airbnb enables a new class of tourism: the anti-tourist!

airbnb

The following post is by Katie Peige, Herban Lifestyle’s Sustainability Associate.

With each New Year comes a list of goals and resolutions that we hope to cross off our annual bucket list. My list and vision board for 2013 definitely includes travel. If yours does too, Airbnb is a great option to try if you are looking for a cool place to stay with a limited amount of funds, thanks to the joys of the sharing economy and our interconnected online social world.

Never heard of Airbnb? Don’t feel too bad I hadn’t either before last year (when they were named Inc Magazine’s runner up for Company of the Year 2012). Having lived as a poor student traveling around Europe and various corners of the United States, I considered myself to be quite the green and savvy traveler with a shoe string budget reputation. The number one way I managed to get around without breaking the bank was relying on my vast network of friends who have offered me their spare beds, couches, futons, and floors, so I could avoid the expensive and not-as-much-fun experience of staying at a hotel.

While planning a trip to San Diego for a conference, my plan to stay with a friend fell through. Since my California network was non-existent, I needed to consider other options. After all, I needed to make my journey to the Sustainable Brands Conference in a financially sustainable way. So I looked into three options: the first was to find a roomshare with another conference attendee; the second was to finally use my membership with couchsurfing.com; and the final was a newly suggested option of Airbnb.

I had seen Airbnb mentioned in the Sustainable Brands program – Christopher Lukezic, their Director of Communications, was one of the speakers – and decided to check it out. Airbnb is short form for “Air Bed and Breakfast” and allows people with a spare room to put that room up for rent on a per diem basis. Some people rent out their entire flat, airstream, tree house, train, and so on. In Christopher’s presentation he mentioned how one couple rented out their now grown children’s tree house and were able to retire early and use Airbnb to pay their mortgage. So if you have some spare space, you might want to give hosting a try.

cool spaces

Airbnb’s website and app are both very cool and user friendly. You need to create a profile so that other users can rate you as a guest or host. This allows hosts and travelers to get a sense of whether they will be a good fit. You can connect your account to your Facebook account, which allows you to see if you know people who know a person you are considering hosting or visiting. My favorite part of the website is that it gives you a map of the different listings for each city. This feature is one of the big reasons why I choose Airbnb over other sites.

For my San Diego trip, I was able to use Airbnb to find an apartment that was just one mile from the conference. It was a perfect scenario. My host was actually traveling in Europe, and her friend Ale was on sabbatical and was traveling for a year before her return back to Italy. Unfortunately I did not have a lot of time to spend with Ale, since I was at the conference starting really early each  morning to rather late each night. But when I did see her, we had great conversations and I learned a little Italian. I had my own room, closet space, and was provided towels to shower. I got all of this for half of the price of sharing a room at the resort where the conference was held. Very sweet deal!

Airbnb’s app and website are really fun to poke around even if you are not planning to travel anytime soon. They have a “popular” section that lists the coolest listings and you feel like you have traveled around the world after spending a few minutes browsing. Check it out for yourself and have fun traveling or hosting and contributing to the sharing economy. It might make 2013 one of your most memorable years.

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App Happy: Sustainable Shopping Guides for your iPhone

I have been a huge fan of Apple for many, many moons and have had several Macs over the years. When the iPhone was introduced, I thought it was the most brilliant idea ever. I love my iPhone. It makes transferring and transporting information on my Mac laptop super-easy, plus I love apps. I don’t have a million of them, but the ones I have, I use all the time.

So you can imagine how happy I was to learn that Herban Lifestyle is included in three different apps geared toward green shoppers: Find GreenCruelty-Free, and Organic Spa Magazine’s Skin Care Guide. Plus they are all free.

Find Green is GenGreenLife‘s guide to local green shopping sources. The GenGreenLife website is a wonderful source for green news headlines, job listings, and events, as well as tips for living a sustainable life. Companies listed on GenGreenLife have the option of being rated in terms of their environmentally and socially conscious practices. The ratings, from bronze to gold, are given based on each company’s environmental leadership, resource conservation, human capital, purchasing decisions, daily operations and overall sustainability practices. Herban Lifestyle has been awarded the GenGreenLife gold seal.

Cruelty-Free is published by the Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics’ (CCIC) Leaping Bunny Program. It lists over 200 U.S. and Canadian cosmetic, personal care and household product companies that do not test ingredients, formulations, or finished products on animals. And you can search by companies or by products, making cruelty-free shopping easy. Herban Lifestyle is honored to be amongst those certified companies.

Organic Spa Magazine’s Skin Care Guide provides a searchable list of the leading natural and organic beauty companies. This guide is published by Organic Spa Magazine, which is dedicated to helping people combine spa and wellness lifestyles with a sustainable and organic lifestyle. The magazine offers information and resources on how to lead a more balanced life and how to incorporate spa wisdom into your daily activities. Herban Lifestyle was listed in the July 2010 issue of Organic Spa Magazine, as well as in the Skin Care Guide app.

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