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Helpful Tips Booking Your First AirBnB As a Female Solo Traveler

Before my Washington trip, I never used AirBnB but I’ve always heard great things about it. Since I was trying to be money savvy I decided to try them out. I was going to be staying in someone’s house I did not know for a week, so my goal was to find places I would feel the most comfortable staying at. Here are some helpful tips on how I booked my AirBnB’s:

Portland, Oregon: Bungalow

 

Find AirBnB’s that have a fair amount of reviews.

I wanted to stay in a place that many people have already experienced so reading reviews were very helpful in narrowing my search. If I was traveling with friends or a significant other, then I wouldn’t mind trying out new AirBnB hosts, as this would help them gain more reviews and receive more stays.

Read the reviews!

Just because an AirBnB host has many reviews, doesn’t mean they are all necessary good experiences. Be aware of the pros and cons people write of their stay to decipher if that’s the right place for you.

Look on the map where the AirBnB is located

The first AirBnB I booked was about 30 minutes away from Seattle. Yes I did have a car, but I definitely would have liked to book a place closer. I did not check the map of where it was located beforehand, so now I learned from that mistake and view the map before the listings to help narrow down my options.

Send a warm and friendly message to the host 

Hosts write reviews of the people that stay at their place, just like customers write reviews of their visit. Since this was my first time booking, my profile had no reviews at all. Before I booked any places, I contacted the host introducing myself, my reason for visiting and why I would like to book with them. I received a warm and welcoming response back from them and the majority pre-approved my booking. You don’t always need to be approved for a booking. Some you can just book immediately but I prefer to introduce myself first and the hosts appreciate that as well.

 

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Chehalis, Washington: Bed and Breakfast

 

Staying with a female host

Since I was traveling by myself I felt comfortable staying at an AirBnB where the host was a female or a couple. Now, this is just my personal preference, I know others would be just fine booking with any type of host but I wanted to feel safe and have peace of mind since it was just me. If I was traveling with friends or a significant other, then the type of host wouldn’t have mattered.

Give an estimated time of arrival to your host

When traveling, it is sometimes difficult to let the host know the exact time you will be arriving, but giving them a time range is very helpful for them to get your room ready and prepared for your arrival. Be courteous.

Read all of the information about the place you would like to stay

Hosts have different rules and regulations that ensure you have an enjoyable stay at their place, so make sure you are full aware of them. This way you won’t be surprised as to why your host is upset that you are having a party at 2AM, when the booking clearly states no noise past 10PM.

Leave a review!

After your stay, leave a review for your host. This will help others who are searching for a great place to book, as well as letting the host know how your experience was.

Before hitting the ” booking” button, make sure this is the place you would like to stay at. 

Hosts have different cancellation policies. Some are strict, while others are more lenient. Either way, the majority of the time the AirBnB fee is not refunded if you cancel your stay. It’s a small fee, usually under $10, but that could have been applied to your lunch, gas or snacks. I do think there’s a policy where you can be refunded up to three AirBnB fees a year, if the host approves it. Kindly ask the host if it’s possible.

Favorite AirBnB’s

If you are driving from Seattle and would like to see Mount Saint Helen on the way to Portland, I recommend staying in this true bed and breakfast just off the highway in Chehalis, Washington. When I arrived, she welcomed me with delicious Yakima cherries, and in the morning made me a scrumptious and fulfilling breakfast! When staying in Portland, this adorable bungalow is the ticket. It’s quaint and cozy and I have to say the bathroom is my favorite! 🙂

Hope these tips are helpful! Please comment below if there are additional tips I missed!

If you would like $40 towards your next AirBnB trip, click here!

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6 Items I Didn’t Use On My Trip

Washington State is BEAUTIFUL! The weather was perfect, the people were friendly and the views did not disappoint. Last month, I went on my very first solo trip for two weeks. I bought every possible item I thought I would need for my travels, and swore by them, even though I haven’t used them yet. Halfway through my trip, I realized there was no need to bring them, and it was just dead weight in my backpack/carry on.

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Below are the items that I didn’t end up using, but still might be useful in the future:

1. Travel Space Saver Bags

space saver bags

In my previous post I recommended these to my readers, including my manager (she was traveling to Colombia). I was so confident that these amazing space saver bags were going to be useful and give me more room in my carry on. Well, while packing, these bags ended up taking more space than I thought once the air was removed. They aren’t flexible to move around and maneuver, so I decided to just not use them at all.

