Traveling is an absolute dream, but careful planning is essential and must not be taken lightly. With over 10 years of international and domestic travel experience, I have learned quite a few lessons and want to share my top travel tips with you!
What inspired me to come up with my vacation checklist is a trip to Spain, where my partner and I decided to book a vacation rental in Madrid. We had stayed in someone else’s home multiple times in both the US and Europe and really enjoyed our travel experiences.
After landing in Madrid, we immediately connected to the airport wifi to contact our host that we would be arriving at the apartment soon. Everything went smoothly. We reached the apartment on time without a hiccup.
Our host gave us a brief tour and handed over the keys. Since we’ve done several home sharing vacations in the past, we did not realize that we should’ve asked our host some crucial questions.
After settling in and making ourselves feel at home, we went out for a walk to discover some of Madrid’s cobblestoned streets. After a few hours of exploring we returned to the entrance of the apartment building. We could not unlock the front door even after we both tried our respective keys. Nothing. We almost broke the key trying to get it to turn. We thought, “why won’t our keys work?” We scrambled to get wifi to contact our host, who thankfully rushed over to help us out.
He arrived super calm and collected, realizing that he had forgotten to explain to us the complex process of putting in the key: pulling just a bit, jiggling, and then opening the door. After finally getting into our apartment we realized that we should have asked more questions about using the keys and also trying them out before we left.
Here is my Top Ten List for an enjoyable vacation during a home sharing stay.
1. Set your expectations well
Before booking your property, make sure that you’ve done the research on your property’s location and that you fully understand the amenities that come with your vacation rental.
If you want to have wifi, make sure it is listed. If you are traveling with a large group or with your family, make sure the place has enough sleeping space to accommodate everybody.
Driving can be a fun alternative to air travel, especially to short-distance locations, so check with your host if the property has its own parking or if you must rely on street-side parking.
Be sure to examine all of the photos on the listing and make sure you are comfortable with the space. Also, understand that pictures can only reveal so much detail, so keep this in mind when choosing a place.
2. Communicate with your host
It is easy to contact a host before booking.
You can ask them any questions about their space and the neighborhood. This is a great way for you to to get a feel for them as a host and get insider tips on your chosen destination.
If your host is a property manager, make sure that there is a local contact that you can immediately get in touch with in case of an emergency.
3. Coordinate your arrival time with the host
Be a courteous guest by informing your host of your arrival time well in advance so that they can plan their schedules accordingly. Let them know of any changes to your trip itinerary as soon as possible.
Another tip, always screenshot the directions to the vacation rental and your correspondence with your host in the event that you do not have wifi or internet data and cannot access your email. This way you will still be able to navigate your way to your property.
4. Test your keys
This may sound like common sense or that it is normal to expect that your keys will and should work, but you’re still renting someone else’s home. Everyone’s doors and locks are unique.
Just as a precaution, always try using your set of keys to make sure they work properly when leaving your vacation home or apartment for the first time. You can do this just before you leave by keeping the door open and doing a test.
It’s even better if your host is right there to help you out or provide a new set of keys. As my personal history has taught me, this can save a lot of time and hassle.
5. Wake up early
It might be difficult to leave the comforts of your room the morning after you arrive in your destination, but try your best to wake up early and seize the day. After arriving in Paris, France one time on a redeye, we had the urge to stay in bed all day. Since we only had 3 full days to explore the city, we decided that it would be a waste of a day to not go out.
It was definitely painful getting up, but the fresh croissants and amazing coffee made it worth it! Crowds are thinner in the early morning and you will be able to have a nice breakfast that will prepare you for the rest of your day exploring.
6. Make friends
Whether it is with your Hoppify Host or the neighborhood barista, talk to the locals who can tell you some of the best restaurants and spots to see that you won’t be able to find on Google. Even with an open mind, use some precaution when talking to the locals and make sure that you don’t give up too much personal information.
7. Update your Hoppify profile
Make sure to upload a clear photo of yourself to create a higher level of trust between you and the host. Include some of your personal interests so that the host will be more likely to select you for a booking, or offer some travel guides tailored to you.
8. Bring your own toiletries
While some hosts will supply basic bathroom essentials, it is not a guarantee. Pack your own shampoo, soap and any other personal necessities that you may need during your stay in your vacation rental.
9. Be respectful
When traveling, always be mindful of local customs and traditions, especially in foreign locations. It is essential to have fun and let loose, but you also want to be conscious of the dos and don’ts of your destination.
That includes being respectful of the home where you’re staying by abiding by the host’s rules and keeping their home tidy. Just think of how you’d want your own guests to treat your home when they stay with you.
10. Make room for adjustments
When traveling abroad make sure to bring more cash than you would usually spend as some credit card companies charge foreign transaction fees, which can add up. Be aware of your credit or debit card’s policies regarding international use, and make sure call them ahead of time and let them know of your destinations. You don’t want your account to be frozen while you’re traveling abroad.
Finally, don’t forget, this is a vacation! Let’s face it, nothing is perfect. If something goes wrong, keep a level head and try to learn from the experience. And have fun!