If I had to choose between always sleeping for free or always renting an AirBnb… okay, I’d choose the free, even if I had limitless funds. The free style of travel is more fun, more authentic, and makes for better stories than insulating yourself via paid accommodation.
But folks, I’m an introvert. Too much time with people makes me almost catatonic, which is why I’m always saying AirBnb saves my sanity.
If you’re new to AirBnb, this friend referral link will get you $40 off your first stay.
What is AirBnb?
To me, AirBnb is an online accommodation platform that allows you to rent an entire home for the price of a hotel room.
Where do AirBnbs come from?
Owners of accommodation options post what they have to offer. I’ve stayed in big-city apartments, farm cottages, rooms over garages, regular houses, mother-in-law units, desert casitas, and more. Friends of mine once AirBnb’d a tree house!
AirBnb also allows owners to rent out a single room in their homes, but I’ve only done this twice. If I’m going to have a couchsurfing-like experience, being a guest in someone’s home, I’d much rather couchsurf or work exchange.
Is AirBnb safe?
Absolutely. I think it’s far safer than hotels and hostels. For many hosts, AirBnb is their livelihood. They can’t afford for their guests to have anything but stellar experiences. With AirBnb, you don’t have random housekeepers coming into your room during your stay, and you don’t run the risk of anyone with access to the key-card programming machine also having access to your room.
Honestly, we could debate the safety topic pretty hotly, easily coming up with terrible scenarios in both hotels and AirBnbs. Bottom line: bad things can happen anywhere, but AirBnb is certainly no less-safe than a hotel or hostel. I think it’s better!
Why is AirBnb awesome?
AirBnb is a home away from home. No one loves living out of a hotel room. At an AirBnb, I can live just like I would at my house, with comforts – the ability to make a cup of coffee or a quick bite to eat and to enjoy it on the couch doing internet things while the laundry runs in the background – at my fingertips.
AirBnbs get me out into local neighborhoods. Instead of being surrounded by fellow guests, I walk to the markets alongside locals walking out their front doors to go to work or take their kids to the park or do some shopping or meet a friend for coffee.
The unique, one-of-a-kind experiences had via AirBnb don’t just come from being in real neighborhoods beyond the tourist districts. I’ll never forget the funny light switches at the farm cottage I rented in Tasmania or googling to understand why Italian’s have two toilets in bathrooms. I’ll never forget the host in Sicily who insisted on giving us an orientation tour of the beautiful nighttime city, or the time I was able to whip up some beauty concoction I’d read about because I had access to a kitchen.
If you’ve got kids, you don’t have to worry about them waking up the neighbors in the room next door. (Noise benefit also great for couples who tend to make a lot of.. ahem… noise.) Parents can often get a place with a yard where kids have space to run and play and not drive you crazy with their hotel-room cabin fever.
AirBnbs often come with parking, which can be a lifesaver in a city.
AirBnb also helps de-corporatize the world. Life is better when money flows into local pockets, paying for a little girl’s ballet lessons or a family’s mortgage installment vs. some CEOs golf game. aYes, AirBnb itself is a corporation skimming dollars from these transactions. But an AirBnb stay puts more money into local pockets than a stay in a chain hotel down the road.
How does AirBnb save your sanity?
I’m actually a raging introvert, despite being very friendly and outgoing.
The best, richest kind of travel – like work-exchanging, couch-surfing, and hitchhiking – involve heavy doses of people and so are very introvert-unfriendly. When my energy reserves finally run dry, I love nothing more than to spend an entire day “at home.” Since I don’t own a home, and I especially don’t own homes in Italy or Thailand or Australia, etc., AirBnb allows me to connect with just what I need.
I can wake up in the morning, make breakfast, work, talk to friends on the phone, make lunch, lay around in my PJs (or my birthday suit!) all without ever having to engage with another human being.
At a hotel, I inevitably have to leave the room at some point – e.g. for food or a hot drink – and doing so is a bit of a production… getting dressed, deciding where to go, finding my way there, waiting in line. At a hostel, I’m surrounded by others in my bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, and living room which is decidedly not the break from engaging with people that I need.
Is there anything you don’t like about AirBnb?
I dislike the fees. It’s annoying that they aren’t shown from the outset. Sometimes a property that seems quite affordable suddenly isn’t after AirBnb’s service fee is tacked on (the platform charges both guests and hosts). The service fee itself is annoying – I’d prefer it was worked into the price, but then there wouldn’t be all these click-baity property prices for renters to lust after, now would there?
Some hosts also charge a cleaning fee – quite understandable, as many people aren’t making enough off their rental to justify the amount of time that goes into communicating with each guest before hand, arranging one’s life around when guests want to check in, being available to guests as needed during their stay, and doing all the washing and cleaning between guests. Being a host certainly isn’t easy. While I don’t mind the fee, it is another variable that makes a seemingly great deal a bit less so.
Finally, some people don’t like that AirBnb requires dealing with another human being. Most places I’ve stayed, hosts are very flexible about arrival times. They have a system where they can leave a key and you can just let yourself in at your leisure. A few times, because of the host’s limited check-in availability, I’ve had to arrive on a schedule – which is very stressful when traveling. However, hotels and hostels can be annoying in a similar but different way, with their more strict check-in and check-out times. Guess you can’t have your cake and eat it, too!
How do I get $40 off on my first stay?
You can use my friend referral link, if you’re a first-timer. (AirBnb used to do referral links for anyone, not just newbies. That ship has sailed, sadly.)
Once you become an AirBnb user, you’ll get a friend referral link, too, which you can pass on to your friends (and readers). When someone uses your link, you get a bit of travel credit. Not the $40 off that they get, but it’s still something!
Is AirBnb the only platform for renting whole houses?
Goodness, no! They weren’t even the first. VRBO – Vacation Rentals By Owner – has been around for years. There a few other international sites, and there are many regional sites as well. For example, in Australia, Stayz and even just in cities like Perth – Stay West. Google is your friend!
It’s worth finding out if there are local sites. Don’t get too stressed about missing out, however. Most property owners I know have their rental listed on every available site. They don’t want to miss a customer!
Happy Travels! ♣
Read next: How to Fly for Free
|↑ a||Yes, AirBnb itself is a corporation skimming dollars from these transactions. But an AirBnb stay puts more money into local pockets than a stay in a chain hotel down the road.|