Tag Archives: travel

Ebook news digest: become a better writer, AI-powered camera, best ereaders of 2017

2017-05-11

News on ebooks, writing and photography

woman leaning on pile of books
5 Tips for Becoming a Better (and More Consistent) Writer
Inc.

Tips for people who would like to begin to write fiction or nonfiction, but haven’t had any idea how to start.

Wanderlust: The Case for Writing and Travel
Writers Helping Writers

Angela Ackerman makes the case for all writers to travel in order to develop their craft – not only travel writers who have to do it for work, anyhow.

European Commission’s New E-book Rules Worry Booksellers
Publisher’s Weekly

EU is a trade union, among other things, and is being developed towards a truly single market. Digital goods cross borders easily if geo-blocking (preventing access from people from other countries) is not used by online stores.

This AI-Powered Camera Only Shoots ‘Award-Winning’ Photos
PetaPixel

When something is trending in the world of technology, it triggers all kinds of strange ideas with people. A photographer claims he has built a camera with artificial intelligence (AI) software. It is fully automatic, and supposed to take only perfect pictures. Oh, dear.

The highlights of the French Riviera explained
The Gems of Nice

When you get there, remember it is Cote d’Azur (not Riviera) in French. Visual guide to Monaco, Cannes, Eze, St Paul de Vence, Antibes, Grasse, and many other beautiful places.

Where the news industry went wrong: it got hooked on advertising
Jennifer Baker

Working as a freelancer in the news business has taught this writer a thing or two, and one of them is that advertising is not the future of financing the news. We’ll see.

Best E-Book Readers of 2017
Cnet

The usual suspects continue to dominate the rankings for the best ereaders.

OpenAIRE as the basis for a European Open Access Platform
OpenAire Blog

“A public platform for the dissemination of research will become essential infrastructure to finally fully integrate research publishing and dissemination into the research lifecycle.” We wish success to this ambitious enterprise.


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Ebook news digest: mind shifting and social media for writers, tools and kits for travel writers

2017-04-01

News on books, publishing, and writing April 1st, 2017

Tavira, Portugal: a non-digital nomad in a park

Writing and Publishing Resources for Independent Authors
(Kate M. Colby)

An author herself, Kate M. Colby has collected a valuable list of resources for authors: books, blogs and podcasts to help writers in all aspects of their mission.

Interview – Davide Vadalà (Travel blog: Nomad Travellers)
(A Brit and a Southerner)

Many digital nomads, travel photographers, road travelers, hikers, globe-trotteres, and people who simply love to travel publish a travel blog where their journeys can be followed. Here is travel blogger Davide Vadala’s story.

Every Writer Needs an Editor, Especially if that Writer is Also an Editor
(Publisher’s Weekly)

The editorial director of a writing magazine discusses the difficulty of taking her own advice. Yes, the editing process can be painful for some writers, but the world needs editors who can turn manuscripts into readable, successful books.

10 of the best tools for remote working
(Creative Boom)

This is a good article for identifying online tools for remote workers, but online tools are not enough for traveling professionals. You will fail if you trust on online tools alone. This article outlines the importance of offline tools and recommends key apps and services.

Preparing Your Mind for Writing: How to Make the Shift
(Writer’s Digest)

Author William Kenower has realized that his mind has to shift to a specific mental state before he can write. Some writers talk about flow, words just appearing into the manuscript from subconscious, and descriptions of many other ways as writing really goes well. Well, welcome, mind shifters.

The Ultimate Digital Nomad Packing List 2017
(The Broke Backpacker)

The Broke Backpacker, we salute you! This is probably the first blog post that really says what it means to be more or less constantly on the move. The backpacker has also learned the value of offline tools, like Maps.me, which has perhaps been the most important app for us on the road.

Social Media for Authors: Get Social To Get Published
(Devumi)

Many tools and services introduced in the article are familiar for most writers, but the trick is how the writers are using those tools. Are they advancing his or her writing career? Of course, mastering social media is not the only thing publishers may expect from writers, but one important aspect of marketing.

The most read article in March 2017 at Klaava.com was about photography and travel in northern Europe.

