"Home" is Wherever We Put Our Heads Down on the Pillow. How We Find Places to Stay.

Updated: Aug 2, 2019

By Pat Giniger Snyder


To us, “home” is wherever we put our heads down on the pillow. This may sound romantic, but in truth it means we spend a lot of time planning and thinking about where we sleep.


We've listed some of the places we've stayed at the end of this blog.


Generally speaking, because we're on a budget, a successful formula for us is staying in beautiful, affordable places during the off-season, like our month at Sao Rafael beach in Albufeira, Portugal in the Algarve. We were there in March and the temperate climate was perfect (averaging 65F/18C degrees), and the beaches, town, restaurants and shops were empty.


We loved this Airbnb, which costs triple the price during the summer.

We rely on the following six search options, although there are numerous options out there (links to our choices and few extras are at the end of this blog):

  • Airbnb

  • Marriott-owned hotels

  • Hotels or home stays via Kayak, Trip Advisor, Agoda, Expedia

  • The "Listings Project"

  • Rentals from family, friends, or friends of friends

  • The kindness of family and friends


Airbnb: 50+ ers are the Kind of Guests Airbnb Hosts Love

Airbnb hosts love guests like us. We’re grown-ups. We’re reliable and pay our bills. We don’t have big parties. And we always clean-up before we leave.


Our personal must haves:

  • High speed Internet

  • A king bed, though we settle for queens, and occasionally make the mistake of thinking a double is okay. It’s not!

  • An entire place with two bedrooms and two bathrooms, if possible.

  • A washer/dryer (though in Europe and Asia you rarely get a dryer, but hanging clothes on a line outside helps us feel like locals and works fine).

  • Something special like a view, a gym, accessibility to walking, hiking, shopping, restaurants, etc.


City lights and the mountains from our Airbnb in Las Vegas, which also had a free gym and access to Downtown Vegas with its great restaurants.

Airbnb is unique because you can get major discounts by booking for 30 days, and lower discounts for 1-2 weeks; that's not an option with Home Away or VRBO. So we almost always book Airbnb's for a month, which also allows us to be tourists, but also work and live like locals.


We rely heavily on Airbnb reviews and have never rented any if we are the first reviewers.


Our Son Calls Us “Marriott Whores!”

We’ve been given this moniker because whenever possible, and when price is comparable to other hotels, we stay at a Marriott to accumulate or use points!


A key: when accumulating points that translate into free hotels stays, stick with one brand.


Marriott now owns dozens of other brands under MARRIOTT BONVoY, so our choices have ballooned. We also have a Marriott Visa Card where we get double points every time we use it to stay at a Marriott property. Our platinum honored guest level also enables us to have free breakfasts, room upgrades and access to the concierge lounges which often have stellar free food and alcohol. We’re so proud of ourselves when on a day we don't spend a penny on food, or if we use points and at check-out, the total bill is $0!


Hotels or Home Stays Found on Kayak, Trip Advisor, Expedia, Agoda

When we don't stay at Marriotts, our go-to sites for hotels are Expedia, Kayak, Agoda and Trip Advisor, where we always check the reviews. We've only used a travel agent once for a week in India when we were traveling with friends; the second week we found our own hotels but used the agency for touring and for our driver. Honestly, we liked the hotels we found on our own much more than those found by the agency, and spent a lot less money.


At the Oasis Baan Saen Doi Spa Resort in Chiang Mai, Thailand we had a private pool. We could afford it because the hotel was 10 minutes from the center of town.

We've only been disappointed a few times with our hotel choices during these 3 years, but often are happily surprised -- like when we learned that the room "by the pool" we booked thru Expedia at the Oasis Baan Saen Doi Spa Resort in Chiang Mai, Thailand, was actually a private pool just for us! And then there was the Alsisar Haveli - a Heritage Hotel in Jaipur, India which we also found on Expedia, and was like staying in a maharaja's palace.

Alsisar Haveli Hotel was like staying in a maharaja's palace but for a bargain price.

"The Listings Project" -- Rental Opportunities for Artist Types

Our Vermont farmhouse.

The Listings Project was created by a NYC artist to connect her peers with studio space, and has blossomed into a flourishing resource for housing for the creative community and beyond. Register (for free), and every Wednesday you will get an email with that week’s listings. They range from short to long term rentals, to lease takeovers to shared spaces. We rented a great Vermont farmhouse with an artist’s studio for 5 weeks just outside the state capital, Montpelier. Too bad it rained the whole time we were there!



Networking with Family and Friends

One of our favorite places we have called home for several non-consecutive months was in Eden, Utah, our version of the Swiss Alps, if not the original biblical town. The 5-bedroom house belongs to our cousin (actually, Pat’s sister’s husband’s first cousin once removed, but we now consider him our cousin). At Pat’s mom’s funeral, we were talking with him about our untethered life, and he asked if we might be interested in renting their second home. We jumped at the opportunity. Aside from being a fantastic house with a glorious view, it fit our model – renting a place out of season, in this case in the summer since Eden is a ski resort.



"Free is Good"

That’s one of Adam’s favorite sayings, and honestly, we are so fortunate to have family and friends who have opened their doors to us for days, and sometimes weeks at a time. We cannot understate our gratitude, and we hope they still like having us as much as we like being in their homes, and putting our on heads on these special pillows. We've been able to reciprocate by petsitting and by having "Framily" stay with us on this adventure.


Our friends and family, "Framily," have been so kind to us and really helped make all this possible.

Our go-to sites for accommodations:

Airbnb (You'll get a discount on your first stay if you join through me, and I'll get a discount for future stays).

MARRIOTT BONVoY

Kayak

Trip Advisor

Agoda

Expedia

Listings Project


Other House-Finding Options

There are many housing searches out there. A major one is for petsitting, Trusted Housesitters (which you can join for free, but need to upgrade with a fee if you want to respond to a listing).


Another option is to become caretakers. We have highly skilled care-taking friends who use www.housesit.org with its fun newsletter,"Caretakers Gazette." These friends come with a zillion skills we don’t have – like mending fences and fixing ranch equipment. But sometimes you have just a few responsibilities like watering plants! Deals vary from paid assignments to free room or free board. Once we saw a gig taking care of a lighthouse during the winter on an island off of Rhode Island. Definitely not a good fit for us!


Accommodations Mentioned in this Blog:

Airbnb in Albufeira, Portugal

Airbnb in Las Vegas, Nevada

Oasis Baan Saen Doi Spa Resort in Chiang Mai, Thailand (Expedia)

Alsisar Haveli - A Heritage Hotel in Jaipur, India (Expedia)






 

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