How to Find Cheap Airbnb Rentals Anywhere in the World

Note: If you don’t feel like reading the full article, the quick answer is: stay for a while somewhere, or about a month to get the outstanding deals. Ok, totally read the article now because doing so will enhance your mental state in a way that will enable you to read minds on Thursdays. 

I’m not a backpacker. I don’t hop from hostel to hostel living life on the extraordinarily cheap. On the other hand, I don’t have vast amounts of cash to throw away to 5-star resorts, herds of yaks (just for the hell of it), or small islands where the sand is cocaine and everyone is named Wanda. I’m not sure I’d want that anyway, except for the herd of yaks. That would be pretty rad. 

The life of the wandering ascetic is just not for me, and being a yak herd buyer is out of reach. Neither is wrong, it's just not part of my game plan. Plus, I’m lugging around my guitar in addition to 2 pieces of luggage.

So what to do?

Why, become an Airballer, that’s what. I’m not talking about a person who constantly misses the rim playing basketball, I’m talking about using Airbnb on the cheap for baller places anywhere in the world. I hope we colonize Mars soon, because I’ll totally be using Airbnb there too (note to Airbnb, you should probably start looking into this). 

What is Airbnb?

Airbnb is still surprisingly unknown to many people around the world. I find that nearly everywhere I go there are at least a couple people that I have to explain it to (with perhaps the exception of places like New York or San Francisco). So let’s get this out of the way right now. 

Here’s a quick summary: people rent out their places to you, and it’s all managed through the website or app. Hosts and guests alike are vetted and most places already have reviews available. This takes the guesswork out of whether or not the place is a complete dump (I'll speak to this a bit more later in the post). In the past you may have had the following experience. 

Husband: “Wow, honey, check out these photographs of this Motel 6. It says here that their beds are made out of real cloud dust. That’s gotta be soft. Also, a whole wall is an 8k TV!"

Wife: “Wow, babe, let’s book it and be happy there snuggling on cloud dust after we first Netflix and chill."

Husband: "Ohhh la la honey, and it won't even be Thursday."

2 months, 1 day, and 3 hours later

Husband: “Wow, babe, that hotel was the shittiest thing that’s happened to us since…well, ever. That was the single worst experience we’ve ever had, and I’m taking into consideration what happened in Portugal."

Wife: “……"

Husband: “I feel empty and and my soul has a dark tint to it now. Even the cockroaches looked severely depressed there, and they’re survivors ya know."

Wife: “I can’t talk about this now…in fact, let’s never talk about this ever again, lest our mithril strong marriage be jeopardized."

Husband: “Good call honey buns. Good call. I wish you'd stop using Lord of the Rings references, but whatever. I'm with you like Samwise."

You can avoid having these types of experiences by booking through Airbnb. I realize that now many places have reviews in place, but it's simply not so for many places around the world, especially in developing nations. 

Finding the Great Deals

Okay, now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk about how you can capitalize on finding the best deals out there on this pale blue dot.

The best way to get the best deal is to stay for at least a month somewhere.

I know that this is not feasible for many, but it’s awesome for a number of reasons:

  • You really have a chance to get to know an area and the culture. 
  • You have a home base while you travel to other parts of the area
  • The price is cut dramatically

When I was looking for a place in Costa Rica, I found a pretty nice apartment complex. The problem was that it was $50 per night, which was way outside of my budget. However, when I punched in dates to stay for a full month, the cost went down to $18 per night. Let’s put that into perspective. For around $550 I had an apartment a block from the beach to myself for a whole month. If I had chosen the shorter term stay route I would have paid the same amount for just 11 days. 

Was this an isolated incident? Nope, I did the same thing in Philippines. In fact, I’m writing this on a couch in a loft a couple blocks from Alona beach. I’m staying at Sanders Apartments, in the Loft. Initially I really wanted the Garden Home, which is the main level, incredibly spacious, blah blah, but it was already accounted for. The loft goes for $27 per night, with a 9 night minimum stay. Increase your time and suddenly the price per night is cut in half. 

Let's say I was staying for the required 9 days. This is what it looks like:

Screen Shot 2016-01-18 at 7.25.21 AM.png

If I extend it to a month, look how it magically goes down to about $14 a night. 

