The truth about negotiating with the locals

I first wrote the story about tips to negotiating when I was traveling in Asia. I still believe in that article but since visiting Haiti my view has evolved. Yes, it’s important to bargain and no matter how hard you bargain, you will always pay more than the locals. I understand all that. There’s an art form and a skill that is necessary to effectively negotiate. Its how life operates and how businesses become successful. I get all of that. For some people it’s a rush, a feeling of success; it’s gratifying, and it’s __________. YOU CAN put any word in their to fill in the gap.

I never stopped to think about the other side of the story, until I met this wonderful person by the name of Maria. For over a month I was working at Hotel Florita in Jacmel, Haiti when Maria came in with an organization called New Waves -AYITI.  Somehow we got into the conversation about the art in Jacmel, the galleries, and the local vendors. She told me about a particular piece of art that she bought at FOSAJ (located behind the hotel). She explained to me how beautiful this piece of art was and how it really connected with her. “I asked what the price of this particular piece of art and she replied, “$100 usd.” She bought it without bargaining.  It wasn’t because she had the money to spend or anything like that. She states, “It’s because in Trinidad, Haitian art is highly respected.” Maria understood the value of the work. It wasn’t a duplicate; it was an original piece of artwork.

Questions to ask yourself next time you decide to use your TOP Negotiating Skills?

What does it mean to you when you negotiate?

Are you physically and financially beating down someone to get a lower price?

Are you discouraging/ devaluing their work, with your prices?

Are you uplifting or discouraging their spirit, hard work, and craft?

Could you pay an artist to paint you original artwork at that price where you are from?

Have you really accomplished something?

Can you go home and brag about how you got the price down?

Have you considered the other person, the artists, the vendor, the store owner who has to pay for their materials for your “souvenir” you bought?

What about their livelihood, their family, and the work that they put in?

Earlier that week, I helped two members of her team negotiate four pieces of art, which led me to think about Maria’s logic on negotiating prices for art, and the value of respecting artist work, and pricing.  It made me think twice negotiating. The conversation plays over and over in my head.  “What does it mean to you to negotiate someone down from the price, to beat them down, just to say you saved $15-$20? Could you have bought that back at home for that price? The price of the paint and other materials alone cost a lot of money. What do you get from discouraging someone and taking the meaning from something that they’ve worked so hard to put together? Could you ask artists back at your home to paint you an original piece? How much would you get charged back home?

I am not saying this to discourage people from negotiating, but for people to have that conversation with themselves and with friends and family and to realize how their actions affect the locals, local economy and the way that the locals view tourists. I know it has made me reflect on all my negations.

Disconnecting from a life of luxury

I’ve traveled to few countries. Some of which are first world and third world. Living in the United States you have access to 24hrs of internet, television, media, electricity, customer service, and social media to complain or express yourself, hot showers, doctors, clean streets, and great schooling. You might not realize how spoiled and privileged you are until you visit a third world country that doesn’t have all these things. Luxury living is not should not be determined by the access you have to 24hrs to exterior gadgets, the items you can afford, or by your education, or clothing that you wear.

This brings me to where I am now. I have become accustomed to the United States lifestyle where I get everything I want instantly for the most part. I was always online, trying to catch up on the latest shows, flipping through social media pages, watching the latest YouTube videos, or watching the news or lack of it. I started to realize that I was changing and so were the people around me. I didn’t like it. I slowly started cutting back on the amount of television I was watching and checking sports channels less frequently. U.S. is a consumer driven society and I was headfirst into it. Even when you try calling your friends, family, etc. they look at you like you’re from another planet because you didn’t send them a text message. Who wants to take the time to talk on the phone anymore right? Well I do.

