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Reims (pronounced “Rance”) is only 45 minutes from the Gare de l’Est in Paris. You can easily enjoy a day trip, but a girlfriend and I wanted to explore a few Champagne Caves and the city, so we booked a rental with AirBnB.

Thierry and Corinne speak English, so no worries if you don’t speak French. The apartment is  a spacious 80 M2 or about 850 Sq Ft, with 2 bedrooms, so there is room for up to four people. At 85 Euros per night (about $95 USD), it’s a great price for the location, literally one block from the Cathedral.

We took advantage of the private courtyard from the moment we arrived:)

The kitchen had everything, from coffee maker and electric kettle, to oven, toaster, and food processor. A self serve breakfast is included, and there was juice, butter, jam, and organic milk in the fridge, along with a selection of teas and coffee in the cupboard with some spices and sugar.

The open floor plan from kitchen to dining area made it a very inviting space.

Everything was light and open, and towels and bedding were delightfully fluffy and comfortable.

I took the room with two single beds and appreciated the huge multiple pillows with a light duvet.

My friend took the bigger bed with the firmer mattress and closed the outside shutters at night to keep it dark.

Corinne and her son welcomed us with a delicious (still warm) cake baked for our arrival! We enjoyed a piece each while it was still warm and it was our daily breakfast during our four day stay:)

If you drive into town there is paid parking in front and by taxi it’s only 7 Euros from the central train station. If you want to take a tram or bus both have stops only 2-3 blocks away.

You can literally see the Reims Cathedral from our front door!

I rented a place with AirBnB in Chelsea for part of my stay and my wonderful hosts, Kenny and Romeo, made my trip even more fun. The apartment is on the upper floor of this building in the gallery district, with views of the Hudson, and near many bus and subway lines, so getting around town is a breeze. If you prefer to get to your destination directly, the concierge will hail you a cab.

The lobby is sleek and modern,

with a waterfall in front of the elevators,

and even the elevators are designed beautifully.

A 24 hour gym is in the building and there are sitting areas by an outdoor atrium.

My rental was in the middle of the living area, but my host had his own room, so it was like being in a studio apartment.

The toilet is HEATED and has a built in bidet:)

This view of the sun setting over the Hudson is from my bed!

The rental is walking distance (or two stops by bus) from Chelsea Market, so for a quick bite, I went to Mokbar, behind the spice merchant. I was too early for Happy Hour when they have small plates and discounted drinks, but I was so happy to have a place open all afternoon, unlike in Paris when everything closes between lunch and dinner.

I chose the bulgogi rice bowl for $13, which was loaded with grilled crisp beef and vegetables, but I added garlic spinach $2 anyway. It was a big hearty serving and the kimchee was a perfect spicy acidic counterpoint to the rich beef.

I’d never had Tiger beer ($7) from Singapore and was so intrigued by the name I ordered it, and now I think I may actually like a beer enough to order it again! The Gold Medal awarded beer is smooth and rich, a perfect accompaniment to a hearty bowl of beef. The total with tax and tip was about $28, but as I learned in NYC, everything is a bit pricey compared to LA or even Paris. If you’re looking for  a bite of something less expensive, my friend from LA suggests the taco stand directly opposite Mokbar which sells $4 tacos which are as close to West Coast tacos as you’ll find in NYC.

One of the main reasons I rented a place in Chelsea was because a good friend lives in the neighborhood, so the advantage of being a few blocks away from her place meant we could walk to meet each other at a place like Tia Pol. What better way to start off a reunion than with a glass of Cava? This brut was delicious, so we had two 🙂

She recommended the crispy artichoke and asparagus salad for $13 to start, and it was much tastier than it looks; the crisp artichoke added a nice earthy texture to the tender romaine and white asparagus, and the lemon vinaigrette perfectly dressed the salad. One person could easily make a meal of this if they weren’t very hungry.

Since I love anchovies, I got two of the olive, pepper, and anchovy skewers for $2 each, and they were so good, I forgot to take a photo before eating one:)

The lamb skewers with Moorish spices at $7 for two were perfect little bites of flavorful meat.

The crispy marinated fish with lemon for $12 was a bigger plate and we were very happy splitting the plate that would’ve been too much with all the other plates we had ordered.

She wanted the patatas bravas for $8 with a spicy aioli, and I took a bite just for research:)

The classic flan for $6 was a smooth sweet way to end the night.

As night fell on the city, it was time for me to go to bed,

where Romeo was waiting for me 🙂

I lived in Hermosa Beach for two years and moved away back to the “Inner City” of Los Angeles because I went to the beach maybe three times in those two years. Something about having the beach at my disposition disposes me to take it for granted. Since it’s been a few years since I’ve actually taken advantage of being at the beach, I decided to rent a room for only $77 per night from AirBnB in my former home town, proving that you can indeed go home again, even though it may not be exactly the same home you left.I stayed over a Sunday and Monday night, so I had practically the entire beach to myself.

The room I rented included full use of the immaculate kitchen, a BBQ, a covered parking space, and wifi. The owner, Todd, provided all the towels, linens, and even beach chairs!

