How I Use Airbnb to Fund your Travels

I recently started hosting on Airbnb and quickly realized that with a few tricks I learned in marketing classes, I can fund my travels pretty easy. You don’t necessarily need the fanciest place to be successful on Airbnb, you just need to provide a clean space that meets guest needs when they need it.

In order to help you get your travels funded by Airbnb, I included a few tips I picked up from marketing classes that may help you get more guest and fund your traveling.

Tip 1: Create a space that fits your target guest.

If you are offering a shack, then don’t try and dress it up as a mansion. This will help guest feel like you are deliveringsurf-shack-airbnb what you said you would, and will
also help potential guest feel at ease that you aren’t over promising.

If you aren’t sure who your target guest is, than try this; analyze yourself. People who will enjoy living in your space are probably similar to you because you already live there, and hopefully you enjoy your living space.

Now that you have identified yourself as a target guest, analyze what you love or hate about your space. Do you have great natural lighting, maybe a great location or a giant bathroom? What ever it is, sell it.  As for what you hate about your space, maybe you need to decorate, or get new pillows. Find solutions that would make you love your space and invest some time and a little money to make it happen.

airbnb-appTip 2: Research your competition – other local Airbnb listings

The fact that you have competition is a good. It means that there is a market in your area for Airbnb, and it also
means you have something to compare yourself to.

There isn’t any point to comparing yourself to a mansion if you live in a shack because they are outside of your target market. Instead, pay attention to the competition that is similar to yours, or slightly “better.”

When you compare your listing to others near you, look at the photos, the descriptions, the ratings and the comments. Find what you like about their listings and see how you can incorporate them into your own space and listing. Also pay attention to who is getting the most bookings and see if there is something you can adjust – maybe your prices or restrictions for applying.

Tip 3: Add “Icing on the cake” with your photosbed

You already know that a picture speaks a thousand words, but more importantly, you have to convince someone to click on your listing within 2 seconds of being seen or your listing will just be scrolled past.

In addition to good lighting and high definition, you also have to look at the composition of your photos. With each of your photos, put “icing on the cake.” Many successful Airbnb gurus suggest that staging a room, for example putting a bottle of wine with a cheese plate on the bed for your picture, will be the icing on the cake that results in more clicks to your listing and in consequence, more visitors booking.

Do you have some tips that you would like to share as well? Please comment below with your suggestions – your tip may be just what someone needs to start paying for their travel and vacation!

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3 Quick Tips to Make Your Vacation Photos Better

Recently I posted an article about leaving your camera at home. I know your family and friends may be disappointed if you don’t send them any photos so here are some ways to make a few photos go a long way.

These tips are meant to help you create great photos so that you feel like you have enough great pictures to put your camera away and enjoy the moments.

Tip 1: Only take a photo if the lighting is right

Even with Photoshop, there is only so much you can do to an over-exposed image and hard shadows. On over-exposed image is a result from too much light and hard shadows create distractions on peoples faces. If you are unsure of what I am talking about, go and look at the face of someone in a National Geographic magazine – do you see any shadows on their face, in fact, are there shadows at all?

One rule of thumb to make sure you have the right lighting is to take photos when there is an overcast. No clouds in sight? Try an evening or early morning shot when the shadows can be avoided.

Tip 2: Take a picture of something other than who you look at in the mirror everyday

If you are trying to share the place or the experience, then take a picture of that. Selfies are fun, especially when you are trying to brag on snapchat and we all love getting pictures of our friends making funny faces, but we save pictures of places and experiences.

If the purpose of taking the photo is to share it with others, then think of what they would love to see the most. Maybe your grandma does want a picture of you, but if you are going to be in the shot, at least make it a photo of you doing something amazing.

Tip 3: Recognize angles and depth before you press the button

One of the biggest mistakes people do when they are taking pictures is that they take it from an angle that doesn’t get the full picture, or they zoom in so much that they lose the story that comes from the surrounding area.

Before you take the picture, ask yourself “what makes this moment worth taking a picture?” Once you have answered that question, then take a picture of the answer. The whole answer.

What do you think? Does creating a few amazing pictures make it easier for you to put the camera away? How about your photo experience and tips? Share them with us in a comment below.