The reasons for this are pretty obvious. The host doesn't have to worry about bringing in people every few days, hiring a cleaner, a person to do the laundry, detectives to figure out why there's blood on the mirror spelling out "clean me rarrrrr."

I understand that a month in a foreign locale is a luxury not many can afford. I get it. I've spent my entire life believing that I could never do it, and there is no judgment coming from this guy. I consider myself extremely fortunate to be able to do this kind of thing. 

In the end, it's up to you regarding how you want things to pan out. I suppose I'm speaking mainly to a U.S. audience here, but consider a few things before you rule something like this completely out:

  • Is your job really that awesome? 
  • Can you work remotely?
  • Can you take a sabbatical?
  • How much do you pay in rent a month?
  • How much do you pay for gas or a car payment?
  • The stuff you do have, is it necessary or is it owned to meet some status quo expectation?
  • How long would it take to save up for something like this?
  • Would you like to do something like this but have fears that you're not acknowledging? i.e. what about health insurance and drug cartels and I saw that movie Hostel and that will happen to me!?!?! Ahhhhh!
  • What's the worst that could happen?

Anyway, if you really want to check out another country for a while, I believe it's doable, especially if you live and work in a developed nation. Of course, I don't know your particular situation, so it just may be a simple fact that right now there's no way this type of thing can happen. That's okay too. 

That's Great Jeremy, But I Just Want to Spend a Few Days in Portugal

No problem. You can still find effin’ great deals for just a few nights or whatever. It’s pretty intuitive on the site, but just slide that price scroller to the highest price point you want to pay and see what your options are. I like to use the map a lot too, but wish that I could make it bigger. 


Factors when determining where to stay

I’m a budget-minded solo traveler, so I can be pretty damn flexible when it comes to places to stay. That said, there are still some things I take into account before staying somewhere:

  1. Location: is the place located in the middle of a major drug cartel operation? Is it close to things I want to see, or close to transportation to see things I want to see? 
  2. Cost: does the cost of the place require that I go sell rockets for a year before I can afford it?
  3. What do previous Airballers have to say about the place? Do they love it? Maybe they loved it but offer some good tidbits in their review. For example, someone may leave a 5-star review for a place, but mention in the text that it actually takes 5 hours to get from the place to the beach, as opposed to 5 minutes as claimed by the host. Why would this happen? I dunno, maybe the host is in the middle of a drug cartel operation and is saying “write 5-star review like bear or I take shoes.” Or maybe the reviewer just absolutely loved the host, formed an eternal bond that can’t ever be broken, so wouldn’t dare think of leaving anything less than a 5-star review. It's definitely not perfect, and the following article explains the pitfalls of the current review experience: Why You Really Can’t Trust Airbnb Reviews At All
  4. What does my gut say? Sometimes my gut says “you ate the wrong thing son, now you gonna pay!” Other times it really helps my brain out. I’ll look at places and my brain will be like “Ah joie de vivre!, would you look at that, this is perfect in all ways. N'est-ce pas my friendly gut brain?" My gut will then quite blithely say “merde mother#cker, that place will end up breaking you in more ways than there are lawyers in America, and that figure is literally infinite.” Anyway, be careful because a small mammoth will sometimes come in disguised as your gut or your brain. He is the voice of fear and comfort mongering, and says things like “that looks dirty and people will try and sell you things and rip you off and get you to join their mafia cuz you’re white as plaster with a shiny bald head.” Don’t listen to that idiot. 

How the Hell do I Signup for this Magical Thing Called Airbnb. For I too would like to be an Airballer

Right here my friends, right here: I Want to Be an Airballer

Costa Rica 2 Weeks In

There is a lot going on! 

Before getting into the trip details, check this out:

1) I found extraordinarily awesome and cheap travel insurance via the website Squaremouth. It was only $193 for a year and is fairly comprehensive.

2) You can get a permanent address with US Global Mail or something similar like Scan Mailboxes. I went with US Global Mail. 

