Homesharing is revolutionizing how people travel. There are more options for any budget, more amenities available, the option for more space, and more opportunities to stay in local neighborhoods. If it were up to me, I would opt for a short term apartment rental almost 100% of the time. I like having a kitchen, a washer, and knowing that I can pick a place with cozy café just downstairs from where I’m sleeping. However, there are times that renting your own place just might not make sense.
Before pressing the “Instant Book” button on the Airbnb website, read through these points and make sure that you are picking the perfect accommodations for your holiday.
· Length of stay: I’ve found that less than three nights in an apartment can be a little more challenging. If you are headed to one place for just two nights, you don’t have as much time to get to know a city. With the help of a hotel concierge, you may be able to get the most out of a place in a mere 48 hours. Another thing to consider is the time that it takes to check into an apartment. A local is going to want to walk you around the house and give you a proper introduction. If you are limited on time, you may just want a speedy check-in process at a hotel front desk. You also don’t have much time to get groceries if you are somewhere for just two nights, and if you do buy them, you may not have time to eat what you do buy. On the other hand, it may be beneficial to grab groceries if your weekend getaway is for a larger group,which leads me to…
· Size of the group: If you are throwing a bachelor party and have twelve guys all headed to spend some time together, you may want to opt for a house rental. Yeah, it may only be for two nights, but wrangling a large group of people to go anywhere can be like herding cats. As a host, make it easier on yourself by booking a house where everyone can be on the same page….and if someone is running behind, at least the rest of the crew can mix up some drinks in the kitchen! Plus, it is very convenient to have a space where people can gather instead of sitting on the edges of hotel beds.
· Time of arrival. If your plane lands at 11 PM, you may just want to opt for a hotel that night. If you’re checking bags and commuting a bit, you may not arrive until after midnight. Unless you’re a night owl (and your host is up for it) an apartment rental may prove challenging to check into in the wee hours of the morning. Remember that most rental owners aren’t in the hospitality business full-time, so they may not even give an option for a late check-in.
· Budget. House rentals can work wonders on the budget when reserving for a large group. A hotel can cost you a pretty penny for four people to share two beds, or you can spend the equivalent for an entire home where people can spread out a bit more. If you are a smaller party, you can find affordable options through AirBnB, as well. Sometimes the cost may be pretty equal, which is why you should consider all other aspects of your trip before picking your temporary home. Homesharing has really opened up all kinds of accommodations, from extreme budget to high-end luxury, so the world is your oyster here!
· Culture of the area. Some places just don’t make sense for AirBnb. If part of the culture of the place you are visiting is reliant on tourism (what is known as a “resort town"), you may want to think a bit before renting outside of the main strip. Resort towns are known for great amenities and you may actually miss out on some of your vacation by staying in an apartment.
· Location: Before committing to a place, check out how much walking versus driving you would need to do from either option. If one is closer to transportation that the other, you may have an easy solution by picking the one that would make your commute easier. After all, the saying goes “location, location, location!”. If an apartment provides the opportunity to stay in the middle of a local food market with easy access to a train station, it seems like a no-brainer to me! Conversely, if a hotel includes a shuttle, it may be a better option for safe and economical transfers. As a last point, hotels can call cabs for their guests and if you are traveling internationally, this is an easy way to avoid trekking all over to find a taxi stand, using your phone to make international calls, or working through the language barrier with the taxi company (see my post including my taxi incident by clicking here).
· Must-have items: Some folks want a mini bar, a concierge, fancy products, and a fancy bathtub. Other folks may need a washing machine, refrigerator, common area to hang out, and a kitchen to fix meals. Consider what you need to feel content…after all, this is your vacation! The homesharing sites all list the amenities available, but it is easy to get caught up in the pictures and forget that you can’t live without air conditioning (yeah…it happens). Make a list of your required amenities and check it twice (maybe three times), and then let that guide you for picking your landing pad.
If you are looking for some great homesharing sites, be sure to check out these below, but also search for local websites that manage bookings. Some regions have sites that pool all the home rentals together and provide options that the other sites may note offer.