This summer (2014), I had the opportunity to live in Jacmel, Haiti. What an experience! I stayed in the heart of the cultural side of Jacmel. I had access to art galleries, street vendors, motor bikes, the beach, fresh air. I didn’t have all the luxuries that I was accustomed to in the United States like 24 hours of electricity and other items I listed above. It took a week or so to get adjusted to my new environment. But once I did, it felt great. It made me question my ideas of what it meant to live in luxury and what luxury really meant. The hotel didn’t have televisions in the rooms. Most of it was old school living by U.S. standards. I felt alive. I was connecting to people differently. I had to engage with the locals, had to communicate with girls that I found attractive face to face. It was a different world. Of course a lot of people had the basic cell phones and listened to music and everything like that but the conversations were different. I didn’t have to hear about Justin Bieber or the Kardashians or what happened next on Love and Hip Hop. Those meaningless conversations didn’t exist. Even when I did go on the Internet, I didn’t stay on long. I was to busy learning about my new environment and trying to make friends.

I found it easier to connect with people because they weren’t walking around with smart phones in their hands. You had to use your five senses to listen and focus your energy on the person you are talking to.

My lifestyle was different, when guests came into the hotel; the first thing they wanted to know was “what is the Wi-Fi password?” In those moments I kept thinking “why you don’t check into the hotel first?” But that’s how important the internet has become; enjoying your external environment has become secondary to the virtual environment. The internet can be seen as a connecting agent that brings the world closer together by allowing people to contact others from different parts of the world at any given time. It can also be viewed as a separator, since it brings us further apart from verbal to verbal communication, reading body language, writing skills, and out of touch with nature. I am not blaming or looking down on any of the guests for their behavior, few people stop and think about how disconnected they are to their external environment or even care. I got to the point where I didn’t care if I didn’t have power, internet, hot water, social media, and mindless conversations about reality TV. I became aware of my growth and how I became closer to my environment. I loved being disconnected or connected depending how you looked at it. The western world luxuries that I thought were important became less important and it felt great.

As my summer was coming to an end, I started thinking how do I continue this disconnect/connection when I get back to New York? Is it even possible? I will be the outsider in that environment. Of course some things like clean water, clean streets, and healthcare I will welcome back with open arms, but how do I get my friends to disconnect from social media and connect with me on a personal face to face connection? These are the things I struggle with. I will continue to decrease the amount of time I spend on the net and watching TV. Not having electricity in Haiti is not as a big deal to the locals because they are accustomed to it, but in the states, it’s a big problem if the power goes out for a few hours, days, the end result, people get fired. After this experience, I won’t be bothered as much. I have been reminded and temporarily life in the Haitian culture where electricity is not always working, and the internet is always goes in and out. The beauty of my experience resided within the human to human connection, and the luxury was embedded in the person to person conversations, and external environment.

 

 

 

Three Stages of travel

Every year, you make plans to travel, and some how at the last-minute you have a deadline that you must meet or one parent has to work on that particular weekend. What good is it killing yourself for a job that can’t give you week of vacation to relax? Sounds like you need better work life balance. Well lets take a look at three ages of travel.

The first being traveling while you are young, wild, and free. Ladies and gentlemen, these are the days of your youth (14yrs -29yrs old) or whenever you decide to get married. This is assuming that you don’t have any kids and you are not married. You get to wake up late, party, and get a sense of who you are. This is the time you backpack around the world, go on crazy road trips with your friends, and study abroad. Just be young! You have the next 40-60yrs to work assuming your time is not cut short on this beautiful planet. If you are not enjoying your youth it’s about time you start!