There was even a large dining room off one of the three patios.
The house itself was on three levels, with a living room and loft/office space with a pinball machine that had a wonderful deck.
The top level had a nice couch with panoramic views of the ocean two blocks away and a large patio (hammock use optional).
This was the view from the top level office/deck space.
I had my own spacious room with small patio, full bathroom, walk-in closet, and flat screen tv. The room was so comfortable I could have stayed in it all day if the beach didn’t beckon.
The beach was the entire reason for my stay, so I spent my days on the soft white sand, reading, napping, and trying to decide where to eat:)

Having used Air BnB for my last stay in Paris, I decided to try using them for a more local stay in Santa Barbara and found a wonderful 1 Bedroom only 3 blocks from State Street for only $79 a night. My host, Jessica, was out of the country during my stay, so I had the entire apartment to myself! She arranged for a friend to answer any questions or concerns during my stay, so even without her I had someone local to contact.

The entire place was immaculate, and the bed was very comfortable! She had thoughtfully pinned the laundry key and parking pass to the bulletin board in the bedroom, along with wireless information, so everything was literally in one place.

The living room was large and comfortable (even though I never used it).

The dining area faced the kitchen and was where I set up my laptop to explore with the internet all the places I wanted to explore while in Santa Barbara.

Although the kitchen was available, the only thing I used was the tea kettle and the fridge, which were both handy at the end of a day exploring State Street.

The bathroom had two sets of fresh plush towels which were color coordinated with the decor.

This is easily one of the best places to stay if you want to live like a local and walk to the center of State Street. Jessica was a great hostess even in absentia, and I feel as if I now have a pied a terre in Santa Barbara. Hopefully on my next trip, I will actually get to meet Jessica:)

Although I always stay with friends while in Paris, I sometimes rent an apartment so that I can stay out later and/or get up later for my airport departure. Renting is also a perfect solution for my friends visiting from Belgium; the train from Brussels only takes an hour and a half, but having a place to stay in Paris makes for a mini vacation rather than a day trip for them.

I found Lena’s studio on AirBnB.com a site I have used before for rentals here in the US. Pour mes amis Francophone, vous pouvez aussi louer le studio avec amivac.

Lena’s studio is in a perfect location between the Jardin du Luxembourg and Jardin des Plantes, just a few minutes walk from the RER B which goes directly to Charles De Gaulle airport. For less than $100 a night, this very secure, quiet studio is a steal. The popular Rue Mouffetard is only two blocks away with wonderful restaurants and shops, and the apartment itself faces a green courtyard. Lena speaks English perfectly (as well as Italian and of course French), and uses this studio as her office, so everything is immaculate and functional. There is free wifi and the phone can be used to call several countries landlines (not cell phones), so this is a real home base.

At 35 square meters, this is easily double or triple the size of many hotel rooms in Paris and you get the added convenience of having a full kitchen with a refrigerator, microwave, sink, two burners, appliances (toaster, coffee maker), cutlery and dishware. The pleasure of buying baguettes, cheese, fruit, and wine is matched only by the ease of having a place to prepare a snack or meal should the mood strikes you.

The bathroom is huge (by Parisian standards), with a full size tub, good water pressure, and even a selection of shower gels and shampoos. Lena supplied all the towels and sheets for the fold out futon in the living room, so aside from maid service, her studio has everything and more than a hotel room.

Lena was very organized, sending out information about the area (her favorite markets, restaurants, transportation details) as soon as I booked. I enjoyed her place and Lena so much that we talked about trading places next time. Since her full name is Helene, we even have the same name (Elaine in French is Helene), so we wouldn’t even have to change the answering machine!

The Cirque du Soleil show LOVE at the Mirage has a number of limited seats available at 50% off if you book through it with your hotel stay online; this deal includes 20-30% off your room at the Mirage, so take advantage of the offer if you want to see the show. I saw LOVE twice in two months and now it looks like I will be seeing it again!

If you are planning to drive to Las Vegas, why not rent a car rather than put miles on yours? There is a website called Vroom Vroom Vroom which allows you to compare prices from all the major car rental companies in one place for your dates and destination; it’s like Hotels.com but for cars. The beauty of the site is they list the cars available through the different companies with pictures that come up as you scroll so you can see what the cars look like if you are unfamiliar with the model offered. As a bonus, this is a company that actually puts money towards climate and environmental causes to offset the emissions of cars they rent.

And if you do go to the show in your rented car and need some clothes for the trip, stop by Lulu’s (see my previous post for more about this great store) in Manhattan Beach today for their annual summer sale with items 50-80% off. I love the Cosabella dress I bought at the sale last year, and I will most likely wear it to Las Vegas when I go in September, so yes, I actually DO what I recommend!

>The Cirque du Soleil show LOVE at the Mirage has a number of limited seats available at 50% off if you book through it with your hotel stay online; this deal includes 20-30% off your room at the Mirage, so take advantage of the offer if you want to see the show. I saw LOVE twice in two months and now it looks like I will be seeing it again!

