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I was headed out to the yearly travel blogger conference in Vancouver. I booked late and was deciding between hostels when Chelle from Browngirlsfly put out a message on Twitter:
I had never tried Airbnb but I was intrigued. As an avowed hostel advocate, I loved the low cost and easy way to meet peiople. But you can’t talk intelligently about accomodations without trying all the options, so I hooked up with Chelle for Airbnb.
For those of you who don’t know, Airbnb allows homeowners and apartment dwellers the opportunity to rent their whole place, a bed or couch in their home. Some owners will be with you in the same living space. If that makes you uncomfortable you could compare it to staying in a hostel.
Others will provide you separate apartments with your own kitchen and bathroom. That’s what we had in Vancouver.
Since our conference was in downtown Vancouver we wanted the usual things:
Clean, Safe, Cheaper than a Hotel – those are a given
We actually spent most of our time when planning discussing how far the potential apartments or house would be from public transportation and the convention centre in Vancouver. That should be a big consideration. If you’re getting a hige house for $50 per person, but it’s an hour from where you want to be, you might want to rethink that.
The one we picked looked like it was pretty far from everything but we are booking at the last minute and needed some place besides the streets of Vancouver to sleep at night.
It turned out better than we expected.
Chelle did all the booking and I just showed up. What a great way to travel!
We ended up spending only about $55 per night per person for 4 days.
Ask about amenities around the house or apartment
If you have a kitchen, ask about a supermarket nearby. Need to wash? Is there a dry cleaners nearby. Essentially you want everything you would get if you were living. Because, really you are.
Get a great owner
Kristina was a great owner. She met me at the house when she said she was going be there. Point for her. And folks we did not have to pay for WiFi. We used Kristina’s Internet hotspot as part of the package. With some hotels still charging per day for Internet, that can save you alot.
Ask for WiFi or whatever else you’re going to need to enjoy your time in someone else’s home.
Kristina lived in the apartment upstairs, while we had a separate two-bed apartment with kitchen, bath and its own entrance. Great for a 4 day stay.
When you’re leaving, leave it as clean possible. Why? Because you are literally in someone’s house. Also hosts and hostees can leave reviews for each other. So if you’re a slob who leaves dishes in the sink, you’re well within you right to do so. But if other owners catch wind of it, it may be harder to book you next Airbnb place. And owners, if you don’t give renters clean, well appointed places, you won’t have anyone willing to give you money. Courtesy goes a long way in this relationship and helps both parties.
My verdict on Airbnb – Great experience for me, but I can see it being a nightmare if you get the wrong person. You can’t tell a person’s personality from a photograph but if the reviews are legit you can get a pretty good feel of who they. This is especially important if you are staying in the same apartment or house as them. You can rent a bedroom and strangers sleeping the next room over. But really how is that any different than a hostel. This is just nicer surroundings.
Here is a great post with many more tips on how to get the best Airbnb experience possible.
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