Granted, I don’t have that much experience with Airbnb yet. We are somewhat restless travelers, often just staying overnight in a chain motel while road tripping, but some travel situations call for longer stays.
I first learned about Airbnb through travel blogs I follow, and when we planned a trip through Scotland in 2014, I decided to give it a try. Our trip was supposed to start in Edinburgh, during the Fringe Festival, which meant accommodation was rare and extremely expensive. After browsing the Internet for hours, I finally decided to give Airbnb a try. I created a profile, found us a sweet, reasonably priced apartment in Leith, and haven’t looked back.
Some months later, our next trip took us to sunny Southern California, and we wanted to stay in more or less one area instead of driving from place to place as we had done numerous times before. Airbnb happened to be full of cute apartments and houses, so we narrowed it down to three places we wanted to stay at, I contacted the owners, and some hours later, our accommodation was booked and paid for.
It was a no-brainer to use Airbnb again, when we took the in-laws to England for a week in fall. Instead of spending unnecessary amounts of cash on various hotel rooms, we booked a lovely cottage near London and used it a our home base for day trips to London, Southampton, and Stonehenge.
So, what’s the big deal about Airbnb?
You don’t stay in a hotel.
What’s so nice about the fact that Airbnb lists homes, not hotel rooms, is that you actually get to live where locals live, with all the amenities of homes and residential areas.
Also, there’s no housekeeping coming and going as they please, cleaning your room and making the bed. I know it’s their job, but I really don’t like strangers cleaning up all around my stuff, maybe touching things to get them out of their way – whenever I have to stay in a hotel for more than just one night, I make sure I put away at least my pajamas and my toothbrush before leaving for the day…
It’s much more interesting than a generic hotel room
In Leith, Scotland for example, we stayed in a beautiful little apartment on the second floor of a Victorian house, overlooking the Firth of Forth. Street parking was available (and free), there were supermarkets nearby, and even a bus stop just outside the house.
In Mission Beach, CA we lived in a cute little apartment just a stone’s throw from the beach, with a tiny kitchen, our own parking space and even a washing machine.
In Venice Beach, CA we had the entire lower half of a duplex, complete with a front porch and garden full of humming birds.
In San Diego, CA we stayed in a quite luxurious pool house (complete with pool and jacuzzi), again with free street parking.
In Woking, England we had a lovely half-timbered cottage with enough room for four adults – two bedrooms, two bathrooms, living room and kitchen, again with a washer/ dryer combo, and the local pub just a couple minutes down the road.
places come with useful travel information
As you usually rent space that the owners have lived in themselves (or still live in), you can pick their brains about things to do, places to go and sights to see. All the hosts we have interacted with so far were really nice, and all of them offered tons of advice, some right after booking, some later on.
Things we like to look for
As we like our privacy, we only look for listings for entire homes or apartments, but the number of listings explodes if you open the search to private or even shared rooms.
Things we always look for in a listing are a kitchen and a washing machine. Even though we love eating out, it’s nice to have at least a refrigerator for some fresh food, snacks and cold drinks. The washer is pretty self-explanatory, as we usually travel for at least two weeks, sometimes up to five, and we sure don’t want to schlepp around clothes for that amount of time…
I’m by no means an expert on Airbnb, and I’m also not getting paid to write this, but I can wholeheartedly recommend checking out Airbnb as an alternative to hotels and vacation rentals!