How can you stay at home while abroad? Is there a way to stay somewhere cheaper than a hotel, safer than a hostel, and have twice the space of both? Basically, how can I brag about my baby to locals and get them to let us stay in their house?
Meet AirBNB. Basically AirBNB-ers rent out space from individual homeowners. We already talked about it a bit with our Strasbourg trip, but the basics are everything is done online through a third party website, so information is safe and it’s possible to get a refund should plans change.
Last weekend, we stayed in a Luxembourg AirBNB home. It was massive. Here’s a vid of the place.
If we have the option, we’ll probably go with AirBNB over a hostel or hotel every time. If we didn’t have a permanent hitchhiker, (she was on the bed in the video) we’d couch surf everywhere, using CouchSurfing.org. And honestly, couch surfing isn’t impossible with kids- we’ve done that as well- but we think everyone is just more comfortable *coughDave* having separate quarters. :-) We get to meet locals, which is what I love about couch surfing, but we get privacy and a guaranteed bed with AirBNB, without the price of a hotel or shady quality (or late night partying) of a hostel. We loved both our surfing and hosting so much in the past, we’ll continue to host any globetrotter friends that we can! We’re actually hosting friends right now…
Our host at our Luxembourg AirBNB was wonderfully welcoming, and let us be really flexible with checkout times (our train didn’t leave until 8 that night) as well as the number of people that could be accommodated. (AirBNB.com limited her listing to a maximum of 2 travelers, so I suspected that simply meant that there was only a full-seize bed available. I messaged her about bringing a blow-up mattress for a third person, and she agreed-without charging us the extra that a third person normally brings. Whoot whoot!)
Things to keep in mind when using AirBNB:
1. It’s not really made for last-minute travel. Plan ahead, because there is no “staff” at the house/apartment- just a homeowner. We snagged a same-day place in Strasbourg at a really good price- and that was a fluke that should have taught us a lesson. Spoiler alert: it didn’t. We decided to leave for Luxembourg the same day we decided to buy our tickets. That’s what Adelaide so articulately calls living in the moment, or “Blah bloo blah blah.” :-)
2. You can get a general gist of the location of the AirBNB listings in a town, so use that information to your advantage. I picked the place we stayed at in Luxembourg because it was so close to town. Turns out we got lucky that it also happened to be on a bus stop that led straight into town, making it even more convenient. Yes… we could have known that for certain as well had we looked up the bus routes in Luxembourg. Mental note made.
3. Open communication with the host is key. Provide the cell numbers of anyone you’re traveling with and an email address or two- just try to be reachable. They are your only way to get the keys to your place. Again… Simona was AWESOME. I wholeheartedly recommend staying with her!
4. Be more than courteous with your host. Some people bring gifts, such as treats or a postcard from your hometown, and stay clean. Sometimes you’ll stay in a rental house all by yourself, and sometimes you’ll be in a room in the house the host lives in. Either way, be a good guest, and your host has an opportunity to be even more accommodating. Every host we have stayed with recommended great local restaurants to eat at, things to see and ways to save moolah. Mmmm. Moolah.
5. Leave an honest review on AirBNB. The feedback is crucial for the homeowners in the first place- how can they know what to improve on if you don’t tell them? Likewise, give praise where praise is due. Your reviews will be used by other potential wanderers to determine whether the listing is a good fit for them. Finally- you get reviewed on AirBNB. This keeps you accountable, so pick up your stuff, be polite and just pretend you are guests, and not customers. This makes everyone’s experience better!
There you have it for AirBNB in Luxembourg. What are your tips and tricks for making the most of it? I realized while writing this post that I never wrote about Dublin or Edinburgh- something I hope to remedy soon now that the spring semester is over. :-) Whew. Praise God for that!
À la prochaine…