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3 Quick Tips To Finding The Best Cruise For You And Your Girlfriends First Cruise

A number of things go into finding the best cruise for you and your girlfriend and your first cruise may be a large influence into trips to come. Try these quick tips to make sure that you choose the best cruise for your first time.

1.      Inside Cabin or Outside Cabin

If you are like me and Meg, then you will be spending most of your time on the deck and only being in the room for sleeping (and maybe other things that require closed doors). With this being the case, there isn’t any reason to pay more money for a balcony or window view.

However, if you feel that you may have claustrophobia issues, then having the window view of all the open space may be necessary. Some cruises offer live stream video that makes it look like you are looking out a window, so make sure you read the fine print and make sure it is a real window.

2.      Consider cost of flights to get to the departing port

Some people get so excited because they found a cheap cruise that seems like a bargain so they buy the tickets before it sells out. However, the flight to the departing port can make the cheap cruise actually more expensive than a cruise that is closer, so it is important to check flight cost before buying the cruise tickets.

3.      Get detailed information about where your cabin is and the best time to schedule your meals before you board

The cruise lines are often well staffed, but the rush of people boarding and trying to find their cabins can make it so that there are lines of people waiting to ask any employee for directions to their cabin. You can usually get information for where a cabin is located and what elevators to take on the ship map that is provided to you before boarding.

Some cruise lines even suggest what time you should make reservations for dinner to help avoid large crowds. If you are unsure how to find this information, ask a travel agent, or whoever you booked the cruise with, they may be able to provide you with the appropriate information.

What experiences have you had with a cruise? Do you have any tips or stories to share with the community? Please comment below with your experiences and questions.

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Don’t Believe Anyone Who Says Vacation Isn’t Stressful

It is true that some people stress and worry about vacations more than others, but there is always some level of stress when it comes to vacations. Stress isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, stress can produce hormones that you need to stay safe or even just give you the energy you need to get back to your hotel after a long day.

However, if you are anything like me, then you understand that vacations are to relax and leave the stress at home.

A thorough plan will help prevent stress

One way to decrease the amount of stress you go through is to plan your trip thoroughly with everyone that is going on the trip in advance. For me, planning the trip is the most stressful part, but it will help prevent stress while you are actually on the trip.

I wish sometimes that I could just pick-up and go on vacation without a moment’s notice, but in reality we have to plan where we are going, when we are going, what we are going to eat, and what we are going to do.

By going through this planning process, you will more likely feel “in control” during the trip and “on the same page” with everyone that is there with you and in turn have less stress.

Plan your vacation with flexibility

As I mentioned above, having a thorough plan will help prevent stress, but you also have to create a plan that allows for flexibility. Weather, car problems, delayed flights, closed restaurants and sickness can create stress, but that level of stress can be greatly decreased if you are flexible with your plans.

Be ok with change

Not everyone is ok with change in plans and it can cause stress. Meg for example hates it when I want to change or add things to our plans. She was expecting the trip to go one way and by me changing it, she has to change her expectations and that is stressful for her.

Honestly, it isn’t as easy as just saying “be ok with change,” but if you plan for changes, then it will be a lot easier to deal with.

On the other hand, be aware of who you are vacationing with and avoid causing changes if the people you are with don’t like change.

What do you do?

Everyone handles stress differently, and I have shown you some ways that I try to prevent stress on vacations, so what do you do?

Please comment below with your experiences and questions.

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Leave your Camera at Home During Your Next Trip

The human body uses senses as a powerful way to activate memories. A photograph triggers some of your memories in a powerful manor, but it is also preventing you from getting the full benefit of the actual moment.

Pictures have been used to capture and freeze moments in time so that you can revisit them in the future or even share the moment with your friends and loved ones. Pictures do amazing things, there is no denying that, but when it comes to being in the moment and having your senses open to as much as possible, you have to put the camera down.

Photographs Taint Memories

You may not realize this, but everything that you can see right now is being stored as an image in your mind right now. One thing is different: your eyes are capable in taking in more detail, more color, and more depth than any camera.

This means that no photograph can match the memory from all your senses that are stored in your brain.

People argue that memories fade, and that photographs are the only way to remember. This is a great argument but if you depend on the photograph to remember that moment, then your mind will start to recall the photo instead of the actual moment when you think of it in your mind.