Travel guidebooks for destinations in Europe

2017-03-15

Europe is the most popular travel destination for vacation-goers worldwide. First, royalty and then, tourists have been visiting Europe’s majestic cities, medieval villages, castles, fortresses, mountains and beaches for centuries. The infrastructure and services for travelers are in place.

Castillo de Santa Barbara, Alicante, Spain

Castillo de Santa Barbara, Alicante, Spain


Trends in travel change with time, and some destinations that earlier used to welcome visitors, may today wish tourists would go home. That’s an exception. In general, traveling in Europe is safe and people are friendly.

Even though English is the most widely understood language in Continental Europe, there is plenty of variation in regions. In eastern countries, German, Russian and French maybe more common foreign languages than English. In south Europe, English German and French are spoken in tourist regions, but outside them, travelers have to know enough local language to manage daily life.

Rick Steves has published many guidebooks for European destinations, but there are other, contemporary and visual travel guides published as ebooks worth reading. Travel Guidebooks Europe visual travel guidebooks cover north Europe and south Europe, and parts of Asia as well.

Getting to know the local culture is not as easy as many tourists believe. You get to know some German ways and you believe that it is all the same all over Europe. Not quite. Every nation in Europe has its own culture, etiquette and accepted behavior. If you intend to stay a bit longer in a destination, it is a good idea to prepare beforehand and read a cultural guide to the country.

Cultural guides are also featured in the book series of visual travel guides for Europe.

Klaava Travel Guide ebooks are available for download here.

The best destinations for landscape photography in Lapland, in the northernmost region of Europe

2017-03-07

Lapland is a vast wilderness region in the northern Europe. It is a land of Sami people and reindeer, fells, fjords, rivers, marshlands, and many types of wildlife. In other words, a fabulous destination for outdoor lovers, road travelers who appreciate majestic landscapes and for nature photographers. I recently wrote a guidebook to Lapland, and since I have extensively toured the region I can tell that it provides almost endless opportunities for delightful nature photography.
Rovaniemi, Arctic Circle. From travel guidebook LaplandThe Arctic Circle in Rovaniemi.

Before I share you my recommendations for the best places to visit and to take those perfect pictures of fells, fjords, villages, reindeer and people of Lapland, let me give you my estimation what is the most photographed place in Lapland. It probably is the Arctic Circle in Rovaniemi, Finland. Rovaniemi is a major traffic hub in Lapland where tourists arrive across the world. The Arctic Circle is only a few miles from the airport and from the city, and it has developed into a major attraction.

Top 5 places in Lapland for exciting landscape photography

Abisko, Sweden

Abisko, Sweden. Lapland, north Europe
The scenery in Abisko is magnificent both in summer and winter. In summer (July and August) it is warm and you can shoot through the night because there is some sunlight even at midnight. In winter, it is cold and dark, but the Northern Lights, snowy landscape and perhaps spending a day on a ski track makes it all worth it.

Kilpisjärvi, Finland

Kilpisjarvi, Finland. Saana fell in Lapland, Scandinavia.
Saana fell is the landmark and the most photographed item in Kilpisjärvi, but there is much more. Kilpisjärvi is located in the fell region, but you don’t have to go far towards west when the landscape changes quite dramatically. After entering Norway, gently sloping fells turn into mountains, gorges and fjords of Norway. Great variety for photographers in a relatively small area.

Lofoten, Norway

Lofoten, Norway. A fishing village port on shore of a fjord
Lofoten is a large archipelago on the northwest coast of Norway. When you arrive on Lofoten, you can forget about rushing from one place to the next. The landscape is all about mountains and fjords across the islands. Small villages and tiny fishing towns here and there on the shores remind travelers that people live here, too. The sea provides additional photography opportunities: whale, seal, and bird watching tours give a new perspective to the scenery and wildlife.

Tromsö, Norway

Tromsö, Norway, view from mountain above town
Tromsö gives photographers opportunities not only to capture images of spectacular sceneries, but also city life. It is a vibrant city, full of young energy that university students bring to the streets, many restaurants, bars and cafés. Since mountains and fjords surround Tromsö, hiking to the heights or taking a sea tour provide many new angles for photographers as well.