3) Before going to another country, I recommend you:

  • Find out if you need a vaccine
  • Determine the visa requirements
  • Find a place on Airbnb
  • Get a plane ticket after determining where you’ll be staying so you can hopefully fly to the nearest airport. This doesn’t always workout because you can often save a lot of cash by flying into a major international airport. 
  • Try to find a cheap-ass plane ticket
  • If the country you’re staying in has visa requirements and you need to show next country flight information (either return flight or flight to your next country) then get that next plane ticket. 
  • Print out your passport
  • Make sure you have transportation figured out
  • Ensure you’ll have cell service and Google Maps
  • Get Google Translate on your smartphone
  • Bring some ginger capsules with you for gastro-comfort if needed
  • Have credit cards/debit cards ideal for traveling. I use Charles Schwab and Etrade for ATM withdrawals (no fees), and Barclay/Chase travel cards for credit cards (again, no fees). 
    • No foreign transaction fees
    • No ATM fees
    • Earn some travel points while traveling
  • Call your credit card companies and make sure they know you will be traveling
  • Know the fundamental customs of the country you’re going to
    • What things are just completely rude?
    • What things are expected?
  • Know the crime level
  • Know at least a bit of the language spoken there (even if it’s just “please” and “thank you”)
  • Make sure there is coffee. If not, avoid at all costs. 

Okay, on with the details. 

On the flight there, the stewardess handed all of us documents to fill out for customs. This is expected when you’re flying into another country. What I didn’t expect was 2 documents, one of which I thought the stewardess called “family.” 

Word to the wise: you need both documents.

  • One is used to present to customs
  • The other is used to present to the people who check your bags before you’re allowed to exit the airport.

When I arrived at the airport I immediately went and pulled some cash from an ATM. DO THIS instead of using the currency exchange services; they will charge you for it. 

I stayed in San Jose the first night, but it was too late to explore, and to be brutally honest I’m not that interested in the city itself. It’s the rest of Costa Rica that I wanted to see. I took a shared shuttle to Playas Del Coco, and it’s ridiculously lush all around. Costa Rica is truly beautiful. 

Notes on transportation:

  • Public buses only take cash, there are no tickets that you can buy. I imagine you can purchase something in a fancier bus loaded with other foreigners, but I don’t mind being the only gringo on a public bus. It can get pretty crowded, fyi. 
  • Getting a rental car here is interesting. The first time I tried I found myself about 20 kilometers outside of the city walking along the highway to see if the rates were all the same. 

Here’s the story with that. 

I thought I’d struck gold. I found a great deal on Kayak to get a rental car for $1 per day. I took the bus up to get it, and found out that in Costa Rica you can expect the following 2 things just as much as you can expect death and taxes:

So instead I found out that I would have to put down between $900 to $3000 for the deposit, and pay the liability insurance. Okay, I was naive to think that I could get a rental for $1 per day, but it’s all good. I was determined to figure this rental situation out because I wanted to go wherever I wanted in the country, whenever I wanted to. 

That’s when I discovered Economy Car Rentals. They were able to offer comprehensive insurance for a decent price, and their deposit was only $750. Believe me, $750 is the absolute cheapest I could find.

Playas Del Coco

It's an interesting area. If you happen to visit I recommend checking out The Monkey Farm. The name sounded a bit odd to me at first because it made me wonder if they were farming monkeys in cages with the intent to create a monkey empire to do their nefarious bidding. 

This was not the case, however, and I found that they provide a sanctuary for monkey troupes. They're all about sustainability and have a no frills setup that is endearing. 

Check out their video here: 

You'll find that Playas Del Coco, while a tourist destination, isn't quite as touristy as other places in Costa Rica. The place where I'm staying is surrounded by locals going about their daily lives. The narrow streets are filled with people walking, riding bikes, riding motorcycles, riding scooters, riding motorized bicycles, riding bicycles with children sitting on the frame, riding motorcycles with any number of things (children, construction materials, etc). It is also filled with dogs, cars, trucks, more dogs, some cats, and more motorcycles. There are probably more dogs running about than you're imagining right now. If aliens landed in Costa Rica they might mistake dogs as the dominant species.

The street I'm on is a bit like a large sidewalk where anything is allowed to pass through. I honestly wouldn't be surprised if a small airplane was rumbling down one of these roads. Not all roads are like that mind you, but the roads by my apartment are.

When I'm driving here I just always expect to see someone on any road, so try to be pretty careful when behind the wheel. On the highways expect to see people walking and riding their bikes along the side of it. Hell, I was one of those people during my debut with CR rental cars. 