The more you use a photograph to recall a memory, the closer the photo will be to the surface of your memory. If you continue to practice using photos instead of actual memories, then your memories will start to get buried by the photos and slowly you will only recall the photograph and maybe the feeling you get every time you look at the photo.

By recalling the photo instead of the moment, you miss the vivid colors, depth, detail and “in-the-moment” emotions that only your eyes could capture. The memory becomes a flattened image stuck in time.

If you don’t understand what I am saying, then try this out:

  1. Look all around you for a moment and notice all of the details.
  2. Take three deep breaths and close your eyes.
  3. While your eyes are closed, try and remember all of the details around you. Now open your eyes.
  4. Now go get your camera and take pictures of details around you and then close your eyes.
  5. While your eyes are closed, try to remember all the details of the photos that you just took.

When you compare the difference between recalling the photographs in comparison to recalling the moment from your 5 senses, you can see that the actual moment is more enjoyable.

Do I Dare Go On Vacation without My Camera?

I have recently been using my own eyes to take in memories and moments instead of hiding behind a camera waiting and looking for the perfect shot and I love it. I have found that I am more in the moment and I notice details that I would have missed behind a camera.

On the other hand, I always try and take at least 1 or 2 photos per day so that I can share the memory with my friends and family. That is the main difference, I take a small amount of photos to share with others, and I use my own senses to gather images in my head for myself.

Have you Tried this?

We want to hear what your experience was like leaving your camera at home! Leave a comment or connect with Meg and I on social media to share thoughts and ideas.

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3 Ways to Enjoy Your Vacation Even When it is Storming

We all know that the weatherman can only predict so far in the future and they are often inaccurate. For example, it is pouring rain and Scout is barking at the clashing thunder right now even though the weatherman predicted it would be clear skies all week.

So what happens if you are on vacation and it starts storming? Chances are, that your plans didn’t include you being cooped up inside all day so how do you stay safe and still have fun?

I remember visiting Texas a couple of years back and I ended up spending one night under a staircase while a tornado tore apart downtown. This obviously changed our plans dramatically. Instead of going out to see some of the cool sites, we played Battleship for hours.

In life threatening storm situations, there isn’t much you can do but hang out at the hotel or wherever you are staying. In fact, if you are in that situation, consider your safety first, then entertainment after. I am sure you will find something to fill the time while being stuck for hours with your Girlfriend.

The idea of this post is for non-life-threatening storms. Storms like rain and thunder that aren’t life threatening are a lot easier to deal with so here are 3 ways to enjoy it.

Use an Umbrella

Many vacation places have plenty of things still open and running even when it is raining. In fact, you may even be able to enjoy it more because less people will be there.

Take Disneyland for example, has tons of rides and attractions still open during stormy weather. All you need is an umbrella to get from one location to the next.

Bring Out the Camera

There are so many amazing shots you can get with your camera when it is raining just make sure the flash is turned down. The cloud coverage makes every shadow softer and every color truer than it would be under bright sunlight.

You may be thinking “but it might get wet…” and it might. However, if you use an umbrella to protect it, you shouldn’t have to worry.

You may also be thinking “but my hair might look wet…” and it might. However, if you use an umbrella, that is less likely.

Are you catching the idea that I am trying to send you?

I’m not an expert at photography but I thought you might appreciate some tips from National Geographic about taking photos in the rain.

Change Your Plans

One thing about traveling is finding the attractions that locals go to. A local show or university play isn’t a common activity to plan in advance but they often don’t require reservations and can be a great experience.

If you aren’t aware of what activities may be available near you, it may be worth finding the city website and look for events that are going on near you.

What do you do to ensure your vacation is great even if the weather isn’t? Comment below and share your thoughts with me and all of the readers.

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Should you Watch TV on Vacation?

Some people spend late nights or early mornings watching TV in their Hotels or on tablets in their tents. Some people believe that Watching TV is the last thing you should be doing on vacation- After all, it is nice to get away from all of that for a little while. So who is right? Should you watch TV on vacation?

I tried very hard to pick a side on this topic because I always write at my best as an advocate of one side, but the truth is I can’t.