Ylläs, Finland

Reindeer at Aakenus fell in Yllas-Pallas national park Finland, Lapland, north Europe.
Ylläs is a year-round destination for vacation-goers who seek outdoor activities, but especially Finns love to hike in this fell region in autumn. Fabulous fell sceneries around the year, reindeer, wild berries, and the colors of autumn. In addition to the environment, Ylläs and the region around it is a home for a few resorts that make traveling and staying in there easy and convenient.

How, where and when to travel in Lapland?

A trip to Lapland requires some planning because the distances can be long and towns are few. The guidebook (Lapland – North of the Arctic Circle in Scandinavia) I wrote helps in all aspects of planning and actually traveling in this exotic region.

Here are a few bookstores where the Lapland guidebook is available:

Amazon.com
Amazon.co.uk
Apple iBooks
Barnes & Noble Nook Books
Google Play Books


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This is why digital nomads, remote workers and everyone who travels must rely on offline tools

2017-03-02

Traveling professionals, digital nomads and remote workers rely on their computing devices to get the work done. One key thing workers take for granted in an office – Internet access – is not always available on the road. Once a nomadic worker realizes what it really means to be disconnected for a few critical hours or even for days, it becomes clear that the whole computer setup must be prepared for travel. It is a setup that relies on offline tools.
laptop on office desk, woman reads newspaper
If you stop for a moment and review all the applications and online services you are using, you may discover that being without an Internet connection makes up to 90% of your tools redundant. A vital application to get a job done becomes completely useless if you can’t access the Internet. This is a common situation for everyone who is traveling, settling into a new place, or is having problems with telecommunication connections.

I learned all this the hard way. I can still remember how it felt to land in a city where I had never been before, hire a car (without a navigator), and drive to a nearby city where a hotel room was waiting for us. Finding the right direction on the highway was easy by following the street signs, but when it was time to open the navigation application on the smartphone and get detailed instructions for finding the hotel, it didn’t work. The smartphone navigation app didn’t work because it required Internet connection. It was night already, and we were completely lost. In the end, helpful police officers showed us the way to the hotel.

Another painful lesson was during a customer project that I had started before traveling to another country. I had saved the project documents in Google Drive because I had used Google Docs for taking notes and drafting the material. I had reserved two days for finishing the project. I had the time, the tools, but no documents. Internet connection in the place I had rented for a month didn’t work. I contacted the agent who hired the place to me, but because it was weekend, she was off duty. No help. Those two days were lost in frantic search for cafés with Internet connection and prepaid SIM cards. In the end, I managed to buy a prepaid SIM card. Two days were completely lost, but the acquired SIM card proved valuable: it saved me from the same problem later.

So, perhaps contrary to the popular opinion, I am arguing that digital nomads, remote workers and anyone who needs to travel must give up Google Docs, Office 365 and similar cloud services if they are using those services for work. People on the move must rely on offline tools.

Essential offline apps

Here is a brief list of common apps that you must be able to run without Internet connection.

Word processor (for instance, Libreoffice Writer, Word or Pages)
Spreadsheet (for instance, Libreoffice Calc, Excel, or Numbers)
Notes / Journal / Editor application
Maps (Maps.me which runs on tablets and smartphones, but not on PCs is a good choice)
Navigation (Maps.me has been designed to run offline, which is why it is far more reliable and faster than running an online navigation app, like Google Maps in offline mode)
Password manager
Contacts
Calendar
Ereading software and ebook library (for instance, Bluefire Reader or Fbreader)
Photo editor
Dictionary

How to test that your key applications run without an Internet connection?

1. Disable Wi-Fi and mobile data on your laptop, tablet, or smartphone.
2. Start every application, one app at a time, that you absolutely need on the road, and try out if you can use it without hindrances.

Using a smartphone for communications even when there is no Internet access

compose text message on Android smartphone
Just a reminder that even when you are offline, you probably have a smartphone that can connect to a mobile network. You should activate roaming for phone calls before leaving your home country. If you don’t’ answer phone calls or make phone calls yourself, you don’t have to pay any extra (to be sure, check with your telco). When roaming for phone calls is activated, you can also send and receive text messages (SMS) that are a low-cost way to communicate even overseas.