Just yesterday we drove past someone sitting on the side of the road facing away from it, and there was no shoulder on this road. 

The Beaches So Far


On Coco beach, expect some major humidity and heat, at least in the month of October. I just expect to sweat a lot all day. It’s like having an outdoor sauna that you don’t have to pay for! The water is by no means cold, so when it rains it feels a bit like heaven. I also have a hard time getting my water cold enough in my apartment. It’s a small price to pay my friends. 

It’s certainly not the best beach in the world. It’s just not really taken care of that well, but it’s beautiful in its own right. Also, there is an outlook that you can go to where you can get stunning views of this horseshoe beach. 


Playa Ocotal has beautiful black smooth sand with a gold tint. The water is fairly clear on the north side of this beach. Watch out for strong undercurrents, otherwise the water is fairly easy going. 

Neither Coco or Ocotal is good for surfing. 

Brasilito and Conchal

Playa Brasilito is adjacent to Playa Conchal, and seems to be okay for surfing, but we really didn’t see many people at this beach at all. It was mainly a place to start from to get to Playa Conchal. Why? Because Playa Conchal is made of seashells instead of sand, and the waters are crystal blue. It’s truly beautiful. 

Tamarindo (aka Tamagringo)

There are a lot of what appear to be Americans here. It’s a surfing mecca, and (obviously) heavy with tourism. On a Tuesday afternoon in late October, that beach was filled with people. There were tons of surfers either adeptly navigating the waves or just learning how to stand up on the board. 

Josh Bolinger and I rented a board each at Banana Surf School, which is located on the main strip parallel to the beach. We loved this place because the people there didn't try to sell us a billion things we didn't need or want. That day we must've looked like tourists who wanted to spend a bunch of cash on stuff. Expect that if you go to Conchal or Tamarindo. 

We were pummeled and thrashed by the waves, and Josh had better luck than I when it came to riding the waves, but it was hella fun. We’re going to be going again today, but to a different beach. 

Inland trips so far

It was truly an adventure going inland and through the mountains. All of a sudden I found myself on extremely bumpy and pot-hole ridden gravel roads that winded around mountains. The views were stunning. I had to stop every ten minutes it seemed just so I could try and capture some of the beauty. 

To give you an idea, here are a few of the pictures snapped:


Volcano Arenal

So beautiful, so rad, and the air is cool. I stayed at Arenal Essence, a boutique hostel, which was superb. 


Initially I was going to go to the could forest reserve, but I made it there late and didn’t want to pay the $20 to get in. 

I was kind of recovering from having eaten something that didn’t sit well with my stomach too. I don’t know if it was food or the fact that I drank a SHITLOAD of tap water the night before. I suspect the latter, so I’m playing it safe with bottled water from here on out, forever and everywhere. 

The food is delicious here, though, and I recommend getting a nice breakfast with fried plantains. 

Volcano Poas: I drove there but didn’t see it because it was covered in clowds. Oh well!

Also, for some reason I’m waking up ridiculously early (like 4 am). I guess this could be because of the fucked up roosters who start their morning routine at 3 am instead of when the sun is rising. More than that though, it just gets dark early as hell already. At around 5:20 is sunset, and 5:45 it is straight up dark. So I’ve been going to bed early so I can get a real early start to the day. It's a new life, and it beats the hell out of cubicle life, for real.

Until next time amigos.

- Jeremy

Tips, Tricks, and Updates - Edition 1: Preparing to Go

Two weeks and two days until I’m out of here! There is a fair amount of information to cover, but I’ll try and be as succinct as possible. 

Visa Requirements (disclaimer, the info in this section is mainly relevant for U.S. travelers, but I still love all of you)

Having a passport isn’t enough in some countries, including Brazil. I need to get a tourist visa for Brazil, the Philippines, and Thailand, the latter 2 because I’m staying for more than 30 days in each. Brazil, like many other countries in the world, requires one to have a visa to merely set foot on their soil. 

Definition of Visa: "an endorsement made by an authorized representative of one country upon a passport issued by another, permitting the passport holder entry into or transit through the country making the endorsement."

There are a number of pages that house information about Visa requirements, however, the most legitimate information is from the U.S. Passports and International Travel Page. In it you’ll be able to find not just visa information, but other pertinent information about the country you’re thinking of visiting. For example, they have some pretty heady information about visiting Myanmar (or Burma). 

