Itinerary Changes (or Adventures With Airbnb)

A future view

Brett and I had created what we thought was a perfect itinerary for most of the first year of our upcoming travels: three months in Strasbourg, eight weeks in Oxford followed by eight weeks in Bath. From there we’d head back to London to fly to Tokyo for a 90-day stay.

We found a wonderful, affordable apartment in Strasbourg, submitted our request and were quickly approved. We found another great, affordable flat in Oxford, submitted our request and were quickly approved.

And then we started looking in Bath and things didn’t go so well.

First, rentals in Bath are expensive. Very expensive. Most of what we found for our dates was over our monthly lodging budget, but we eventually found a lovely apartment that we could afford and that had the amenities we were looking for. The reviews for the place were amazing, and the dates we wanted for next year were available, so we submitted our request. Airbnb hosts are required to respond within 24 hours, and the next day we received a denial with a short note saying they would have to check with the owners to see whether they would agree to a long-term stay (even though it clearly stated in the amenities that long-term stays of over 28 days are allowed). Hmmm. That was a week ago and we have heard nothing back from the owners or otherwise.

Two days after the denial, we submitted a second request for another place. It was the same price, the dates were available, etc. but we were quickly denied with a somewhat curt note from the owner saying she “really doesn’t like to do long-term stays” even though in amenities it had once again stated that the lodging was suitable for stays of over 28 days. Although the calendar was open for our dates, she wrote “I have no idea what I want to do next year.”

We were confused. Were we applying too early? Was it something we said? Both of our hosts in Strasbourg and Oxford said they had enjoyed our introduction and were looking forward to meeting us. We’ve never been rejected before and these two shook us.

Brett and I decided that while we may have wanted to go to Bath, maybe Bath didn’t want us. So, we talked some more and eventually decided to look for a place in Derbyshire. We could save enough staying there that we could afford a car rental for a month and be able to see more of northern England. Some of my ancestors come from Derbyshire, but others come from near the Lake District (Barrow-in-Furness), and I have wanted to visit those places.

The cottage outside of Stoke-on-Trent

We found a delightful, affordable cottage to rent outside of Stoke-on-Trent, wrote to the owner, and received a lovely note, but also another denial! This time however it wasn’t us – she was in the process of selling the cottage! The owner/host assured us that the new owners intended to keep it as an Airbnb, but from past experience we’ve learned that there’s a more than better chance that any new owner will be raising the rates. So, we started over again and looked at other rentals in the area, but didn’t see anything that either interested us or fit our needs or budget.

Feeling very discouraged, we had a long discussion about where else we might go after Oxford. We looked over a map of England, checked out a few places, but either couldn’t imagine an eight-week stay in some or couldn’t find lodging that fit our budget or had the amenities we wanted (or we honestly didn’t like the location or the look of some of the rentals).

And then Edinburgh surprisingly came up. We had loved our short visit there in 2019, and only scratched the surface of all there was to see and do, but we had pushed a return visit down the list to “later.” We started looking at Airbnb rentals in the city and were surprised to find several in Old Town that not only had everything we were looking for but at prices that easily fit our budget. Pictures were poured over, reviews were read, prices and locations were compared, and last night we crossed our fingers and sent off another request.

We heard back in less than 10 minutes that we had been accepted! We’re going back to Edinburgh!

We have reserved a beautiful two-bedroom apartment just off the Royal Mile, about halfway between Edinburgh Castle and Holyrood Castle. We’re close to the train station, and know from our earlier visit how easy it is to get around the city from where we’ll be – it’s a superb location. The apartment has every amenity we require and then some (it even has a window seat overlooking the cobbled street below), and both the apartment and the host received five-star reviews. Maybe best of all is that we’ll be paying nearly $1500 -$1800 less than what a rental would have cost in Bath.

Edinburgh may not have been the destination we had originally planned, but we are surprised to be feeling even more excited about a return to Scotland than we were about Bath or Derbyshire. Our plans have changed, but somehow things turned out better than we expected.

28 thoughts on “Itinerary Changes (or Adventures With Airbnb)

  1. What a fortuitous set of events! Honestly, I’m so itchy for foreign travel it’s almost painful to read about your wonderful plans, LOL. (I bounce between loving our coastal home and it’s location, vs. wanting to just sell it all and hit the road!)

    Edinburgh sounds just wonderful. Scotland is high on our list of where to go next, and hopefully we will get there sooner rather than later. If the pandemic recedes, we’d like to do Scotland and Iceland in 2023, since 2022 is already focused on getting to Germany to see our granddaughters.

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    1. LOL – we feel the same way: love it here, but can’t wait to get out and hit the road! With all the current craziness going on, we are looking forward to being out of the U.S. for a while.

