Why You Need A Travel Journal

You don’t have to travel around the world to write in your travel journal. The best places to practice journaling is on local explorations. Travelers can be locals. Try a few of these ideas to get you started journaling.

When I was young, my dad always carried around one of those enormous camcorders. It was heavy, bulky, and he seemed to be a bystander looking in on our vacation adventures. We are going to explore the reasons why you need a travel journal and how fill all those blank pages.

As I began traveling with my own children, I had a small camera and a travel journal. I wanted to be part of the experience while keeping track of precious memories with my family.

Now, with my grandchildren in tow, I carry my phone. Any notes I need I either take a photo or send myself and email. Then, when I have down time at the pool, at breakfast, or late in the evening, I transfer my thoughts to my travel journal.

Travel With Sandi is a participant in affiliate advertising programs like Amazon designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees, there is no additional cost to you. Here is what I know about travel. Everyone’s taste is different. The opinions expressed here are mine alone.

What Are Travel Journals

why you need a travel journal
Photo Credit: Marcos Paulo Upsplash

I am the trip family planner. Years ago, I would arm myself with AAA Trip Tics, a good old-fashion paper map, and the half used spiral bound notebooks my cherubs discarded at the end of the school year.

Now I use Google Docs and Trello Boards to keep all of my information organized. My bulky camera has morphed into the ubiquitous cell phone. I still like to have a book of maps in the car, you never know when your cell service will go AWOL. My writing journal is fancier, but is still an integral part of my travel must-haves.

Itinerary Planner

Unless you are traveling to an all-inclusive, never leaving the resort, type of vacation an itinerary of some sorts will keep you on time and organized.

I keep all my notes, reservations, and addresses in a Google Doc itinerary, it’s the perfect tool for organizing a trip and capable of keeping live web links, maps, and day-by-day activities. However, it is data service dependent, so I keep a hard copy tucked in my journal.

Once my itinerary is pretty solid, I transfer the information to my travel journal. I like to write it in, I am a writer after all, but a stapled copy of the Google Doc itinerary works well too. Once it’s in the journal, I feel confident that we are covered when we encounter stretches of no WI-FI signal. An itinerary safety net if you will.

Adventure Record

why you need a travel journal
Bistro 17, Orlando Florida, Photo Credit: Sandi Barrett

Of course, your journal is your adventure record. I like to write in my journal early in the morning or late in the evening, that way it doesn’t interfere with my fun time. To keep my memories of the events fresh, I take a lot of photos. With your phone, its so easy. I take photos of signs, locations, things that interest me, etc. These are memory-jogging pic that will be deleted once I transfer the information into my journal. The don’t need to be pretty. For example, I toured all the hotels at Universal for The Ultimate Guide To Universal Orlando Resorts Hotels. Before I even entered each hotel, I took a quick pic of the sign so I could keep track of what pictures went with which hotels. All those pools look very much alike!

I also like to use videos to describe the feel of a place or experience, and again I delete them once I’ve recorded the information. This cuts down on phone storage overuse.

There are photos I keep, of course, but many of the ones I take are for reference not posterity. Have the photos also helps if I go a day or two before logging in my journal. The next adventure is always more important than documenting what has gone by.

What you record is up to you, you are the writer of this story.

How To Overcome The Fear Of Blank Pages

why you need a travel journal
Photo Credit: Clay Banks from Upsplash

Your Itinerary Will Fill Your First Pages

The first way to overcome the blank page scares is to add your itinerary to your travel journal. Add it before you even begin to pack. Adding your plans to your journal will add to the excitement of the upcoming adventure and get you off and writing about the trip. An added bonus, it solves the white pages issue before you even begin your next adventure. What are your goals for this trip? Write them down. Do you want to relax by the pool every day? Are you interested in exploring the region’s food? Wine? Maybe it is an activity based trip and you want to climb a mountain?

Add your trip expectations and wishes to your travel journal, they will help keep you focused.

Put Pen To Paper By Taking Notes

why you need a travel journal
Plymouth, MA, Photo Credit: Sandi Barrett

Find a chair with a beautiful view and just soak up the atmosphere. Immerse yourself in the here-and-now, what do you see, how does it smell, use your senses as a jumping off point to get your pen moving across the journals’ page. If you are a perfectionist, then use a notebook to record your travel ideas, thoughts, etc. Later, at home, transfer these notes into beautifully written prose to record your world travels.

