Skip to Content

Once Upon A Bookshelf

Where Fiction and Reality Meet

Finding Home in the Middle of the City

Today, Gillian Duffy has stopped by to share with us her love of travelling and why she prefers staying in a vacation rental as opposed to a hotel.

Gillian has a new book out, How to Find the Perfect Vacation Rental, which is available to purchase on Amazon.


I love cities. I love the hustle and the bustle, the energy of being around so many people, and yet still with the sense of being alone and anonymous.

I love Berlin. It’s a new city, with an old history, busy constantly transforming itself. It’s easy to get lost, to get caught up in the busyness of it all rushing around to see the sights and to not see the Berlin that is underneath. To miss the neighbourhoods, and parks, and small sidewalk cafes that make up the real city.

That’s why, when we visited, we decided to try a vacation rental. We had been travelling for 3 months by then and were looking for a little slice of home. The apartment we found did not disappoint.

Located outside of the downtown core, but within 5 minutes of the subway system to get us there, our apartment, with it’s beautiful modern decor, comfy futon bed, and small but functional kitchen, was exactly what we were looking for.

Home in the Middle of the City

We spent the week ‘commuting’ to the downtown sightseeing spots but we also stopped in at the little pub on the way home from the subway station. We visited the market down the street to get groceries for our lazy morning breakfasts, and we enjoyed relaxing meals in the neighbourhood restaurants. We left feeling like we had found the ‘real’ Berlin and decided that we would use vacation rentals whenever we could.

We continue to travel and we continue to use vacation rentals as much as possible as do many of my travelling friends; it’s not a secret among those who travel that vacation rentals can cost the same (or less!) than a traditional hotel room. However, many people I know in my regular life don’t even know about vacation rentals and, when I explain it to them their eyes glaze over and they tell me that it just seems so overwhelming.

How to Find the Perfect Vacation RentalYes, there are a lot of vacation rental websites out there. Yes, there are a lot of properties to search through to find the perfect one. Yes, it could be completely overwhelming. But it doesn’t have to be.

I wrote How to Find the Perfect Vacation Rental to overcome that overwhelm.

In it I break down the criteria selection process, compare vacation rental websites, compile a list of questions to ask, and walk you through the exact process we use to find and enjoy vacation rentals around the world.

With a little forethought as to what you’re looking for it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. A destination, a criteria list, and a few questions at the ready are all you need to navigate your way to the vacation rental that will fit you and your family perfectly.

Gillian DuffyBio: Gillian not only enjoys using vacation rentals when she travels…she wrote the book on it! “How to Find the Perfect Vacation Rental” is available on her blog One-Giant-Step.com where you can also follow along on her adventures, mis-steps, and personal journey as she travels the world and sets out on a cycle tour of Europe this spring.

Posted by Courtney Wilson @ 6:58 am February 19, 2014.
Category: Guest Posts

  • Jenn vanOosten

    We haven’t gone on many vacations, but when we have we’ve opted to rent our own place rather than do the all-inclusive thing – it’s not really cheaper or more expensive, as you mentioned, but it’s SO wonderful to have a place to really call your “own” for the duration of the trip!