Monday, July 9, 2012

Nomad In Training

La Palma, El Salvador
Wanderlust woman
As a freelance writer, I can work from anywhere. I work from my couch mostly (bad for the back, I know), but what I really want to do is start working more while traveling. Not just once in a while, but jet off to a new spot every few months. I worked from Paris for the summer in 2007 and while on a two month trip through Thailand, Cambodia and Laos in 2012 and now that I know I can get things done while on the road, I want to do it ALL the time.

Why don't I just do it?
Well, travel costs money. I don't necessarily have the funds to pack up and go whenever, wherever I please so thus far, planning is involved. Plus, I actually enjoy having a home base. I like the feeling of leaving, and then coming back. Granted I get itchy feet about three days after returning from a trip, but I have yet to embrace the idea of going somewhere indefinitely (and not having anywhere to come back to).

Despite the fact I'm not quite ready to say goodbye to my trusty couch, I do plan to be away from it more often. I want to take advantage of my mobile career as much as possible, whether I go somewhere for a week -- or three months. I just have to get organized and make it happen. I'll keep you posted on where the next spot is going to be...

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Subletting My Apartment To Travel

When my boyfriend and I decided to take a two-month trip this winter, one of our criteria was finding someone to rent our apartment while we were gone. The idea was to avoid paying for a trip and paying for a space we weren't going to be living in at the same time.

The skinny
Khao Sok National Park
Once we said a mutual, 'OK, let's do it,' I put an ad on Craigslist for our large, sunny one-bedroom in Toronto's west end. I actually got more responses than I thought I would (I was worried we wouldn't find anyone to take the place) and had tentatively chosen someone barring her somehow hating the space upon sight. But then I got another email from someone who was interested (I didn't want to take the ad down until I had a rock-solid confirmation). This other interested party turned out to be someone I had worked with about five years ago (so random). He came to see it  and said he'd take it and I was glad to give it to someone I knew.

What happened
After a few lapses in communication (and me stressing the deal would fall through), we got our two months of rent paid up-front and handed over a set of keys. We left on February 3rd and didn't hear from the people renting our place the whole time (other than once to tell us they were having trouble getting online), which I managed to rectify from a loner laptop in an eco-lodge on the outskirts of Khao Sok National Park. I was concerned they would have issues or be unhappy (because I'm a worrier like that), but all was well

Upon our return
The couple staying at our place (one, my former colleague) left the place looking fine, but definitely 'lived in.' They did put clean sheets on the bed, which was great and leave a nice thank-you note. However (and this one is kind of my fault) let their dog chew our coffee table. I say this is my fault because I said they could bring their dog, which they were originally going to leave with someone else. 

Would I do it again?
Yup. It's a great way to travel without worrying about the empty space sitting back home (eating up your hard earned money). This time I would say no pets and even try to see if I could find someone who wouldn't mind also feeding my cat, Arthur. This past trip my sister took the cat, but she will likely be heading to Korea to teach English this winter (when I want to be away). So we'll see what happens, but I would love to sublet again as a way to offset some of the cost of the trip.

My First Airbnb Experience

I could spend hours browsing rooms and apartments on Airbnb. I can choose a location and just start searching, clicking on place after place (creating dream trips as I click). I finally got to use the site for real (and not just imaginary purposes in February when I was planning my Southest Asia trip.

Our place in Bangkok
Since we were flying into Bangkok pretty late (our plane landed around 10 p.m. local time) I wanted to make sure we had accommodation booked and I liked the idea of finding something more homey on Airbnb. So I started searching places in Bangkok and I ended up finding a gem.

What I found
For $20 a night I found a great room off of a main house with air conditioning (much needed), free Wi-Fi, a separate entrance, private bathroom with hot water and a great location close to the BTS Skytrain (Chong Nonsi, if you're curious). The host Micha was great and offered tons of tips and suggestions for what to do. The room was large and clean, plus there was a little sitting area out front great for sipping beers or having coffee in the morning. There was coffee and tea provided, along with a kettle, small fridge, microwave and toaster. There was also a great grocery store nearby and lots of street food stalls during the week.

My experience
Micha got back to me right away (within 12 hours) with confirmation that my dates of choice were available and sent a detailed map of how to get there, including directions written in Thai for the taxi driver. We liked the place so much that we booked it again for our last three nights in Bangkok at the tail end of the trip. Would I use Airbnb again? Absolutely. 

What have your Airbnb experiences been like?

Welcome to Travel Crush

Khao Lak, Thailand
Oh, hello. Want to know a secret? I have a travel crush, or you could say a huge crush on travel. It's a crush that started when I was 17 and spent the summer in London and I haven't been able to shake it. 

So what's a travel-obsessed girl to do? Write about it! This is where I'll share my travel crush -- where I've been (from far and wide to hyper-local haunts), where I want to go, tips, thoughts and musings about by biggest, baddest crush of all time. Ready for take-off?