Have you ever taken a roof top shower with majestic views of Mount Vesuvius? Have you stayed in a hermitage, on a small island, with a balcony view of magical sunsets over the Tyrrhenian Sea? These are just two of our priceless AirBnB experiences that were actually significantly cheaper than a standard hotel. AirBnB has been a game changer for our family travel. Besides saving money (which is always nice), AirBnB offers a unique local experience unavailable with hotel and resort stays.
In no particular order...
1. Unique Properties
The examples above are from our Italy trip, where we used AirBnB in Rome, Verona, Siena, Ischia, and Pompei. Each had their own unique characteristics that made the experience special. Our Verona place was like a hobbit hole with wood-beamed ceiling, round windows and archways. The hermitage was from the early 1700's and the owner gave us the personal tour of the other parts of the hermitage he was renovating. For a segment of our upcoming Japan trip, we booked a week in Kyoto at an authentic Japanese accommodation. I'm looking forward to our free nights at the Park Hyatt Tokyo, but much more excited about this unique property.
A quick search revealed some other interesting accommodations that would be fun to try. Let us know if you've had any of these experiences.
2. Live Like a Local
To state the obvious, these are homes not hotels. Besides each being unique, they are in local neighborhoods. This doesn't necessarily mean you're away from everything, that is your choice. In fact, we've found city center properties that you wouldn't know were there. For one such property, we unlocked a plain looking door on a city street and it opened into a charming courtyard with just a few flats. In Pompei, our place was next door to a local pizza place where we had an amazing wood-fired pizza for $5 and practiced our Italian while they practiced their English. To take it to the next level, AirBnB has homestay options such as Fluffy Koo's Homestay in Kyoto. You feel a lot less like a tourist and more like someone who just moved into town.
3. Save Money
It still blows me away how affordable these amazing properties are. The cost savings is very apparent when traveling with family or friends. In many parts of the world, hotels do not accommodate 4 people...two rooms = double the cost. We are traveling with our children, so Couchsurfing and hostels aren't the best options for us. If you stay a week (or a month) at many AirBnB properties you often get increased discounts which can help maximize the budget. A true comparison to a hotel would be comparing it to a presidential suite as you are often getting multiple rooms. Finally, the savings from having a full kitchen can add up quickly and again adds to the local experience by shopping at local markets.
4. Washer and Dryer
As much as I love washing my clothes in a sink, it's so great to have at least a washing machine....a dryer, heaven! You can actually select this as a filter under Amenities. If you've read my Packing Guide, you know we just travel with backpacks, so very minimal clothes. Daily sink washing gets old, and things like jeans can take a couple days to dry which isn't always an option. Hotel laundry pricing is ridiculous, and who wants to waste precious travel time at a laundromat.
5. Support Locals
AirBnB is providing an income for locals and increasing revenue for communities that are outside of the "hotel zone". We've met hosts who said it allowed them to keep a generational home in their family. Others use it as supplementary income to allow them to follow their true passions...such as travel! AirBnB has a great Economic Impact report measuring their impact to cities around the world.
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