How many times have you gone on a vacation and had 1 of 2 things happen:
- Your room was pretty expensive, given that you barely spent any time in it. Let’s face it, the price of a hotel room includes tons of amenities that guests rarely use (concierge service being the biggest money sucker), and you end up eating those dollars.
- You traveled with a group and found that all of you crowding into such a small space led to unnecessary fights, no room to store snacks or cook food, and a constant battle over who was hogging up the bathroom. (TBH, if you’ve ever traveled with a group of girls, you already know that mirror space is a hot commodity and if you’re not first, you’re last).
Airbnb is a company built around avoiding all of the downsides of a hotel, and improving on all of the upsides of what people want out of today’s travels (especially millenials).
There are two sides of Airbnb – being the host, and being the guest. Let’s kick it off with the guest experience, shall we?
The Guest Experience
To use a real-life example, I’m taking my little sister on a trip to Nashville this summer as a graduation present. When I started looking at hotels, I wanted to die. If we wanted to be anywhere near the city, but avoid roach-infested motel rooms where it was legit questionable whether we’d come back to New York alive or not, we’d be spending $200 a night, easily. Not to mention, the only thing we’d be getting is a single hotel room. Nothing more, nothing less. Meaning we’d need to eat out for pretty much every meal, be on top of each other anytime we weren’t out exploring the city, and I’d have to hear her complain every single night about me falling asleep to Friends (heaven forbid the princess doesn’t get her 12 hours a night of beauty rest). So I started exploring Airbnb, and I found the perfect spot. It’s super easy, because you enter in how many guests, what the dates are, and where you’re trying to go, and then a billion cute listings come up. You can filter on the map exactly where you want to be and your price range, and then check out different reviews and descriptions of houses/ apartments / condos available during your desired stay.
I settled on a clean, girly apartment in Nashville for less than $100 a night. It has two beds, a kitchen, free wifi, free parking, etc. There’s also a no-penalty cancellation fee up to 5 days before your arrival. There’s 65 reviews, and an overall rating of 5 stars. Which begs the question, why the hell would anyone ever stay in a hotel again?! Not only am I spending less on this Airbnb than I would a hotel, but I’m also saving money on dining, as the fully equipped kitchen will allow us to buy groceries and cook instead of eating out for every meal.
Needless to say, I couldn’t be more excited for this trip, or the glamorous opportunity to try and smuggle my 18 year old sister into a Nashville bar (any tips? Plz advise.) If you’re heading to Nashville, here’s the link to this rental: Moonshine Nashville
The Host Experience
Let me just start off by saying that I’m absolutely love being able to host on Airbnb. This city is expensive af (I seriously don’t understand how rent can literally be $5k/month for 320 sq feet of space in some areas), and salaries don’t always match up with what you need to spend to have a roof over your head. I go away on weekends fairly often and the minute that I discovered that I could rent out my apartment and make some extra spending money, I didn’t hesitate. I’ve been a host for almost 2 years now in a few different apartments that I’ve lived it, and 9/10 times, it’s a fab experience. I decide how much I want to price my apartment at per night, I’m the one responsible for cleaning up and preparing for guests (unless I hire a cleaning service), and I’ve never had an issue with a rogue guest. People ask all the time if it makes me nervous to leave my personal things around with strangers there, and I can honestly say no, it doesn’t. #1- I’m 24 and have like, no money and therefore nothing really worth stealing. #2 – I can vet my guests my their different forms of identification and verification which means two things – if I think they’re sketchy, I can decline a reservation and if something does go wrong, Airbnb knows how to find them and I can file a report.
Truth be told, this is the best way to side-hustle IMHO. I’ve made thousands of dollars and been able to go on a few trips I wouldn’t have been able to afford otherwise, as well as bought way too many clothes that (sadly) still have the tag on them #regrets. When I traveled to Prague and Budapest last year, I rented out my room for a week and ended up being able to pay my hotel bill with the money I was making renting out my room. It was the perfect trade-off! Communication is typically really easy with guests, and I make sure to leave out clean sheets + towels, stock up on shampoo/soap/toilet paper, and leave the kitchen clean. That’s really all there is to it!
Aside from hosting in your home, you can also host a unique experience! Create an itinerary to let viewers know what they’re in for – how long the experience is, what you’ll be doing, what to bring, when to arrive, etc. The cool thing here is that you can make this anything you want it to be, and you get to be the expert!Here are my top tips to being a stand-out host:
- If you’re not going to be there to welcome your guests, leave them a welcome note to find when they arrive
- If you’re going to be hosting the same group for longer than a few days, send a quick check-in text or email to make sure that everything is going smoothly and see if they have any questions for you
- Know a really adorable cafe just a few blocks away? Tell them! Guests are almost always from out of town, and are trying to get their bearings. Besides Yelp, you’re the only recommendations they have!
My Wishlist of Cities + Experiences