I spent hours reviewing what other people have said about the subject on a number of forums and the there is almost an even number of people who say they do watch TV vs. those who say they don’t.

Some people suggested that watching TV while abroad helps you get a special insight into the local perspectives of the world and others suggested that it may help you know which places you should avoid as well.

I feel that you should decide based on your personal feelings and keep in mind that TV doesn’t affect everyone the same way, so recognize] what is true for you.

Does TV help relax you?

Some people have found that TV is a great way to escape from the world and relax. On the other hand, a number of people use TV to get an idea of what is going on around the world, and that may not be the most relaxing thing you can do on vacation.

Do you have time for TV and everything you want to do on vacation?

Growing up, I didn’t watch TV on vacation. We woke up early in the morning and came home late at night so by the time I was ready to rewind from the day, I was already dreaming of what was to come the next day. With that being the case, I didn’t have time to watch TV and it probably would have taken away from the vacation.

On the other hand, Meg’s family always watches TV. I remember the first time I went on a family vacation with them to Disneyland. Each morning we would sleep in late and watch TV while everyone got ready for the day. It gave the vacation a completely different feel. On one hand, we didn’t spend as much time at Disneyland, but on the other hand, I felt much more rested and a lot less exhausted each night and morning.

Does TV take away from together time?

When I am home with Meg, we hardly ever have the TV on, except to watch Big Brother, because we commonly get sucked into the TV and forget the other person is even there. The same is on vacation. Sometimes it is nice to take a break from each other, but vacation is a great time to be together.

TV commonly creates great quantity time, but not quality time and vacation should be more about quality time.

Should you watch TV on vacation?

In addition to the other points I brought up about watching TV analyze how you feel after watching TV. Do you feel rested? Does it take up all your time and make you feel lazy? Should you set boundaries for the amount of time you have the TV on?

If you are on vacation with someone else, make sure that you keep them in mind before turning on/off the TV. If you don’t know how they would feel about watching TV, ask them before you pick up the remote.

Do you watch TV on Vacation? What are your thoughts on the matter? Comment below to share your opinion.

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Three Things I Learned On a Last Minute Vacation

For some reason, most of my travel throughout the last year has been last minute plans. For example, when Meg got back from visiting her parents in California, we decided to go to Idaho together and visit her grandparents.

When you are making a last minute travel plans, it is especially easy to forget to do things. Spend a couple of hours before leaving on your trip to do the following:

Make your travel plans around your work

We had a little over a week to make the arrangements and we made it happen. The trip was very, very short. We drove there after I got off work on Friday, then we dove back early Sunday so Meg could work Sunday night. Even though it was a short trip, there were still a couple of things that we had to do to make sure that it all worked out.

Prepare your mode of transportation

If you can take a flight, then perfect that is probably safer then driving for hours. However, if you are driving make sure your car is ready. It can be easy to overlook your car when you are packing, but being stuck on the side of the freeway for something you could have prevented can ruin your vacation.

This is especially true with short trips, because if you plan for a 2-day vacation and 1 day is stuck on the side of the road, you may not have time to do everything you planned on and it can be more expensive then it is worth.

When we were going to Idaho, the car had a couple of error lights on the dashboard and the transmission had been giving us a little grief so we had the system checked before we got on the road. We ended up needing a new tire and transmission oil so it was good that we got it checked.

I was still a little nervous taking the car (we need a new one) on such a long trip, but the system check made me feel a lot safer.

Make plans that everyone can enjoy

It was great for us to take a vacation from home, but we made a couple of mistakes. You see, Meg’s goal for visiting her grandparents was because it had been a long time since she had seen them last and she had promised to visit them months ago.

She figured that we would go see her aunt and uncle as well, which is fine with me, but I failed to plan something that I wanted to do too. This resulted in me feeling like she just wanted me to come on the trip to keep her company during the long drive.

She wanted to visit her grandparents, so we visited them. She wanted to eat at Tucano’s (one of my least favorite places to eat) so we had dinner with her grandparents there. She wanted to visit her aunt and uncle, so we did. She wanted to watch the Boise vs Washington Football game so we did.

It was a short trip and there wasn’t time for much else, but I wanted to do something just me and her. It almost felt like pulling teeth to get her to leave her grandparent’s side for an hour (literally it was less than an hour). She felt like I should have asked her earlier in the day so we could have planned the day around us spending time together. So we were both a little disappointed.

