My wife and I saw Quentin Tarantino‘s movie “Hostel” on the huge screen at Grauman’s Chinese Theater in Hollywood a number of years ago. When my youngest son, then just 20, said he wanted to spend a couple of months in Europe (on his own dime I might add) and planned to stay in hostels, scenes from the movie flashed through my mind. Then I Googled the combination of “hostel” + “security”. Not results any parent would want to see!
In probing my son further, it seemed his primary reason for staying in hostels was price (on his own dime as I mentioned). My wife had read an article in the Wall Street Journal about Airbnb where you stay in private homes. He was open to the idea. Pulling up the site, there were tons of reasonable (even cheap) rooms all over Europe. There were pictures of the families or individuals who were offering either a room or even the entire apartment for rent by the night. There were reviews from others who had stayed there. It seemed a whole lot safer plus you booked with a credit card…no need for as much cash in your pocket to get stolen while traveling.
He used Airbnb all over Italy, France and Spain as he traveled using the app on his phone to book rooms in his next city as he went.
We had envisioned a “host” to give him both some company and some local insights. Certainly from reading reviews, some of those scenarios exist. But the choices he made, most people just gave him a key and left him on his own. In that regard, he missed out the socialization he later experienced when traveling a couple of years later in New Zealand utilizing hostels where he met other travelers.
None the less, Airbnb remains a great alternative for travelers both in the US and abroad (now in 190 countries!). My sister booked a place here in Seattle for her family during July when our hotels are both full and spendy. My niece is using it in Dallas for a summer rental near her internship. My wife and I also just used it to rent a chic house with a pool in Scottsdale for 4 months this fall. Not wanting to spend that much or that long on a place I’d only seen on the internet, I did a quick trip down to see it for myself before confirming. It looked BETTER than the pictures!
When I showed my son the place we booked, his comment was “Your Airbnb looks NOTHING like my Airbnb, you do know that, don’t you?”. Point being, regardless of your budget – there’s something for you.
If you like the idea of staying in a neighborhood among locals, check out Airbnb. We are presently enjoying a 4 month rental in the desert southwest where the sun shines even at this time of year!
It’s like having a friend who has a villa. house, condo or apartment and saying, “Why don’t you stay at my place?”