The landscape of how individuals travel sure has changed since my last backpacking tour of Europe in 2010.
Five years ago, when I would ask fellow travellers where they were staying, 99% would list off the name of a hotel or hostel they were stationed at. Now, a large portion of travellers are choosing alternative accommodations to the typical overpriced hotel or crowded hostel rooms.
There are a variety of services offering different types of accommodation for different types of travellers these days. Many people use websites such as Homeaway or Homestay, some are fans of Couchsurfing, while others enjoy utilizing services such as Trusted House Sitters to make their travel dreams possible. Whatever your travel style is, you can find accommodations tailored specifically to your needs and the way you travel.
We decided at the beginning of our European adventure to would try something new: booking accommodations through the website Airbnb. This service has been around for years, but we have never utilized it until we arrived in Portugal last month.
Their website states, “Airbnb is a trusted community marketplace where people post, discover and book unique accommodations worldwide, either from your computer or mobile phone.” They currently operate in 34,000 cities worldwide and have various options, for a variety of budgets.
We chose to use Airbnb for three reasons:
We had never used the service so we wanted to see what all the hype was about.
2) Travel style.
As a couple, we wanted to have our own space that consisted of more then just a bed and a bathroom. Also, since we are travelling for five months, we wanted the option of cooking our own meals versus constantly having to eat out. It’s really nice to have the extra amenities of a real apartment over a hotel room.
Without getting into specifics, we’ve found some nice apartments for literally half the cost of the cheapest hotel we could find, some even competing with hostel prices – for an entire apartment! You might have to do some serious searching but this can truly be an affordable way to travel.
So far, we have stayed in three Airbnb-hosted-apartments over the past month and have nothing but rave reviews for the service. Having the app on my tablet makes searching for apartments and booking accommodations an absolute breeze. It’s extremely user friendly and the filters allow you to be very specific about what you need/ want in a place.
While Airbnb as a service is great, it’s your interaction with the host that really makes it a memorable experience. All of our hosts from Gisela in Porto, to Miguel in Lisbon, and Juan in Seville, have been wonderful. They get in touch with you prior to arrival, clarifying directions or other questions you may have. Each one has been there to greet us with a smile on their face, and spend time talking about local hotspots and inside knowledge. Gisela even had a bottle of wine waiting for us, and even brought us local pastries during our stay. Yes, we are very impressed.
Finally, the apartments themselves. We had some reservations about how things would look in real life vs. their appearance on the internet. Photos can be deceiving! Thankfully, each of our three accommodations are just as we imagined, and often better. All have been clean, well taken care of, and made for a comfy and relaxing stay.
I understand that we are in the early stages of our trip, but for now, Airbnb is where it’s at. For us, it’s been the perfect trifecta of budget conscious, comfy accommodation, and local knowledge with tips to get the most out of your stay.
Have you ever used Airbnb? How would you rate your experience?
Are you interested in trying it? You can get $25 off your first stay using this link 🙂