Dave and I realised the other day that during our whole time in the US over the past five months we’ve only spent three nights in motel accommodation.
One night was in Las Vegas, another night we were exhausted after a mammoth hike and needed a relaxing bath to recover and the third night was spent in Niagara Falls when we were travelling with a friend.
The other times whenever we were on the road and camping wasn’t a feasible option, we have used Airbnb for accommodation.
Airbnb bringing people together
What did people do before the internet? I often wonder this. I suppose in some ways life would’ve been more of an adventure, but I sure couldn’t live without the internet these days.
One of my favourite things about the internet is that it can lead you to meeting people you wouldn’t normally meet. And this is what Airbnb has done for us.
What is Airbnb?
Airbnb is regular people using a website to open up their homes to visitors. The website gives hosts the chance to make money and the guests to save money while both parties also get a chance to meet new people.
Airbnb is really easy to use. You choose where you plan to holiday or visit and then you can search for locals to stay with.
Hosts will list their homes on the website and include photographs and information about their room that they are letting out.
You can also stay in a whole house and have it all to yourself if the owner decides to rent out one of their properties in its entirety.
Since we’ve been using Airbnb in the USA, we have decided to stay with people in their homes because it’s the cheaper option. And although we might’ve been sceptical at first, it has turned out to be one of the best things we’ve done on our trip around the US.
Why stay in Airbnb accommodation?
Unlike a hotel, Airbnb hosts will often let you use their kitchen, meaning you can save money on eating out and cook up something in their house instead. This is great if you’re travelling long term like we are. Even if you want to just have breakfast before you head out in the morning, this is a great option.
Also unlike a hotel, you are staying in someone’s house and this comes with all the creature comforts of home. Rather than a scummy hostel bathroom you can bathe in a clawfoot bath for the same price.
Airbnb is also a lot cheaper than traditional accommodation. In Seattle, a bed in a shared dorm at a downtown hostel was $30 per person, whereas we stayed in a lovely Airbnb house and only paid $55 for both of us per night. So it was cheaper than what we would’ve paid to be in a hostel!
But possibly one of my favourite things about Airbnb is that you get to stay in a local area and get tips off the locals about things to see and do. This is such an invaluable advantage as a traveller.
For example, in Brooklyn, New York City, we stayed with a young couple who told us about a local bar. The bar was just a black door and you wouldn’t have even known it was there if you were walking by – it was a place only locals went.
Yet the couple tipped us off to where it was and upon entering we sat at a bar and drank some of the best cocktails of our lives.
We would’ve never have known it was there if we’d taken the traditional tourist route.
Who uses Airbnb?
You have to be a certain kind of person to want to rent out a room in your home. In our experiences people have been friendly and the kind of characters who love meeting travellers and learning about where they’ve been and what they’re doing.
Most likely your host will be considerate and enjoy having you in their home.
You can read reviews other guests have written before you visit in case you’re unsure. We often do this to make sure we have a wonderful experience.
Our experiences of Airbnb
We’ve used Airbnb five times since we’ve been in the US – in Boston, New York City, Seattle, Crescent City (near the Redwoods Forest) and San Francisco.
The first time we used it in Boston we were a little put off as it was poor students who were letting out some rooms while they lived in the basement. The house was covered in dog hair and there was only one bathroom and toilet between what could be up to six people if the other room was let out too.
Thankfully this is far from the norm, and all of our other Airbnb experiences have been wonderful.
In Seattle we stayed with a lovely couple who invited us to have a family meal with them. Their son and his wife were similar ages to us and had just returned from a six month trip backpacking around South America.
We talked for hours and they gave us top tips about what to do when we are in South America early next year.
In Crescent City we stayed with a lovely lady called Patree in her colourful house. On arrival she’d cooked us a delicious homemade pizza and the next day she took us on her own personal tour of the Redwoods. It was wonderful!
And then in San Francisco we stayed with a woman in a beautiful (and enormous) old San Francisco house. She also worked in digital media and we had long chats with her about the future of the profession.
All of these people we’ve kept in touch with and they now follow this blog and comment regularly.
So Airbnb isn’t just a bed to sleep for the night – it’s also a true local experience where you have the chance to meet someone new and learn about the way they live in the city you’re visiting.
So next time you are travelling, perhaps consider checking out Airbnb before booking a hotel. It’s inexpensive and could result in you having a true adventure.
Airbnb haven’t endorsed us in anyway to write this post – we just really like the concept!