Do not activate overseas data roaming for your smartphone, unless you are absolutely sure what you are doing. Usually, it means that either you have a special overseas data package, or you have a EU mobile subscription and you are roaming in the EU region.

Minimum set of cloud services

Once you have secured Internet access, it is time to connect with the employer, clients, audiences, friends and family. The minimum set of online services a traveling professional needs:

Email
Cloud Backup
Social media
Skype or other teleconferencing and messaging service

What does the sharp separation of offline and online tools mean in practice?

Having a large selection of offline tools always available means that it has been possible for you to be productive during those periods without Internet connection. Once you manage to get your computing devices online, you have text documents, messages, photos, spreadsheets and presentations ready to be shared with your employer, clients or audiences.

Which online services are the best for a traveling professional?

The best ones are those cloud services that let you have full control over the access and access rights of your account. It may mean you have to pay for your email service and backup space in the cloud to ensure you truly own full control over the account and the data you have stored into the account.

Popular free services, like Gmail and other Google and Yahoo services are extremely risky for travelers. These services have full control over your account and data. It is their decision if they let you access your data or not. A login attempt – even with the correct credentials – from a new place is a red flag for the services, and they may lock you out from your account. Read more about the risks of Google and Yahoo services for nomadic workers in the article Why I quit Yahoo and Gmail when I started traveling.

Being offline isn’t the end of the world for a traveling professional who relies on computers and the Internet to get the work done. When you are prepared, you can keep working offline until you manage to secure access to the Internet. The fruits of those productive offline hours – or even days – can then be shared with the world.

Ebook news digest: travel blogging vs writing, publishing vs self-publishing, best travel camera

2017-02-26

Ebook news digest February 26, 2017

digital nomad working at a terrace near fruit farms of Murcia
Published Author Book Writing Tips
(Heidi Cohen)

Heidi Cohen has compiled the best book writing tips from successful authors into this article. If there is one thing that caught my eye in these valuable tips, it was the fact that so many authors emphasized two things: ensure you have a clear message or goal for your book and start marketing instantly when you know that you are going to get the book published (one way or the other).

Best Travel Camera 2017
(Mel365.com)

Many travel writers (and writers of other genres) take their own photos for their articles and books nowadays. Writers may not want to dive deep into mysteries of photography technology, but capture moments, facts and sceneries with decent equipment. What is the best camera for travelers is the question that the long article answers in many ways.

Pros And Cons Of Traditional Publishing vs Self-Publishing
(The Creative Penn)

Joanna Penn’s article on traditional publishing and self-publishing is almost like “Everything you ever wanted to know about book publishing” in one article. An excellent article to read, even if you already have published a book. I would categorize Klaava Media as a hybrid publisher, because we take every author and ebook as an individual project and tailor the co-operation with the author accordingly.

Ask a Digital Nomad: How Do You Choose Where to Go Next?
(The Ramble)

Digital nomads who have traveled and work for a year or more talk about the places they like to stay. How do they choose their destinations, why and how long do they stay in one place? Many nomads agree that moving too often is not the best way to go, but where they go is a surprisingly wide and open field. I am waiting for the moment when a digital nomad says he or she has spent a winter in Lapland.

3 Big Differences Between Travel Writing and Travel Blogging
(Travel Blog Success)

This article gives plenty of insight on the freedom of blogging and on the realities when working for someone else. That’s the fundamental difference, and truly understanding it will save many writers from a lot of agony.

Travel photo gallery 2016: Lapland, France, Belgium

2017-01-24

In 2016, my long project of photographing and writing a travel guidebook about Lapland was completed and the book will be published in early 2017. Since it was a long project, photos from Lapland has been included in earlier galleries as well.

Lapland covers the northern regions of Norway, Sweden and Finland, which makes it a large area to travel (geographically also Russian’s northwest region is Lapland, but it is not featured in the book). It has been called as the Europe’s last large wilderness and that is exactly what it is. Outdoors lovers’ and road travelers’ perfect destination.

View sceneries from north, south and central Europe:
Reindeer at Aakenus fell in Yllas-Pallas national park Finland, Lapland, north Europe.

