BookiT Thursday AirBnB: Connecting the World’s Citizens One Trip at a Time

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Thanks to a good friend of mine, I had the opportunity to secure decent lodging for my upcoming stay in Brooklyn this weekend.

How, you ask?

Airbnb! Save the hassle of hidden fees, paid reviewers, and pricey parking. It’s the ideal hub for those travelers looking for an authentic experience of their destination of interest. Not only is it safe and all hosts thoroughly vetted, you have the advantage of a personal concierge less than a room away. Prefer a less present host? There are private rooms and entire homes available for lease, no matter how short the stay! So if you’re looking for a home away from home, Airbnb is the place you want to go. I booked my room last night after perusing through hundreds of hosts in Brooklyn. Decisions, decisions.

What’s more is the interactive booking and messaging allows you to contact the potential host before you book to introduce yourself, iron out particulars of your stay and get a feel for what kind of host you’ll be lodging with.

My advice, with online services, especially interactive ones, is that it’s best to take advantage of all the apps and widgets, no matter how trivial or glitchy they may appear. It’s no mistake that you can see all of the reviews, good and bad, for a host. Take time to check their profile too. When I chose my host, I wanted to know two things: 1. Were they open to sharing what they knew about the city? 2. What were their interests?

As a travel writer, my expectations are flexible. I’ve studied several countries and cities and come to the conclusion that you won’t  know until you get there. And I’m more than fine with that.

What I do appreciate is that Airbnb allows the expansion of community, one trip at a time. And as a pledged global citizen with my heart in the “hoods” of USA, I’m dedicated to being a part of spreading that love and support for my fellow citizen. Support the mortgage holders, renters, boarders. Help someone pay their rent or their taxes. We can raise ourselves up a level by lifting each other up. We have the power to thrive as long as we don’t forget each other. So the next time you book that trip to Hawaii, Puerto Rico, LA or Detroit, remember, you can stay away and lend a helping hand to someone like you.

I’m excited to give my hard earned cash to someone who could use it and see where it went. I’m not knocking hotels, but ultimately, I prefer locking arms than dropping a dime in a bucket.

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KamTrek: Rebirth

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I know I’m late, but back in December I went to Free Port, Nassau and a few other islands in the Bahamas. It was there that the notion of exploring the world was reborn. As I stood with my feet buried in the sand, staring at the clouds and hearing nothing but the ocean, I felt the presence of my dreams surrounding me. I surrendered to the passion that burned my core and vowed then to make my life’s work about exploring and sharing the beauties of the world. My new-found desire to pursue this passion came after years of coping with a tragic experience I am still battling to overcome. Or at least, accept. That’s for another post. Like many others who endure tragic events and fight to make a life beyond them, I tried pushing the pain of it away and well, I was unsuccessful. I didn’t realize that until I got to the ocean. Part of me felt defeated, blindly prideful, stupid, gullible, crazy, and RELIEVED. I reveled in the irony of being surrounded by the beauty, undisturbed elegance and grace of nature, while facing the not-so-beautiful truth about myself I had come to accept. Pain hadn’t made me worse off, not accepting and dealing with it was what led me to the state of mind I had come to bear.

Watching the tides come in and wash the sand from my feet, I understood the infinite power in gradual progress. Once buried in sand, unrecognizable, my feet emerged eventually clear of any grain after four waves of water washed over them. I walked away from the shore with a new understanding and appreciation for the Earth. I would learn myself through Her. With all of my imperfections and feelings of defeat, the Earth would be my teacher, my companion, my guide and the window to the soul of life.

That is the day Kamtrek was born.

Booking Tuesday: GoogleMaps is the shhh….!!!

So there’s a buzz that booking trips is best done on Tuesday, cheaper prices being the leading reason. But what to do about those reviews? You’ve been there. You’re on Priceline, Expedia, or GoogleMaps looking for the perfect hotel, restaurant or local cafe to book and you’re convinced that the Motor Palace on Flushing Avenue is your best bet. And then, there’s those dreaded, sometimes helpful, reviews that are only good for bouncing off a wall. I’ve observed a pattern in hotel and venue reviews as booking and trip-planning have become my new hobbies. To keep it short and sweet: CHECK THE SOURCE For instance, if the review is out of place, seemingly generic or too complimentary, check the reviewer out. Chances are, you’re reading a post from a staff member or a paid reviewer like Katherine Martinez, who appears in two separate reviews giving two, obviously shotty, hotels five stars:

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It’s all about knowing your limits and what you’re willing to compromise. If you’re a last minute trekker like me, you’ve got to roll your eyes and dig a little deeper into those pockets for the hotel with wifi, free parking and clean sheets, minus the sketchy “regulars”. It’s worth the extra $30-$40 per night if your concern is comfort and accessibility to amenities and attractions. I’m currently planning for a trek to Brooklyn in a couple of weeks and I want to get every bit of the city I can out of this visit. So, for my cartography buffs, I invite you to use GoogleMaps to plan your next adventure. In addition to providing comprehensive directions by way of foot, car, bike or transit, GoogleMaps gives users the chance to literally map out their trips. With street view navigation and step-by-step directions, I can take a preview of my voyage and see into the future! Ok, I’m not a paid reviewer for GoogleMaps, but it is all I’m cracking it up to be.

In one short hour, I had the chance to navigate the neighborhood I’ll be visiting by using street-view and checking out nearby restaurants and lounges, and even planning a visit to Anthony Mackie’s NoBar in Crown Heights, which makes me THAT much more excited!

All-in-all it’s your intuition that matters. When there’s no way to tell what kind of stay you will have until you actually stay, it’s important to go with your gut feeling. If you don’t mind bed spreads with cigarette burns, blood-stained carpets, bullet-proofed front desk, bedbugs, or stale breakfast, by all means, ENJOY YOUR STAY! And if you’re looking for a spa, sauna, business center, pool and room service at a low price, PLAN AHEAD. Seeking the middle like me? Go go gadget, go! Use all the apps and advisories you can find to build a last minute, 5 Star trip, at low prices. GoogleMaps is my homie.