I’ve mentioned AirBnB in a few of my traveling posts, most recently the story of my road trip from Portland to Nashville. Ever since my boyfriend Nick and I discovered the site, which lets people rent out their homes to travelers, we rarely stay in hotels anymore. In fact, thanks to Airbnb, we’ve spent a few nights in a modern townhome in Belgium, a week in a gorgeous apartment in Rome, a night in a historic home in Kansas City, 10 days in a south London flat, two weeks in a fabulous Paris apartment, a night in a midwife’s cottage in Wyoming, and the list goes on. If you’re willing to sacrifice the mint on your pillow, there are many reasons to try AirBnB instead of a hotel on your next trip. Here are a few…
1. You’ll save money. Nick and I stayed in two different Airbnb apartments in Paris. They were both in amazing neighborhoods (one was in Montparnasse and one was on Rue Daguerre), they were both beautiful, quirky little spaces (one had a loft bedroom and the other had a balcony overlooking the Eiffel Tower), and they both cost around 70 bucks a night. Hotels in the same area cost well over $100 a night, and didn’t provide a kitchen for us to store our stockpile of French cheeses. Some fancier AirBnB properties cost as much or more as a stay in a nice hotel, but in general, most AirBnBs are about half the price of hotels in the same area.
2. You can live like a local. No matter what exotic locale you’re visiting, staying in a hotel always puts you in a bit of a bubble. Local people don’t live at hotels, so you’ll be surrounded by other tourists and waited on by staff members who are being paid to be nice to you. Staying in an apartment in the heart of a city provides a much more authentic, colorful, uncensored experience. Spending a week living in a south London flat, for example, gives you the chance to shop for food at the neighborhood market, meet your temporary neighbors, grab a drink at the pub down the street, and gripe about the poor water pressure in the shower. You’ll feel like a local in no time.
3. You can have as much or as little privacy as you want. Some AirBnBs allow you to rent a whole house or apartment and have it to yourself. Some give you your own bedroom in a host’s home. All of them very clearly state how much space you will be getting and how involved the hosts like to be with their guests, and you can search according to your preferences. Would you like to stay with a host who will show you around the neighborhood and make you pancakes in the morning? Would you like to stay somewhere where you pick up the keys in a lockbox by the front door and never see your host at all? There is a plethora of options for every traveling style.
4. You’ll meet some pretty awesome people. Nick and I tend to book AirBnBs that are on the more private side of the spectrum (in other words, we skip the hosts who seem intent on including their guests in their weekly game nights). We usually meet our host when we arrive, or give them a quick call when we need a restaurant recommendation, but even this level of contact has allowed us to meet some awesome people. In Bruges, we stayed with one of the directors of an international dance troupe. Our host in Laramie, Wyoming told us about a vegetarian restaurant that still makes my mouth water. In London, our “Game of Thrones”-obsessed host had some very strong feelings about where to find the best Cornish pasty–and she was so right. Our Kansas City host (the one who fed us homemade bread when we were tired and hungry) was a professional storyteller who, obviously, had some pretty great stories to tell. Thanks to Airbnb, I feel like we’re building a network of intriguing acquaintances all over the globe, and that’s a really cool feeling.
5. You can stay wherever your heart desires. Hotels are typically clustered in certain parts of the city (usually downtown), which really limits your options. What if you’d like to experience an up-and-coming neighborhood on the edge of a city? What if you’d prefer to spend a week out in the country? Luckily AirBnB has properties literally everywhere: no matter where your obscure travel dreams take you, someone is probably renting out a funky apartment or lovely little cottage there. All you have to do is search for it!