The second part of traveling is family related. Some of you are fortunate enough to have family vacations. Maybe it’s just you and your dad camping somewhere or going on a road trip to see some historical sites. Family vacations are great aren’t they? At this point, you are married with kids, maybe both parents are working, and you just don’t have time to travel.  Depending on where you are career wise, family related vacations could be expensive? I’m guessing that’s what’s going on in your head. Well spend a little, there’s nothing wrong with taking the time to experience the world. If you budget correctly, you can manage one big vacation a year. Open a separate account and take some money out of your paycheck and put it towards an account for vacation purposes. If you are the type of person that keeps waiting for your kids to get older to go on that special vacation, your kids could grow up not wanting to hang out with you because they have their own friends and plans. You know how teenagers are! Even worse, they might get into the cycle of all work and no play! Remember, these are the years, that you can have an impact on the way your child see’s the world. Instead of reading stories or watching reality TV of other families and their adventures, start your own. Experience another culture and see how other people live. It’s an experience that pays itself.

The third type of traveling is during that retirement age. For the last 40 to 60yrs, you’ve been working hard and putting money in your 401K. At this point you’ve done the young wild and free travel, the family trips, and now its just you and the spouse.  You spend this time exploring the Sistine Chapel, looking at fine art, playing golf in Indonesia. You are older and have a better appreciation of such things. You’ve worked hard your whole life, and now you want to slow down and watch the birds and the bees.

Is this seat taken?

Have you ever used public during rush hour? Or seen a movie on opening night? Went to the bar with a few friends? By now you’ve probably figured out where I am going with this. I find it odd when I’m riding the train to see people standing even though there are plenty of seats available. Why is it so awkward to ask someone to move over? The question is simple enough. Is this seat taken? May I sit down?
I’ve always wondered why people would rather stand than ask someone to move over so they can sit down. There are plenty of seats on the train. I look around and I see a lot of empty seats. You figure someone would be bold enough to ask a fellow citizen to slide over, but I’m going to guess that 7 out of 10 times that doesn’t happen. Even as I am riding the train to Huntington, the same people who were standing are still standing. But as soon as we stop at a major destination like Jamaica, seats clear and the people standing finally sit down. I for one am too tired to stand so I’ll ask someone to move over.
These days most people are too busy playing with their cell phone to even notice what other people are doing on the train. With that being said, I still wonder why people don’t ask fellow passengers to slide over. I don’t want to put the blame on technology because this is something that existed prior to cell phones and tablets. When I was an undergrad in college, I remember lots of people signing up to take public speaking classes and I remember reading that public speaking was one of the biggest fears for most people. Could this be a reason that people don’t ask strangers to slide over or ask if the seat is taken?
While riding the train, I decided to take a picture of what I am now calling “The Situation”. As I took the picture, the person sitting next to me said ,”this train can’t be that interesting.” I replied, “I am going to blog about why people don’t simply ask strangers to slide over  so they can sit.” We both laughed and he admitted that he was one of those people. He brought up an interesting point, the distance that someone has to travel can decide whether they will ask a passenger to sit down. Since I was going to Huntington, there was no way I was going to stand for over an hour, but if someone is traveling to Woodside from Penn Station, they might not mind standing for 5 minutes.
To all the people who would rather stand than ask someone to slide over, the trains are only going to get more crowded. The population is going to increase. More people will take the trains and other forms of public transportation. Don’t be afraid to ask if the seat is taken. You never know who you will meet and what conversation you can have with the person sitting next to you. Sit down, be courteous, introduce yourself, and enjoy the  ride. The person sitting next to you could one day save your life.
Long Island Railroad

10 common mistakes people make while on vacation

10 common mistakes people make while on vacation

Next time you plan on traveling, I hope you can avoid these 10 common mistakes people make while on vacation.

Only staying at the resort

Part of the fun of vacationing is of course relaxing and to some people that means sleeping. But remember that you are on vacation. You’re not in your home town or city. Take the time to explore the area. Go on trips that are not part of the resort package. A vacation should be an adventure.

Not having a local number

Having a local number gives you the opportunity to contact people who you meet during your vacation. It reduces  paying international rates for using your phone. Phones that are GSM can be jail broken and used in any country. All you have to do is purchase a sim card and you’re in business.

