Archives for October 2016
These days it’s tempting to think that we all know every trick in the book when it comes to finding the best travel deals. After all, we have access to this handy thing called the world wide web and sites like Expedia, Travelzoo, Kayak, and so on. We can compare and contrast prices all day long!
We can even rent super cool homes, apartments, boats or tree-houses on sites like Airbnb. But so can everyone else in the world.. and they are seeing the very same places we are.
Here’s the thing. There are still lots of places that don’t exist on big websites (like hotels.com, booking.com and Airbnb). That we won’t find with google (unless we are specifically looking for them by name and in the right language). Places where there won’t be crowds of tourists. That don’t have to be booked ahead months in advance, and where you can find cozy rooms tucked away literally in the middle of nowhere.
There are websites that are particular to the country or region they are in and that have properties you can’t find elsewhere. For off the beaten path accommodation in Spain the best one of these sites (in my opinion) is Toprural. You don’t see it in the U.S or the U.K. but it has fantastic coverage of rural area B&B’s (casas rurales) in Spain and Portugal.
How does Toprural find their properties and why are many of them non existent on other websites?
It mostly comes down to B&B or vacation home owners being old school, and sticking with the site they know and that they have been listed with for years. Or perhaps they don’t know about all the other options out there.
And, even if they have heard of some of them, they wouldn’t know where to start to get their business listed on that kind of site, and don’t feel it’s important enough to find out. They might also, not feel inclined to join sites that take a large chunk of their profits.
Most are not incredibly tech savvy. Many don’t have credit card machines or the ability to book automatically online. You have to email and check your dates, confirm the price and then request your reservation via email or phone.
To secure your reservation, you sometimes even have to transfer money to the owner’s bank account (something like 20% of the total cost-but often this isn’t required). This is scary to most in their 20’s and 30’s who’ve always been able to book hotels online with a money back guarantee.
But, if you want to stay in some awesome, intimate and locally owned places off the beaten path in Spain these little surprises are often a part of the package. In exchange for dealing with old school style hosts, you get amazing prices (particularly compared to hotels) and a unique experience. Prices are often as low as 45-55 euros a night for places in more remote regions (and this is for a very nice quality room with a private bathroom) but go up as high as you want (you can rent entire Villas, or old historic buildings with 10 rooms, etc). But the best thing? You’ll be connecting directly with and putting money directly in the pockets of a local.
Another bright side? You’ll get to brag to all of your friends about your superb travel-like-a-local skills.