Travel photography application shows where to take that perfect tourist postcard picture

2017-01-11

Accidental travel photographers tend to take photos at the same places where everyone else is taking pictures. If you want your travel pictures to look better than 99% of all photos taken in that same spot, you may want a little help from an expert. The travel photography expert is called Snapfindr, an app that runs on your smartphone or tablet.
snapfindr app screen shot
Snapfindr is a free application that shows you the exact locations of major sights in the most popular travel destinations where to take that perfect postcard image. At the moment, the application covers the top sights of Barcelona, London, New York, Paris, Prague, and Sydney.

Let’s say you are exploring Paris. You find the famous Notre Dame cathedral, and want to take a memorable photograph of the place. Snapfindr shows you exactly where to stand and which direction to point your camera. If you have a camera where you can adjust the settings, the application gives you tips on them as well. Notre Dame is only one of the locations in Paris the app covers. You can navigate from destination to destination using an online map or embedded sample images.

All right, that is what Snapfindr can do. Then, there is only a question of how and for what you use it for. Maybe you don’t want to take the same images as everyone else is taking during sightseeing tours. Perhaps there are even better ways to use Snapfindr?

One of the best use cases for this application is learning travel photography. The persons who have taken the images included in the app and written the notes for camera settings and related remarks are very skilled photographers. Anyone who wants to learn the first steps in classic travel photography can get many valuable lessons in Snapfindr:

– How to position yourself and your camera.
– How to frame the subject.
– Timing: what is the time of the day when you get the most spectacular images.
– Camera settings for that perfect picture.

Snapfindr even features sample images taken on the spot for you to compare your snapshot with the teacher’s mastershot.

For more travel photography, take a look at our writers’ galleries.

Snapfindr screen shots:
screen capture of snapfindr application

screen capture of snapfindr application

screen capture of snapfindr application

Are travel coloring books the ultimate relaxation option on the road?

2016-12-01

There are times during every traveler’s journey when it would be smart to switch off brains from constant planning ahead, working, or worrying about what can go wrong. Some (printed) book publisher believe they have a cure for traveler’s anxiety: the travel coloring book. Coloring books for adults were recently popular, but now, it is possible to find a coloring book for your special interest, such as travel.
travel coloring books, cover images
The theory is that since the world inside a travel coloring book is already organized and static, the tourist can manage the world drawn on the pages of the book by coloring it the way he or she wants. It is supposed to take your thoughts away from anything that may burden your mind and from everything around you.

Maybe that is exactly why many travelers have their music collection on a smartphone or on an iPod with them and they listen to their favorite artists when they want some distance to the world around. Some travelers, surprisingly, read books, whereas others watch movies, or sip gin and tonics.

There are many ways to relax on the road apart from coloring books. Yet, it is an interesting trend. Whoever was the mastermind that thought of producing coloring books for adults must be congratulated. Creating a new trend is once-in-a-lifetime event.

If you want to color Paris or San Francisco on your flight across the Atlantic or the American continent, it is possible (Amazon). Or perhaps you would like recolor 30 World Heritage Sites in your favorite colors? Kobo bookstore markets ebooks that contain drawings that you can print out and then recolor.

The New York Times discovered that some upmarket hotels give guests coloring books and crayons as they check in. There was a time when it was cool to have the morning’s newspaper delivered behind your hotel room door in the morning, and a time when Wi-Fi was new. Now, it is books.

What about ebooks? Are there any coloring ebooks that you could use on your Kindle ereader or on the iPad tablet? Not really. While it is possible to produce an ebook application or Apple iAuthor book that lets you change colors of objects on the screen, these types of interactive multimedia ebooks are very expensive to create. Travel guidebooks that feature reliable and useful information on your destination can be viewed here.

If the coloring book trend continues after 2016, we may see a few ebook coloring books in the market. Otherwise, it is the old, proven paper, ink and crayon technology that dominates the coloring book business.

Top 20 countries for travelers who have vowed only to speak English on their journey

2016-11-27

Chinese is the most spoken language in the world, Spanish is the second, and English third. Nonetheless, the language of the biggest corporations, largest media services, most popular pop stars, books and movies is English. If French used to be the universal language of the world hundred years ago, English took its place in the 20th century. There are many countries across the world where you can step out of an airplane, talk English with locals during your whole trip, and return home without learning a word of local language.
EF: top English speaking countries
Language education institution EF has collected a list of 20 countries where it is easy to get along in English alone. So, if you like to travel, but like to speak English only, North Europe is your first choice as far as language is concerned.

