Home Staging Tips for Airbnb

So, you are thinking about using your house for Airbnb. What next? A friend, Tenay Benes, of Calm Castle Home Staging gets to travel and write it off as a business expense because she is checking out what people are doing with their Airbnb rentals to get ideas and she prospects for potential clients at the same time.

Besides doing home staging for people who are selling or renting their home or condo or apartment, her company is now helping people maximize their returns from Airbnb. Following are some tips from her to help you out, but to get the maximum effect of her knowledge, you should schedule an appointment with her.

Photos of Your Home

You obviously need photos of your home and it makes sense that you are going to clean up and having it look nice before you do that, just as you would if you were selling or renting.

Make Your House Look Homey and Comfortable

You don’t want it cluttered but you don’t want it sterile either. Maybe have a cookbook out to a favorite recipe in the kitchen, reading material by the bed along with a carafe or bottle of water and some glasses.

Photos and Art in Your Home

Stay away from lots of photos of your family and your pets. Instead maybe have some art or photos by local artists or of local interesting sites.

Bathrooms are Important

Bathrooms should be clean and inviting. Don’t have too many things out on the counters or other surfaces. You probably want a box of tissues and maybe some soap or shampoo. Other things can be in baskets or possibly drawers such as towels and wash clothes.

Mirrors

Besides obviously needing one in the bathroom there are other possibilities. By having a large mirror in a room opposite a window, it effectively increases the light in the room and can almost function as a second window in the room.

Sitting Area

It can be a plus to have a sitting area in the bedroom. This presumes that the bedroom is large enough to do this without feeling too crowded.

Work Area

A small table or desk where someone can work is important too. People may be on a business trip, not a holiday and even if they are on holiday, many people bring their laptops with them.

Quirky or Local

You can also have something that is quirky that is a conversation piece or displays something uniquely local.

Flowers

These add a welcoming feel. You could do some cut flowers or use some higher end silk flowers which fool you into thinking they are real. Don’t get cheap ones that look tacky. Better to have none at all in that case.

Lighting

When you take photos of your home to post, try to take them when there is lots of sun and take some in the evening when the light is starting to dim and is softer. That gives two different looks that can both be very inviting. Besides lighting for photos, you want to have adequate lighting for people to read by. Remember, older people need 50% more light to see the same thing as younger people.

Exterior of Your House

Before you take any pictures you of course want to have the lawn cut and any gardening done so that it looks nice. Having a bench or some other sitting area is nice along with a table.

We hope this has been helpful and you can always call our friends at Calm Castle Home Staging.

Traveling on a Budget

Traveling is often categorized as a hobby for the rich people. People with insane amount of money in banks and ample of time at hand to explore exotic locations around the world. Well, this is a misnomer!

One certainly doesn’t need to be rich in order to travel. Even to the places that are cited as super expensive. All it needs is a combination of meticulous planning and the ability to shun luxury and sometimes, “perceived” comfort.

Try the following tips and thank us later after having enjoyed your trip to a place you always wanted to travel to… and at a much lesser cost than you ever imagined.

Plan Well

Well begun is half done. The first thing you need to do is select your destination and plan how much time you’re going to spend at each of the places you want to visit.

Choose the Off-Season

Air tickets are much cheaper during off-season as are the boarding and lodging prices at most tourist places. You need to be careful about the weather conditions being favorable for travel though.

Book Your Air Travel Much in Advance

Your air journey, including the return ticket, should be booked well in advance. Prices can be up to 50% lesser and sometimes even more.

Stay in Hostels or Homestays

Prefer dormitories, shared hostels or homestays to hotels or inns. Expect to meet and make friends with some like-minded people as a bonus.

Use Public Transport

Most cities have good public transport. The locals use that and so can you. Also, it’s worth finding out if getting a travel pass for bus/rail/both can save you some extra money.

Avoid cabs. Use a shared taxi service in case public transport is not available.

Pack Well

Strike a balance between traveling light and traveling with all the essentials. The idea should be to not have to buy anything during travel that you could pack from home at the offset.

Eat Healthy But Cheap

Avoid expensive restaurants and pubs. Find out where the local working class eats… you’ll be surprised how good and easy on pocket the food is.

Buying packed lunches/dinners from a superstore is another economical option.

Better still, use the hostel’s kitchen to cook for yourself.

Carry a water bottle and refill it from the hostel / public taps.

Avoid Tourist Attractions With a Hefty Entrance Fee

Every place has plenty to see. The national and public parks in most countries charge little to no free. Most museums, heritage sites and places of historical importance also have a free visit day or time slot. Plan accordingly. Avoid a place that charges a hefty entrance fee, unless you absolutely need to see it.