I know many writers that prefer a compact pocket travel journal. They are in the habit of writing down prompts as they go through their day. I prefer to use my camera and email as a notebook. However, a small, pocket size notebook and a golf pencil work wonderfully for this type of note taking.

Details Make The Best Travel Journals

Steamers
Photo Credit: Sandi Barrett

How many or how few details you record is up to you. I love writing about food and wine, so I tend to journal all the little details on my plate. “Bathed in a buttery Beurre Blanc sauce, the succulent P.E.I. mussels played happily with the crusty baguette. ” Okay, now I’m hungry!

You know when you hear a song and it brings back a certain time and place. the best travel journals capture that feeling. They are like the ear-worm of seeing the world.

Tips For Filling Blank Pages Of A Journal

I want to share a few tips about journaling by exploring some of my trips with you. Below are some prompts and questions you can ask yourself and answer in your journal. It’s not just about filling the blank space, it’s about your personal travel diary entries, your personal memories.

Where did you go?

Boston’s Back Bay, Photo Credit: Sandi Barrett

Simple, right? This is the easiest thing to capture in your travel journal. The best travel stories start with when I was in …..

My heart is in Boston, we live just outside the city, and love to wander around the winding, hilly streets. Spending a day just walking around exploring the different neighborhoods we often find new and surprising adventures. Taking a photo keeps the details in the front of my memory until I can get them down on paper.

How much did you spend?

Paris, Photo Credit: Barbara Quinn

Again, another easy way to get words down in your journal. Sometimes I not fond of adding up all the dollars that are going out; but it can be a good lesson in better planning.

Big trips mean spending money, sometimes it flows out so quickly and you can easily loose track. The receipts end up in every pocket of my backpack and usually they are in a different currency. I keep a page in my journal just for expenses. If I have a good day exploring free venues, then I can comfortably splurge for fancy French dinner. If I buy spur-of-the-moment tickets to a private tour, then I might be looking for a small bistro for a quiche served with the house wine. It’s all about balance.

How did it make you feel?

Giants’ Causeway Northern Ireland, Photo Credit: Sandi Barrett

This is an opportunity to use all those wonder descriptive adjectives you have floating in your head. It was uplifting, invigorating, joyous, confident, etc.

When we were in Northern Ireland, we climbed the Giants’ Causeway. Scrambling over the outcroppings in the freezing cold weather with the chilly wind off the Atlantic blowing in our face was otherworldly. Climbing the rugged, barren landscape felt like we were hiking the moon’s surface on a cold day.

What did you enjoy?

Flamingos in St. Thomas, Photo Credit: Sandi Barrett

I find this is the easiest question to answer. After all, isn’t the point of traveling to have fun and enjoy the journey.

I just adore flamingos. I love birds, and these long legged pink beauties are one of my favorite. I’d have plastic ones on my lawn if my hubby let me. It was a special moment for me to capture this flock. The photo was taken in 1990, so the image quality is poor, but the happiness it brings me makes it worth keeping.

Why did you love it (or not)?

Paella Cooking Class, Photo Credit: Sandi Barrett

There is a fine line between enjoying something and loving something.

We took a paella cooking class when we visited Barcelona. My husband doesn’t cook, but he enjoyed the experience. My friends and I have a passion for discovering new foods and love to cook. This was one of the highlights of my visit to Spain. In my travel journal, the notation is I LOVED IT!

What did you learn?

How to spend 48 hours in Barcelona
Bistro view from Montjuic, Photo Credit: Sandi Barrett

Travel teaches us any number of things; cultural understanding, self expression, new ideas, self confidence, and more.

To reach the top of this gorgeous mountain in Barcelona, you can take a bus. That doesn’t make such a good story. So we took a little cable car that stretched high above the harbor. While the little tin can we were riding in swayed in the wind, I realized, even though I was afraid of the height, I could enjoy the adventure. As soon as I let go of my fear, my vision cleared and I could see all around for miles. This was one of those ah ha moments for me. I learned to take a deep breath, and just experience the moment.

My reward, a beautiful view to enjoy an Estrella and one of the best travel experiences of the trip.

Who did you meet?

Vail, Photo Credit: Sandi Barrett

There is the opportunity to meet so many interesting people when you travel. Engaging locals in conversation will usually lead to great ideas about where to go and what to see. Adding personal stories to your journal is a fun way to explore an area.

