Check-In to Airbnb

Here is a guest blog post by my husband, Ian, about our experience with Airbnb!

We have now used Airbnb for two trips which officially qualifies us to have an opinion. We have received many questions about this service. While we were a bit hesitant at first and were still hesitant after just an OK, first-time experience, we have grown to love it!

We encourage each of you to consider it for your next trip! Even better, go on there without a trip in mind and see what you discover!

These are the 3 most common questions we receive about Airbnb:

Q: Why would you use an Airbnb?

A: There is one fantastic reason to use Airbnb: price. For the same price as a motel where you might catch something viral, you can stay in a two-bedroom in a trendy new Boston suburb next to a cafe bistro that was featured on the Food Network. While camping is probably the ultimate option for cheap travel, I prefer to do my camping indoors….with soap….and without the fear of bears.

Just as a reference, our trip to Ireland cost less than $700 in lodging for 8 nights.

Q: Do your hosts talk to you?

A: Yes. And that is okay! A big part of Airbnb is the communication between the host and guest. In fact, you are both rated on it.

As for in-person communication, that depends entirely on your stay. The reality is that if you are using Airbnb, then you and your host share a yin for this type of social interaction. We have stayed in four places. Once we never met our host, once we met a friend who showed us in, and twice we met and conversed daily with our hosts. Each experience worked for us.

At our Airbnb in Kenmare, we met Flor, a multi-generational dairy farmer in Ireland. In Fanore, we met John, a widower who found a new purpose in life providing rental opportunities to people to see his corner of the world. We have been empowered through our experiences to see and hear about a new part of the world. The stories of our hosts truly enhanced our visit.

Take time to read the guest book of each Airbnb. You never know who stayed before you, their stories, or where they are from! It’s a cosmic experience.

Q: Is it clean?

A: I have yet to see an Airbnb as spotless as a hotel, but an Airbnb feels lived in. It is cozier and personal than a hotel so don’t let a few dusty corners deter you. Also, most come with a cleaning fee which is just proof for the nonbeliever that the homes are in fact cleaned.

Look around your house right now. Not every nook is spotless, yet you feel comfortable and at home. For reference, I walked around with no socks on at 3 of our 4 Airbnbs and I am usually in my crocs or socks in my own home! If I felt comfortable to go barefoot, then you can go for it and experience a new home away from home!

 

A few last tips:

  1. When you do your search, be specific with your filter. For us, every search starts with “Free parking on premises” (unless we are not driving) and “Wi-fi” because even in 2018 you’d be surprised who doesn’t offer Wi-fi.
  2. Read the reviews. Pictures can be deceiving, so make sure you read why people did or did not enjoy their stay. Try your best to be objective too. Just because SCIFIGUY78 thinks the breakfast place next door made runny eggs doesn’t mean you should look elsewhere…but if he says the bed is uncomfortable and that’s the third time you’ve seen that then maybe it’s a review worth respecting.
  3. Be exotic. Airbnb has opened our minds to new places and opportunities. We found a place in the XVI Arrondissement in Paris for less than $100 a night. Now we are planning a trip around it! Hotels cost at least twice that. You never know where your next destination might take you.
  4. Trust in humanity. The people who rent an Airbnb are nice and mean well. It is their business to give you an enjoyable home. Enjoy your stay and take advantage of their knowledge of the area. You never know who you’ll meet and what you’ll learn.

 

Bonus Material: I am into the NPR podcast How I Built This and one episode is about Airbnb. Listen to host Joe Gebbia talk about his entrepreneurship: https://one.npr.org/?sharedMediaId=497820565:497945288

 

Thanks for reading!

 

 Note: The image for this blog post is from one of our Airbnbs in Kenmare, Ireland. Look at that view!

 

Ireland | Cliffs of Moher

Today is our last day in Ireland and what better way to close out an amazing trip than a trip to the Cliffs of Moher! This was a once-in-a-lifetime experience and we couldn’t recommend it more to everyone. It’s a must-see. The cliffs are magnificent; it is a truly magical place. We found ourselves speechless as we climbed the cliffs.

Guests are able to learn more about the cliffs in the visitor center. You can take the stairs up on one side and visit the O’Brien’s Tower (which you will see in our photos). The tower was built specifically for tourists in 1835. You can then take the other pass and climb/walk throughout the cliffs on protected paths. Don’t get too comfortable though—there are plenty of warning signs throughout advising to be careful, not slip, and to watch for grassy areas due to frequent landslides! We did our best to stay on the path well from the edge and were in awe of the views.

