The first time I heard of Airbnb… It was in 2011 and I received an e-mail from the company because they were looking for an architectural photographer to shoot their listings in Brazil. I was already living in Spain but lucky me, they needed someone for Barcelona as well. I had never heard of the company, but their idea captivated me immediately. I not only started working for them as a photographer, I also became a huge enthusiast of Airbnb. Just to be clear, this is a freelance job and I don’t get any special advantages for traveling with them, so this is not a promo post, I’m not being paid to write about them.
The reason I’m writing this is because I really think that traveling with Airbnb is a great way to get in touch with the culture of a place, and in a more economic way. And here I’ll tell you why.
Can one of the reasons be being able to have a glass of wine with this view and call it “home” even if it is for a couple of days ? This was my apartment in Nice, France!
The first time I actually traveled using Airbnb was in 2012. I rented an apartment at the beach in the north of Spain for me and 3 friends, we were doing a road trip through the Costa Brava region. Since that first time I’ve traveled to the snow and to big cities; with friends, with a boyfriend, with my family and by myself; for one night and for one week. I’ve rented just a room at someone else’s house and I’ve rented a whole house; and depending on the budget, I’ve stayed in beautiful design places and at really simple places.
My point is: Nowadays, you can find a place for every need at Airbnb, from budget to luxury travel. You can find small simple rooms and luxurious villas; urban apartments, a boat, a treehouse, a castle. The possibilites are endless…
This is one of the most impressive places I’ve been that are for rent on Airbnb: An actual palace, in Balaguer, Spain. I photographed it.
I also sometimes, specially during the summer, rent a room at my apartment in Barcelona. See, I live alone, and I really love to live alone, and it is something that I enjoy and value a lot: Being by myself, the freedom and the independence, decorating the house (and changing the decor – however and whenever I feel like, having no one to bother you when you don’t feel like speaking to anyone… I could go on and on about the advantages of living solo. But it is not cheap so hosting is a good way to make some extra cash – specially during the summer so I can travel more (no biggest motivation needed than this one!)
There aren’t many hotels with this view from the balcony… This is the apartment I stayed in Granada, Spain. Right in front of the Alhambra…
So, what are the advantages for staying at an Airbnb rental instead of a hotel?
You can get an insider’s viewpoint of the local living style!
Renting a local’s house, specially if it’s from someone who actually lives there and not just a touristic apartment, can tell you a lot about how people live in the city you are visiting. From the architectural and design features to the host’s habits (paying special attention to someone else’s kitchen can be very interesting), this is the kind of intimate insight you would never have at a hotel;
You can make a local friend and discover unique local places!
How do you know, when traveling, which are the places that the locals go to eat/drink? And I mean those very special ones that one can only know if living in the city, the ones that are not on travel sites? Asking a local is the best way to discover it. And no better way to have that kind of close contact than by staying at a local’s place.
This works specially well when you are renting a room at someone else’s house. Whenever I did this, I not only got great tips of places to go, some hosts even took me out with them and their friends, so in the end I felt more like I was visiting a friend then like I was staying at a stranger’s house!
It was thanks to staying in this beach apartment in Brazil one summer, literally AT the beach, that I met one of my best friends and travel companions, Melissa. Airbnb can be a great tool for making friends as well!
When traveling in groups, you can all stay together!
It doesn’t even need to be a big group. It happened to me when traveling with my family or with another couple, if you are staying at a hotel, you have to book more than one room and then once you get to the hotel, it’s bye-bye-see-you-downstairs-for-dinner-at-9. If you want to stay together, you can book a multiple beds room in a hostel, but there’s not much privacy. But what if you rent a whole apartment/house? You get multiple rooms, as many as you want/feel like paying for with total privacy. Including private use of bathrooms and kitchen…
This is the place where I stayed when road tripping through the south of Spain with my mom and stepfather. We choose a place with a typical Andaluz patio where we would drink cava (champaign) after a long and hot day exploring Sevilla!
Speaking of kitchen… You can get a kitchen all to yourself!
Why would you want a kitchen??
Well, for many reasons!!! There is the economic side: If you don’t feel like going out for meals/can’t because of budget, you don’t need to buy fast food and eat in your room. You can actually go to a local market (did I ever tell you that I just looove visiting supermarkets whenever I’m travelling, just to explore all the different local stuff they have?) and buy some local delicious goodies and it will be much cheaper than going to a restaurant!The other reason will appeal to cooking lovers: You can cook at home with those delicious local goodies you just bought and have a great dinner in the comfort of your (temporary) home. I did this when I was in Berlin, we were 4 foodie friends, one of which is a chef, and one night, tired of walking and biking around exploring the city, we went to the supermarket, bought fresh ingredients, a lot of wine and Joana cooked the most delicious dinner for us. It was one of the coolest nights of that trip!
This is another great reason, if you are tired of walking and don’t feel like going out for dinner, just have some food at home with all the amenities of staying at your own house!
This was my open air “kitchen” in Split, Croatia, where I had breakfast. Right outside my room… And the place was only 2 minutes walking from the harbour!
And if you are traveling with your loved one…
Imagine a beautiful little house in a paradisiac island with turquoise waters and white sandy beaches… Now imagine that this is house is yours, just for you and your partner, no other guests around… Privacy. Staying at a cool hotel can be great (trust me, I know the value of not needing to make the bed in the mornings and having room service), but when you are traveling with your partner/lover/fling/however-you-call-it, not having anyone else to share the space around you can be very, very interesting (specially for your love life!).
Another amazing view from the balcony of my place in Granada: The moon rising over the Alhambra! Preety romantic, ahn?
And for all you dog/cat lovers… It can be easier to find pet friendly places to stay!
I have a dog, Chilli, and he’s quite the traveler as well. One summer me and my friend Joice, who also has a dog (the lovely Tana!) decided to get into the car and scape from Barcelona with our dogs, take them to a beach somewhere. Traveling with one dog, even nowadays, can be tricky… Traveling with two, one big and one small can be a nightmare sometimes, accommodation wise! But looking on Airbnb, we had no problem finding places where are beloved pets would be welcome! Since they are not hotels, many places are more flexible with accepting animals. A great advantage if you want to travel but don’t want to leave your furry friend behind…
Drinking wine in the private terrace of our house in Cabanes, Spain, with Chilli the dog – Chilli was having water, the other glass belonged to my friend Joice! 😉
Last but not least… You can stay at some really unique and special places!
A castle in the middle of the Loire Valley in France… A palace in Spain. A tent in the desert. A boat. An island. A modern loft in New York. A tree house somewhere… Airbnb has all kinds of accommodations, not only varying in price range but also in style. From crazy to classic, with a little adventure spirit and some patience, you can find literally everything. Being an Airbnb photographer myself, I’ve seen some pretty cool places. That’s the one advantage I have: Sometimes when traveling I photographed the place I was staying for Airbnb and thus, made some money out of it. But even when I can’t do that, I’m still a big fan of the platform, there is no other website where I could find such an impressive and interesting variety of places to stay!
Some of the advantages of renting a place for yourself on Airbnb: Only having to share this kind of scene with the ones you choose and not a lot of random tourists!
So next time you are planning a trip, I suggest you take a look on what Airbnb has to offer before booking a hotel room. And if you are new to the platform, here is a 35,00 euros traveling gift for your first booking, just use this link and have a great trip!!!
What is the coolest place you stayed at using Airbnb? Share your experience in the comments!