I’m not a skier any more, but my family still loves to ski. One time at Vail, we were lucky enough to rent a flat in the village with a view of the mountain. I took a food tour one day, all by my self, and met the most interesting people. The guide was a local chap and knew everyone in town. My journal was full of interesting people that day.

Do you want to go again?

Pebble Beach, Photo Credit: Sandi Barrett

There are so many wonderful and interesting places to travel in the world. For me, they have to be extremely beautiful, interesting, and enjoyable to go back again.

Pebble Beach and coastal California is one of those “best travel” places. We didn’t get to play when we visited due to time restraints, but we will definitely plan a trip back. Living here must be like waking up in a beautiful dream every day.

Notebooks Vs Travel Journals

Lined notebooks are just as good as a classic leather journal. However, once you start writing your travel journals you will want something beautiful to capture and hold your words. The feel of a leather journal in my hand inspires me to share my very best travel stories. I have always loved a diary, the best travel journals are just a traveling diary record.

Documenting Travel Adventures

Maroon Bells, Photo Credit: Sandi Barrett

My goal to day is to inspire you to document your personal travel memories. Time passes so quickly and we should enjoy our getaways, search for new travel adventures, and jot down all the wonderful stories we encounter in our journey.

Inspiration For Your Travel Journal

You don’t have to travel around the world to write in your travel journal. The best places to practice journaling is on local explorations. Travelers can be locals. Try a few of these ideas to get you started journaling.

  • hikes
  • restaurants
  • famous sites
  • natural wonders
  • maps
  • outings of all sorts
  • city guides
  • shopping
  • unique stories
  • personal stories

Kids And Travel Journals

Street Art Tour, Denver, Photo Credit: Sandi Barrett

Make journalism fun for these wonderful little travelers. Photo journalism is a great way for kids to be part of the game. Give them a camera or an old phone and let them go photo crazy. Spend time helping them with some of the composition basics and then let them explore the artistic process.

As the education system morphs due to the pandemic, our kids are experiencing more history and culture first hand. Part of their curriculum is begin able to translate what they see, feel, experience; this will service them well as they grow and explore the world as adults.

You don’t have to buy them fancy travel journals, although I’m sure they would love one. The idea is to get them writing about what they did, saw, and felt on their travel adventures.

Getting Comfortable With Writing

Maybe you want to be come a writer. The best way to become great at writing is to put pen to paper daily. Write in a notebook, type on a computer, compose in a journal. The more you write the faster the words come to you, the more descriptive your vocabulary becomes, and the ability to collect your thoughts cohesively improves with practice. Like every other task we undertake, repetition is key to success; practice not perfection.

You will find your own personal style through consistent writing. Do you love the art of dramatic story telling? How about exploring your comedic bent? A how-to guide is always a hit and sometimes difficult to execute. There is a keen sense of satisfaction garnered from putting your thoughts on paper. The best travel journals are very personal accounts of details seen through your “travelers eye.” Only you can create stories from your unique perspective.

You can become a writer, it time to map our your personal journal story. There are so many journalistic avenues that are associated with travel writing. The list is extensive, but using these ideas will help you get started putting pen to paper.

  • Itinerary building
  • Personality profiles
  • Photo journalism
  • Story telling
  • Food and libation
  • Activities
  • Personal stories
  • Inspirational stories

Lined Vs Unlined Travel Journal

Whether you prefer a collection of notebooks or a leather bound journal, any bound paper will work, the ultimate goal is to capture your wonderful memories down on the page.

Do you like to draw, then an unlined journal may be just the thing. I can’t draw, but I know many journalist who can capture the essence of a time and place with just a few artistic lines that make the page come to life.

Writing in a lined journal with a leather cover, it makes me feel writerly. I like a classic, plain cover with lots of narrow lined pages. Each writer needs to explore what is their personal travel journal style. Any journal that gets you writing is the best travel journal for you.

The Best Travel Journals

Amazon is amazing right, you can find anything you want right at your computer. Below are a few great travel journals that are practical. Below are my thoughts on why the best travel journals below are a good brand for journaling and note taking.

Remember, a travel journal is not a planner, it is a vehicle to document where, what, how, and why we travel.

The Dragonfly Heart Travel Journal

why you need a travel journal

The Dragonfly Heart Journal. It has a clasp – love that. Since it is also refillable, so you can use it for a very long time. It is a good investment piece. The size is great – 5 x 8, so it will fit in your backpack and even your pocketbook. Its made from faux leather for the vegan crowd. The price is good too.