Here is the top 20 English Proficiency Index by EF Education First:

1. Netherlands
2. Denmark
3. Sweden
4. Norway
5. Finland
6. Singapore
7. Luxembourg
8. Austria
9. Germany
10. Poland
11. Belgium
12. Malaysia
13. Philippines
14. Switzerland
15. Portugal
16. Czech Republic
17. Serbia
18. Hungary
19. Argentina
20. Romania

All but 4 out of 20 top English-speaking countries are in Europe.

Practically everyone (50 years old or younger) in Singapore, Malaysia and Philippines speak English, but it may take a little time for a foreigner to get used to the accent if you are only used to native English-speakers accent.

Which countries EF has ranked the most challenging if you only speak English? Saudi Arabia, Cambodia, Laos, Libya, and Iraq are countries where many languages are spoken, but English isn’t one of them.

Do marketers’ travel slogans really attract tourists to visit a country?

2016-11-23

Probably every country in the world, apart from closed societies like North Korea or disorganized regions like Somalia, has a state-powered marketing organization whose responsibility is to attract more tourists to the country. Nothing wrong with that, tourism is one of the largest industries in the world today, and some countries rely their national budgets on tourism. You may have met people from these marketing organizations at travel fairs where the marketers have been keen to offer a brochure or a plastic bag with a slogan on it. That slogan is supposed to make their country attractive for potential visitors.

Family Break Finder has published a marvelous map that shows all the slogans the world’s tourism organizations are using at the moment. The slogans tend to change after a few years, but this is how the world of travel marketing slogans looks right now.

Among the best slogans is Norway’s “Powered by nature” that really nails the essence of touring in Norway’s magnificent landscape. Among the worst is Australia’s “There’s NOTHING like Australia” (if you have nothing to say, it doesn’t get any better by shouting). India’s slogan “Incredible India” is so true just now that it makes you wonder did they really mean it (trains don’t travel along rail tracks in India anymore, and people are desperate because they can’t get cash from banks).
tourism slogans by family break finderSource: Family Break Finder.