      We are so excited about this change, more than we imagined, and about having the time to see more of Scotland. We also love that Scotland has not messed around when it comes to the pandemic – we feel very safe going there.

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  2. I’m so sorry to hear about Bath, it’s such a lovely city honestly (I’m biased, I live very close!). It is hideous to try and rent or buy in though, even though all of the old houses are now flats, you’d think there’d be loads. However, Edinburgh is also lovely and you can drive to Bath within 2 hours from Oxford, so I’m sure you’ll get there eventually! Sounds like a wonderful trip.

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  3. It’s all for the best I’m sure. I love Scotland! We had something similar happen to us. We were trying to rent a large home on Nantucket for a family get together. It seemed like the whole island denied us. The same thing happened: it was open but they would not rent. They had regulars who may want it, they didn’t know what they were doing, etc. We switched to Maine and rented a lovely home. We were all very happy. The universe is just pointing you in a new direction. Enjoy Scotland. It’s my favorite country and the people are so friendly.

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    1. We were so surprised and shocked to be turned down by both places in Bath since both said long-term stays were allowed and their calendars were open. I did some reading into whether we were booking too early, but many hosts said they love getting early reservations to help them plan their year (and many said they like long reservations too). Oh well – we feel like we came out ahead – almost can’t believe this time next year we’ll be in Scotland!

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  4. Frustrating at first but I think a win. You’ll be able to use the funds to do quite a bit of travel out of Edinburgh. Travel around the UK is so expensive but you can consider money saved from the accommodation. And you can do lots of walks around Edinburgh and travel down to Yorkshire and other northern places.

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    1. Oh boy was this round frustrating! I kept wondering why, if you don’t want to book so far out, you keep your calendar open (lots of rentals don’t)? And why say you accept long-term rentals if you actually don’t want to?

      I almost can’t believe we’ll be on the Royal Mile. It’s crowded with tourists but such a great central location for walking around the city. We are already planning a week’s getaway to Inverness and Glasgow, and are looking at doing a one-day “bespoke” tour up into the highlands. Fife, St. Andrews, and other nearby areas also beckon. I think Yorkshire will be its own stay in the future.

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      1. Being in. Busy spot with be a good contrast to a village stay. And there’s always something to look at. People-watching will be fun if it is too wet or you’re too tired go out. Yorkshire will be one of my future places to stay.

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      2. One of the joys of a long stay is that the need to go-go-go is removed from the equation – there’s time to sit still for a day of two, people watch, read a book, and rejuvenate. That window seat is what sold us on this apartment (and the dishwasher, an added bonus) – I can’t wait to sit up there and watch the action below! Also a great way to check the weather and what kind of outerwear is needed.

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      3. Yes to all you’ve said. It’s not as if you’re “travelling” as a tourist who has to get around to “see and tick things off”. These are your homes. You’re more like a temporary migrant – living in new places.

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  5. Isn’t it interesting how things work out sometimes? Sounds like this worked out perfectly for you. And isn’t it wonderful that you are able to change your itinerary as you need and not be bound to something you may not like as well!

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    1. This was a complete but very happy surprise, and we can’t get over how excited we are feeling about how things turned out. Everything came together including location and price.

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  6. I was born and brought up in Edinburgh so hope you have a lovely stay there. What time of year will you be there? From Edinburgh you can easily explore Fife (think Falkland Palace and St Andrews and all the little coastal villages), and the train journey up to Aberdeen is worth doing (and the Granite City has a lot of history to explore).

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    1. We hated to leave from out last visit as there was so much we wanted to see and do but didn’t have the time. We’ll be there for the months October and November (I read somewhere once that October is the month with the least amount of rainfall – is that true?). We visited in November before – it was cool but not too cold yet – hopefully we’ll get lucky again.

      Thank you for the suggestions of places to visit. Fife and St. Andrews are already on our radar, but hadn’t thought of going up to Aberdeen. We’re going to do a week’s getaway to Inverness and Glasgow; if Aberdeen is on the way (my Scotland geography is not what it should be) we include it as well.

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      1. Aberdeen is on the east coast, up from Edinburgh, so not near Inverness (though the road between the two is stunning). Hope you enjoy your trip! And look forward to seeing pictures of ‘ma hame toon’ !

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      2. I think this might be one of the few occasions where we rent a car, so we can make the drive up there. It would make a lovely overnight getaway trip.

        LOL – the Scottish accent is lovely to listen to, but is the most difficult accent for me to understand. If I did not know you were from Edinburgh I would have had no idea what those last three words meant. The Glasgow accent, along with Hawaiian pidgin, were the only accents/dialogs worldwide to stump Siri!

