(with Kaleel Sakakeeny)
As Airbnb says, “Find a Place to Stay.”
With participants in 34,183 cities in 192 countries, it’s small wonder that the site has become the “go to place” for places to stay. And what may make the popular short term rental site even more popular, is its clever inclusion of neighborhood guides for cities all around the world, just in case a traveler is unsure where to travel to.Features like this, and a site that’s blessedly clear, clean and easy to use, doubtless is why its user base of millions of guests seem content and happy with Airbnb.
If you’re like me, you’ve used Airbnb and lived through a friend’s experience vicariously. Many, I hear, have perused the reviews on a few locations, but never really made the commitment and clicked “Book now.” With over 5 million nights booked, there’s no time like the present to make the dive into the world of Airbnb.
What’s really fascinating here, as Fast Company reported, is sheer the horror 15 A-listed investors feel when they realize they passed on Airbnb’s pitch. The site generated 500 million in transactions in 2011, becoming, “a disruptive force in the stagnant hotel industry, and a major driver in the shared economy.”
While any time is a good time to Airbnb, experienced travelers have suggested the following as the best uses of the site:
• Go on a Staycation. Travelers needn’t go farther than a few blocks to find a cool interesting property on Airbnb. Spend a weekend in a loft in a new neighborhood on the other side of town; it’s a great way to escape the mundane without ever leaving the city limits.
• Make it Yurt so good. Properties on Airbnb go way beyond the typical double bed with mini-fridge standard of hotel chains. Explore non-traditional abodes. Guests can live out seafaring yacht fantasies or spend the night in an inspirational artist’s retreat out in the woods.
• Save those Marriott rewards for another day. When traveling, budgetary concerns often steer travelers to book run of the mill, cookie cutter hotels instead of the cool boutique inn bursting with history. Airbnb offers a variety of affordable options full of character in the most expensive cities in the world, so guests can afford to experience all the city has to offer.
* Make use of that second bedroom. When deliberating on whether to join the legions of Airbnb hosts, ask potential hosts should answer three questions: do they have the space, do they have the time, and do they have the patience?
Once the decision has been made to host, remember to keep it legal, keep it clear, and keep it safe. Travelers should take advantage of the messaging, reviews, and identity verification functions on the site so there are no surprises, and above all: have fun.
Angie Picardo is a writer for NerdWallet, a financial literacy website where you can find advice on saving money while you travel and setting financial goals.