When I set out to travel the world for a year I had confident and calm visions of good clean hard work supplanting many of the costs of travel. For example purchasing and selling cars instead of renting them (great guide for doing this in New Zealand here), working on farms for food and accommodation (WWOOF, Helpx, WorkAway), Couch Surfing by default and cooking for myself with 1$ a meal Mustachian intensity. Reality of course had other ideas, though my cold hard protestant style work ethic did not fail to enrich my trip and I would say that 50% of the time I was able to pull it off. Reality check in chief however was the simple truth that for me a warm friendly home and it’s occupants, all organized in minutes online, was worth far more than I could have imagined, enter Airbnb.
Few things are as good as sitting with fantastic new friends around their very own dinner table learning all about their lives in the very destination you have spent your hard earned bones to get to. One good night at an AirBnB can change the trajectory of your entire trip. Plus you get to go do stuff with the locals! Orly and I have gone on major hikes (Tongariro Crossing in New Zealand), traveled with past hosts to Bali, spent holidays with hosts and their family, partied until the sun came up, and learned to cook traditional Italian dinners with our AirBnB hosts. Plus:
- Week long stay and month long stays usually qualify you for large discounts.
- 98% of the time you can count on reliable wifi, nice kitchens, mattresses that are not already ruined, fresh towels, and friendly smiles when you come home.
- AirBnB is damned convenient, even when booking same day. Though I’ve found reading through user profiles and looking for friends requires a few days to a few weeks lead time for best results.
- Sometimes you can stay in a castle, or neat old Parisian buildings.. Almost always you get to stay in some authentic and representative building or neighborhood.
- There have been many times that a host offers to host you for free or for a discount in another room after hitting it off the first week.
- Occasionally AirBnB hosts provide home cooked cuisine and you get to learn the recipe via the only 100% grandmother approved method, participation.
- It is quite frequent that AirBnB hosts will show you the local secrets, help you get to the airport or train, give you insider tips, invite you to cultural events, and will tell you stories that show you a local perspective.
- Should none of the above transpire… then you still get a very comfortable and reliably community reviewed accommodation… and i’ll bet you still get in an interesting conversation or two in the process.
- You have the option of picking a host with pets!
And last but not least… AirBnB is a way to offset your travel costs and ultimately enable you to travel more. If it is possible, now or maybe one day, to have a space of your own to share with the AirBnB community then night by night, fantastic new friend by interesting new dinner conversation, you can make back all the money that you spent on your last trip. Better yet you can save up for the next one (or maybe just offset your rent or mortgage).
There are unlimited ways to make friends in your travels but staying with AirBnB has become one of my favorite and just so happens to coincide with one of the cheapest ways I know how to get warm and comfortable accommodations. Please feel free to share your own accommodation experiences, budget travel strategies, or other tips below.