I barely learned about Airbnb last January, but since then I’ve stayed at five during my trips, and I can’t recommend it enough. It’s an easy concept. People list their apartments, vacation homes, villas, mansions, castles, you name it. You can rent them short term or long term at a price that you can usually afford. Like everything else in life, the price varies depending on location and demand, but I find that unless you’re looking for a condo with a view in the middle of NYC, you’ll find an affordable place for your next trip. I always choose to have the place to myself, but if you don’t mind booking just a room in someone’s home, you’ll save even more money. Below are the top reasons I recommend Airbnb.
It’s Usually Cheaper
The first thing I noticed about Airbnb was how affordable it was to get some amazing looking places! Honestly, you’re not sacrificing luxury here when staying in someone’s home compared to a hotel. Some of these apartments look like they’re straight out of Pinterest. Sometimes when booking past trips, I’d spend hours searching for affordable hotels or bed & breakfasts near the city center with no luck. I’m not a huge fan of hostels unless I’m able to get my own private room and shower, and when you do all that you end up paying the same as a regular hotel. I’ve also tried staying further away from the city center to save a buck, but that doesn’t always work out too well (more on that in my next point).
So, yes I’ve stayed at some crappy hotels to be near everything, and still paid more than I wanted to for the room. For the sake of travel, right? When I heard about Airbnb, I was thrilled to have another option! I was wary at first and had a lot of questions, but I’m so glad I tried it. Most of the time, it’s much more affordable to rent somebody’s quaint apartment then it is to stay at a crappy hotel. However that’s not always the case, and sometimes it is cheaper to go the hotel route. You make the call. Check it out for yourself, and if you follow my link you’ll get $40 off your first booking. Simply create a profile, search the next destination you plan on going to, and you’ll see how much better the price ranges are for that location! Which brings me to my next point…
Location! Location! Location!
With Airbnb, it’s much more possible to afford a place in the heart of the city. I’ve been able to stay near landmarks and great areas for half of what I’d pay for a hotel in the same location. When traveling to a new place, I don’t recommend staying too far. As much as you plan, and think you can make it work, not staying nearby just takes time away from your trip.
I’ll always remember the first time we arrived in Rome and had a hotel in what we thought was a nearby neighborhood. We took the train in from the airport and weren’t quite sure where to get off (rookie mistake). We kind of guessed at our stop, mainly because the train kept going further and further and we started freaking out. Asking a local about our hotel didn’t work either, he didn’t know English or Spanish, and we didn’t know Italian.
We had no maps, no wifi, and no signs to hint where we were going. So we just wandered around, took guesses at corners, and dodged cars on the way. It ended well, we found our hotel. Later that night we realized how much it sucks to be that far from the center. If we wanted to catch the free shuttle bus we had to be back by a certain time, if we wanted to take public transportation we had a cut off time for that as well.
We decided to try the bus one night, and obviously, everything was in Italian so we half figured it out, jumped on, and ended up at the other end of the city. At one point, we were the only ones left on the bus and even the bus driver parked and got off, haha!! We were SO CONFUSED! Jorge got off and asked him how to get to our stop. Turns out it was the right bus, but they were switching drivers, and it was still on the other side of town. Apparently, we took the scenic route. To save money we chose not to use a taxi (we rarely do), and Uber wasn’t around Rome back then. Point being, we were limited in our outings because we were so far and basically had a “curfew”. As fun as that adventure was, I’d much rather stay near everything.
Live Like the Locals & Save More Money
I feel that Airbnb has been a more personalized experience. You literally immerse yourself with the locals. Wherever you’re going, you get to see how these people live, how the city condos look, where they love to eat, etc. I’ve been able to stay in a small apartment in a victorian San Francisco home—it was the size of a box, but it was victorian.
I’ve stayed in the heart of Old Quebec City, in an old gorgeous apartment that looked like it was straight out of a novel, clawfoot tub and all. Also stayed in a modern condo in the middle of Montreal’s nightlife, literally right above a bar. So whatever your scene is, there’s a great place for you!
Three out of the five Airbnb’s that I’ve stayed at made a recommendation book full of their favorite things to do in the city. Some even included their favorite grocery stores in case we wanted to cook in the full kitchen that we had available, which is another perk if you want to save money. Also, if you’re driving into the city, some places have free parking or driveways readily available for you! Just keep on saving that $$$.
Is it Cleaner Than Hotels? Is it Safe?
Isn’t it weird to sleep in a stranger’s home? That was my first thought when I learned about this option. However, when you think about it, the traffic an apartment gets is probably much less than a hotel room, meaning fewer people are sleeping on that pillow or sharing that bed. Plus, I’m sure you’ve had your share of shady hotel rooms or is that only me?
As far as safety goes, I’ve yet to feel unsafe in any of my bookings. I’m the first one to point out that there are psychos everywhere (huge Criminal Minds fan right here!) But just as easily as it could happen there, it could happen while walking into a hotel room, or getting into your car somewhere. Just communicate with the host, read any reviews, and go with your gut. If you ever have any issues, Airbnb has a Trust and Safety team available 24/7.
Either way, I never book an Airbnb if the host doesn’t have any reviews, they at least have to have a few. You know the reviews are real because you cannot leave one until after your booked stay is over. If a host has a ton of reviews, then I read each and every one to check for keywords such as “clean”, “bugs” or “psycho”.
When I get to an apartment, my lovely husband checks the bed for bugs because who wants to take that home?! What we’ve noticed is that every place we’ve stayed at has protective bed bug covers on the mattress and pillows, which somehow comforts me. Everyone has their own idea of what “clean” is, but to my standards, I’ve had nothing but good experiences. Also, if you’re a person who doesn’t care about “no reviews” and you love the place, then more power to you, go for it! There always has to be a first reviewer, right?
It’s Great For Groups
I don’t travel much with other people besides Jorge, but this past summer I went to Nashville with my brother-in-law and his girlfriend. We booked a two bedroom house, with free parking, and a 5-minute drive to the city. We saved a lot of money doing it that way because we split the costs, and still had our own individual space and privacy. If you’re traveling with another couple or just a big group, I’d totally recommend looking into this idea! When you divide the costs, the trip suddenly becomes more affordable, and who doesn’t like an affordable trip? So get to booking!