Last weekend, we took the sweetest little trip. DJ and I left work on Friday and headed to Paradise, Pennsylvania. After stopping for dinner, we checked into our Airbnb rental and relaxed together. It was so nice to ditch all the distractions of home. Usually I am running around like crazy anytime I’m home. There is always something that needs to be done. Instead of worrying about all that, we just snuggled up, watched some TV, and forgot all about everything else. He and I both had a good night’s sleep and enjoyed waking up slowly together. We felt totally recharged : )
After we checked out of our rental, we did a little bit of outlet shopping (finally decided on some fall clothes and scored a deal on some barware for Thanksgiving) and had some brunch. Later on we met up with our sisters at Cherry Crest Adventure Farm. We found our way through their five acre corn maze. When you enter, each team is given a game board to fill with map pieces that can be found in the maze. There are also activities and clues scattered throughout the labyrinth. This year the maze was carved out in a design of a tractor, since the theme was “Thank a Farmer!” There were all sorts of facts about the area’s farming industry throughout the maze, and it was awesome to learn about the national impact of farms in Pennsylvania.
The corn maze took a really long time, around three hours! A lot longer than it had taken Stephanie to complete it in the past. Probably because my sister and I have no sense of direction, haha! It was super fun though, there are a lot of different activities that we came upon and we stopped to hang out a couple times.
After we conquered the corn maze, it was starting to get dark and a little chilly! We walked around the rest of the farm. There is so much to do! Once we saw all the activities and exhibits Cherry Crest offers, we wished we had come earlier. We fed some animals at the petting zoo, walked through some gift shops, and got some apple cider and donuts to enjoy.
We had a great time and we can’t wait to go back to the farm next year! Pennsylvania is so beautiful and never disappoints. It was so nice to snag a cheap Airbnb rental for Friday night instead of making a day trip Saturday morning to meet up at the farm. We love Airbnb for this sort of short notice stay, as well as for longer term vacations.
Five Tips for Booking the Perfect Airbnb
Our Airbnb stays have always gone above and beyond our expectations. And it is usually around half the price of a cheap hotel room! Here are some tips of the trade:
- Know what you’re looking for – There are three options for rentals: whole apartment, private room and shared room. We usually book a whole apartment on vacations, since we want to enjoy a private space all our own. Usually the apartment will have a kitchen which is so convenient. Sometimes they also have other benefits. Our Airbnb rental from our Asheville vacation had a beautiful outdoor space with a garden, grill, and a hot tub.
For private rooms, you have your own bedroom and share common spaces with the host or other guests. This Airbnb rental was listed as private room. The bedroom locked and had an attached bathroom. Then there was a dining room and kitchenette that was shared with one other guest room. Sometimes private rooms are part of a residential house, where you can use the other rooms in their house. Some people may be more or less comfortable with this arrangement. We didn’t mind the shared room since we were only staying one night.
For a shared room rental, your bedroom may be shared or in a common space in someone’s home. It’s more of a hostel situation, at a similarly low price. Having a shared room may be useful in an expensive area or for a short stay.
- Think about how much you want to interact with your host – If you’re very social and comfortable staying with others, you will be more comfortable with more host interaction than someone who is more introverted. Some hosts really open up their homes and even make meals for their guests. I’m sure this would be a priceless benefit in exploring a foreign culture! You can tell by the reviews how involved the hosts are with their guests. Some hosts have keyless entry at their property, so they don’t even meet guests in real life. When searching for a rental, there is a filter option for Self Check-In under Amenities. The private check-in option is good for shy guests and also is great if you need to check in or out late at night.
- Carefully read the listing and reviews – Read through the listing in total. There are is a lot of variation in what Airbnb hosts offer. There are also variations in what hosts require of their guests. The more aware you are of the rental situation, the better choice you can make.
Also look through the reviews and make sure everything sounds alright to you. I definitely take things with a grain of salt, as I know some people can be overly critical. If the rental doesn’t have any reviews yet, I personally would be a little more skeptical. One exception is if the host has other well reviewed properties you can look over. I also check to make sure the host has verified their profile to confirm their identity.
- Use Google Maps and Street View – Though you can’t see the exact address of the rental until you book it, Airbnb shows what area the rental is, within a few blocks. We like to check it out to see what is nearby. We want to know if it is in a good neighborhood, if there are any cool restaurants nearby, if it seems walkable, that kind of thing. One of our favorite aspects of Airbnb is the ability to stay in residential areas and get a local’s perspective of the town we’re visiting.
- Book it! – So, if all looks well, go ahead and send your host a request to book. Unless it’s an Instant Book rental, your host will need to approve your reservation. After you’ve entered your information, you’ll be prompted to write a message for your host. I usually explain the reason for my visit, introduce who ever will be joining me, and thank the host for their hospitality. I also ask any questions I have about the rental and invite them to do the same if they have any questions for me. If there are any specifications for the rental, such as no infants or no smokers, I assure them that I recognize meet these criteria.
Have you ever rented a property through Airbnb? What was your experience? Let us know if you have any additional tips or comments!
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