Vintage Style Leather Travel Journal

why you need a travel journal
Leather Journal Writing Notebook

This Leather Journal Writing Notebook is super old school and travel journalist chic. It has a cool vintage vibe and will make you feel like you stepped out of a Casaba in Casablanca on an assignment for the New York Times. The price is good, it is a quality leather journal, and is a manageable size at 5 x 7. The pages are stitched in, so when you have filled it up, you need to purchase a new one. Which I love, it’s like that going-back-to-school feel full of new possibilities.

Travel Journal For Kids

Travel Journal For Kids

Get your cherubs off to a great start with their own little travel journal diary. The Travel Journal For Kids has preprinted pages with cues to inspire them what to jot down. I has only 60 pages, so it will cover a few trips, which will give them a feeling of accomplishment when it is completed. The size is 6 x 9, doable for small hands. The spiral binding helps to keep their pencil and book together. Happy bonus, it’s offered at an excellent price.

That’s A Travel Journal Wrap

I hope you have discovered why you need a travel journal. Now that we are able to travel again, it’s time to grab your travel journal or notebook and hit the ground running.

Timeboxing Vs To-Do List

I like to use both methods. Goal setting is key to every entrepreneur and to reach your goals your Big Hairy Audacious Goals (BHAG) you need to take small steps toward the desired BHAG every day.

Goal setting is the method most of us used to get things done, but should we use timeboxing vs to-do list? It mainly depends on how good you are at accomplishing tasks and setting realistic time frames for your business and personal projects.

Travel With Sandi is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees.

What Is Timeboxing

Timeboxing is simply good old fashion calendar management. Using a digital calendar/planner (I prefer a week-at-a-glance planner) you allocate time to projects based on your estimated completion time; or you slot a specific time each week to complete a repetitive task.

When you timebox items on your calendar, aka schedule them, you are committing to set aside a time during the day to complete a task. If you can’t complete it, you can least make progress on your project.

This works really well for long-term goal setting along with tasks you perform every day/week. For example, keeping up with social media can be a full time job, but necessary in this tech age. Try blocking off one hour on my calendar every morning to address social media. Check all of your accounts, respond to messages, post new pics/info, etc. On Friday, schedule two hours to give yourself time to plan and schedule posts for the next week. This way, you are not checking in every few hours. Unless there is something that needs immediate attention, you can be confident you will have scheduled time to respond.

To-Do Lists

As far as a to-do list goes, we know when were are composing them that there is way too much stuff listed to get done in one day. Additionally, we tend to chose the easiest items on the list to complete, leaving the large, time-sucking projects until tomorrow. Can you say procrastination?

Don’t get me wrong, a good to-do list is an awesome tool.

But it ends up being one of those things that basically keeps notes of what needs to get done. The items roll from day-to-day. Some may get checked off, but many eventually end up on the calendar when they become a priority or a fire, Yikes!

What Works Best

I like to use both methods, they work well in tandem. Goal setting is key to every entrepreneur and to reach your Big Hairy Audacious Goals (BHAG) you need to take small steps toward the desired BHAG every day. Timeboxing will help you accomplish these baby steps if you set aside specific, dedicated time slots for them.

I hope you enjoyed my take on timeboxing vs to-do list. You might want to read my Planners Make Goal Setting Simple article where I review my 2021 planner. I would be lost without my planner, for sure!

Okay, on to tackling my GHAGs!

Sandi

How My Bonvoy Card Saved Me From An Airbnb Nightmare

As we turned down the red dirt road, throwing sandy dust into the air, my daughter spoke of a bad Airbnb nightmare she had about this place — that it was sketchy.

Did she already know? She had booked the Airbnb months ago because it was dog friendly and she was in the process of getting a puppy. She had an idea of what she had booked, I was hopeful but not confident.

Travel With Sandi is a participant in an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees. Here is what I know about travel. Everyone’s taste is different. The opinions expressed here are mine alone.

The Nightmare Begins

As we drove up the dusty road decorated with broken down trailers, junk yards, and free ranging dogs, I had a really bad feeling.

Okay, the trailer didn’t look too bad, the yard, a red sandy dirt pile, lacked any appeal, the trailer was unlocked, keys on the table. By the way, the photo below is not the trailer in question – but it’s a fun photo!

My eyes were drawn to the gilded framed print above the cheap linen drapes – the rest of the décor was 70’s velvet Elvis. The trailer was clean, so we dragged our stuff in. After all, we were in Big Water, Utah, and it was only for a few days.

