Friday, March 25, 2011 should be Stop One when planning vacation

When you travel, what’s most important to you? Building up more frequent hotel points or getting a bargain on your room? If you are a point’s collector, stop reading.

If you’re like most Clevelander’s I know, and you are interested in saving on your travel accommodations,  you really need to spend some time checking out With listings around the world, connects property owners (with space to rent) to travelers looking to live more like a local. Typically the traveler saves money as a bonus. It becomes a win-win for both parties.

Property owners might list a single room, a suite of rooms, a whole floor or an entire house. Depending on the listing, it might accommodate one person or a dozen people. Most are available by the night, although a few require a longer stay. A good number of the listings start around $50 per night like this one. maintains an easy to use website for both scanning all available listings, as well as checking to see if the property you like has availability on the nights you desire. They have properties in 16,023 cities in 94 countries, so chances are good you can find something near where you want to go. There’s even a special section for the 50 and above crowd, with accommodations and amenities specially geared to their preferences. also handles the financial transaction so you don’t need to carry cash when you check in.  A 6-15% charge is added to the price shown to cover administrative fees (similar to a travel agent), but that’s the only extra fee you pay. No bed taxes, luxury taxes, CVB fees, nada.

Not sure about renting from someone you don’t know or staying in a shared residence? Not a problem. Each property owner has a complete profile listed. In their profile, you may discover another kindred spirit, another bird watcher or another mystery novelist. By the time you arrive, it’s like staying with a friend.

You can also read other travelers’ comments to see what they thought about each listing. In virtually every one I perused, the travelers loved being close to the vibe of the city, living like a local, with someone who could point out recommended sites and restaurants. Saving a ton of money ranked right up there as well.

You’ll even find accommodations for the corporate traveler who needs commercial space. During my road warrior days I would have given anything to get this deal in Chicago: a six room, two bedroom apartment set up for business; with computer, hi-speed Internet, scanner, laser printer, photocopier and fax.  Oh, and for creature comforts, how about a two person Jacuzzi, steam room, robes and slippers provided, along with DVD  player, library of movies and fireplace? All this for $245 per night – less than a boring plain-vanilla hotel room for $289 per night.


But wait…that’s not all. Coming to their website [by the end of March 2011] will be a new “Wise Ask!” button. Now for what could be the first time ever, you have access to a website where you set the terms and the owners bid for your business if they can fulfill your request. Feel like a weekend getaway in a place that has two bedrooms, parking for your car and jetski trailer and is within a five minute walk to the water? You set the terms, owners respond with availability and price.

Just want the cheapest place you can find, but they have to have a coffee maker with Kona Blend coffee? Honest, hit the “Wise Ask!” button and request away. It’s free – it’s fun – it’s new. And tell them Doug hooked you up.

Doug Bardwell, based in Cleveland, OH, writes about interesting new travel and photography topics across the country and around the world. Feel free to drop him a line at travel.dougbardwell@gmail.comwith suggestions for future stories. To get his stories delivered to your inbox, click the RSS feed or the "Subscribe" button above. 

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