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Alternative Accommodations

July 23rd, 2010

my flat for a week in Amsterdam in the Museumplen neighborhood

I awoke to the sound of thunder and pounding rain outside my open window. I pulled my open suitcase away from the window so that my clothes would not get wet and lay back down in my bed, snuggling under the warm down comforter. It was still dark outside, and lightening dashed across the sky, illuminating my room for a split second. I figured this was a day to stay indoors, plan more of my trip through Europe, and wait the storm out; my exploration of Paris would have to wait.

I was staying in a private room in the 10th Arrondissment, rented from its owner, who also lived in the flat. The flat was a typical, old Parisian apartment with parquet wood floors and textured walls. It was impeccably clean and I had full use of the kitchen, WiFi access, bedding and a towel provided. The owner was also very helpful and friendly, giving me maps of Paris and helping me get my bearings. My room was large with floor to ceiling windows overlooking the charming courtyard below.

Traveling Europe can be very expensive and finding affordable accommodation a challenge. Initially, I thought I’d stay in youth hostels as I traveled Europe, but after hearing my younger sisters (who had been living in Germany and traveling around Europe for the past year) talk about the quality of the hostels, I decided that I probably did not want to stay in youth hostels. Besides, booking a private room in a youth hostel is almost as expensive as staying in a hotel! So, I went to Craigslist and looked for vacation rentals.

I found my Paris flat on Craigslist and I was surprised at how inexpensive (comparatively) it was, especially for what I was getting – a private room with access to a kitchen, laundry, etc. This is much more than what I’d get from a hotel or a youth hostel.

My bedroom in Amsterdam, which opens out onto the terrace overlooking a garden

During that rainy day in Paris, I looked on Craigslist again for accommodation in Amsterdam. I found a private, fully furnished, one-bedroom flat that was quite affordable and booked it immediately. When I arrived in Amsterdam, I took a taxi from the Centraal train station to my apartment for the week. A friend of the owner was waiting outside to show me into the place and hand over the keys. The apartment is large with lots of light, a huge king-sized bed, and a fully equipped kitchen and washing machine. It’s a gorgeous place and a fraction of the cost of a hotel, or even a youth hostel! I compared notes with some other travelers I met here in Amsterdam, and they were shocked at what I was paying, because they were staying in youth hostels and paying much more.

I found an article titled Europe Without Hotels in the New York Times about this new phenomenon – it’s a great read and I’m really glad this is something that’s catching on. A company based in San Francisco called AirBnB is worth checking out – I am definitely going to list my new home on this site to rent out to travelers once I finally settle down somewhere.

Staying in private homes while traveling really enhances the traveling experience while giving me my much-needed private space. It also allows me an inside look at how the locals live. In addition, staying in a private home saves me loads my food costs, because I’m able to buy inexpensive groceries and cook at home! This seems the best way to travel, hands down, and I highly recommend it!

4 Responses to “Alternative Accommodations”

  1. morgan says:

    What a beautiful flat, Nay! I too just found out about AirBnB…and it wasn’t too long before I was thinking about using it to let the second bedroom at the house for some $$ :p
    Love you!

  2. Robert Lemaire says:

    That’s definitely the way to go Naomi!!! I stayed in an apartment (or “flat”) similar to the one you’re at in Amsterdam. And it was much cheaper than a hotel! Also, good news! I just spoke to my my friend in Paris! She’ll be in NYC for a few days in August while I’m in Oklahoma! She has agreed to a non-simultaneous apartment swap. So I can stay at her place in Paris in Novemeber!!! Rent-free! How awesome is that?! Enjoy Amsterdam!

  3. Michele says:

    That is a lovely flat! Good job!

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