Airbnb 101

Some of you may have noticed my recent posts and sort-of advertisement for Airbnb. I got introduced to it late 2014 but have only mustered courage to actually use it during our vacation last April 2016. Well, it was months of preparation and constant communication with my host in Tokyo… only to make sure that our trip will not be ruined by unexpected things. Glad nothing of that sort happened… and it all went well. Actually, great!

During travels locally or overseas before, our default is to book a hotel online (usually via booking.com) and sometimes, directly through the hotel websites which proved to be cheaper in most cases. Hotel booking for the past few years gave us a sense of security. We get to know what amenities the hotel offers so we can manage our expectations early on and make sure to have a very comfortable stay. At times, we are even blessed to be upgraded and enjoy the perks more than what we’ve paid for.

Also recently, we started traveling with a toddler and we have also decided to tag along our parents for them the to share the experience while they can still manage to take long walks and while we can still afford to budget small trips, which usually happens in pairs before (Me and Johann or Me and Khat). So as my travel buddies grow in number, I also have to think of ways to squeeze our budget without compromising our quality time. More travel tips here: https://waytogo.cebupacificair.com/erwan-heussaff-interview/

The concept of Airbnb has become a welcome opportunity for us not only to save but also to be more creative and experience travelling the way it should be… compact, spontaneous and ready-to-go (and no more of the usual luggage, free-breakfast, and guided tours). This way, it became more personal and we get to control our time and spend more on places that we really like… restaurants especially!

airbnb-experience

Airbnb originally came up from the entrepreneurial minds of two young roommates who coined Airbeds and breakfast on its early inception which later on expanded from air beds and shared spaces to a variety of properties including entire homes and apartments, private rooms, castles, boats, manors, tree houses, tipis, igloos, private islands and other properties. (source: Wikipedia)

Here are three things to know about Airbnb and why millions of people choose Airbnb when they’re traveling with family, friends, or for work (excerpt from www.airbnb.com ):

  1. Five-star experiences in unique spaces. Find spotless, beautifully designed homes around the world, all reviewed and recommended by past guests.
  2. The comforts of home at a great price. Book places that fit any budget. Many homes also have WiFi, a kitchen, and basic amenities at no extra cost.
  3. Millions of homes in 190+ countries. Search for 2 million homes in almost every city in the world. And since they’re spread all over, you can stay right where you want to be.

I’ve learned by reading blogs and watching travel videos that the most exciting part of the travel isn’t confined on how nice your hotel is… which is usually dependent on brand and are similar in the standard of hospitality. But imagine yourself being welcomed by a local (the unit owner or representative). Some of them even go their way out to picking you up at the airport or even prepare a complimentary breakfast at their patio (in the case where the unit owner stays in the same property). Aside from knowing the culture first-hand from your host, you can also get an expert advice on where to go to and how to do it cheap. All these, packed in a personalized space that’s been perfected by every comments and complements by their previous guests as well. I would know, being a host myself, every guest inspire me and gave me ideas on what to add or improve in my condo unit. Checkout my private space in Quezon City, Philippines: https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/13130581?preview.

Hotels (depending on status/classification) offer a complete relaxing experience that’s why it comes with a hefty price tag. But the homes at Airbnb are relatively cheaper in terms of size and even location. A furnished one-bedroom apartment in Tokyo that’s good for 5 persons was even cheaper than a studio room in a 3 or 4 star hotel (side note: we’ve learned that hotels in Tokyo are even stricter in terms of occupancy and really charge for every extra person). And since guests can directly communicate with the host of Airbnb, negotiations also happen, especially during long stays. Features like being able to cook; being connected even while outside through a pocket wifi; being provided with some basic amenities like coffee or tea, cookies or local delicacies, native bathroom essentials, among others; are also what makes it really interesting.

Since Airbnb is an opportunity for everyone who has an extra space to share with a guest and earn extra income (either a separate home, a condo or an extra room), you can check out practically any type of accommodations in Kathmandu, Saigon, Taipei, Osaka… practically anywhere in the world. But just be cautious when paying online as it is usually by the local currency and is automatically charged to your card. A readily printable confirmation receipt acts as your proof of payment and for long term tenants, a contract is usually executed (especially for properties within an exclusive condominium development).

Having all said, why spend a night in a hotel when you can have it in a tree house? Why not try living with the host’s family and learn their culture? Or why not try to have a comfortable stay with fellow travelers in common spaces while sharing your adventures? Yes, there are also inexpensive bed spaces designed for backpackers and budget conscious travelers!

HOW DO YOU START? Just create an account – you may click this link to direct you for sign-in: www.airbnb.com/c/exequielh

As guest, you can try exploring by area/country, check each unit by price and browse on the property details (checking the photos will also be helpful). Try also looking at the description for nearby tourist spots, authentic restaurants, or local souvenir shops to make sure that you are right smack at the center of everything you want to explore. Then, you can save every property that you like in a wishlist that you can refer to later when you decide to travel. See my wishlist: https://www.airbnb.com/users/62714093/wishlists. After a while, you will be ready to meet your host and stay in your Airbnb… wherever your shoes will take you.

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Surprisingly, we also have quite a few Airbnb listings here in Qatar, mostly in The Pearl and West Bay area. However the prices are quite high compared to its close hotel alternatives. Though I haven’t tried it yet, it could be due to the location and amenities that explains the cost of maintenance. But I hope that unit owners would reconsider making it more affordable soon. Here’s a related article for your reference: dohanews.co/world-cup-organizers-airbnb-eyed-option-visitors-qatar/

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