For a nicely laid out quick reference, I like to use the following Wikipedia page .

If you’re interested in learning more about the specifics of what is needed regarding passport requirements for Brazil, Philippines, or Thailand, feel free to contact me. 

Mobile Apps

Ahh, how lucky we are to live in this day and age when we can use our smartphone to skip the ticket line and go straight to the long ass annoying security line. It’s such a great line to have awkward stares with strangers. 

Anyway, on with the recommendations. I don’t make any commission or anything off of these recommendations, in case that’s relevant. 

Kayak - Awesome Trip Organizer

Kayak is awesome not just for finding great flight and car deals. Their trip organizer beats Tripit and Tripcase, which is very awesome. With both Tripit and Tripcase very stupid things would happen, like marking a transportation itinerary as being in Kansas when it is actually in Costa Rica. I don’t need to be dealing with that kind of junk, and with Kayak I don’t. Also, it pulls relevant pictures of the places where you’re going, which is also a nice touch. 

With other travel organizers, it would simply pull the information of the layover as the destination. For example, if I’m flying to Sao Paulo, Brazil with a layover in Dallas then it would show up as my “Dallas Trip.” This is pretty damn unacceptable in my book. Kayak, you win. 

Anyone know how to draw? I think it would be cool to have a comic illustrating this. Let me know and I can put it up here and give proper cred. 

Google Translate: Quick and intuitive. Nuff’ said. 

Opera Mini Web Browser

I’m trying out Opera Mini because the company claims to reduce data usage by 90% compared to other browsers. When embarking on international travel, if this is even halfway true then hell yes. 

Swipes and Evernote for GTD (Getting Things Done)

Viber, Skype, or something like these for Wifi calling. I haven’t used these internationally, but when I do I’ll try and update you on how it went. 


Phone Service and Mobile Data

Wfheww, this was a big one. I’m pretty damn reliant on Google maps and other apps that use up data on the road, so need some decent coverage. I spent too much money in November ’14 with ATT passport because I kept on going over my limits. Where did I land in my research? 

Resoundingly: T-Mobile


Following is a breakdown of the options I was considering. I’m sure there are more out there, and if you have suggestions for something better, let us all know!

Note: prices vary by country, though not with T-Mobile. Brazil used in this example

   Information was sourced from  T-Mobile ,  ATT , and  KnowRoaming  sites. 


Information was sourced from T-Mobile, ATT, and KnowRoaming sites. 

An AirBNB Trick

If you’re going to be at a place for over a month, be sure to punch in a time frame of 1 month or more so that you’ll see monthly rates as opposed to nightly. This can make a pretty big difference. 

For example, the following studio is available by the beach for $149 for a two-night stay. If you want it for a month it’s only $534. That’s a pretty big difference. Let’s break it down. 

Two night stay = $74.50 per night. 

1 Month stay = $17.80 per night. 


It's good to figure out how the hell you’re getting from and to places. Not every place in the world has Uber or a cheap bus to hop on. For instance, getting from San Jose, CR to Coco Beach, CR I had to do a bit of research and find a shared shuttle. It’s about $50, but you can upgrade for a couple hundred more if you want a private shuttle. In the Phillipines, I’m likely going to get a ride from an airport to my loft in a “trike,” which is basically a motorcycle with an attached carriage. See




Let’s say you’re on meds like myself and suddenly don’t have any insurance. Kind of scary right? I now have an 6 month supply and am fairly confident that I’ll be alright in the future. Disclaimer, I’m not offering any medical advice of any kind. Please do your research before buying meds from a place that is outside of your norm.

This is what I’ve done so far: 

  • I had my doctor write out a new prescription that I could take with me and show to any pharmacy and get the right meds. 
  • I used this prescription to get meds from a legitimate Canadian pharmacy. 
  • I also used this prescription to go to MedSavers here in Austin and pickup a cheap batch. If you’re in Austin with no insurance, you should definitely utilize MedSavers. The people there are awesome, and the owner is just a rad guy who got tired of seeing the general populace pay sooooo much more for the medication than what the pharmacies paid for it. 

This has me set for a while, and I may have to figure out something in the future, but I’ll worry about that in a couple months. Siri, remind me!

