Airbnb.. what would we do without you?
.. probably exactly the same than what we did without Internet, without washing machines and without wine; we were perfectly happy, not knowing what we’re missing. But let’s be honest; life with wine is just better, as it´s with Airbnb.
I understand that Airbnb can be seen critical, it´s problematic when cities are getting flooded with short term rentals instead of providing homes for citizens and it’s certainly close to catastrophic for anyone related to the hotel industry, too. But everything that comprises risks offers potential as well.
We discovered Airbnb when planning our family vacation in Canada 2015. We had quite a clear idea of our needs; we want nature, with lakes and rivers and forest but not too much in the middle of nowhere. As we are travelling as a family with two mini humans who are claiming breakfast as soon as they open their eyes (sometimes even before) and we simply can’t afford to eat out 3 times a day, a kitchen is indispensable.
Without giving it much thought I went instinctively to booking.com and checked the Inns around our destinations – and I found: nothing. Canada is not the most populated place on earth and apart from hotels in cities and expensive luxury mountain retreats way off budget, there’s simply no offer.
In despair of an approaching bankrupt, I typed “holiday flat Canada” very oldschooly in some random search engine, the first hit was Airbnb.com and the rest is history – a long history though, I got overstrained by the offer and it took me weeks to figure it out; but that’s just me :p
We are still booking hotels, especially when visiting cities, but as soon as we want to escape busy or touristic paths, we are better off with airbnb.
The following list of airbnb tips is based on our experiences as a family, if you’re travelling solo, as a couple or if you are very rich, your perspective might differ:
- you can cook your own food (incl.all those crazy ingredients that you find in foreign supermarkets), beneficial when travelling on a budget, having fussy eaters or kids that just don’t wanna sit for ages in a restaurant
- usually you are in a normal house with normal things around you and with normal stuff to do; several rooms, TV, maybe Games. This is extremely useful on rainy days and everyone who was ever stuck in a garage sized hotel room with 2 children will agree to that
- you have a very broad choice of locations, independent from touristic sites or infrastructure, airbnbs are basically everywhere where someone thought it might be nice to have a house (or where an old aunt once lived and the bereaved are not getting the house sold)
- it’s much cheaper than hotels of the same comfort level
- You can experience an (more) authentic local life and meet nice people
- no one will come around and clean, rather will you clean the house before leaving (that depends on the owner and their policies though)
- how clean you will find your rental will depend on personal measures (that are maybe not yours) and not on some standardized hotel regulations
- the owner can cancel your reservation on short notice (see my Airbnb tips below)
- you HAVE to cook your own food unless you are rich. But then you might wanna try the Luxus Mountain Retreat with a Spa; I know I would.
- you might run into difficulites renting a place just for a few days in peak season, minimum is often one week, at least in some rather popular regions
How to find a the right place when booking with airbnb
- I only rent a property that got ratings, this always seems unfair, everyone needs to start somewhere, but my vacation are too precious for risking to be a guinnipeg for someone who wants to try out being a host
- Check the comments left by other renters
- Every cancellation by the host is noted down automatically in the comment section; it gives you a good idea of their reliability
- READ the description of your rental and then read it again; what are the features, when is check in time, is there a cleaning fee, which cancellation policy applies etc.
- Check the images carefully; can you see yourself in there? Does it look save/appropriate for kids or can you identify already items that will break during your stay?
- Check Google Earth (if possible) to get an idea of the neighborhood
- Verify if the booking is instant (as is the payment) or if you are requesting to book, in which case your host needs to confirm within 24h, otherwise your request expires
If the host requests a deposit, I book with someone else as it appears odd and edgy to me
Until today, we rented around 9 Airbnbs and can warmly recommend it. Every rental is different; you might find the key in a lock box or under the doormat, maybe it´s handed out to you by a neighbor or a relative. Sometimes you meet the host and you connect and sit with wine around a fire pit or get a jar of homemade marmalade.
And maybe we were lucky, maybe we chose good, but we always felt at home.