We’ve got AirBNB that allows folks to put their homes or apartments up for rent to travelers. We’ve got Couchsurfing.org that allows strangers to spend a night or two in our homes with us. So I guess it’s only natural there’d be a site that allows you the share a hotel room with a total stranger.
The website is called Easynest, and it invites someone who has a hotel room by him or herself to be a “host” and share an extra bed with another person. It’s either the next, best social website idea or, at least, it’s a way to stay in a hotel that might be nicer than you might otherwise since you’d be sharing the cost with someone else.
How do you know who the heck your host is or—for that matter—how does the host know who the stranger in his or her hotel room will be?
Both parties must create a profile with links to their social networks such as Facebook. Then type in your destination and see what’s on offer and use your best instincts to choose a hotel partner.
The two of you can talk before you make a deal to share 50/50 the price of the hotel room. Call the hotel if you want to make sure there are two beds in the room.
I’m sure some great friendships will be forged via this site and maybe even a romance or two. But I’d want to make sure I knew who I was sleeping with before I committed to sharing a bedroom with another user of Easynest.
Charles MacPherson owns a Toronto-based firm that trains butlers for hotels as well as for private residences. And for my weekend radio show, he’s my go-to guy for all questions of etiquette.
I asked him how one should be a gracious summer houseguest, and here’s his advice. Arrive Friday in time for dinner and leave Sunday right after lunch. Don’t stay longer even if your hosts insists–it’s a lot of work having houseguests.
Before you arrive, find out the plans for the weekend to see if there’s anything you can bring for the weekend, food-wise. And never show up empty handed. Flowers and wine are always welcome, but baking a pie or cake is always nice.
Always volunteer to help the host, and even if he or she shoos you away from the kitchen, fluff the pillows on the sofa. Help out any way you can. Don’t hog the bathroom and always leave it as clean or cleaner than you found it. Send a thank you gift. Maybe a drawing by one of your children or an appropriate book related to your host’s interests.
You can find more great advice on travel etiquette in Charles MacPherson’s new book, The Butler Speaks.
When we count our freedoms on this holiday, we usually think of the basics: Freedom of speech, the press, religion, assembly, a speedy trial by jury, the right to be secure from unreasonable search and seizure, and so on.
But as I do every year on July 4th, I’d like to give a shout out to the freedom to travel. It’s easy to forget that it’s not a right or luxury afforded everyone in the world. Some countries require its citizens to obtain permission before leaving their borders. Women in Saudi Arabia must obtain permission from their male guardian to travel if they are under age 45. A North Korean or Burmese citizen will find it difficult to leave the country.
With few exceptions, Americans are free to roam the globe.
And so, in the course of celebrating July 4th in America, take a moment to think about the luxury of being able to get a passport, buy an airline ticket, and go just about anywhere in the world your heart desires.
It’s a freedom very worth celebrating.
The answer is: credit cards. Not just making purchases on cards linked to frequent flyer programs but by judiciously signing up for credit cards when there’s an interesting offer on the table.
Many credit card companies offer thousands of miles to folks who apply for a card. The trick is to hold out for an offer of 35, 50, or even 100,000 miles. Apply for a couple of those in the course of a year, and you can really fatten your mileage accounts. The miles won’t usually help you reach elite status, however.
If you keep your balances low and pay on time, your credit score won’t be adversely affected by applying for several credit cards in a year. And there’s nothing wrong with closing an account a year or so later so you can apply for another card offering another bucket filled with miles.
Go on line and subscribe for free to one or both of these newsletters: ThePointsGuy or MileValue. Both will keep you current on the most lucrative card offers. Plus, you’ll pick up lots of advice on finding award tickets if you opt to receive their daily emails.
Yesterday I mentioned how difficult it is to meet locals when you arrive in a new destination. I suggested using Couchsurfing.org or HospitalityClub.org to find free accommodations and make new friends. I also cautioned women traveling alone to check references on those sites.
Here are further suggestions.
Social media is the traveler’s best friend. Consider joining LinkedIn.com. It’s free, and within LinkedIn, you can then join a group called LunchedIn. That’s a way for travelers to meet locals for, well, for lunch. If you’re a teacher in America, wouldn’t be interesting to meet a teacher in, say, Thailand or Estonia?
Anyone can use the Global Greeter Network. And on Facebook, there’s an app called Twigmore that links you with friends of your friends if you specify a destination. And some big cities have dedicated sites linking visitors to residents. Type this in a search engine: “Social media for meeting locals while traveling.”
Here are some good links, several of them courtesy of a column by my friend, guidebook author and public television travel show host, Rick Steves:
EatWith is a service that will match you with a family in a foreign country who will invite you to their home for a meal.