Take Up Odd Jobs

Why not? Opportunities are everywhere and picking up small jobs here and there during travel can help a long way in keeping you comfortable, wallet-wise.

Solang Valley – A Hidden Gem in India for Adventure Sports

India has always been a popular low-cost tourism destination amongst travel enthusiasts from all over the world. For example, tourism sites include everything from the iconic Taj Mahal in Agra to majestic boathouses in the backwaters of Kerala, and from rejuvenating Yoga Ashrams in Rishikesh to captivating forts and palaces of Rajasthan. The country has something to appeal to most types of travelers out there.

There’s one type, however, that might not find India an interesting enough destination. And that is the one that primarily travels to partake in adventure sports like skiing and mountaineering.

Well, there actually is a hidden gem that will likely change their opinion. That place is called Solang Valley.

Location and How to Reach

Solang Valley is located in the northern Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. Himachal, literally translating to “laden with snow”, is known for its glorious mountain peaks, panoramic landscapes, entrancing valleys, lush pine forests and cascading rivers & rivulets.

Solang is 15 kilometers north of the town of Manali. Manali can be reached by a 12-hour bus journey from New Delhi, the country’s capital. Buses between Delhi and Manali run fairly frequently. These services range from economical state transport to luxurious private coaches.

One can also take a plane from Delhi to Bhuntar, the nearest airport 50 kilometers away from Manali. The flight option, however, is expensive and available twice a week only.

Climate, Boarding and Lodging

Solang is located at an altitude of 2560 meters (8400 feet) above sea level. The temperature is between -10°C to 10°C during winters and 10°C to 25°C during summers.

Adequate boarding and lodging options are available for travelers of all budgets, both in Solang and Manali. Manali also has a number of 5-star hotels and international quality restaurants.

What does Solang have to offer to an adventure sports enthusiast?

Skiing: Solang experiences snow from late December to middle of April. Therefore, Mid-January to Mid-March is the best time to visit for skiing. Experienced skiers can use the whole 5 kilometers or so of the main slope starting at the summit. To access the slopes, a cable car ropeway is available. Or, you can use one of the sizeable fleet of all-terrain vehicles.

Heli-skiing: Those with a little extra money to spend can use a helicopter service to reach the summit. The helicopter can also take you to a number of other starting points for cross-country skiing).

Paragliding and Parachuting: Solang offers paragliding and parachuting to everyone from beginner to expert. April-May and September-October are the ideal months.

River Rafting: The width of the Beas river is 25-30 meters at some places and a mere 10 at others. It flows in silent majesty at one moment and its waters can rapidly turn noisy and violent the next. Rafting in the Beas is thrilling and a very fulfilling experience.

Hiking: Solang is surrounded by many beautiful hamlets, lakes and temples. The mostprominent ones are Chandra Tal, Bijli Mahadev and Rohtang. A trek to each of those places makes for an adventure in itself.

Mountaineering: Solang has a number of mountain peaks nearby making it a mountaineer’s delight. Deo Tibba (6001 meters) and Hanuman Tibba (5982 meters) are the closest ones. Manali is home to the Atal Bihari Vajpayee Institute of Mountaineering and Allied Sports. At the institute you can rent equipment and request guidance.

Worth a Visit, indeed!

Solang has plenty to offer to adventure seekers. It is also worth visiting for its beauty even if you aren’t into an adventure sport. If you do love adventure sports, it is definitely worth considering as your next adventure destination! Please do your own elaborate research about the place now.

Sailing in the Virgin Islands

The Virgin Islands, both US and British are a wonderful place to sail. There are many boat charter companies to chose from. Once you have selected your charter company, you then get to choose between a mono-hull or a catamaran.

If you have never sailed a catamaran before, it is actually easy to get used to. One nice feature is that they have an engine in each hull and by controlling the two motors you have a lot of control when you maneuver.

Another nice thing is that you can put kids in the cabin in one hull and have privacy in the other hull for yourself. Or, you can go with another couple and each has a cabin in a separate hull making for more privacy and intimacy!!!

Here is one possible way to go. Fly into Charlotte Amalie in the island of St. Thomas in the American Virgin Islands. Get your boat and prepare to take off by stowing your gear and getting provisions in the shops there. Then have a nice dinner in one of the many restaurants. As a suggestion, you might order the fried plantains, they are great. Sleep on the boat and get it organized and set sail early the next morning.