The rear door led to the barely “fenced in yard.” After opening the rear door, the step out was a 5×3 foot plank platform about 18 inches above the red dirt, requiring us to jump down and our 12 pound puppy to tentatively hop off. I’m guessing it was not up to code.  The yard was all dirt and full of dog waste. The trailer next door had a yard full of rusting collectibles guarded by two large and angry dogs. The fence shook as they jumped at it hoping to get a nibble on us or the puppy.

Upon further inspection, the light switches in the bathroom were taped onto the wall – I’m sure that wasn’t up to code either. The shower was marginally disgusting. Worst of all, the exterior doors didn’t shut properly.

Photo by John Mark Jennings on Unsplash

No sleep happening

We decided to stay for the night and clipped the questionable locks closed. When we pulled the louver blinds we discovered there were missing pieces allowing a good look into the living room – where one daughter slept on the futon. 

My other daughter, the puppy, and I took the bedroom. The bed was incredibly lumpy, the sheets were rough, and the pillows were so flat my head was below my shoulders. I parked my massive suitcase in front of the back door, giving me some warning if someone tried to get in. Needless to say, we didn’t get any sleep.

About 2 in the morning there were two very large thumps from the front of the trailer. I flew to the living room expecting to see someone coming through the front door. It was my daughter and she was on the floor. The futon tipped over when she rolled over in the bed. Geeze!

The solution

We needed to get out and decided at 2 a.m. we would move. I had 80,000 Bonvoy points and found a lovely Marriot in Page, Arizona, just a few miles away. They were dog friendly and had a room for the next two nights. We booked it, packed the car, and left.

We texted the Airbnb maven to tell her our plans changed and we were leaving. She actually refunded the two nights – a very small amount – but then complained that we trashed the trailer. In reality, we left a plate, a knife and three wine glasses in the sink. We picked up our puppy poops, tossed out a few food wrappers in the trash, stripped the futon for her, and only used one hand towel and one tiny bar of soap. This chick was crazy. 

We notified Airbnb we were afraid for our safety. My daughter left a very general review about how the Airbnb maven was gracious about returning our rent. In return, she then left a nasty review for my daughter; more Airbnb nightmare.

Return to vacation joy

The Courtyard Marriott Page at Lake Powell was just what we needed. Two queen beds, a sparkling clean shower, a patio door to walk out with the puppy, a pool, and a great location. My points covered the room and we paid a $25 pet fee. Small price to pay for safety and security.

The moral of the story. I use my Bonvoy Card to pay my phone, cable, utilities, groceries, and other expenses. I accumulate over 5,000 points each month and they add up fast. This usually gives me enough points for two, three, or four nights stay in a year, plus I get a free room added on my renewal anniversary. There is an annual fee, but it is nothing to compare to what I get in return.

We have used our Points in many different cities, but this is the second time it has been handy as bailout to avoid a questionable stay. 

If you are looking for a credit card that offers you all kinds of wonderful benefits, you should consider the Chase Bonvoy Card. It may just save you from an Airbnb nightmare.

Enjoy the journey,

Sandi

PS If you are planning to rent an Airbnb, which we actually do quite often as most of them are lovely; check out my Airbnb Rental Tips And Tricks. My daughter should have followed these suggestions.

How To Plan The Perfect Road Trip

Road trips are the way we travel this summer. How to plan the perfect road trip and getting out there, when you are ready, will let you experience what’s in your own back yard.

Road trips are the way we travel this summer. Now that states are opening up, getting in our car and driving to a “near to me” destination is a safer way to enjoy the late summer and early fall. These tips on how to plan the perfect road trip will get you started on the right foot.

Travel With Sandi is a participant in an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees. Here is what I know about travel. Everyone’s taste is different. The opinions expressed here are mine alone.

Before You Go

Jumping in the car and just driving can be fun and adventurous. However, with state-by-state restrictions a little planning before hand will be helpful.

Decide where you want to visit, is it just one state or more. Campground and hotel reservations are required due to the limited number of guests they can accommodate – unless you don’t mind sleeping in your car. Ah – no thank you.

It is imperative you check the restrictions for the state(s) you will be traveling through. Each state has their own set of travel guidelines which are fluid and fluctuate as the local statistic change. Start here for New England travel restrictions.