If you are planning to drive to Las Vegas, why not rent a car rather than put miles on yours? There is a website called Vroom Vroom Vroom which allows you to compare prices from all the major car rental companies in one place for your dates and destination; it’s like Hotels.com but for cars. The beauty of the site is they list the cars available through the different companies with pictures that come up as you scroll so you can see what the cars look like if you are unfamiliar with the model offered. As a bonus, this is a company that actually puts money towards climate and environmental causes to offset the emissions of cars they rent.

And if you do go to the show in your rented car and need some clothes for the trip, stop by Lulu’s (see my previous post for more about this great store) in Manhattan Beach today for their annual summer sale with items 50-80% off. I love the Cosabella dress I bought at the sale last year, and I will most likely wear it to Las Vegas when I go in September, so yes, I actually DO what I recommend!

I always prefer living in an apartment or house when I travel so I can taste the local flavors of the markets. I enjoy shopping for daily supplies like the natives, even buying toilet paper can be a fun adventure in a foreign country. In most cases I can find a rental for about the same or less than a hotel room, but even when it may be more, the added privacy and savings of eating a few meals in usually make it worth the difference.

Every time I have traveled to the South of France I have stayed in a hotel, but next time I go, I will be renting a place. I’ve already written about VRBO and Beau-Paris rentals, but for the South of France, France Bound has some spectacular places.

If I end up traveling alone, a 1 Bedroom in Nice for $780-$1500 a week, should work out just fine, with a partial view of the Mediterranean, on the Promenade des Anglais, and just 2 blocks away from the famous Hotel Negresco ($1,200 per night for a 1BR in the summer). If I can gather a few friends to journey with me, a private 3 bedroom 3 bath villa in Cannes for $6,700 a week (or $1,116 per person divided by 6 people) with a large pool, terrace, garden, 2 car garage, air conditioning and satellite TV, should work perfectly.

Being able to live in a villa in Cannes during the summer, with a pool overlooking the French Riviera is not just life for Tina Turner anymore; we can all live like rock stars at these prices.

>I always prefer living in an apartment or house when I travel so I can taste the local flavors of the markets. I enjoy shopping for daily supplies like the natives, even buying toilet paper can be a fun adventure in a foreign country. In most cases I can find a rental for about the same or less than a hotel room, but even when it may be more, the added privacy and savings of eating a few meals in usually make it worth the difference.

Every time I have traveled to the South of France I have stayed in a hotel, but next time I go, I will be renting a place. I’ve already written about VRBO and Beau-Paris rentals, but for the South of France, France Bound has some spectacular places.

If I end up traveling alone, a 1 Bedroom in Nice for $780-$1500 a week, should work out just fine, with a partial view of the Mediterranean, on the Promenade des Anglais, and just 2 blocks away from the famous Hotel Negresco ($1,200 per night for a 1BR in the summer). If I can gather a few friends to journey with me, a private 3 bedroom 3 bath villa in Cannes for $6,700 a week (or $1,116 per person divided by 6 people) with a large pool, terrace, garden, 2 car garage, air conditioning and satellite TV, should work perfectly.

Being able to live in a villa in Cannes during the summer, with a pool overlooking the French Riviera is not just life for Tina Turner anymore; we can all live like rock stars at these prices.

>St. Barthelemy or St. Bart is probably my favorite island in the Caribbean because it is one of the few islands where there was never any slavery, very low crime, and a very high standard of living. Add beautiful beaches, French inspired food, and friendly natives, and you have a recipe for a pleasant vacation no matter how much time you spend cooking your skin on the beach.

I rented a one bedroom condo through St. Barth Properties, the Terrasses de St. Jean, close to the airport and across from the beach with a view of the bay for about $1500 a week off season (April-December). It was fully equipped with a TV, DVD player, CD player, all kitchen appliances, linens, towels, and spotlessly clean, and daily maid service is included except for Sundays (be sure to ask if the property you want has Wifi if you want to surf on the internet).

With a nice terrace (hence the name of the property), for the price of a room, this condo was bigger than most suites in a hotel, with the added benefits of a full kitchen and living room. If you need a larger villa, they have full houses for rent starting at about $4,000 for a three bedroom (which sleeps six) with a fantastic view, which works out to about $570 a night for a family that would normally rent several hotel rooms and have to pay for restaurants for every meal. There was a very nice grocery store across from the condo I rented which had all the supplies for breakfast, including great croissants, and perfect picnic food, like pates and roasted chicken, for beach lunches. We had dinner out every night of the week except for one (it was a vacation after all), but for the one night we cooked, everything we needed was at the store.

Renting a property with this company does not mean you must do without hotel amenities, a rental with St. Barth Properties can include all the concierge services at a hotel, from an airport meet and greet to arranging for scuba dives or golf tee times. They are only a phone call away if you need anything, but you have the option of going into seclusion or exploring the island solo if you prefer.

Living like a native is one of the best ways to travel, so why not go native on one of the best islands?

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