You and I are very much alike. Unless you’re incredibly fortunate, we both wake every morning, prepare ourselves for work, join the masses in the daily commute, work for eight hours, and then return home totally spent to participate in the few or many activities we thoroughly enjoy; it all feels a bit like, well, The Matrix. Some extend this sheep-like mentality to everything they do, but others join the revolution and refuse to play along. Let us be one of those with a rather unconventional shift in our behavioral pattern.
First let us get the dry details out of the way. Airbnb (bnb stands for Bed & Breakfast) is a hospitality service that allows people to rent homes and apartments from around the world from other individuals like you and I. No chains or corporations to deal with. No exorbitant prices. The middleman is essentially cut out in favor of the human element. Instead of a handful of hotel chains colluding for your service, you have literally thousands upon thousands of hosts going the extra mile to lure you into their wondrous abode.
So what does Airbnb have to do with The Matrix? A lot actually. For years my wife and I were part of the herd, following precisely established conventions that to travel comfortably and safely one must stay in a hotel. We were settling for the status-quo. It was boring, insipid, and highly uninspiring. But this all changed one fateful afternoon while holding a casual conversation with a friend:
Me: So where have you traveled this year?
Friend: Well, all over Europe.
Me: Isn’t that crazy expensive? The hotels there are insane!
Friend: Not really, we stayed in apartments and we shared the rent.
Me: What? Are you serious? (insert look of disbelief)
Friend: Yep, you should try it. It will change your perspective on traveling forever.
Then and there began our love affair with Airbnb. We have saved untold amounts of money, have met amazing people with wonderful stories to tell, and have fallen in love with quaint neighborhoods. In a few, rare occasions, we have event felt that pang of sadness when leaving behind specific hosts, as if they were part of our extended family. Have you ever left a Ramada Inn and felt like you left family behind? I thought so….and no, forgetting your kids at the lobby doesn’t count.
Why Stay With Airbnb
I can think of three specific reasons why you should take advantage of AirBnB during your next trip.
Price: I kid you not when I say that I have saved thousands of dollars during the last 6 years of Eurotravel. Because there are so many hosts competing for your stay you are likely to find very reasonable prices in the majority of cities around the world. Not only are these apartments cheaper than a hotel room, but there are usually awesome perks like great views, a jacuzzi, or an out of this world bathroom; you’ll likely have to pay a premium to have any of these in a hotel, if at all available.
Flexibility: One of the primary contributing factors to an expensive vacation is food. Eating in new restaurants full of awesome delicacies is quite a treat, but overdoing it can put a dent on your wallet. Since the vast majority of houses and apartments have kitchens with all the necessary utensils, you can purchase ingredients at the local market and whip your own concoction. If you stick to simple plates like pasta and sandwiches then you’ll save money and time in one swoop. Score!
Immersion: Why do you travel? I suppose you do so in order to enter a brand new world. So why the hell do you enclose yourself in a protected bubble and steer far away from the realities of that city? When you stay in an apartment hosted by a local you can see and feel what it is like to live in that place. You will see and hear families interact. You will be a physical and spiritual witness to the energy that pulsates in every city.
Feast your eyes with some of the gorgeous apartments we have visited in the past:
There are only a couple of caveats to keep in mind when it comes to Airbnb.
Firstly, not every host is excellent; you will have to do your due diligence and read the reviews carefully. I recommend you only stay with a host that has a ton of reviews or have been granted the elusive Superhost badge. This approach has worked wonderfully for us, resulting in stellar experiences in more than 20 apartments.
It is also important to note that in some cities, strangely enough, the price of an apartment is higher than that of a hotel, at which point you’re better off paying for the latter and come back to a clean room every night.
After so many amazing experiences I can’t even fathom the thought of staying in a hotel. There is something magical about connecting with a local and staying in a location that they have carefully crafted for your enjoyment, right down to the decor, maps, and plethora of suggestions on restaurants to visit and ways to save money. From orange marmalade made by a wonderful lady in Crete to a delicious wine curated by our amazing host in Rome, I have been overwhelmed again and again by the generosity of our hosts and the dynamics of this amazing company. It is a brave new world out there, so get out, be brave, and break the mold!
Have you stayed with an Airbnb host before? If so please share the experience. What city was it? How long did you stay? I’d love to discover more wonderful hosts as we travel around the world.