Now for the fun part. Planning the drive. Check travel destination sites like TravelAwaits.com and AAA.com for road trip ideas.

How To Plan The Perfect Road Trip
Camden Harbor, Camden ME

Where To Stay

The large chain hotels are typically going above and beyond the CDC cleaning requirements and the smaller inns are required to follow the cleaning guidelines also. You should feel free to call them and question them on their cleaning protocol.

We have stayed in several small inns and also large resorts around New England for the last two months. I only found one incident were I was not happy with room, but I also didn’t call ahead of time.

Where To Eat

As a travel writer, food is a large part of my articles. I always plan where we eat before we start our trip.

Most places now offer outdoor dining – my preference. Some offer limited indoor dining. Unless it’s raining, when I’m on vacation I want to eat outside.

Planning your meals and making lunch and dinner reservations does tend to hem in your day. However, without a reservation, you may find yourself at the grocery store buying a picnic dinner. Which can also be fun.

National Parks can be a good choice

We have spent a lot of time hiking in the state and national parks. Which, by the way, may also require advanced registrations as many have limited their parking or closed the beaches.

States that do no require masks can make popular trail heads that are crowded feel risky. Less traveled trails will bring you close to Mother Nature’s soothing effect and offer less social interaction.

What I Love About Road Trips

Americans are getting to know there local area again. They are discovering there is so much to see and do right here in this great country we call home.

With a road trip that is less than a day’s drive from home, if you feel uncomfortable, you can pivot or just go home. In this time of uncertainty, feeling grounded in our roots, experiencing our neighboring towns, interacting with lovely people, and enjoying our freedoms unites us as Americans.

Road trips are the way we travel this summer. How to plan the perfect road trip and getting out there, when you are ready, will let you experience what’s in your own back yard. Here in New England you could start with Plymouth MA for some early American history and amazing seafood.

Safe Travels,

Sandi

Video Blogger Tools That Won’t Break The Bank

Subject matter – start with your back yard, or your street. Take a walk, enjoy the neighborhood. Look for something interesting. The just start video taping, you can edit later.

Here is a short list of tools that will take your video blogging from struggling to Wow-you-did-this-with-your-phone with video blogger tools that won’t break the bank.

Subject matter – start with your back yard, or your street. Take a walk, enjoy the neighborhood. Look for something interesting. Then just start video blogging, you can edit later. You will need to take quite a few videos to find your style. Keep at it.

Travel With Sandi is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

Phones and cameras

Use your phone. I have an iPhone XS Max with 512GB. This phone has lots of storage and takes great pictures and videos. Get as much storage as you can afford. Videography takes up a lot of storage. Amazon has this phone unlocked and with a Renewed Guarantee at a pretty good price.

The new iPhone 11s are out but you can still get some refurbished ones.

Anyway you slice it, you need a good camera to take videos. I like my phone because it’s always with me. I also like Apple because the free editing software is pretty good.

If you prefer, a DSLR works well too, but it’s like duplicating everything you carry with you. I know enought to get myself in trouble with a Digital SLR camera, but there are lots of great reviews on Amazon. Make sure it has decent video capabilities.

Lighting

For on site production – a simple lighting kit will work well. When I’m photographing something in my studio or where I have control, I use a very inexpensive lighting kit that works perfectly. It’s a three piece lighting set from Limo Studio.

Lighting while you are traveling is a little trickier. Trying to catch a great shot of your dinner in a dimly lit restaurant is almost impossible. This small, rechargeable selfie ring from Meifigno has three light modes and just clips on to your phone. Slip it on, snap a few mouthwatering photos, and store it away, perfect.

stability

For stability you will need a tripod, I love this inexpensive tripod with bluetooth from UBeesize. It is perfect for when I want the camera stable and remote access.

My new fun toy is the DJI OSMO Mobile 3. This sweet little gadget stabilizes your cell phone and offers multiple controls to create stable videos while you are walking, running, and any other way you are moving fast. It takes all the jiggling out of the video. And it’s not as expensive as you would expect.

I hope you have enjoyed drooling over these Video Blogger Tools that won’t break the bank! I have fun using them, and it has upped my vlogging game.

Check out my two Youtube Vlogs:

My new vlog, Travel With Sandi

Bespoke Fashion and Sewing With Sandi

Here’s to getting lost in the journey,

Sandi

Airbnb Rental Tips And Tricks

Look at the pictures, they should tell a story. Are the beds nicely made and are they the right size for you? Will the Kitchen, Living Room and Dining Room work for your stay? Do the Bedrooms have doors? What does the front of the building look like? Is there parking? How about public transportation?

