By now you have heard of Airbnb, I am sure. Especially if you have traveled at all. It is an amazing website that allows you to book accommodations and stay at people’s homes, either renting out the whole house, a private room in a house or shared living space. I have been using Airbnb for over 4 years now, and I have yet to have a bad experience with it. I have read some ‘horror stories’ from other people, both as the renter or people who rented their place out, but I can honestly say I have never come across a bad rental property or rental owner in my many times I have used it.
I am not a hostel person. I use the excuse that I am too old for it now, being 30 and all. But really I don’t think it was ever my kind of traveling. I enjoy the budget of it, and I am not even against the shared sleeping space and all that. I have just found, in my experience, that most revolve around the party scene, and that’s just never been my scene. I am not a big drinker, an occasional drink here or there is lovely, but not one to get drunk. I especially have no desire to get drunk, be hungover, and waste time on my travels on all of that. It’s just not the kind of traveler I am. I know that that is not always the case. I am sure there are hostels out there that don’t fall under that generalization. That’s just been my experience. But really after staying in places booked through Airbnb, I just don’t see the point when I can have a place to myself, or with my significant other, or whomever I am traveling with, that is much more appealing to me.
Since my first experience using Airbnb, I have stayed at private beach houses in Thailand, penthouse apartments in Barcelona, incredible cabins and apartments throughout Canada (during my solo road trip across Canada), treehouse in Oahu, ocean view cabin in Pahao, and sometimes just the views from the accommodations alone are worth it. Let me show you my experience with Airbnb through pictures…
Staying in an Airbnb, in my experience, the host are usually full of useful information for you, as a tourist. Many hosts even leave a binder full of things, like metro maps, names and locations of good local restaurants, and that kind of thing. Which to me, can be invaluable, even with the internet, sometimes it can help to hear it all from a local person. Most Airbnb hosts, while checking in, spend a bit of time answering any questions you have about the area and can be super friendly. I have especially enjoyed the times where I have stayed on properties where the owner’s property is on the same land. It’s always nice to have people to chat with, and who are around if you need them. I have also stayed in rooms within a house, owned and lived in by the owner. This can be somewhat daunting for some, but especially when I was solo traveling, it was nice to have people to chat with when you are hanging out at the place.
I also find that the hosts are usually so accommodating. I have had hosts book transfers for me, from the airport, or just recommend the best way to get to their place. I find they are always honest and not trying to rip you off in anyway. And even though they have a check-in and check-out time, in my experience they have all been extremely flexible and try to work with your flight arrival and departure, if they can, in accordance with their previous and upcoming visitors. And if you can’t stay past a certain time, they usually offer to help with storing luggage, which is always a plus.
As much of a foodie as I am, eating at restaurants for every meal while traveling can get expensive and tiring sometimes. Staying at an Airbnb gives you the option, if you pick one with a kitchen, of making meals at home instead of having to go out all the time. I especially enjoy this option for mornings, when I just want to make my own breakfast and coffee and sit on that amazing patio and take in the sunrise. It can also mean you eat a lot healthier, being able to cook for yourself and not partake in restaurant eating all the time. Hosts are usually great at letting you know exactly where the nearest grocery store is, and even tips on where to go for the cheapest too.
I am all about a good view, especially one for sunrise and/or sunset. So when I look for a place to stay on Airbnb, my mind usually goes to finding the place with the best view. You can get really cool apartments with balconies that let you take in the view with a morning coffee. As you can see from my photos above, I had some luck with finding places with a view in my travels.
I also just love the ability to book unique accommodations. Why stay in a hotel that looks like every other hotel for double the price, when you can stay in a treehouse? And one that looks like a hobbit house to boot. There are so many interesting options of places to stay all over the world, from treehouses, to castles, to churches to yurts. I like to find interesting places, sometimes they even come with a cool story, like the lava rock hale, which was built by the owners, on their property, out of lava rock. Or the treehouse in Oahu that Dr. Daniel has been continuing to add on to, with guys even living there who are helping with the project of building it.
Now sometimes the places aren’t as cheap as hostels, I will admit that. I am not sure prices of hostels in Hawaii, but it wasn’t necessarily ‘cheap’ to stay in the places we did. But it was definitely cheaper than staying in the hotels, I did my research on that. And for places you will be staying a week or more, Airbnb hosts tend to offer a percentage off for booking for a week. Hotels don’t do that kind of thing, from what I know of anyways. If anything, staying in a hotel ends up costing a fortune.
If you need to stay in a specific place, like I do next month when I am off to Nairobi, Kenya, for a Professional Development seminar for work. You can select the city and zoom into the area you hope to stay in, and find exactly where you are looking for. You don’t have to stay at some hotel way out of the way because it is the only one close enough to where you need to be. Just type the city in, and click on that map and boom you can have a look at what that neighbourhood has to offer.
And a great thing is, there are reviews to help you make sure that it is what it advertises. I always read the reviews to make sure I am getting what I pay for. And I leave reviews so that others will know how amazing each place is. And you get reviews as a guest, showing what kind of guest you are and if you are worth hosting. I have yet to get a bad review, by the way.
So even though, I spend a lot of my travels outside of the accommodations, as opposed to inside, it is nice to have somewhere interesting and unique to wake up in, and come back to at the end of the day. I am all about creating unique experiences in the places I visit, and one of the ways I do it is through Airbnb.
Never booked with Airbnb, here are some tips to remember when browsing and booking:
- Read the reviews, they are real and honest from people who have stayed there.
- If you are picky, click on Amenities and choose the ones you need at your accommodation. Need a pool? Check it off.
- Read the cancellation policy, some can be quite strict
- Make sure you check off Entire House, Private Room or Shared Room if you have a preference, and pay attention to which listing is what.
- Read the listing carefully, and if you have any questions message the host before booking. They are friendly and full of information.
- When you book for the first time, go through www.airbnb.com/c/salexis20 and get a $20 credit for being referred by me 🙂