Albania – Go your own way!
Algeria – Tourism for everybody
Andorra – The Pyrenean Country
Antigua and Barbuda – The beach is just the beginning
Argentina – Beats to your rhythm
Armenia – Visit Armenia, It is Beautiful
Australia – There’s NOTHING like Australia
Austria – Arrive and revive
Bahamas – Life Is Grand
Bahrain – Ours. Yours. Bahrain
Bangladesh – Beautiful Bangladesh
Barbados – Brilliant Barbados
Belarus – Hospitality Beyond Borders
Belgium – The place to be
Belize – Mother Nature’s Best-Kept Secret
Bhutan – Happiness is a place
Bolivia – Bolivia awaits you
Bosnia and Herzegovina – The heart of SE Europe
Botswana – Our pride, your destination
Brazil – Brasil – sensational!
Brunei Darussalam – A kingdom of unexpected treasures
Bulgaria – A discovery to share
Burundi – Beautiful Burundi
Cabo Verde – No stress
Cambodia – Kingdom of wonder
Cameroon – All of Africa in one country
Canada – Keep exploring
Chad – Oasis of the Sahel
Chile – All are welcome
China – China Like Never Before
Colombia – Colombia is magical realism
Costa Rica – Essential Costa Rica
Croatia – Full of life
Cuba – Autentica Cuba
Cyprus – Cyprus in your heart
Czech Republic – Land of stories
Denmark – Happiest place on Earth!
Djibouti – Djibeauty
Dominica – The nature island
Dominican Republic – Dominican Republic has it all
Ecuador – All you need is Equador
Egypt – Where it all begins
El Salvador – The 45 Minute Country
Estonia – Epic Estonia
Ethiopia Land of origins
Fiji – Where Happiness Finds You
Finland – I wish I was in Finland
France – Rendez vous en France
Gambia – The smiling coast of Africa
Georgia – For the best moments of your life
Germany – Simply inspiring
Greece – All Time Classic
Grenada – Pure Grenada
Guatemala – Heart of the Mayan World
Guyana – South America Undiscovered
Haiti – Experience It!
Honduras – Everything is here
Hungary – Think Hungary more than expected
Iceland – Inspired by Iceland
India – Incredible !ndia
Indonesia – Wonderful Indonesia
Iran – You Are Invited
Iraq – The Other Iraq (Kurdistan)
Ireland – Jump into Ireland
Israel – Land of Creation
Italy – Made in Italy
Jamaica – Get All Right
Japan – Endless discovery
Jordan – Yes, it’s Jordan
Kazakhstan – The land of wonders
Kenya – Magical Kenya
Kiribati – For travellers
Kyrgyzstan – Oasis on the Great Silk Road
Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Laos) – Simply Beautiful
Latvia – Best enjoyed slowly
Lebanon – Live Love Lebanon
Lesotho – The Kingdom In The Sky
Liechtenstein – Experience princely moments
Lithuania – See it! Feel it! Love it!
Luxembourg – Live your unexpected Luxembourg
Macedonia – Macedonia Timeless
Madagascar – A genuine island, a world apart
Malawi – The warm heart of Africa
Malaysia – Truly Asia
Maldives – The sunny side of life
Malta – Truly Mediterranean
Mauritius – It’s a pleasure
Mexico – Live It to Believe It
Micronesia (Federated States of) – Experience the warmth
Monaco – Easy going Monaco
Mongolia – Go Nomadic
Montenegro – Wild Beauty
Morocco – Much Mor
Mozambique – Come to where it all started
Myanmar – Let the journey begin
Namibia – Endless horizons
Nepal – Once is not enough
Netherlands – The original cool
New Zealand – 100% Pure
Nicaragua – Unica. Original!
Nigeria – Good people, great nation
Norway – Powered by nature
Oman – Beauty has an address
Palau – Pristine Paradise Palau
Panama – Panama Surprises
Papua New Guinea – A million different journeys
Paraguay – You have to feel it!
Peru – Land of the Incas
Philippines – It’s more fun in the Philippines
Poland – Move your imagination
Portugal – Europe’s West Coast
Qatar – Where dreams come to life
Republic of Korea (South Korea) – Imagine your Korea
Republic of Moldova – Discover the routes of life
Romania – Explore the Carpathian garden
Russian Federation – Reveal your own Russia
Rwanda – Remarkable Rwanda
Saint Kitts and Nevis – Follow your heart
Saint Lucia – Simply beautiful
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines – Discover SVG
Samoa – Beautiful Samoa
San Marino – San Marino For All
Saudi Arabia – Experience to discover
Serbia – My Serbia
Seychelles – Another world
Sierra Leone – The freedom to explore
Singapore – Your Singapore
Slovakia – Travel in Slovakia – Good idea
Slovenia – I feel SLOVEnia
Solomon Islands – Seek the unexplored
South Africa – Inspiring new ways
Spain – #spainindetail
Sri Lanka – Wonder of Asia
Suriname – A Colorful Experience… Exotic beyond words
Swaziland – A royal experience
Switzerland – Get natural
Syrian Arab Republic – Always Beautiful
Tajikistan – Feel the friendship
Thailand – Amazing Thailand. It begins with the people
Timor-Leste – Being first has its rewards
Tonga – The true South Pacific
Trinidad and Tobago – The true Caribbean
Tunisia – I feel like Tunisia
Turkey -Be our guest
Tuvalu – Timeless Tuvalu
Uganda – You’re welcome
Ukraine – It’s all about U
United Arab Emirates – Discover all that’s possible
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland – Home of amazing moments
United Republic of Tanzania – The land of Kilimanjaro, Zanzibar and the Serengeti
United States of America – All within your reach
Uruguay – Uruguay natural
Uzbekistan – Naturally Irresistible!
Vanuatu – Discover what matters
Venezuela – Venezuela is your destination!
Vietnam – Timeless charm
Zambia – Let’s explore
Zimbabwe – A world of wonders

How to artfully cheat on Airbnb

2016-10-27

Would you buy a second hand car from an individual without seeing the vehicle and test driving it? Probably not. Would you pay for a hotel room without seeing it? Yes, because a business is running the hotel and there are rules and laws it has to follow – not to mention that it probably wants positive customer reviews as well.