We love Airbnb! It is my first go to when we are traveling, it doesn’t matter if it is just the two of us or it is with my 3 daughters, son-in-law, granddaughter and my mom. Right now I am planning a trip with another couple to Europe and we are looking at Airbnb’s for most of our housing. We have booked all over the US, Dublin, London, Lisbon, Barcelona, and Paris. With a few simple Airbnb rental tips and tricks, you can help insure a great stay.

Travel With Sandi is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. Travel With Sandi also participates in the Awin, Airbnb, and CJ Affiliate programs.

The process I use for booking is the same, no matter who is going or where we are traveling. I follow these Airbnb rental tips and tricks to book every stay. Note: we always stay in a lock out – renting the entire space – I am not totally into the “Bed and Breakfast” type of rental. I personally would not share a room either.

Airbnb Plus

Once you have decided on your destination, investigate and decide a preferred neighborhood or two. It is too easy to go down the rabbit hole looking at all the pretty pictures; you may end up far away from your “ideal fun spot”. You need to focus your search so it matches your goals i.e. shopping, dining, nightlight, museums, etc.

I start with the Airbnb Plus listing and see if one of those work. According to the Airbnb website, Plus listers, among other things must:

“To be eligible for Airbnb Plus, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Maintained an average rating of 4.8 over the past year
  • Accepted 95% of booking requests over the past year, including instantly booked reservations
  • No canceled reservations over the past year (except for penalty-free cancellations)

Additionally, Plus spaces must be:

  • Thoughtfully designed in a way that shows your unique style and personality
  • Well-equipped with amenities like wifi and coffee
  • Well-maintained and clutter-free
  • Outfitted with comfy mattresses, high-quality bedding, and plush towels”

Starting with these listings is a great way to guarantee you will have a fabulous experience. If I can’t find an Airbnb Plus listing in my target neighborhood, I continue to the rest of the listings. We have had many great stays in housing that had not yet been upgraded to Airbnb Plus

Where to Begin

To begin your search on the site, set your filters. The more filters you set, the narrower your search. Set your destination, dates and number of guests. Then use additional filters to further narrow your search. How many beds do you want? how many bedrooms? Bathrooms? Laundry? Pool? Wifi?

I don’t add neighborhoods in the filters. Firstly, they are not all listed and I may find a perfect place on the edge of my neighborhood. The map will populate on your screen and you can shift tit o reflect your desired neighborhood; the listing shown will be within that map area. This is very handy if you want to expand or constrict your search.

Next, go through the listings shown and quickly review the photos to see if the decor appeals to you. Do you want a balcony? See if the photos show one and also the view; you don’t want to be viewing the house across the alley (ask me how I know!). Do you want multiple bedrooms with certain size beds? What floor do you want to stay on? Save these listing to a wish list you set up specifically for this location. The wish lists are a great tool, particularly if you are visiting more than one city.

After you have done a cursory review. Go to your wish list and give each listing a thorough review.  Remove the ones that don’t meet your standards.

Things to look for

  • Beds don’t always mean bedrooms – think bunk room
  • Bedrooms may not have a door, it could be a loft or a drape that separates the room
  • Bathrooms do not always have showers and/or tubs
  • Patios/decks do not always have a view
  • Older buildings usually do not have elevators
  • TVs are not standard – a must have for my hubby!
  • Dishwashers, Washers, Dryers, Coffee maker – are these necessary for your stay?
  • If there are more than a few decor photos – it makes me question what they are not showing?

Look at the pictures, they should tell a story. Are the beds nicely made and are they the right size for you? Will the Kitchen, Living Room and Dining Room work for your stay? Do the Bedrooms have doors? What does the front of the building look like? Is there parking? How about public transportation?

Also consider the reviews. They should be recent and well written. You want to see positive comments about the location, cleanliness, ease of check in and responsiveness of the owner. Read between the lines!

You need to consider the Total Cost of the rental, not all rentals have the same fees. You will find Service and Cleaning fees on some rentals – so check the bottom line!

Review Your Stay

Lastly, after you check out; leave a review for your host. You build credibility with future hosts based by leaving good reviews. Make your review truthful and positive.

Check out Airbnb for your next trip and follow these few simple Airbnb rental tips and tricks when you book.

Happy Travels!

Sandi