Not budgeting correctly

The fun part of being on vacation is being able to shop, do excursions, hop from hostel to hostel, or road trips to different parts of the country. Many people make the mistake of spending all their money in the first few days of their trip. The excitement of being somewhere new gets to them and they just purchase everything in sight. Resist the urge to do so. Set a daily spending budget and don’t over spend.

Not trying new stuff

Don’t go on vacation to do the same boring stuff that you would normally do at home. Try eating at local restaurants. Get a feel for the lifestyle at your vacation destination. Leave the fast food back at home and dine out or take cooking lessons. Go hiking, long bike rides, an excursion, deep sea diving, a local club. Don’t be that person that travels somewhere new just to do the same old stuff. Dare to have fun.

Bocas Del Toro

Not having copies of your passport

If you are visiting a foreign country it’s very important that you carry around photo identification. A great idea is to make multiple laminated copies of your passport to carry around. Leave a copy of your travel plan’s with someone back home and inform the U.S Embassy of your travels. Passports are very important so it’s unwise to walk around with the original copy in-case of theft or loss.

Not informing the bank that you will be on vacation

A few days before you actually go on your trip, make sure you contact your bank and let them know exactly the length of your trip and countries you will visit. This allows them the opportunity to monitor your activities for fraud.

Not printing directions to the hotel/hostel/resort

If you are going to a country where the main language is not your own and you are not familiar with the destination, print out directions in that foreign language. This way you won’t spend your time trying to figure out directions or trying to translate.

Failing to appreciate the hard work of the staff at the hotels/hostels/resorts

Remember that while you are on vacation or holiday, there are people working hard to keep you happy. Make sure you appreciate what they do for you. If you are staying at an all-inclusive resort or cruise you can order more food if the meal doesn’t taste right. Relax and have a good time.

Visiting the same place repeatedly

The world is too big to be visiting the same place over and over again. Try someplace new. Life is an adventure. Dare to explore. Instead of taking the same trips to the same resort, go on a safari adventure in a new country. Try not to repeat traveling to the same place, after a while, it becomes boring because you’ve discovered everything.

Failing to bargain

Whether it’s with a food vendor or souvenir shops, don’t be afraid to bargain for the best deals. If it’s the off-season, the vendors are usually trying to make money. It will be to your advantage to get the lowest price possible. Most things are negotiable, don’t be afraid and most of all don’t be afraid to walk away if the deal is not what you expected.

Bocas del Toro

Tips to traveling alone

A lot of my traveling is done on my own whether it be international or domestic. People always ask me how do I it and I tell them it’s easy. Here are a few steps that you can take to be comfortable with traveling by yourself.

If you are traveling in a country where the primary language is not fluent to you, take a few weeks or a month to familiarize yourself with the basics, like hello, direction, ordering food or room accommodation. Think about the conversations you have everyday.

If you are using a program or dictionary to learn a foreign language and you can’t find someone to practice with, practice with yourself. Talk to yourself, everyone does it anyway. Whether it’s mentally thinking the words or verbally saying them.

To get comfortable with the idea of traveling alone, start out by going to see a movie by yourself. This will help you start to lose the feeling of insecurity. Don’t worry about what people are saying about you. Once you’ve seen a few movies, the next step is going to dinner by yourself a few times and enjoying your own company. This will add a whole new level of self-identity and self-worth to your life. If you can handle that, go to a bar, club, or lounge. Ask people to dance, talk to strangers, see how that makes you feel. At this point you should be very secure with yourself.

The first two or three nights of my trips I always stay in hostels. They are cheap and usually as good as some hotels. If it’s your first time using a hostel, make sure you book one that’s highly rated. The benefit of staying at a hostel is you will meet lots of people traveling alone or with a group. If you notice them speaking the same language as you, just chat with them. The fact that you both are travelers gives you something in common. Hostels are a great way to make friends. I’ve had some of my greatest travel experiences with people who I’ve met staying at hostels.

