I’m in the process of planning a long overseas trip to Greece and Italy with three of my best lady travelers. They have mentioned numerous times that I have been very organized about the entire process, so I thought I’d share some of my tips and tricks. This post will be solely focused on accommodations.
Step 1 – Google Search
If you know the city you want to visit, do a quick Google Search such as ‘best neighborhood in Athens Greece’ or ‘trendy neighborhood in Santorini Greece’ or, ‘Top Sicily destinations.’ Once you have identified a handful of neighborhoods, do another Google Search by the city name, such as ‘Top attractions in Catania Italy.’ This will help you with some ideas on what to do while you are there, and if you want to be close to those attractions, you will know exactly what neighborhood you want to stay in.
Step 2 – Airbnb
Airbnb is my go-to site when first looking at a city of interest. I love typing in a city and clicking on some of the top rentals that have had plenty of reviews and reading the travelers thoughts on the city; how walkable it is, how they navigated via public transportation, taxi, rental car etc. It is really a great resource even if you don’t end up booking your accommodations there.
For those of you unfamiliar with Airbnb, I highly recommend you check it out. If you have a group, family, or want the option of cooking your own food and not eating out for every meal, Airbnb will be much more affordable than hotels. You rent apartments, homes, or rooms and you can choose what level of privacy you want along with various amenities.
For my Greece and Italy trip, I needed accommodations that would hold 4 ladies, each to have their own bed, a kitchen, a balcony, walkable to the city attractions and markets, and close to public transportation. We are staying in 5 different cities, so this took some time to research. I shared my top choices in each city with the group and we narrowed it down from there.
The savings with Airbnb is huge. For the 4 of us, our week-long trip to Sicily was less than $200 per person! You can not stay in a hotel for that cost and have a full kitchen, a balcony, your own bed, and a local that can help make restaurant recommendations or advise on any other tourist topic.
I will also mention that it is very important to PLAN ahead when using Airbnb. We are visiting Greece and Italy at the beginning of the tourist season, so all of the awesome locations book up fast. We had our eyes on a few and missed because we didn’t pull the trigger fast enough. We booked our accommodations about 8 months in advance! You certainly don’t have to do that, but it’s nice to know we don’t have to worry about and we can plan our other activities.
Step 3 – Book
Decide if you are going the hotel route or Airbnb. Hotels can be lovely and if you prefer knowing exactly what your room will look like, down to the thread count on the sheets, hotels can offer more of a secure and familiar feeling.
Use a travel credit card to book to maximize points. I recently got the Chase Sapphire Credit Card. You earn double points for all travel spending. It also has a great sign on bonus, if you spend $4,000 in the first 3 months you earn 50,000 points. That is equal to about a $700 airline ticket. There is no annual fee for the first year, so it really is like earning free travel money. If you want one, use my link here so I can get more points!
Step 4- Start planning your activities
More on this in the next post!