Jost van Dyke

Head out of the harbor while avoiding the large cruise ships and head east. Once you clear St. Thomas, head north between St. Thomas and St. John and make for the island Jost van Dyke in the British Virgin Islands. Anchor in Diamond Cay between Jost van Dyke and Little Jost van Dyke. Why here? Foxy’s, of course. When you picture a bar and restaurant in the Caribbean, this is what you are picturing.

There are palm trees and you could say the building is rustic. It is made of old wood and is mostly a roof and a wood floor with no walls. The atmosphere is laid back and its just a fun time.

Virgin Gorda – Bitter End

The next day sail east to the island of Virgin Gorda and moor off of the Bitter End Yacht Club. You will see a lot of other charter boats but very likely some very large yachts as well. The Bitter End has hotel rooms you can rent and there is a great restaurant. Unlike Foxy’s which is almost more like a shack, the Bitter End is much higher end.

Hurricane Maria

Both Foxy’s and the Bitter End were badly damaged by Hurricane Maria that also destroyed Puerto Rico. They had to do a lot to rebuild along with many other places in the Virgin Islands.

The Baths

From the Bitter End, sail back along Virgin Gorda to its other end to get to the Baths. Why go to the Baths? Because, it is an odd formation of large boulders on the beach and in the shallow water. In addition, it is a fun place to walk around and explore and to snorkel around.

Ginger, Cooper, Salt Islands

From the Baths, you can sail to any of 3 islands in a row and do some snorkeling, moor off Cooper Island Beach Club and have a nice meal. It is a shame because while there is a lot of nice snorkeling, you can also see a lot of places where there is coral bleaching and damage to the coral.

Peter Island

But you really want to end up at Peter Island which is just past Ginger, Cooper and Salt. Anchor in Deadman’s Bay. It can be difficult to find good holding ground here. In addition, you need to be careful not to hook the anchor on anything growing on the bottom. You are here for the snorkeling but the food. Deadman’s Beach Bar & Grill has amazing food. Definitely worth stopping here. You are also likely to see some celebrities there and some very fancy yachts.

Norman Island

Norman Island is a pirate island. When a Spanish galleon ran aground off the coast of North Carolina, it was looted by 2 brothers. One went aground himself, but the other made it to the Virgin Islands and to uninhabited Norman Island. When people from nearby islands started asking questions, they buried the treasure. Supposedly, a chest of silver was discovered in a cave  there not that long ago. Besides that, there is good snorkeling or scuba diving in caves there and a number of little bays around the island.

From Pirates Bight in Bight Bay you can hike up a dirt road to the top hill on the island and get to work off some of the pounds from the good food and drink. Since there are no trees, just grasses, there is a great view from there.

Cruz Bay

Finally, sail back into US territory and stop in Cruz Bay to go through Customs. Then sail across from St. John where Cruz Bay is back to Charlotte Amalie on St. Thomas and pack up. Enjoy a meal at one of the great restaurants then and get ready to catch the plane back home.

It’s a fun vacation and well worth doing.

Reasons why everyone should travel at least once

People that are traveling a lot is always recommending it to people that never have traveled before. They are saying that this is something that everyone should experience. But, the question that is why is this something that everyone should experience at least once? Why is it such a great thing to travel to other countries? These are the top reasons why everyone should travel at least once?

Learning about other cultures

We are getting so used to our own culture that we sometimes forget about other cultures. That there are other people that are struggling a lot more than us, and that are doing things completely differently than us.

When we are traveling, we are learning about different cultures and we are making sure that we get a much better idea about how the world is working. That there isn’t just one culture to consider. And, that we are all unique and special. No matter where we are living, or what culture we are in. 

Making memories that will last a lifetime

By traveling, you are going to make memories that will last a lifetime. You will remember it for the rest of your life. Physically, you might not be traveling anymore, but in your mind, you can still visit the places that you visited before. Enjoying the memories, you have made with your friends, family and with the locals of the other countries.

This is something that no one can take away from you. And, you will have these memories, even if you can’t travel anymore. 

Make new friendships that will last forever 

When you are traveling, you will normally make friends in different countries. And, with the technology that we have today, this is friendships that will last forever. Friends that you can count on, no matter what. They might be living in a different country, and have different beliefs and a different culture. This will be friendships that will be unbreakable. 

And, you will not understand this type of friendships, if you don’t travel and get to know new people. 

There are so many reasons why you should travel and see the world. Even, if this is only once. These are the top three reasons why you should travel at least once in your lifetime. This is an experience that you will never forget. And, if you have traveled once, you will do it again and again. Learning more about the world, seeing new things and learning about other cultures.