Get a GSM phone that’s unlocked and buy a sim-card  so you can have a local number. This is great because it makes you more accessible and you can contact people who you meet without worrying about overseas charges.

Don’t walk around with large sums of money. It’s always good to carry just enough money to do what it is you came to do. Have an international debit or credit card that doesn’t have foreign exchange fee’s. There are plenty of them. Always keep a separate bank account with small dollar amounts just in case.

Go to tourist markets and observe what’s going on. Look at the interactions between the foreigners and locals. Don’t buy anything. Get an idea of the environment. Let your senses take over and enjoy where you are. Take mental notes of the prices. Learn to bargain and learn to walk away from a deal.

Talk to strangers but use common sense. Talk to people who you notice speaks the same language as you.

Bring a camera, notepad, computer, extra batteries, and external hard drive to save all your pictures. A great app and software to download is Dropbox because you can save your files and share them with anyone who uses it anywhere in the world. If your computer crashes and you’ve already saved your files on Dropbox, you will be able to reach them.

Once you are done with the tourists locations, visit non tourist places to get a feel for the real culture. Get a feel for the people who live there and who are not in the resort areas. See what day-to-day life is. This is all part of investing yourself in the culture. You will see that it makes you a better traveler because you are strengthening skills you already have.

Invest yourself in the culture. Don’t eat or go to places that you would normally go to at home. Locals love it when you make an effort to try their food and speak the language. Remember you are on vacation but more importantly a cultural experience to find out more about yourself. So eat what the locals eat. A fellow traveler by name of Shaahidah also said that traveling alone also gives you a sense of inner peace and good time to meditate.

Be grateful that you have the opportunity to travel. Some people never get that chance. Your experiences are your own, no one will ever appreciate them as much as you. Once you’ve down enough traveling and investing yourself in the culture, traveling will become addicting and you won’t even care that you are traveling alone. At this point, you will have met some incredible people who made your experience worthwhile.

 

Traveling alone tips  traveling alone tips traveling alone tips

 

No Hustle, No Money

One thing that I’ve learned from traveling is that everyone has a hustle (making money). If you are a farmer, you better be a great seller, and negotiator in order to get your produce to the masses. All the streets are packed with people trying to sell goods to local citizens or foreigners. It’s a way of living. If you’ve ever seen the movie “slum dog millionaire” you will get a good understanding of the hustle that I am referring to. If you are a seasoned traveler, you will understand what I am referring to.

Streets are filled with moms displaying their kids to foreigners in order to get pocket change, hoping that the kids make the foreigners feel guilty about what they are seeing. Meat is being sold on every corner on a grill, or meat on a stick. As you walk up random streets to Kabwa you will notice, people on the side of the road with ice boxes, selling beer and other drinks. Fruit stands are everywhere, people are balancing water, meat, soda, cell phones, on their head. It’s a balancing skill that they’ve developed and mastered since being a kid. Passed down from family member to family member.

Kids on motorbikes are providing rides to locals and foreigners alike for a few US dollars. One thing I’ve learned is at night, in busy areas, it better to take a motorbike than it is to get in a taxi. Of course this changes by location but from what I’ve seen, you travel faster through motorbikes because they can escape the traffic.

When your stopped at the traffic light some old man or young person is trying to clean your car window or knocking at the door hoping to get some loose change to help them make it through the day.

But one of the downfalls of that hustle to maintain is prostitution, young females/males, either by choice or by threats, are thrown into this dangerous world. Giving up their body to make a few dollars. Money either goes to a pimp or to serve their family. By the time they are in their late thirties, they’ve been with hundreds and sometimes thousands of customers. Its a never ending cycle, you will find prostitution, especially the illegal ones, in almost every corner of the globe. Because its a huge money maker, I seriously doubt it will ever end.

One thing I implore you is to recognize when you are being hustled yourself. Take precautions to protect yourself and enjoy your next trip.

