Benjamin and I enjoy traveling. To make the most out of it, we set a budget beforehand and always read up on things to do that are not on the typical tourist path. However, hostels and Couchsurfing are not up our alley. In America, we loved Hampton Inns, but overseas, we love Airbnb.
After our conference in Istanbul, we had a few more vacation days to burn up, so we found reasonable flights to the island of Malta and an Airbnb apartment there. We are able to stay in an apartment for $30 a night instead of a hotel for $80, and staying in an apartment also helps cut costs in other ways. Having access to laundry means you can pack lighter and don’t have to pay for laundry fees, and having access to a kitchen is equally beneficial. We ate breakfast at the apartment everyday, packed lunches for the beach and went out to eat at night. Budget traveling is fun and allows us to do and see more.
But there are lessons to be learned when budget traveling. We found out that it was going to cost about $20 to get a taxi from the airport to the apartment, so we started to look at renting a car for a couple of days. We found a car rental that seemed like a great deal and allowed us a little more flexibility for our vacation, and so we committed. Cars are super small in Malta due to the narrow roads and we got a manual shift car just add to the backwards experience.
PSA: Never, ever, under any circumstances rent from the company Gold Car Rental.
They primarily operate in European countries, and it was only after our experience with this company that we found websites devoted to complaining about them (If you have Twitter, use it to get honest reviews on companies). They pressured us into signing paperwork without allowing us to look over the car, and as a result, we got an extra $200 bill for damages that we didn’t cause. Additionally, we tried to file a compliant, but their e-mail addresses and phone numbers don’t work. Surprise. While we were still on our trip, this made us sad, but now there is nothing that we can do except to spread the word.
Lesson Learned: Beware the car rental agency.
Stay tuned for more details about our trip to Malta!