Update: What Happened With My Apartment?

Remember how at first the apartment issue kept me from leaving because I couldn’t sublet or find a replacement? Well, since I couldn’t do any of those things I found a Ben. 

A Ben is a person that you're friends with who becomes your "roommate."

Ben is a friend who is moving back to Austin, and when I was talking with him I asked if he’d be interested in having a place for a couple months as my roommate. I really didn’t want to try and find a roommate on Craigslist because this would all require a modicum of trust. I trust Ben completely, and he is officially my roommate though I will of course not be in the apartment. He also bought my furniture making it much less of a hassle for both of us. 

I hope you have found some of the information here useful. 


- Jeremy

Travel Destinations - The First 6 Months

Ticketed!: I finally have my travel iItinerary from October 14, 2015, to March 12, 2016. 

I’m still in Austin and have a month before I skim a slice of blue dot rondure. What I've been finding is that it takes a shitload of time researching countries and trying to determine when to go, how to get places, and where to stay. It’s worth it, especially if you want to save some cash and avoid terrible accommodations. I'll provide some inside tips throughout this article, and will call them out in bold. 

Without further adieu here's the breakdown. 

October 14 - October 15, 2015: San José, Costa Rica

The first night I'm there I'll be staying in the city of San Jose, cuz my flight gets in pretty late. 

I thought about going with Airbnb, but found a pretty rad deal at a place called Cocoon Hotel. We’ll see if I emerge as a butterfly resplendent in beauty and stuff. 

October 15: I’m taking a shuttle from my cocoon and going to my loft over on Coco beach. It’s only $52 to take a shared shuttle there. Details can be found here:

Notes: Initially I reserved a place I found on Craigslist about a mile away from Montezuma beach in the jungle. I reserved it with $100 which I'm not getting back, which is fine by me. I changed it up for a few reasons:

  1. I had a weird feeling about the place
  2. Being so isolated I wondered if suddenly I would have a number of friends that no-one else could see
  3. It was too far from the beach (major first world problem)

Tip: Be flexible, and trust your instincts as long as those instincts aren't based on irrational fear. This is sometimes hard to navigate because we deceive ourselves daily (we are our best and worst lawyers). It's better to lose a bit of money in exchange for a preferred living situation.

An Even Bigger Tip: Go with Airbnb for your worldwide renting needs. Here are the reasons why:

  • The people renting out their places are vetted by Airbnb. Not only that, previous renters leave reviews about how good or bad the place is. 
  • You don't have to sift through a million foreign real estate sites. 
  • You don't have to deal with Craigslist and the risk involved therein. 
  • You know exactly how much to pay, and the transactions are all handled via Airbnb.

October 15 - November 20, 2015: El Coco, Costa Rica

I’ll be staying in a loft at the Tropical Gardens in El Coco, Costa Rica. This is right by Coco beach, which I intend to lay around on when I’m not laying around other beaches. 

View Kayak CR Itinerary

November 24 - December 11, 2015: Sao Paulo, Brazil and other parts of bigass (no euphemisms, stereotypes, puns, or otherwise intended) Brazil.

I’ll be there with friends in the vicinity of Sao Paulo, and I’m hoping that I’ll be able to magically speak Portuguese. Carol is from Brazil and Josh is a white dude from Maine. They’re a vivacious married couple doing the ceremonial thing in her home country. How could I miss that shit?

View Kayak BR Itinerary

December 16 - January 5, 2016: Minden, NE.

Christmas with the fam!

January 6 - January 10, 2016: New York, NY.

I’ve been wanting to go back to NY anyway, because I’ve only been there once and it was about a million years ago when I visited just briefly. Additionally, the plane ticket to the Philippines was effin’ cheap from there (like $399.80). A friend asked me to show him the way of finding cheap tickets. Well, it comes down to a couple of things: Research, flexibility, and awesome sites like Kayak and Skyscanner. Because I was willing to spend a few days in NY I found a fuckin’ deal. Maybe the trick is to be flexible a bit. 

View Kayak NY Itinerary

January 11 - 12, 2016: Manila, Philippines


January 12 March 12, 2016: Panglao Island, Philippines.

I’ll be about a 5 minute walk away from Alona beach, pictured below. If it's half as awesome as it looks I'll be happy.