International Checklist

International Checklist

1. Passport (with more than 6 months left until it expires). Some countries will not let you visit if your passport is about to expire. Make copies of your I.D, passport, bank records, travel schedule, etc. and leave one copy with an emergency contact and take the other with you if you lose your information.

2. Visa (some countries require a visa before you can enter) others give you a visa on arrival.

3. Register with your embassy. When you register with you embassy it gives them a count of how many of their citizens are abroad in case of a natural disaster or attacks on foreigners.

4. Tickets (train, plane, boat)

5. A small travel bag that has toothpaste, toothbrush, floss, nail clippers

6. Pocket size card of medical records in case you require special care

7. A backpack so you can carry items in your bag without people knowing what you have. I suggest you get a shoulder messenger bag in order to keep your eye on it at all times. When you carry a backpack, it’s hard to see whose walking behind you or if your backpack is being unzipped without your knowledge. A common trick of thieves is to have one person bump into you while the other thief unzips or rips your backpack with a knife (these thieves are very good at what they do) but if you have a messenger bag, you can keep your hands on your bag the entire time.

8. Emergency numbers of police, ambulance, or your embassy

9. A voltage converter. Most countries outside of the United States of America use 220V or higher. U.S.A uses 110v & 120v. A voltage converter allows you to change the voltage from 220v to 110v or 120v. This is a called a step down converter. You can also change the voltage from 110v to 220v. This is called a step up converter. When you purchase a converter, it usually has the step up and step down options. A voltage converter is necessary because if the wrong voltage is inputted or outputted, your electronic device may overheat and blow up. In some cases, you can cause a fire.

voltage converter2

10. Wall outlet converter. Wall outlets are different depending on the country you are visiting. It is important to carry a universal adapter in your travel bag so you can plug-in your device to any outlet. A voltage converter is different from an adapter because an adapter merely allows you to plug-in our device. It does not affect the voltage power of your device.

adapter2 adapter

11. A way to contact your loved ones (Skype, Google Voice, Social media, international phone, magic jack, what’s app (App that allows you to contact anyone in any country that has the app. All you need is to download the app and the country code of the telephone number you want to reach. App works with 3G or higher and Wi-Fi)

12. Open an account with bank that has no international or domestic bank fee’s (Schwab, ally bank) are two that I know of far and they great customer service. I remember losing my card in Singapore and they sent me a new one within 3 days.

13. Notify your bank that you will be traveling abroad so they don’t cancel your purchases or freeze your account. Some banks may have agreements with ATM companies and as a result you will not get charged. Check the back of your bank cards for names such as Interlink, Plus, or Cirrus. Some ATM’s will be marked with those common names, if so; your bank might have an agreement with those ATM companies. Check with your bank, most of this information can be found at the bank website.

14. Notify your insurance company that you will be traveling abroad. Get a list of what they will cover for health reasons. Some insurance companies will not cover you if you get hurt overseas.

15. A packed suitcase or carry-on bag

16. A travel log on a notepad

17. A net book computer or tablet with Wi-Fi (better to travel light)

18. A smart phone with Wi-Fi

19. International drivers license (AAA usually offers an international license for a small price)

20. Get ready to have a great time!

 

Listed above are a few items that I thought were important to do or have. If you know of anything else that I should put on the list, please let me know and I will update this article. Pictures in this article were taken from Bing and Google.com. Featured picture is from a trip to Bali Indonesia. Follow this blog and pass it on to your friends.

 

 

Avoid being scammed on Airbnb

Avoid being scammed on Airbnb

Twas the week before New Year’s and the consensus was out “we’re not doing the bar crawl madness lets rent us a house!” no pushing, no shoving, no potential bar fights. No cramped crowded spaces just some close friends and I.

