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.
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.