far, I’ve done Airbnb mostly in cities where it is quite popular–like Hudson, NY, Paris, Lisbon, Stockholm, Copenhagen. It’s important to figure out the amount you’d like to spend per night prior to beginning your hunt to narrow down what is feasible. In Copenhagen and Stockholm, I filtered below $150 for an entire home, and found plenty of options in very central areas. The search function can be a little funky, so you may not find all the best fitting options if you’re not really honest with yourself. Plus, remember–one of the perks of this type of travel is more bang for your buck–so try to make sure you achieve that!

Airbnb rental in Copenhagen, Denmark

Our huge spacious apartment in a hip neighborhood in Copenhagen, Denmark

5. Don’t limit your location

I almost never research the best location to stay in prior to looking at my Airbnb options. With such an active community like this, I prefer to see what the other guests have to say about the location of the listings. One of the fun things about apartment rentals is being able to somewhat assimilate into the community, and see a different part of the city. Don’t be afraid to stay a little bit away from tourist-central if transportation is easy and the ‘hood is unique! Disclaimer: Much like the ratings call out, don’t trust the host’s estimate of the “walking distance” to major landmarks. Whenever someone says “10 minutes” they really mean at least 20. Think about the beers, man.

Airbnb rental in Lisbon, Portugal

Our homey kitchen in a huge apartment in Lisbon, Portugal

Hope that helps! Would love to hear about your travels and favorite Airbnb stays. (And if you’re so inclined, check out my wishlists here!)

(p.s. this is an entirely non-sponsored post, I’m just that obsessed)

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Holidays in Lisbon – Part 4

1st February 2015

Feira da Ladra flea market in Alfama, Lisbon, Portugal

Where: Lisbon, Portugal

When: December (pre-Christmas through New Year’s Eve)

With: Family (parents, brother, brother’s girlfriend and husband)

How long: 7 days

(this is the 4th & final post in a series, make sure to check out post 1, post 2, & post 3)

It probably won’t come as a surprise to most of you that my favorite way to explore a city is often through… shopping. That can sound bad, I know. I don’t mean heading to the outlets or the mall, or even the 5th avenue equivalent, and spending away an afternoon. I like going to the weekend flea markets and strolling through quaint neighborhoods to check out the local shops. It’s a way to check out the locals, understand some of the city’s history and, oftentimes, get a better idea of the youth culture. I never truly feel like I’ve discovered a city until I find the neighborhood that speaks to me–which just happens to generally mean the one with the cutest front doors, vintage shops, local boutiques filled with jewelry and clothing made by local designers, etc… (I guess it shouldn’t come as a surprise why I’m so obsessed with Etsy, then.)

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holidays in lisbon – part 3

24th January 2015

Jeronimos Monastery, Belem, Lisbon, Portugal

Where: Lisbon, Portugal

When: December (pre-Christmas through New Year’s Eve)

With: Family (parents, brother, brother’s girlfriend and husband)

How long: 7 days

(this is the 3rd post in a series, check out post 1post 2, & post 4!)

By the third day in Lisbon, we’d just about recovered from jetlag and decided to do some of the more quintessential touring activities (to the delight of my dad)! First, we took one of the trams to Belém, which is the most historical neighborhood of Lisbon, a bit removed from the city center.

The first stop was the Jeronimos Monastery. This is a World Heritage monument and the resting place for Portugal’s explorer, Vasco da Gama. The cloisters, following the trend, were unfortunately closed, but apparently worth the visit.

We broke for lunch after that, at a nearby cafe. In the sun, it was warm enough to take off our coats and enjoy rosé at a table outside. We were so, so lucky with that weather!

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holidays in lisbon – part 2

15th January 2015

Funicular on bica street in lisbon, portugal

Where: Lisbon, Portugal

When: December (pre-Christmas through New Year’s Eve)

With: Family (parents, brother, brother’s girlfriend and husband)

(this is the 2nd post in a series–check out post 1post 3, & post 4!)

The days following Christmas in Lisbon were warm and sunny, relative to New York, anyway. The highs called for around mid-50s, but on some days, in the sunshine, you could take off your jacket and sit at an outside cafe table for lunch. We couldn’t ask for better tourist weather!

alleyway in lisbon, portugal

texas bar in lisbon portugal

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holidays in lisbon

11th January 2015

christmas themed azulejos in lisbon portugal

Where: Lisbon, Portugal

When: December (pre-Christmas through New Year’s Eve)

With: Family (parents, brother, brother’s girlfriend and husband)

How long: 7 days

(this is the 1st post in a series–check out post 2post 3, & post 4!)