What better way to ring in the New Year than a prime view of the ball drop from a penthouse overlooking the NYC skyline. Imagine with me if  you will; champagne, confetti, Ciroc and sexy people just being sexy  people, the kinda party you see in commercials and think man I want to fly out on my private jet and sip a tasty beverage underneath a palm tree having irreverent fun …but since I’m not P.Diddy and I don’t have that bank roll, I settled for an upscale yet affordable apartment I found on Airbnb.com.

About a month ago I discovered Airbnb.com though an associate of mine, who raved about the great alternative to hotels. Well this week I decided to explore the site and I was pleasantly surprised and intrigued to see the great options and affordable prices. After conferring with my friends and some debate we all settled on a, for lack of a better term, perfect unit entitled “COMFORT OF HIGH END AWAIT YOU HERE”. We looked over the pictures read the landlord policy we decided that this was a great fit, close to Times Square and other fun attractions we decide to contact the host and book this steal! Well this is where things got a little bit sticky. After emailing the host through the Airbnb site she requested that we exchange personal emails, which I did since this was my first time on this site and I figured maybe this is how it works. She then proceeded to tell me the rates and etc. The deal was almost sealed but a red flag was flown when she wanted me to use Money Gram or Western Union as opposed to a credit card or PayPal service to pay the fees. After closer review a few more red flags popped up.

The warning signs on Airbnb

  • The place was being rented out for $200 a night, which was not too bad
  • They didn’t care about extra guest, like no limit if this was my house I would care
  • The pictures on the site did not look like a typical New York City skyline try to have an idea of what the area looks like…Google the address just to be safe
  • The pictures looked like a computerized 3D model or something from an architectural design used to sell to potential clients
  • The pixels on the images looked fake (even cheap point and shoot cameras take better pictures
  • The host had no reviews or friends
  • The host wanted us to send money via Money gram or Western Union
  • The host wanted to do business outside of the Airbnb site which is against Airbnb policy

Let’s just say we are a bit more trusting because it’s the holiday season and couldn’t fathom someone trying to rip us off, so we went against our better judgment and put a hold on the apartment. That’s when the host wanted our contact information and a $600 deposit to be sent via Money Gram or Western Union. For those of you who’ve done business online, most places use PayPal, credit card, debit card, and other certified online payments. Never send cash! You want to use certified payments because those can be easily tracked by your bank or Credit Card Company and if a transaction goes south getting a refund is much easier. In case you need to file a police report; you can show evidence that you actually made payments to that person or organization. When doing business online, it’s best to use a credit card.

Below is the message we received from the host on Airbnb:

Hi Jane Doe,

Okay here is the basic information about the apartment that you should
know……….
The Address of the Apartment is xxx West 4xrd Street, New York, NY, the
apartment is on the 5th floor of elevator building with 24/7 concierge
and doorman service. The apartment is available for your desire dates
Dec 30 – Jan 01? The rental fee for 2nights is $400 (@200 a night)
Wi-Fi with free internet wireless is provided. The unit also have
laundry facilities, washer and dryer ready for use, all other utilities
such electricity, water and others has been included in the rental fee.
1) Living room couch which includes a pull out sofa for sleep.
2) 2 bedrooms, sleeps maximum of seven people
Bedroom 1 – 1 queen,
Bedroom 2 – queen . Bed sheets are provided.
Bedroom 3 has two twin beds which can be made into a queen
size upon your request.
3) 2 bathroom(s) ,
Bathroom 1 – Toilet, Combination Tub/Shower,
Bathroom 2 – Toilet, Shower. Towels and linens provided
4) New kitchen includes microwave, full size oven,
toaster, coffee maker and cooking utensils to satisfy the most
discriminating gourmet chef. Elegant living and dining area appointed
with large flat-screen TV and excellent music system, including dining
area, seating for 6 people.
If you are contented with the amenities of the apartment you can
contact us to book the apartment now. Below is the requirement for
securing the apartment,
The rental fee = $400
Damage security deposit = $200 (Fully Refundable on your
Departure day)
You are to Pay = $600 To affirmed your booking reservation dates in
advance…
Payment Method Via: Secure Money Gram OR Western Union Transfer..
Kindly get back to us for the booking rental agreement form if you are
able to meet the requirement of reserving this awesome home away from
home apartment.
The apartment is centrally located. Nearby you’ll find the Hudson
Theater, Foxwoods Theater, Times square, Bryant park, Central park,
Empire Building, , world class Restaurants and the best bookstores and
coffee shops in all of New York . The wonderful thing about Manhattan
its history and the world class amenities in it for pleasuring
travelers. You can walk to many attractions as you wishes.