A lot of people swear by “rolling” their clothes for more space in their luggage. I tried all different methods: Space Saver bags, rolling clothes, rolling AND folding, and the best one? FOLDING. There will be a post in the future about how I packed and most likely a video to show you how it was done, so stay tuned!

2. Bluetooth Keyboard

I did not want to bring my laptop with me because of how much room it would take up. I also was worried someone would steal it. I am part of the PNW Outdoor Women Facebook Group, and read some posts about break-in’s at the trails and didn’t want to leave the laptop in the car, nor trek it with me. So I figured buying a Bluetooth keyboard for my phone would be just as useful. This was actually the most exciting item I bought personally, and it was compact!

bluetooth keyboard

The sad thing is, my itinerary was so packed, I didn’t have any time to write, not even for a minute, so, unfortunately, I wasn’t able to use it. But I am using it as we speak, to make up for when I wasn’t able to! I still recommend this handy compact product, it’s so nifty!

3.  Gore-Tex Rain Jacket

rain jacket.jpg

Ok, this one I didn’t actually BUY, but I was planning to. I was going to buy it at the REI  store in Seattle the day I landed, so I didn’t have to pack it in my carry on and take up space. Well a week prior to my trip, REI had a huge sale and it included the Gore-Tex rain jackets I was interested in. Not one of them were available and the earliest they would be able to deliver it was when I wasn’t even home nor near a city, so that wasn’t going to work and I started to panic. I asked my fellow PNW Outdoor Women on Facebook what to do and the majority informed me that I don’t even need a rain jacket. During the summer, Washington barely rains, and I can confirm this because it didn’t rain once on my trip. Not only did I save my money, but also space in my carry on by not buying the rain jacket! Talk about a win win!

4. Waterproof Back Pack Rain Cover

Same reason as the rain jacket. It didn’t rain once, so I never had to use it. But this is an item that will come in handy for future hikes, so I’d say a good investment, plus it wasn’t expensive.

backpack.jpg

5. Bear Spray 

I don’t even acknowledge the fact that bears are in the woods while hiking in NC, but for some reason I did in Washington State. Bear spray is something you can’t buy before your trip due to TSA guidelines and also I had a carry on and wasn’t checking in my bag. I bought the bear spray once I landed in Seattle, but never was needed. I didn’t see one bear. My friend’s son hiked with me one day, and laughed that I even had it. I said ” You laugh at me now, but if a bear was coming at us, you’ll be thankful.” It was more of a security blanket for me, and since I can’t bring it back with me, I just returned it at the store.

bear

6. Money Belt

The majority of my trip wasn’t even in cities, it was in the car traveling to the national parks. I did go to Portland, Seattle and Vancouver Island, but I didn’t feel the need to wear it. I believe it would be more useful in busier areas like New York City, Los Angeles, Miami and International travel.  I did, however, use the blocking sleeves that were included for identity theft protection, but the money belt just stayed in my backpack.

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Even though I didn’t use these items I bought, doesn’t mean they won’t ever be used. But you do have to question if the item is really necessary before purchasing. My next post will be about the items I used and loved the most on my trip! 

 

 

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First Solo Adventure!

I have only been to the West Coast once. I was part of a church choir and flew to Los Angeles to sing at an event. We toured the city for one day, and then headed back to the east coast. The sad thing is, I don’t remember much of my trip, only about three things: visiting the Chinese theater, the area we lodged and the actual singing we did. LA is a tourist trap, and I wanted to really experience the west coast culture. Once I gained an interest for hiking, I started following these Instagram profiles of people traveling to the Northwest, mostly Washington, Oregon and Canada, hiking the mountains. These pictures would always make me speechless. I couldn’t believe these places actually existed, they were so beautiful! So a couple months go by and the itch to visit these locations kept increasing. The new year has started, and I have accrued my vacation days, so I requested two weeks off and booked my flight to Washington state! My first solo adventure!  Of course when you are a female traveling alone, being a little nervous is normal. I read a couple articles of other female solo travelers giving tips and advice on how to enjoy yourself, but also be cautious and it helped a lot.  I’ll put the links below. My next blog will be about how I prepare for my trip, stay tuned!

