A Money Coach in Canada

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Here’s the second in this month’s series on saving money while travelling.

Looking for affordable accommodations when you travel this summer without giving up comfort? My pal Gregg saved hundreds on his European tour by using an online site.
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I’m 48 years old, and having just returned from a 3 week/9 city whirlwind tour through Europe, I’ve been joking that it was my two decade late ‘post university tour’. For this trip, however, I wasn’t quite up to the thought of lugging a backpack around and sleeping in less-than-private hostels. I wanted a bit more peace-of-mind knowing I had a room reservation and, if at all possible, a private bathroom.

As I went online to research hotel prices in Europe my naiveté became apparent. I was making my plans only two to three weeks from my departure date and WOW are hotel rooms expensive – those ain’t dollars, they’re Euros, worth 40% more! As I contemplated delaying my trip, I decided to look at more affordable options having recently heard there were web services connecting travellers with people renting out rooms and apartments. So I started my search and came across AirBnB.com

Airbnb lets anyone search and book rooms, apartments and unique spaces from people around the world. Membership is free and the only fee you pay is a small booking fee charged on top of the rental once you commit to a reservation. For my trip I was looking for a room for two people for two nights in cities like London, Paris, Amsterdam, Prague, Florence, Rome and Barcelona and found great convenient places for each of them. Prices ($CDN) ranged from $58/night for a room in someone’s London apartment near Canary Warf, to $77 for a full flat/apartment in Prague, to $90 for rooms in Paris and Amsterdam, to $93/$98 for Florence/Rome, and $88 in Barcelona for a full funky place in the centre of town that I booked last-minute using the Airbnb iPhone app.

Everything worked out great with all our reservations, and the best part was meeting local people who were more than happy to chat and provide insider tips and tourist information. Of course you can’t always tell exactly what a place will be like from a website photo (our Rome apartment was fine but the street and entranceway were not appealing), but Airbnb features like testimonials, photos and Google Street View minimize any uncertainty. And although you submit your credit card information when you book, the charge is held ‘in-trust’ until you arrive and find everything is suitable. This gave me great peace of mind knowing that I wasn’t handing out my credit card, or cash, to strangers, and that I could call Airbnb to cancel and receive a refund if the space was unavailable or not suitable.

The trip was great and staying with locals in each city really helped us feel connected to the cities and countries we were visiting. Although I found Airbnb to be the only site I needed to use, you can also check out Crashpadder.com, Couchsurfing.org, For Rent by Owners,and Vacation Rentals By Owners . I didn’t use these as the latter two focused more on apartments and homes for rent for longer stays, and the first two didn’t seem as feature-rich, but they may be worth a look too. To check out how Airbnb works go to: www.airbnb.com/info/how_it_works.

Bon Voyage!
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Gregg Taylor is a career coach and consultant who loves life, travel, and supporting people through life and career transitions. He can be reached at gregg at visionpath.ca

Readers: any tips for comfortable accommodations at affordable prices while travelling? Anyone use any other sites?

Featured Image photo credit: Jessamyn

Friends. Friends help us celebrate life.  Friends help us heal when we need healing.  And for me, some dear friends in England have graciously welcomed me into their homes for a whole glorious month to gain perspective and do some visioning about my next steps.  Specifically, I have paid for only 1 night of shelter, and even that was reasonably priced and part of a girls getaway.  Only a very small number of meals have been eat-out — little more than I’d have eaten out at home.  I have done lots of thinking, reading, blogging and work on my business.

But that is not all. That is not all.  For free, I have:

…explored the Tate Gallery in Cambridge; I have attended  Sunday Services and the contemplative mid-week EvenSongs (just what this soul needed) at this Cathedral, which was more rich in art and faith and intellect and history than I had previously thought possible; I have punted the River Cam after a pub lunch (ok those weren’t quite free, but they weren’t much); I have experienced a little life-behind-the-scenes of a chorister (my friend’s son);  I have done my  Couch-2-5K runs along this Sea and this Sea and in fields so pastoral with bunnies and wobbly foals and sweet calfs and birds that it might as well have been Narnia; and spent a day swimming and lazing on this wild beach on the one 30C day so far; and gone for a long walk on the Broads after leisurely lattes and toast served with style in the (English) Garden of my hosts.

And all that in addition to the primary blessing of reconnecting, with plenty of time for leisurely conversation, with treasured friends.

Is it apparent how saturated with blessing I feel right now?

Huh.  There’s frugality.  And then there’s Priceless.

I bet some of you have similarly rich experiences of spending time with friends away from home.  Do!

I spent much of Monday on an English Seaside. The picture speaks for itself. Later, a friend found this poem by Robert Frost which I thought apropos to both the experience, and the act of jumping off the consumption train (this month’s blog theme) in favour of the art of contentment.
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Why make so much of fragmentary blue
In here and there a bird, or butterfly,
Or flower, or wearing-stone, or open eye,
When heaven presents in sheets the solid hue?

Since earth is earth, perhaps, not heaven (as yet)—
Though some savants make earth include the sky;
And blue so far above us comes so high,
It only gives our wish for blue a whet.

For some time now I’ve been buying free range eggs.

But I’m ruined for that now. I’m currently in England and my hosts … well, I’ll let the photos below speak for themselves.

Dear Chickens Maisey and Mrs. Pepperpot, Thanks so very much for a delicious lunch!

As ridiculous as it may sound, I’m really chuffed to have the opportunity to closely connect my food with its source. And such clucky, feathery, cheery sources!

Hi all.
Some of you may recall I’d intimated some change was afoot in my Yellowknife home. After debating and number crunching, I finally decided my kitchen had to go. I’m thrilled with the results and the best way to put it is that the place has changed from being The Place I Reside to HOME.

BEFORE:

And More Before (love the vinyl, heh?):

And One Last Before Pic (the fridge used to rust on the side, for heaven’s sake. No idea why):
old fridge

AND THE BIG REVEAL:
(featuring re-purposed corrugated backsplash, re-purposed “butcher block,” energy efficient fridge and dishwasher, cork (renewable resource, and yes I realize this is debated), and concrete table made by local artisan):

Renovated Kitchen

Tulips

I’m pretty pleased. Of course, Karen would have done it all herself. But she has a kind of awesome that I just don’t have. Yet.

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