May 05th, 2016

 As the very rare spring thunder storm rolls in this morning, I decided I should write about what I’ve been doing to prepare for our journey. We leave Friday for San Francisco, then we’ll be flying out Saturday morning.

We have our plane tickets, that was the easy part. Looking for places to stay was a little trickier. I’ve had website after website of vacation homes up on my computer. Places around Ipswich, London, and Stockholm. I’ve found that HomeAway has hidden fees and once you’ve booked a place, you can’t cancel it online…which is a bummer for those of us who are a little “key-happy” and book something for the wrong week :/. So, I’m hoping the owner will have mercy on me and refund us. 

I’m learning that VRBO is great for variety of places to stay, prices and communicating with the owners. However, we did not end up booking any homes through VRBO, as you have to wait for the owner’s response and I’m too impatient to give the owner 24 hrs to respond…especially since we need a place within a few days. You can cancel the reservations, so that’s a bonus. Also, you can inquire about multiple properties without being charged for them.

I looked into Flipkey and it was fine. The prices were by far the cheapest, but once you added the fees onto the total price, it seemed to be the most expensive website to book from. Some of the homes seemed sketchy, so I just didn’t feel comfortable, as a newby, booking through them at this time. If we make this a part of normal life though, I will continue to keep them in my loop of websites to look at and maybe someday use them.

After all the research, we ended up booking all 3 of our homes through Airbnb. The fees were minimal compared to the other websites. They keep their calendars up to date. Also, I love that Airbnb texts you and emails you the owner’s response. There were some homes where you had the option of booking right there where you didn’t have to wait the 24hrs for the owner’s response. We did this with the 2 homes in England. I received very quick confirmation back from both of the owners, explaining how we were to get into their homes, one even emailed me brochures of areas to visit with our kiddos. It was wonderful.

A fore-warning though, with Airbnb, if there is a home you want to book, but it has no flash-booking option, you do need to wait for confirmation from the owner. This happened with us in Stockholm. I inquired about a house and then tried to inquire about another one, but a message popped up (of which I’m very thankful for) saying that if both homes said we could stay there, we would be charged for both. So, obviously, I didn’t want to be charged for more than one house so I needed to wait for the first denial before continuing on in my journey until we finally got a confirmation notice from a home.

Anyways, these are a few things I’ve learned throughout the last week or so. It’s been interesting, fun, and an adventure. And of course…there are so many homes out there on the websites, the hardest part is picking which one we think will work the best for us!

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