The Clever Travel Companion Updates

Is Airbnb safe? Seven Tips for first time guests May 18 2018, 0 Comments



If you follow these tips before renting an Airbnb, your vacation will go that much more smoothly.

1. Stay safe

Horror stories in the past have raised some legitimate safety concerns about how safe Airbnb is, though many stays are trouble free. Since its launch, the company has added consumer and host protections and worked to make online profiles match real-life identities, under the theory that people will behave more responsibly without a digital veil of secrecy. An online FAQ about "trust and safety" explains more about the company's verification process and reviews.

2. It's not a hotel

Seems obvious, but some renters still don't get the apartment-sharing concept and expect the sort of welcome and the quality of amenities you'd find at a hotel. (It doesn't help the confusion that Airbnb allows rental-property varieties ranging from apartment to yurt.) Pay close attention to what's included—and even more attention to what's not.

3. Be yourself

Airbnb makes a big deal out of its community, which the site says helps keep dealings honest. Creating a real profile, getting verified by adding personal info, and even getting reviews from friends who already use the service can up your chances of booking a successful stay.

4. Shop carefully

The site's many filters make it easy to narrow down the sort of property you're interested in, whether that means a whole home, a berth on a sailboat, a place with a fully stocked kitchen, an apartment near a particular concert venue, whatever! Using filters can help turn 40,000 listings into a few, and from there a detailed study of apartment photos can give a level of detail that written descriptions might miss: Is the room bright and airy? Is that advertised balcony actually big enough to enjoy? Just how small is the shower? A close look can help weed out disappointment in the early going.

5. Ask questions

Airbnb's built-in messaging system makes it easy to ask questions of hosts, from info on the nearest subway stop to whether or not the kitchen maker in the unit comes with coffee too. (The answer may surprise you!) These no-obligation questions are particularly useful in making a choice between similar properties once you've narrowed down your search.

6. Know the rules

Speaking of booking, it's not just a simple click-to-book operation like you'd find at, yes, a hotel. To start a booking, potential guests pick out dates, agree to the house rules for a given rental, and then send a request through Airbnb's messaging service to potential hosts. If a host agrees to your request, Airbnb handles the payment, for a small slice of the pot, to discourage any scams as money changes hands. (A few properties do allow instant booking, for a more hotel-like experience. Those that do clearly advertise the fact.) Finally, cancellation policies vary by property, so take note of the specific terms at your rental if travel plans are still in flux.

7. Show up with an open mind

Most hosts, expert Airbnb-ers say, are used to entertaining road-weary travelers and understand that guests are interested in seeing the city, not hanging around with people they've just met from the internet. That said, a bit of conviviality goes a long way, hosts say, whether that means having a drink or just having a chat. That a local connection is one of the strongest selling points of the Airbnb experience. After that free night, of course.

This article originally appeared in Conde Nast Traveler


Your guide to Australia for solo female travellers April 25 2018, 0 Comments



Life "down under" has proven exceptionally popular with single female travellers, due largely to Australia's travelling culture. Backpacking across Australia is guaranteed to offer memories that will last a lifetime, with a party-like atmosphere along the Gold Coast and friendly locals all around the country. If you’re a first-time solo traveller, it’s a great place to start given that everyone speaks English and the supply of hotels and hostels is unsurpassed by so many other travelling destinations around the world. So, whether you’re thinking of taking a gap year after university or a much needed sabbatical from work, here are some top tips for ladies upping sticks and backpacking solo to Australia.

Safe places to visit in Australia

The best place for female solo travellers to start in Australia is the Gold Coast. It’s full of like-minded solo travellers and surfer dudes and there’s a friendly, party atmosphere day in, day out. The Great Barrier Reef is situated close to Queensland’s Gold Coast too, and it is the largest living thing on Earth. Head further south to the state of Victoria and you’ll discover the city of Melbourne, with its fabulous fashion boutiques, sporting events and laid-back café culture ideal for dipping your toes into life in Australia. New South Wales has a great mix of culture and entertainment, with vibrant Sydney and the country’s understated capital, Canberra both located here. The state’s beaches are particularly popular too, with Bondi enjoying a great reputation among solo travellers and the surfing fraternity.

Transport around Australia



Ultimately, how you move from place to place in Australia depends on how long you’re planning on staying for. If you’re spending several months down under, the Greyhound bus network offers cost-effective connections by road. A great way to experience the variety of Australia’s landscape is to travel by train, with everything from contemporary tilt trains to The legendary Ghan covering much of the country by rail. There are sleeper trains you can take to move between cities overnight and enjoy your own privacy with a one-person cabin. Of course, there are plenty of internal flights between cities if your time here is rather more limited.