I suppose everything I just wrote could be summed up in three sentences: (1) Whatever your last minute plans are, make sure that everyone is involved in making plans. (2) Make sure that your mode of transportation is dependable. (3) Make plans around your work schedule and talk to your supervisor if necessary.

What do you do before making last minute travel plans? Do you have any stories about what happened on your trip? Share them with everyone by commenting below.

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Should You Propose to Your Girlfriend on Vacation

The idea of proposing on vacation has probably come up in your mind, one or two times, but should you? In reality this is going to be case by case, person to person decision but here are some ideas to get your mind thinking.

1.    Is she expecting you to propose? Have you talked about marriage?

I know a surprise can be exciting but try to be as sure as possible that she will say yes before you ask the question. This is an important process to go through because you want to make sure that if you ask her, she doesn’t feel “forced” into any decision. Another thing to keep in mind, is that if she says no, will that ruin the rest of the vacation?

2.    Is there a time or a place on your vacation that a proposal would fit?

Creating a stressful situation is not an ideal proposal. One way to help a proposal to be as enjoyable as possible, is to make sure it fits into the itinerary. Yes, you can “fit-it-in” and you can “make it work” but how about trying to give yourself additional time for things so you don’t feel rushed.

3.    Do you have time and money for a ring and vacation?

If you have the money for both, awesome, that makes that part of the question easy. Time on the other hand, may be a little more complicated. For example, your girlfriend may want to pick out the ring or you may want to get I custom made, or engraved on. Whatever you decide to get, make sure that you will get it before the vacation begins.

How do you plan on proposing to your girlfriend? Are you doing it on vacation? Comment to give other readers ideas for proposing.

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Thinking About a Vacation to Zions National Park?

I have been to Zions National Park a number of times. It has been one of my favorite national parks due to the amazing red rocks and great hiking trails.

When it comes to national parks, there are a couple of things to rate them on. The basic necessities and park maintenance as well as the lesbian friendliness.

deer spot
Basic Necessities:

When it comes to national parks, this is one of the best kept parks I have ever been to. It has a number of bathrooms with multiple stalls so you don’t have to worry about waiting in lines.

There are water fountains a
nd even shoe cleaning facilities so if you decide to take a walk through the sandy beach of the river you can remove the sand from between your toes.

As for food, it is pretty expensive and the quality is pretty mediocre. There are great places to picnic however, so I suggest bringing your own food.  The picture above is my favorite place to picnic. There are always wild animals around like deer and wild turkeys, it is pretty fun.crossing the river.png

In addition to the number of amenities, there are a couple of hikes that you can’t miss.

Riverside Walk: This is an easy hike and very little incline. There is water at the end of the trail so if you want a
little break from the heat, then this is a great little walk.

Angels Landing: The only reason I am suggesting this hike is because it is more difficult and it has a great view at the top.

I would caution anyone who is afraid of heights, there are drop offs and views over cliff sides so it may not be the hike for you.

Pros and Cons:
If you like chatting with strangers, then there are a number of people from all over the world. On the other hand, if you prefer keeping to yourself then you can do that as well.

Depending on the time of year and day of the week, the park can be super crowded. Lines waiting for the tram can be very long.

I suggest that you bring water and snacks to eat in line just in case it is a longer wait then you anticipated.

TWL_AboutWhat about TWL?

Traveling While Lesbian in Zions National park is pretty good. There is such a variety of people at Zions National park, that people don’t seem to notice or care. When Meg and I held hands together no one even noticed.

We had pizza at Flying Monkey, we always get pizza there. I would suggest getting a couple of different pizzas so that you can enjoy multiple flavors. The waiters were nice, and they didn’t seem to care or to notice that the beautiful woman I was with, was actually my girlfriend.

If you like camping, then I would suggest trying out the camping accommodations instead of staying in a hotel. There is something about waking up to the birds and deer surrounding the camp site that makes it that more enjoyable.

Since this is the first vacation spot I highlighted, I would like some help with making it better. With that being the case, please comment below with suggestions or what you would like me to add to future posts.

Have you been to Zions National Park, or are you taking a trip there soon? Comment below.

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