Would you pay in advance for accommodation published on Airbnb that is provided by an individual? Many travelers say yes, but we hesitate. Here is why.
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This is a story that recently happened to a writer who works with us. She was traveling, and exploring southern Europe when she needed a place to stay for a week. She had (and still has) a perfect visitor record at Airbnb. She wanted a whole apartment to herself where she could rest and write. So, she searched for a quiet, peaceful place near the sea.

She discovered a place she liked: a tastefully furnished, parties forbidden in the apartment because the neighborhood is so peaceful and quiet – perfect. According to the information on Airbnb, it was located near a fishing village that was only a short walk away from the apartment.

The problems started with the address. The owner of the apartment had given an address that couldn’t be found. An email was quickly sent out, and the landlord emailed another address (in another town) that was fairly easy to find. The real address wasn’t near the fishing village or the sea.

The arrival was a shock for her. The apartment was located in a barrio, in a neighborhood where people hang out on the streets in front of the houses. Broken windows in worn-out cars. Lots of dogs and cats running around free. Litter and feces on the pavements. Constant barking of dogs, people shouting at one another and car engines revving between buildings created the atmosphere for the barrio.

It was late, she had already paid for the accommodation, there was little else she could do, so she decided to stay. Inside in the apartment it was as advertised, at least.

Next morning, she wanted to take a walk by the sea. Smartphone navigator showed the shortest way – the only way – to the fishing village. A long way to walk, but she intended to take a taxi back. It was a narrow, busy road. She started walking, but soon realized the road was too dangerous because of heavy traffic.

The moment she stepped on the pavement outside the apartment she had to fend herself from dogs and stand the looks of boldly staring residents. There was no common language, only the message that she doesn’t belong there.

So, in order to quiet down the constant unrest outside and the creeping feeling of unsafeness, she listened to her iPod for one week, wrote a lot and swore she wouldn’t rent anything without seeing it first.

Now, she has a new problem. She has to be able to check a potential apartment before booking. She has lost her trust in virtual apartments. On Airbnb, it is not possible the review a real apartment before booking. The service strips phone numbers and other information that allow setting up a meeting between parties. She has to find another way of discovering and booking rentals. For now, she is contacting local real estate agents in a destination where she is going next.

How did the Airbnb host do it? The first trick was to advertise a fishing village as the location for the property, even though the real location was in a nearby inland town. Having a car would have been the only possible way to make the trip from the apartment to the beach. The second trick was to advertise it as a peaceful, calm place. Naturally, people have different opinions on what is noise and what is quiet, but for some reason, the noise level declined considerably every time the police made their daily visit in the barrio.

Is the landlord still getting away with it on Airbnb? Yes. Airbnb or the apartment owner haven’t changed a word in the property description. She wrote a polite and truthful review about the apartment but it didn’t have an effect on the description. At close inspection, there seems to be other reviews at Airbnb that mention exactly the same problems as the writer experienced.

Why didn’t she read all the reviews before booking? There are a few reviews that mention the same problems, but she trusted the property description and having read a couple of reviews, she thought everything was fine. She had stayed in other Airbnb places before this without concerns or major problems.

Since Airbnb is the business that publishes the information on properties, it is responsible for the accuracy of the information. Plain and simple. The host, of course, may disagree and refer to positive reviews that mention nothing about incorrect information or potential unsafety of the neighborhood. Ultimately, Airbnb has to decide who to trust and what is correct. If paying customers stop trusting Airbnb, that’s it. Game over.

If Airbnb neglects these kind of cases, it is only a matter of time before something really nasty happens to a customer, or customers get fed up, and the corporation’s business model will be under scrutiny.

For ages, real estate agents have acted as brokers between people who need short-term or long-term accommodation and people who own houses and apartments. The agents are successful only if the landlords and the renters trust the agent. If something is not right, the agent has to act. In every country, laws regulate how the business works, and what the responsibilities of the parties are.

Sharing economy is here, and we welcome everything it enables, but corporations have to carefully take every aspect of the new business model into consideration.