Cheap eats on the move

There is no longer any stigma attached to solo dining. Dining options for one are extremely commonplace now throughout the country. From Tasmania to Adelaide, there are plenty of restaurants that offer single-seat dining and concepts such as half serves, allowing you to enjoy more than one plate of food on your own. Of course, whether you want delicious fresh seafood, barbecued Aussie favourites, a wholesome plate of paella or a spicy offering of Mexican cuisine that’s currently growing in popularity throughout Australia, it’s possible to get orders delivered from restaurants to your accommodation, without having to leave the confines of your bedroom, by placing orders on your smartphone or tablet with specialised apps like Deliveroo.

Unique and reviewed accommodation

Speaking of accommodation, Australia boasts an unrivalled choice of places for solo female travellers to stay. Booking.com is a good starting point for bog-standard hotels and bed-and-breakfasts that are importantly safe and reputable. However, Airbnb and Homestay gives solo travellers a unique opportunity to sample family life with reviewed and rated hosts in places such as beautiful beachfront townhouses to revamped tour buses in Byron Bay that you simply can’t put a price on.

On the whole, Australia is a fun, vibrant, safe and multi-faceted place to explore. Its comparatively low crime rate means it is no less safe than many other popular traveller pit-stops. With a little common sense and a bucketload of get-up-and-go, you’ll enjoy everything Australia has to throw at you.


How safe are hostels? April 15 2018, 0 Comments



How safe are hostels really? I'm sure you'll have that one friend who travelled to every country you've ever heard of and more who will swear by the safety and comfort of hostels, but really, how safe are they? 

This is a pretty popular question even among the most seasoned of travelers and the truth is, hostel safety and comfort can differ quite dramatically from place to place or hostel to hostel. For example, some of the Clever Travel Companion team members offered up their experiences and found that whilst in the deepest rural Thailand they found a hostel on beach with a jacuzzi, rooftop bar and bedside lockers for the grand price of $14 per night, in the centre of Sydney they found themselves in a $500 per week, 18 bed dorm with a single power outlet. 

That said, safety and comfort tips will often run more or less the same. Here's some golden rules you should definitely live by if you're staying in Hostels.

1. Research a good one

Naturally the first thing you should do when considering a hostel is check out the place itself, select a good hostel with a reputation for safety and not the opposite. A really great resource for investigating whether a hostel is right for you is Hostelling International. Take a look on their site and you'll certainly rest easier. 

2. Use the lockers

Don't feel like a geek or a loser by using the provided lockers. They're there for a reason and if you lose your passport or cash by not using them, you'll feel like even more of a chump. Contact a hostel beforehand and ask about the lockers, do they provide them? Do they cost extra? How safe are they? Where are they located in relation to your bed? 

3. Use the lockers, but don't put all your trust in them 

Ever heard the saying "don't put all your eggs in one basket"? It applies here. If people are up to no good, if the lockers aren't as secure as you'd hoped and just because its safer, keep your most valuable items on you at all times, even when sleeping. Clever Travel Companion clothing is designed precisely for this purpose, you can use the secret pockets to keep your cell phone, passport and cash on your person at all times and when showering or washing, a potential thief would never think to look in your t-shirt. The clothes are made from a soft yet durable cotton so sleeping in them is very comfortable and they'll last a long time. Think about it, sleeping with your passport in a secret pocket in a tank top under your pyjamas? I'd rather it be there than in a locker. 

4. Ask the staff for security advice

In most hostels the staff are also travelers but even if they're not, they're the guys who know what goes on in their place of work, they'll be the guys to speak to if you have any concerns or need advice on staying secure. 



5. Copy your passport and email it to you

Really you should do this before you leave the house on any trip, the second you leave your country it is vital that you have your passport at all times. If you lose it, the next best thing is a digital copy. In hostels however its probably a little more important you make sure you have a copy, with so many people coming and going through a single place, things are bound to go missing. With a digital copy you can show the staff and confirm with certainty its yours if they've found it. 

6. Drink responsibly

You probably don't need telling with regards to drinking, you know your limits. That said, it's easy to forget when traveling that the same rules do apply. You probably will not have been in a situation like a hostel before; drinking with new people in a new place where you'll all be spending the night. Some people in the hostel may not even be guests, they could be strangers so watch where your alcohol is coming from, if possible only ever get your drinks yourself and keep your limits at the forefront of your mind.  

7. If in doubt, travel in a group

You're certain to make friends whilst traveling or staying in a hostel, if any of your new found friends are heading in the same direction, don't be afraid to change your plans slightly so you can stick together. A solo traveler can make an easy target but a group is likely to be avoided by any potential criminals.