Best Regards,
Sandra and Stephen.

After we decided to channel Sherlock Holmes and not inspector gadget; we contacted Airbnb and they sent us this beautiful reply:

Marie E, Dec 21 08:21 (PST):
Hello Jane Doe,
Thanks again for calling Airbnb. It was my pleasure to assist you today. I have retracted your reservation request with Sandra L.We have released the hold on your visa for 224.00, and the funds will be available shortly. I would advise you not to contact this host again, or any other host that asks you to send them money directly, or contact them offsite.Our guidelines for using Airbnb: We require all contact between hosts and potential guests to be handled on the site before a reservation has taken place to maintain your privacy, help provide customer support,and adhere to the Airbnb Terms of Use. This means that you should not exchange addresses, websites, email addresses, or telephone numbers before having an accepted reservation. Read more about why it’s necessary to keep your communication and transactions on our site:
www.airbnb.com/help/question/209
For your convenience, you can take advantage of our Voice Connect feature, which enables a host to call potential guests directly through the website without revealing personal contact information to either party. Look for it in our FAQs! If you have any more questions, let us know.

Best regards,
Marie E


So in closing If at any time, you do not feel comfortable booking online, please contact the company who’s offering the services to make sure their postings are legitimate. Do not get caught up in the moment of having a beautiful place to hang out with a few friends just to end up being a victim of a scam or potential scam. Take everything you see online with a grain of salt. Protect yourself and remember all that glitters is not always for rent.

I would like to thank Airbnb for their quick response and making sure that their customers are satisfied. Airbnb has specific guidelines to help its hosts and customers protect themselves. Please familiarize yourself with them. This incident did not deter us from using Airbnb. Fraudulent people are everywhere, the purpose of this article is to teach you some warning signs, for you to learn to trust your instincts and always ask questions.

The best time to travel!

The best time to travel is now! Like right now! Read my article on the international checklist and drive to the nearest airport and get on the next international flight. Be spontaneous! Well at least once you are done reading this article you can go on your merry way.

There are many reasons why people don’t get out of their comfort zone and see the world or even the next state. But the worse excuse is “I’m Busy.” The last time I checked, we only had one life to live, so why waste that time being busy and not taking the time to explore this beautiful world? Now, I’m not saying you use every bit of your time traveling the world (but if you have the money for it, do it) but for the rest of us who are working a 9am-5pm or longer, ask yourself this question? When was the last time you took the time to go visit an aunt, uncle, cousin, sister, or best friend in the next town or the next country? When was the last time you and your spouse went somewhere together and just enjoyed where you are? No work deadlines, no annoying family members, insert any distraction in that sentence. The point is, when was the last time you took a break?

Some of us go through life thinking that we have an abundance of time and tomorrow is promised. When in actuality, it’s not promised. From the time you were born, your time on Earth started ticking till the day you meet your maker. I am not trying to be dramatic. Just putting things in perspective.

As a society, we need to learn to take mini vacations. You don’t have to wait till you’re retired to enjoy the good life. Enjoy it as you go. You don’t need to go around the board once to collect $200. Traveling gives you a different perspective on life that you can’t get behind a cash register or working in a cubicle. I’ve made it a personal goal to visit at least one new country every year. So far I’ve traveled to many parts of South East Asia and China and that in it’s self is a life changing experience.