http://www.nomadicmatt.com/travel-blogs/safety-tips-from-a-solo-traveler/

http://www.nomadicchica.com/you-can-travel-alone-go-girl/

http://theblondeabroad.com/2015/11/18/10-tips-for-taking-your-first-solo-trip/?sf=aoyejvp

http://explorista.net/first-time-traveling-solo/

Preparation

Preparing for a two week trip to the Pacific Northwest has been an adventure in itself. First step was to check how the weather will be at the time I’m going. I went to the Washington Trails Association website and searched for the trails I’ll be hiking. You can see other hikers leave comments and pictures from their trek. I reviewed the comments from 2016 around the same time I’ll be going, to see how the trails and weather will be, just to get an idea. Basically, I have to pack for cold and summer weather, because the first week, the snow will be melting and the trails will be muddy. The second week will be sunshine, dry and warm weather. My goal is only to pack a carry on, and I’m already having anxiety thinking about it. After reading some articles, one of them mentioned the Travel Space Saver Bags (No Vacuum Needed). I bought these bad boys instantly!  Guarantee, this will give me 50% more space in my luggage. Then I thought, what items do I necessarily need to pack before I reach my destination? If there are items I can wait to buy until I land in Seattle, that will help give me more space in my luggage. This is what I came up with:

What To Buy and Pack Before the Trip:
  • Wool or synthetic socks
  • Gore Tex lining hiking shoes/boots-I’m going on a couple hikes before my trip, so I can break these in. I’ll also be wearing these at the airport to have more space in my carry-on.
  • Rain cover for backpack- My backpack will be my “purse” for the flight, so any small things will be put in here.
  • Compass
  • Whistle
  • Sunglasses
  • Flashlight
  • Fold-able water bottle- I thought this was such a cool product, because when there’s no water in the bottle, you just fold it and pack it away, barely takes up any room compared to a regular water bottle. See for yourself!
  • Portable charger for phone- This charger is pretty awesome. I charged it, then my phone was on 5%, so I used the portable charger to charge my phone. The phone juiced up 100% in 30 minutes. Plus there was still 4 blue light bars left on the portable charger! Highly recommend this one.
  • Bandana
  • Bra Stash
  • Money Belt
  • Travel insurance- Very necessary wherever you go, whether it’s national or international
  • Scanner Guards
  • Games for Plane (Crosswords, Sudoku)
  • Passport
  • Headphones
  • Tissues
  • Wall Charger
  • Travel Pillow (This one’s my favorite!)
  • Dramamine
  • Tums
  • Advil
  • Lotion
  • Wet Wipes (to feel refreshed after your plane trip)
  • Eye Mask
  • Magazines
  • Gum for the plane
  • Definitely a sweater for the plane, I’m always cold while flying
  • Chapstick, keep those lips moisturized
  • Snacks, Snacks, Snacks
  • Duct Tape- To wrap around blister on foot if needed

What To Buy At My Destination:

  • Gore-Tex Rain Jacket- In a place like Seattle, there is bound to be an REI nearby
  • Nylon or Polyester Cap- To block out the sun and also for when it rains
  • Pepper Spray
  • Body Glide- Apply on feet to prevent blisters
  • Bear Spray- I read an article that it’s also best to get the bear spray holder that goes on your belt, so you’ll be ready and prepared for the heat of the moment
  • Bug Spray
  • Sunscreen
  • Pocket Knife
  • Umbrella
  • First Aid Kit
  • Skin Blister Pads- Just in case those blisters appear on your feet while hiking
  • Physical Map of Washington State- When you don’t have any service and need to go old school
  • National Park Pass– I never even heard of this, until I read an article about it. It’s valid for a whole year to all National Parks across the US.
  • Toiletries of course- Since it’s only a two week trip, travel size products are plenty
  • Batteries
  • Roadside Emergency Kit
  • Trash Bags
  • Ziploc bags- For the items in your backpack, just in case it rains and so they don’t spill. Also if you need to use nature as your restroom, put your wipes in the sandwich bags. Don’t Litter!
  • Snacks, Snacks, Snacks
  • I’m debating about Trekking Poles, not sure if I’ll need these.

If you know of any other items, let me know! Below are some articles that helped me create my lists.

http://travelfashiongirl.com/best-money-belts-and-anti-theft-travel-accessories

http://www.hellonatureblog.com/what-to-pack-day-hiking-printable-checklist/?utm_source=P-1207&utm_medium=FB&utm_campaign=SocialFabric