On my recent trip to Tampa and Miami, I stayed in three Airbnb listings. In all three instances, I stayed in private rooms in homes occupied by their owners. Years ago I wouldn’t have done that. When I first started travelling I thought hotels were the way to go. However, when I determined that I would not be content with travelling once per year, I had to find a cheaper form of accommodation.
I’ve stayed in a few hostels, both in dorms and in private rooms, and they have their advantages. A basic breakfast is often included, you meet other solo travellers from across the globe and they often offer activities like walking tours, live music, movie nights and so on.
I haven’t completely written off hostels but I find Airbnb to offer lots of convenience with a bit more privacy and fewer crowds. Here are some of the reasons why I choose Airbnb over hotels.
Reasons why I love Airbnb
1. It’s way cheaper than hotels in many instances. For my dates in Miami, I couldn’t find any suitable options below US$200 but there were good options for private rooms in a home below $40. If you want an entire home, obviously you would end up paying more but for my needs, it worked out perfectly. Plus I had an entire floor of a house for myself in Tampa.
2. You can get a homey atmosphere and some pretty sweet amenities. Listings vary, of course, but many hosts put in the effort to ensure you are comfortable. Artwork, flowers, calming fragrances, pools, washers and dryers, a pet or two … You can be sure there will be some unique touches.
3. You get the benefit of a local’s expertise. If you want to avoid the tourist traps, ask your host about where to eat and what to do. Some hosts even have a binder full of recommendations waiting for you. If you need to grab something at the last minute, they’ll be able to help you out. Just remember that not all hosts live on the property and some may only be reachable by phone.
4. You can cook some meals. I only stay in homes where guests have access to the kitchen. Once I’ve checked into my Airbnb I pop out to a supermarket or convenience store and grab breakfast items. That way I can eat “at home” in the mornings before I head out to explore. This not only helps me to spend less on restaurant meals but it adds to that “living like a local” feel that Airbnb is supposed to convey.
Things to bear in mind
Now for some words of caution. You’ve probably read at least one horror story from an Airbnb guest. My advice is to read both the listing and the reviews carefully and ask the host directly if you have any specific concerns.
Does the host have rules that you find too stringent? Do several former guests complain about one particular issue? Take note. Is the home advertised as being close to attractions when it really isn’t? Do you need a car to get around because public transport sucks? Knowing exactly what you can and can’t reasonably expect will go a long way in ensuring you have the best experience possible.
Do you have any questions about staying in an Airbnb property? Feel free to ask!