OK—enough talking. Check ’em out!

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Thank you, everyone, for following our adventures in Ireland! Stay tuned for our next trip in May—Quebec!

 

Ring of Beara | Healy Pass

On Friday, March 15, we hopped in the car and drove around the Ring of Beara. The Ring of Beara or Beara Peninsula has two mountain ranges: the Caha Mountains and the Slieve Miskish Mountains.

We explored the County Kerry side and took the Healy Pass which was cut during the Great Famine as a poor relief public works project. The goal was to give Irish folk an easier route through the mountains.

A note about driving in Ireland: You are driving on the left side of the road, and on the other side of the car (passenger and driver’s seat are reversed), so go the speed you are comfortable in (most area signs say to go 100 km/h, so 60+ mph). If cars want to pass you, they will. These are windy, dangerous, narrow roads. Lots of tourist buses pass through here, and you are cramped and have to sometimes pull off to the side for bigger cars. If you are renting a car, I recommend renting a small car so you can navigate the roads better and feel safe.

Ring of Beara and Healy Pass

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Kenmare | Killarney National Park

The past three days have been a whirlwind of driving and exploration—I am just finding time to sit down and write again. Today, we arrived in Fanore, a small village in County Clare on the west coast of Ireland. After a long drive and dinner at a nearby pub, we are back in our Airbnb lounging in the cozy living room. Now, I have time to write about Kenmare!

Kenmare
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Kenmare is a beautiful village in the south of County Kerry. It is located at the head of Kenmare Bay where the Roughty River flows into the sea. It is also at the junction of the Iveragh Peninsula and the Beara Peninsula. It was a great spot to pick because it was not only gorgeous and just what we wanted in a small Irish town, but it was also centrally located and right near the Ring of Kerry and the Ring of Beara, our gateways into the Irish countryside the past few days.

On Friday, we spent most of the day walking around town, poking in and out of the shops and admiring the architecture. Walking around Kenmare is simple: there are three main streets and they form a triangle at the center of town (Main Street). Naturally, there is a lot of rich history. The town has ancient roots—one of the largest stone circles in the southwest of Ireland is located there going back to the Bronze Age when it was constructed (2,200-500 B.C.). It was fun to walk around, snap some photos, and try some of the restaurants. A few we recommend is the Lorge Chocolatier (their hot chocolate is delicious), PF McCarthy’s (great pub food), and Maison Gourmet (great breakfast cafe)!

 

Killarney National Park

On Saturday, St. Patrick’s Day, we stopped for takeaway breakfast and made our way to Killarney National Park for a day of exploration. We got to drive a little on the Ring of Kerry and were in awe of how beautiful it was. We’ve never seen views like this before!

These two photos are from Ladies View on the Ring of Kerry in Killarney:

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We continued to drive on the Ring of Kerry and throughout Killarney National Park (which is over 25,000 acres—so we didn’t explore it all!) and stopped at the Torc Waterfall. The woods are covered in green moss—again, something we haven’t seen before, and the waterfall is beautiful.

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Our last stop on the tour was Muckross House, a 19th-century mansion set among the mountains in Killarney. It stands close to the shore of Muckross Lake, one of Killarney’s three lakes, and was the home of Henry Arthur Herbert and his wife, Mary Balfour Herbert. In 1861, Queen Victoria visited the house and stayed for two nights.

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We were able to take a 45-minute guided tour of the house, but we were not allowed to take photos. Let’s just say that the house is adorned with deer antlers (two hunting families lived here) and an eclectic mix of bric-a-brac. We highly suggest visiting Muckross and taking a tour—it’s a gorgeous Victorian home and the staff is super kind!

We then drove back to Kenmare for an authentic St. Patrick’s Day pub experience. Throughout the day, we noticed that people were wearing sprigs of shamrock on their left breast to celebrate the holiday. A waiter at the pub told us many Irish folks celebrate St. Patrick’s Day as a religious holiday, kind of like how Americans celebrate Christmas. A lot of the razzmatazz that you see throughout Ireland is simply to appease tourists. We took the countryside route and ordered a Guinness, ate some traditional Irish meals (not corned beef or cabbage), and listened to some Irish music in a local pub!

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Sláinte!