Airbnb is an accommodation option where you stay at a local’s home during your travels. Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? I first learned about Airbnb in the fall and couldn’t be happier that I did. I have stayed in hostels and homestays while studying abroad, but have never experienced booking a reservation in someone’s home during my regular travels. Over the weekend, my boyfriend and I planned an impromptu trip to Charleston, South Carolina and decided to book our first Airbnb experience. For those of you who are looking to book a trip on a budget and experience your destination like a local, I recommend that you try Airbnb. I have answered questions below about my first Airbnb experience.
1. How does Airbnb work? First, you will need to download the Airbnb app on your smart phone or create an account online. You will need to create a profile with basic details about yourself, including a photo. Then, you can search Airbnb lodging options in your travel destination. You can filter your search by price range, number of guests, arrival date, and listing type (private room, shared room, or entire home). Most lodging options include photos and a profile of the host. You can see reviews of the lodging option and the host, and verify the host’s credibility through links to other credible sites, such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. Once you find the option that meets your needs, you can either instant book the reservation or message the host with any questions. The Airbnb app disguises all personal information and has a chat function enabling you to keep in touch with your host and book your travel virtually. Once you book your reservation, you will arrange your arrival time with your host and he/she will greet you, explain house rules, and share insights about your travel destination. I’m sure that the host experience varies per host and per location, but my experience was wonderful to learn more about the whereabouts of Charleston.
2. How safe did you feel during your Airbnb experience? Given the identity verification required by the Airbnb app, I felt very comfortable with my host. There is an element of mutual trust, as your host can be equally worried about you as a guest. Since the app included reviews of both the host and the host location (and the host could see reviews of me), I felt secure that I would be safe. The private room also had a lock for additional security.
3. How often do you see the Airbnb host? My understanding is that this varies from host to host and from location to location. During my experience, the host was there to greet us when we arrived. She gave us a tour of her apartment and spent time sharing her recommendations for restaurants and sightseeing around Charleston. In the morning, she offered a continental breakfast and was even willing to make grits. I was intrigued by the Quaker grits she had in her kitchen (I know I looked like a typical Yankee as I have never had Quaker instant grits, and only had grits in general at Southern restaurants). She was very welcoming and chatted with us about life in Charleston. She even invited us to stay a second night if we wanted to extend our visit to Charleston.
4. What do you wish you would have known before booking your Airbnb reservation? I wish I knew that the Airbnb is truly a homestay and includes amenities as if you were a guest staying at your friend’s home, unlike a hostel. For example, my Airbnb home included shampoo and conditioner, towels, bedding, and breakfast. Most Airbnb options list the amenities that are included, so be sure to check what is offered and available before you pack your bags!
I hope that these insights help you as you consider creating an Airbnb profile and booking your next trip! Feel free to comment here or on Facebook with any questions.