An Overnight Success
Airbnb was started in San Francisco by roommates Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia in 2008, They transformed their living room into an informal bed and breakfast, accommodating three guests on air mattresses and providing homemade breakfasts. Later, Nathan Blecharczyk joined them, and together they began providing accommodations that, price-wise, fell somewhere between free couch surfing and a typical upscale hotel experience. Today, Airbnb offers 500,000+ places to stay in 33,000 cities and 192 countries.
Need a nudge to take the Airbnb leap? Here are four good reasons to give it a go.
Airbnb offers thousands of unique spaces: Rural, urban, and everything in between. Ever wanted to sleep in an Airstream trailer, tree house, or a yurt? No problem! The choices are vast, occasionally quirky. (But not always.)
Expect to find better prices than hotels, and even more room availability at times. You will also enjoy cost savings by using a kitchen and eating in versus out, if you choose to.
The endless opportunities to connect with others as part of the travel journey is a big bonus for hosts and guests alike. Private accommodation with little-to-no contact with the others is also an option.
The opportunity to fund your own travel and give back by being a host is another Airbnb perk. I've opened an account funded by my Airbnb income to help pay for upcoming trips I am planning, and you can bet I'll also be booking a place to stay on Airbnb for those future adventures! -- Kathy Peterman
Tips For Traveling Herbivores
As a host, you can promote your place as vegan or share that you don't allow meat or dairy items in your home. As a guest, you can use the search filter to find vegan or vegetarian hosts!
Even if you've never actually tried it out for yourself, you've likely heard of the alt-accommodation hub known as Airbnb, For some intrepid travelers including writer Kathy Peterman, the benefits of being both a guest and as a host are innumerable. Read on to learn why sometimes, it actually is more about the destination than the journey.
I’d heard friends talk about Airbnb for a couple of years, but it wasn't until last month that I finally got on board and tried it myself. Why the long wait? Well, I didn’t fully understand how Airbnb worked, and the concept almost sounded too good to be true. It seemed to be mostly young people using it, so I secretly wondered if I was too old to participate. So, while friends raved about the places they had stayed, it wasn’t until seeing a friend’s Facebook posts charting her transition to a new job at Airbnb in Portland that my curiosity soared. First, I tried it as a guest, and then dove in as a host.
My debut Airbnb adventure began with an overnight trip to Seattle with my daughter, her husband, and their nine-month-old daughter. (I agreed to come along and babysit while they went to a Devo concert.)
Originally, we were going to get a hotel, but I decided to break from tradition and investigate Airbnb options instead. Our unique situation—two families needing joint accommodations—coupled with my own curiosity, made it the right time to check out Airbnb.
What I discovered was much more flexibility in price and type of accommodations than I could have found with a hotel. My favorite Seattle hotel, the Mediterranean Inn, would have cost twice the price for a fraction of the space--and parking fees and no kitchen.
We decided on a three-bedroom home that we had all to ourselves, complete with a well-stocked kitchen, washer and dryer, yard, and a nice, big living room with a huge TV, magazines, and plenty of room to stretch out. and to share conversation in.
My bed was fitted with the best sheets I have ever slept in, and our host left nice robes and slippers for us to lounge in. Also included in the price of our lodgings were unlimited hot and cold beverages.
We paid $228 total for one night; hotel accommodations in the Seattle area would have easily cost us 50-100 percent more. Had we stayed two or three nights, we could have taken advantage of the kitchen and really saved money instead of being compelled to eat out at restaurants.
One of the neat things about Airbnb is that they reach out to guests and hosts to get reviews about the stay. Each party gets to say how the other did with communication and cleanliness, and how they were as a host or guest. There's a public part of the review that anyone can read, and a private section that allows you to mention any areas for improvement, or to privately add personal input on the stay. Imagine if all businesses had this level of transparency!
After submitting the review of our Seattle stay, the Airbnb site sent a prompt asking if I wanted to list my own place. As someone working to simplify my life--going through my house room by room, closet by closet, and drawer by drawer to eliminated clutter—I’ve created a Zen space with plenty of extra room to house guests. I decided to take the leap.
It took about 30 minutes to create my profile, and the following afternoon, I spent a few more minutes updating the description and adding photos. By the next morning, I already received requests to stay, and within a week, I had booked my space for the entire month!
I love being a host and getting to know my guests and providing what they need to make their stay a good one. Each guest is different. Some want to just do their own thing, while others will share a meal or time together. I've had the good fortune of hosting some very kind people from around the world, including Indiana, Australia, Canada, San Francisco, and France.
Everyone who stays is on a unique journey; for some, it's a trip to Portland for a weekend beer festival. For others, my city is a stop on a six-month adventure to see the world between college and career. For my present guest visiting from France, it's about finding a place to call home while she completes a one-month work internship. Some guests stay just one day, others lay down roots for weeks. (Hosts can decide if they wish to have a minimum or maximum stay.)
Airbnb allows you to set your price for your shared space, private room, or entire home. You also list the amenities you provide, such as Wifi, washer and dryer, breakfast, shampoo, etc. The host determines the cleaning fee, security deposit, and whether ID verification is required. You can read the reviews on guests prior to approving them, as well as ask questions. If there are any red flags, you have the option of declining a potential guest.
Airbnb collects the money once the booking occurs, waiting until the guest has stayed one night before transferring the full fee to the host. This helps both parties have time to confirm they have a good match.
Airbnb is now my first accomodations choice when traveling. My houseguests have added richness to my life, including helping me learn more about my city through their eyes and experiences. I've made new friends--including my latest guest from France--and look forward to following a recent Aussie guest's travel blog.
Kathy Peterman is a registered nurse who retired at age 55 and is now exploring the adventures in life after work. Her interests in health, photography, travel, being green, and minimalism led her to create her blog The 3rd Chapter. She is presently writing an eBook about raw cleansing as a pathway to health.
Top three images courtesy of Creative Commons.
Bottom portrait courtesy of Kathy Peterman.