I think I get my travel genes from my mom. One of the many days that I was either fantasizing about traveling and/or about writing on this blog, my mom told me that she feels most free when she has a full tank of gas. “Like I can pick up and go anywhere!” Since I live in New York, I can’t really share that sentiment, but I totally got where she was coming from. The idea of being able to explore this big world we live in is exciting and totally overwhelming. Whenever I’m exploring a new location, I can’t help but feel like I’m missing something on each street I don’t choose to turn down (not to mention, the outskirts of town, and the things I hear about when I’ve just returned!). But anyway, that’s a tangent.

What I was trying to get to was, much like the way I randomly choose a city I absolutely need to visit, my mom does the same. Luckily, she often invites the rest of us to tag along. This year, she decided she wanted to spend Christmas in Portugal. Lisbon, to be exact.

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tuscany in the fall

5th October 2014

     archway in tuscany, montepulciano, italy

every little alleyway led to amazing views

Where: Tuscany, Italy (mostly Montepulciano)

When: September

With: Miles (husband)

Autumn has always been my favorite season (as long as I’ve lived somewhere where there is an autumn). I love when the leaves change color and the temperature starts to drop. I like cozy sweaters and cute flats and not being too cold, while not being hot, either. There always feels like a lot of promise at the start of fall–I’m wondering what the next months will bring, thinking about the holidays and then the start of a new year.

foliage in tuscany, montepulciano, italy

city center in tuscany, montepulciano, italy

gnocchi pasta dinner in tuscany, montepulciano, italy

to. die. for. gnocchi

September is also the month Miles and I began dating oh-so-many years ago, and the month we got married. We usually take an end-of-summer/beginning-of-fall trip to celebrate our anniversary, while taking advantage of off-peak pricing. For our honeymoon last year, we started in Tuscany… and when the weather started changing this year, that was all I could think about.

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scandinavia 2014 – exploring stockholm

22nd September 2014

view of gamla stan from sodermalm in stockholm

Where: Stockholm, Sweden

When: September

With: Husband

How long: 2.5 days

(this is the third installment of our trip to Scandinavia! Check out Copenhagen part 1 and part 2)

After five awesome, busy, exciting, tiring days in Copenhagen, we made our way to Stockholm. When we were originally planning the trip I thought we might take a train–but after I realized how LONG that was, we decided on the 1-hour flight instead. As is usually the case with European cities, transportation to and from the Copenhagen and Stockholm airports was really easy. We opted for short cabs from the central train stations to our apartments because of our bags and tired feet, but you could easily transfer to a bus or subway to get there, too. Even with a bit of a delay, we still made it to Stockholm by early afternoon, just in time for lunch!

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scandinavia 2014 – remaining days in copenhagen

17th September 2014

Tivoli amusement park in Copenhagen

Where: Copenhagen, Denmark

When: September

With: Husband

How long: 5 days total

(this is a continuation — make sure you read the first post about Copenhagen here and our time in Stockholm, here!)

Generally when we visit a new city, Miles and I like to pick a different neighborhood each day to wander around. So for our third day in Copenhagen, we decided to go to Christianshavn because it looked so cute from our boat tour the day before.

streets in copenhagen, nyhavn, enroute to christianshavn

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scandinavia 2014 – first days in copenhagen

16th September 2014

Nyhavn Copenhagen Ship

Where: Copenhagen, Denmark

When: September

With: Husband

How long: 5 days total

(this is the first installment of our trip to Scandinavia! Check out Copenhagen part 2 and our trip to Stockholm, here!)

Copenhagen Central Station

Copenhagen has long been on my list of places to visit. My obsession with it started probably 5 years ago–the colorful buildings, focus on biking, and, of course, the abundance of minimalist, inspiring Danish design drew me to it. I’d never spoken to anyone else who was interested in going… and once I realized it was one of the top most expensive cities in the world, the dream seemed a little far-fetched. But when my husband began working for a Scandinavian company based in Stockholm, my long-awaited trip fell back on the radar… maybe we could finagle something 🙂

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