This week I am doing a short series on the different options for lodging during travel, and our thoughts about each when traveling in general and with a child.
Airbnb is a website where you can book lodging directly from people who rent out their extra space. This may be anything from a whole house or apartment, to a spare bedroom, to a sleeper sofa, or sometimes it’s an airstream or teepee in the backyard. Or a treehouse; they have those too.
We have rented apartments and spare bedrooms, no airstream trailer or tree house rentals for us, at least so far. We have been using Airbnb since 2013, and we have had really positive experiences. Here’s some general info:
You use the Airbnb website or app to book a space. You can search by location, then add filters to look for features you are interested in, or just see what is available. When we book a space through Airbnb, I look first by price, then by location so we can be near public transportation and sights we are interested in. I then check the amenities (wifi, laundry, air conditioning, etc) to see if they have what we might need for our stay. I have written before (LINK) about how much we love Airbnb because we usually can access a kitchen and laundry if we need them. The price is usually reasonable, depending on where/when you are staying. For example, our apartment in Athens was $30/night, and we had the apartment to ourselves. We have always stayed places with free wifi too, which is nice since some hotels charge for wifi access.
One of the most important things I check when booking on Airbnb is the reviews from previous guests. I look to see what they say about the location and the host. If the complaints are few or are about minor things, I will book the space. Reviews have made a huge difference between booking one space over another.
While Airbnb has been awesome because it is easy to find a space in a good area with access to a kitchen and laundry, the best part has been the experiences it has led to while we travel. We have been able to stay in great neighborhoods in different cities because of Airbnb. Neighborhoods far away from the hustle and bustle of tourists, where we were surrounded by local people working and living their lives. We get a real sense of a place in those neighborhoods. There are no tourist stands or tourist trap bars open until 2am. Just coffee shops and local grocery stores, parks, and small restaurants.
What could be even better than being in a great space, for a good price, in an authentic neighborhood? Meeting new people. Because Airbnb has people renting out their spaces, you often meet the person you are renting from, or share their space while you travel. We have met countless people in our travels thanks to Airbnb. We have shared meals, seen sights while being shown around a neighborhood, and had incredible conversations with our Airbnb hosts. D received several gifts from hosts (small toys and trinkets, and a stone necklace) in different places this summer.
What about using Airbnb with a child? Well, I have gotten a little more picky about who we stay with, again the importance of reviews, but other than that, we continue to use Airbnb. It has been awesome having access to a kitchen and laundry when we travel with a toddler. I have been able to refrigerate milk and other snacks, and handle the incredible amount of laundry that tiny human can generate. In our spaces we have often had more than one room, which has helped with a toddler who needs space to run and explore. Watching D interact with our different hosts and getting to know people all over the world has been so rewarding. He even got to play with another little guy when we stayed in Heraklion, Crete, Greece.
We plan to continue to use Airbnb for most of our travel lodging. It doesn’t always fit the bill though, so check out the next post in our Sleeping Soundly in Travel series, about hostels!