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  7. England is way suffering right now according to my daughter’s best friend in Sheffield. Maybe that is why people can’t wrap their minds around a long stay? The heat, the gas, the food…all issues for my daughter’s friend. She bought sweaters and a scooter to get to her position at the University,
    It seems Scotland has skirted the issues. I am thrilled for you. My daughter and son in law are planning a month with their kids there in 18 months. They loved it all…from the people to the places. I thought most of my ancestry was from England- but it turns out we are Scots! I wish I could be in your back pocket for the trip.

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    1. We just have no idea what was going on with denials in Bath, especially since our Oxford request was accepted so quickly and easily. Maybe they make more money from shorter rentals versus long stays? I have no idea. We won’t be driving while we’re there – we plan to use local public transportation and trains between destinations.

      Scotland got serious about the pandemic from the start – we feel very safe going there. We love our previous three days there and can’t get over how excited we are now to know we’re going back.

      My maternal grandmother’s family roots are both English and Scots (from a byline of the MacDonald clan). I know very little though about where they came from and when they arrived in the U.S. The British ancestors have been easier to figure out.

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  8. I have followed your blog since the Cotswald days so am enjoying the travel planning for next year. Edinburgh will be a great base. Glasgow is less than an hour away so lots of opportunities to explore on day trips. When you visit Inverness think about a side trip to Lewis and Harris. We joined a 3 day tour, the Outer Hebrides is very different place to visit. Good luck with your travel planning, your optimistic spirits give me hope for the future.

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    1. First, thank you for sticking around and reading for so long! I appreciate it so much.

      Thank you for the tip on visiting the Outer Hebrides – it will definitely be considered. The train that comes up from London goes all the way to Inverness, so we’re hoping to do a few days up there then head down to Glasgow for a few days, a doable trip within our two month stay.

      I had such a nice note from the owner/host of our Edinburgh apartment – he too is just getting started again with travel and how exciting that feels. Europeans have been much better than here in the U.S. about vaccinated and taking other safety measures. They will be strict with us while we’re there, but we are vaccinated, masked, and ready!

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  9. “Blessed are the flexible” is a family motto!

    Even though you’ll be farther north than the Cotswolds so the days will be even shorter, I’m thinking it won’t bother you as much since you’ll be in the middle of a city with lots more to do. Exciting!

    It sounds like Europe is in for a hard winter and even more so in England. Deustche News (dw.com), The German version of NPR, reported that European energy costs have risen 670% this year, government stockpiles of energy are extremely low, energy production hasn’t returned to pre-pandemic levels, EU has new climate change regulations, China is aggressively buying energy and driving up costs, speculation and reliance on Russian energy. It is like a perfect storm.

    Combine this with the Brexit issues regarding truck drivers, imported foods, etc. and England is experiencing pain.

    Here’s a link to a DW YouTube report on some of the energy issues: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qTU9oBRLoew&t=86s

    And a link to the British trucking issue which impacts food shortage: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TeOvKxmBdFc

    I’m wondering if this is why the Bath locations weren’t ready to commit a year out. I totally agree with you though that change their availability calendars to save everyone frustration.

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    1. I am beginning to wonder the same thing, Libby, about those Bath rentals. Something was going on. We have been reading about the issues that have come along with Brexit and are preparing ourselves to have a very different experience when it comes to shopping, dining out, ticket prices, etc. We plan on doing lots and lots of walking while we’re in the UK.

      One of the benefits for booking now is that we’ve locked in the current prices. They may have to go up in the coming year, but we are safe and happy with what we paid now. Lodging prices in Bath were outrageous.

      Back in the day when I used to interview I almost always got asked for the two or three characteristics that made me a good teacher: 1) student focused; 2) organized; and 3) FLEXIBLE. Being flexible about plans has saved me more trouble than I can count, both then and now. There is nothing that can’t be changed and adapted to.

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  10. Changing plans is one of the perks of traveling on one’s own. For people traveling with a group, it is almost impossible to make any changes. Glad you found a better alternative. That window seat is priceless!

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    1. Brett and I are, if nothing else, flexible. We are so excited about getting to return to Edinburgh, and have the time this visit to get out and explore more of the country.

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  11. I spent a few days in Edinburgh during my trip to Scotland and it is one of my favorite places in the world. I felt very at home there the minute I arrived. I haven’t planned any travel yet, but this post has certainly sparked my interest! Can’t wait to hear about your trip.

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    1. We felt the same way, Nina – we loved every minute we spent in Edinburgh and were sad to leave because there was so much more to see and experience. We’re super excited about this unexpected change to our plans.

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