Booking your hotel/Airbnb apartments and plane tickets for the Schengen visa

12:00:00 PM 3 Comments A+ a-

Good morning, Firenze! (View from our apartment)
Airline ticket reservation
We didn't pay for our airline ticket when we booked it, but we were still able to fulfill the Schengen visa requirement. And the embassy encourages applicants to book, but not yet buy, the ticket as much as possible.

I was thinking that if travel agencies can book an airplane ticket without my having to pay for it immediately, maybe I can do that too. We actually went to a travel agency to book our ticket, but they said they can only reserve a ticket thru them if we were availing of their tour package, too.

After screening several websites and comparing prices, we narrowed down our choices to two airlines: Qatar and Emirates. Between the two, Qatar was cheaper.

I called up Qatar Airways but the agent I talked to said they don't hold long reservations.

I called up Emirates and they agreed to hold my reservation for over a week. I made sure that the flight I reserved is the same flight we'll be taking if our Schengen visa is approved.

When our Schengen visa was approved, our reservation had already lapsed, so we just bought our tickets from Emirates online. Note that you are encouraged to book the same flight/airplane company that you used for your booking, as stated in the letter accompanying our visa.

Simply reserving our tickets saved us from worrying about the huge cost of plane tickets if we bought them before our visa was approved.

Reserving our accommodation

One of my dad's requests was that each person should only spend around Php150,000 for the whole two weeks, and that was the budget I worked on. The budget also helped because I was the one who paid for all my expenses, except for our two hotels.

While I would have loved to have experienced European hostels, the total was still beyond the set budget so I finally opted for Airbnbs. Note: Make sure renting an apartment from your host is legal because there are issues that differ with every city.

My rules for choosing an Airbnb rental:
      Must have at least three reviews already
      Must have 4.5-5 star ratings
      Must have beds for four adults
      Proximity to the places we wanted to go to, or the center of the city
      Must have a flexible or moderate policy
We were all excited for our apartments because we felt like we were going to live how the locals live. And I was right! Quite exciting to see our other "flatmates" and buy from the local grocery. However, buying food from the grocery was a bit of a challenge because the staff rarely spoke English.

Since I'm a newbie in Airbnb and had no ratings, I sent an introductory message to each host whose rental attracted me. Seven out of ten times, the response was positive. Most would even just reserve me for the dates I stated. It was amazing.

Here's the sample message I sent (italics for emphasis)

Buongiorno! [I changed this according to the language of the country]
My name is Haeja, from the Philippines. I'm [age] and [my job]
My family and I are visiting [city] on [date we'll be staying in that city]. We will be coming from [city], [country]. Is your place available for a [# of nights and days] stay? :)
[Then I ask my questions so we both know we fit what each other is looking for:]
Also, I would like to confirm that it will fit four adults?
Do we have to pay extra 2 euro/person tourist tax upon arrival, or pay anything else upon arrival? [yes, there is a tourist tax in some European countries i.e. Italy and Austria] 
[Then I explain why I chose to rent from them]
I like your place because it looks cozy, it is within our budget, and it is near the places we want to go to. 
[closing remarks] 
Looking forward to your response. 
Kind regards, 

Remember! Most Schengen Member states only accept Euro. Even if you have dollars, you have to exchange them to Euro. In Switzerland, you have to exchange your money for their local currency, the Swiss francs, because they are not part of the European Union, and therefore don't generally use the euro. Some stores in Switzerland do accept Euro, but will only accept bills (like in Starbucks and McDonalds, but sometimes with a minimum amount of purchase) and they will give you your change in Swiss francs.

Some images of our Airbnb rentals...

Pull-out bed our favorite apartment
Beautiful furniture here!
Super cheery apartment and chic decor
Great in photos, not so much in real life
Better than we expected!
If we our visas hadn't been approved, the only money we'd have lost are the ones we used to pay for documents, visa processing, travel insurance, and minimal Airbnb booking fees. The cost of applying for a visa you're not sure will be processed, eh?

Note that some flats don't have a microwave too, so check out the listed utilities available before booking a place.

Some of the apartments exceeded our expectations, and some were not as clean or as beautiful in real life. Thankfully, all of them provided towels.

Also, note that in Europe, when they say "second floor", that's actually the third floor because the first floor is like the 0 floor. So when reading the description, be wary of the "apartment on the second floor, without elevator" because if you're carrying a heavy bag and travelling from one country to another, it can be tiresome!

Unless your hosts are nice and they offer to carry your luggage up the stairs for you :)

Also, don't transact outside Airbnb, because if there is a problem, then Airbnb won't help you out if you paid the host directly.

If you don't have an Airbnb account yet, get a discount from me! Use my sign-up link to create your account. Claim your discount here!

Of the eight cities we slept in, we booked two hotels because 1) No available Airbnb in the area that met our requirements and 2) They were cheaper for a group than if we stayed in a hostel. Plus, they offered breakfast.

We booked directly with the hotels, although I did email them first to make sure the still had vacancies, and that they indeed have rooms for four adults.

Luckily, our chosen hotels also sold public transportation tickets, so it was easy for us to get to and fro the location. This is actually one of the benefits when we booked the hotel. If you're booking a cheap hotel, do remember that they may not have someone to help you carry your luggage.

Their breakfast buffet usually consists of a selection of bread + jam/cheese/butter spreads and liquid beverages. Some may also offer pie.

View outside our hotel in Venice
Super cosy accommodation in Innsbruck
One of the coziest dining places I've been to!

Good luck!

I hope you'll enjoy your trip! All photos are unedited. I don't know how to use Photoshop! Please don't use my images without permission.

Read about my Eurotrip!
Rome day 1
Rome day 2
Florence day 3-4
Pisa day 4
Venice day 5
Innsbruck day 6
Munich day 7-8

Other links you might find helpful:

Getting ready for Europe  |  Preparing your Schengen visa requirements  |  Filling out the Schengen visa form  |  How to apply to the Italian embassy thru Via  |  Cross-country train travel in Europe


Write comments
October 5, 2015 at 4:57 PM delete

Make sure to only book with a Schengen-accredited insurance company in the Philippines! Even if a Philippine-based insurance company is pretty popular, it might not be Schengen accredited.

Alexi Olivia

November 24, 2015 at 1:44 PM delete

Hi! I would like to ask whether your AirBnb reservations were enough for your visa applications? Thanks in advance.

November 24, 2015 at 11:57 PM delete

Hi Aiken, yes, the AirBnb reservations were enough. But just to be safe, we chose the hosts who had flexible/moderate policies only, in case we didn't get approved for a Visa. :)


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