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 Spend 48 Hours In Barcelona

Experiencing everything Barcelona has to offer in just two days is impossible. However, you can absorb the vibe of this hip, vibrant city with careful planning paired with wild abandon!

Experiencing everything Barcelona has to offer in just two days is impossible. However, you can absorb the vibe of this hip, vibrant city with careful planning paired with wild abandon! How to spend 48 hours in Barcelona offers itinerary suggestions for your short visit.

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Barcelona has two tour bus companies, the Big Red Bus City Tours and the Bus Turistic. Both companies offer great service covering all the hotspots in Barcelona. We chose the Big Red City Tours Bus because we observed two Big Red Buses for every one Bus Turistic, which meant less waiting time between pickups. We booked our tickets through Viator, that way they were in my email and ready to go when we arrived. With a two day ticket, we were able to traverse the city, have a guided audio tour, and take in the adventures that struck our fancy.

Tour LA Sagrada Familia

Get off at stop number 11 on the green line of the City Bus to visit Antonio Gaudi’s Sagrada Famillia. Construction of the Basilia began on March 19, 1882, and is scheduled to be completed in 2026. Whether the building will be finished then is up for debate and many Spaniards are sceptical about this timeline.

How to Spend 48 hours in Barcelona
La Sagrada Familia

Interestingly, the Basillica does not tower over the city; her decorative towers take you by surprise as you ascend up Avenue Diagonal to Mallorca Street. The towers rise seemingly from nowhere, and the tallest towers are still unfinished. They will most certainly change the shape of the Barcelona skyline when completed. The middle and tallest towers represents Jesus Christ, there is one for each apostle – 12 in all, one is for the Virgin Mary, and four represent the evangelists. The largest, central towers are under construction and the ever present construction cranes detract from the wildly artistic facade.

In 2019, Barcelona finally granted the building permit for Sagrada Familia that was submitted in 1885. To tour this magnificently eclectic church, it is best to purchase tickets in advance. I ordered our tour tickets through Viator, they have lots of options. You should consider a skip the line tour, as the lines can be very long. You can wander around the church on your own,;but to have a true grasp of the magnitude, symbolism, and history, a guided tour is best.

LA Rambla

La Rambla, the heart of the city center, is a wide boulevard filled with shops, restaurants, and hotels. It stretches from Port Vell, near the cruise terminal, to Placa de Catalunya. At night the area comes alive with hawkers, lots of tourists, and pickpockets (be attentive). A must do is to grab an outside table at a touristy bar and sip on sangria; it’s a fun place to people watch.

Barceloneta Beach

The beach in Barceloneta is a wide swath of crystal sand. Retirees playing cards and dominos camp out all day in private clubs that line the beach, while the younger set hits the beach to surf, play volleyball, and soak up the soul warming Meditarranean sunshine. Stop for a glass of Cava and a few plates of tapas at one of the many restaurants planted at the beach’s edge.

FC Barcelona

Football (soccer) fans can enjoy a tour of the home stadium for FC Barcelona, Camp Nou. Stop number 14 on the red line of the City Bus, Camp Nou is smack dab in the middle of the city. The tour, complete with VR glasses and audio guide will have you right in the middle of the action.

Casa Batillo

Gaudi’s work dots many of Barcelona’s neighborhoods. Casa Batillo on Passeig de Gracia is one of his most famous homes. If you want the perfect tour, book the 8:30 preview where you can visit before the throngs of tourists arrive. Casa Batillo can be reached by either the red or green line, stops 19 and 16 respectively. You can view the facade restoration in this video from the Casa Batllo website, the colors, design, and craftsmanship are fascinating.

Port Cable Car

Want to experience the best views in Barcelona? Take a ride on the Port Cable Car. For about $20 you can take a round trip cable car ride from the port to the five star Miramar Hotel on Montjuic. At the top, you can sip a drink at the bar perched on the side of Montjuic, visit the Miramar hotel, wander the gardens taking in more spectaular views, or hike further up the mountain. You can take the red line bus (stop 6) to enjoy this vantage point if you are a little cable car timid.

How to spend 48 hours in Barcelona
Bistro view from Montjuic

Dining

When choosing a restaurant, avoid the establishments that have pictures of the food pasted on the windows or on a kiosk. In general, they are tourist traps. Look for authentic Catalonian cuisine a block or two off the main drag.

For a fun night out, try The Paella Club. Here you will join a dozen other couples to create several different types of paella paired with bottomless glasses of Cava, Spanish sparkling wine. After the cooking lesson, join your new friends for a family style dinner to taste your creations along with dishes crafted by Chef Alex.

Hubbies Cooking Paella

If you are in the Gothic Quarter, the Firebug Bistro is a local hangout with good food and a causal vibe. Try the “Sexy Bravas” and the “Civiche Pow! Pow!” for a Spanish flavor bomb!

We Bistrot is a classic tapas spot with sidewalk tables, a pass-through kitchen, and a well stocked bar. It’s a great spot to enjoy a slow, relaxing meal. The potato salad with tuna was the hit of the night. We tasted most of the menu and loved everything.

Where To Stay

We stayed at this Airbnb in the Gothic Quarter, El Gotic. It was in a old classic building with beautiful, traditional tile work; marble floors; and dark, imposing woodwork. We could walk to great restaurants, Placa de Catalunya, the Zoo, La Sagrada Familia, and more. Airbnb is a great resourse for Barcelona.

How to spend 48 hours in Barcelona
Kitchen at our Airbnb Barcelona

Of course, there are lots of great hotels too. Check out the Hotel Barcelona Universal, a four star hotel in the Gothic Quarter.

No matter where you stay, or what you see, I know you will enjoy your 48 hours in Barcelona.

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