Travelling with no agenda
As part of living our inspired life, Keith and I spent 3 weeks travelling last summer to the East Coast of Canada. We had no plans, no reservations, and no expectations. We shared one suitcase between us, had a tent and two sleeping bags in our car, and we just started driving east. Our first night brought us to Montreal, with nowhere booked to stay, but an interesting website had been brought to our attention, so it was decided that we were going to venture into the world of Airbnb – a service that connects like-minded people together with places to stay while they travel.
We had downloaded the app on our phone, and I had begun searching for places about an hour before dinner. A few people wrote back that their place was unavailable (not surprising, we were new to the site, and had no reviews, only our verified listing – which is verified through LinkedIn/Facebook and License number!)
As we sat in a lovely little café in Old Montreal having some great Italian food and a beer we began to discuss which hotel we would call to book when my phone pinged, and someone took pity on two weary travellers and took us in.
A room with a View
Down a narrow one way street we drove and stopped in front of an old stone building. Up about 30 steep stairs to a small landing and then down the hall to the tiniest little sweet room with a Juliet Balcony we found our rest for the evening. It wasn’t much, a futon and bureau, and the quirkiest of bathrooms, but it was clean, and it allowed us to lay our heads down before we continued east, and more importantly, we met a lovely french girl, and suddenly the term #OneLessStranger made sense.
AirBnb is a great way to meet new and interesting people
Throughout our trip, we stayed in various AirBnb’s. From a gorgeous whitewashed loft space in Moncton, to a private bedroom overlooking a small courtyard in Charlottetown (in a VERY colourful part of town for sure), we met students, parents, people with their own home based businesses, and they all seemed to share a genuine interest in meeting new people.
So What are the Benefits?
“Airbnb is a trusted community marketplace for people to list, discover, and book unique accommodations around the world — online or from a mobile phone.”
- You will find places in houses, treehouses, boats, VW Buses…and other interesting places to stay. Pricing can be very reasonable, much less than you would pay at a big hotel, right up to luxurious – how about a stay in a castle in Scotland, Ireland or England? There are a wide array to choose from!
- It is a great way to meet new people, discover new places off the beaten path, save money while travelling, and, for the hosts, to make some money from a space that they aren’t using all the time. Personalized service and “home like” touches are appealing to travellers looking for a change from the typical hotel experience.
- Businesses are starting to realize the benefit of incentivizing their staff to stay in AirBnb’s to save money, as well as for the positive experiences as above. Having a “home” to come back to at the end of the day can make a real difference on a business trip.
- You can often use the kitchen, and for longer stays, can negotiate some space in the fridge and use of the stove for cooking.
- Travel can be booked via credit card for peace of mind.
What are the Downsides?
Listings are verified (on both the renter and host side) and AirBnb has an excellent insurance policy in place for hosts. Their “Host Guarantee” carries up to $1,000,000 for damages. Read the fine print however, as cash, jewellery and pets are not included in loss claims. The number of claims and negative situations are very small comparative to the number of places rented, however checking reviews of potential renters, or hosts is crucial. If something happens that requires AirBnb to step in, it will be reflected in the offending persons profile (likely flagged or deleted).
- The place may not be exactly as stated. If your place is not up to standard, you can attempt to work with the host to resolve the issue. Most people are quick to resolve it, as a poor review will hurt their listing!
- Hosts do have the ability to cancel the reservation (within a reasonable amount of time) but this can still be devastating if in an area or time when it is a challenge to book another place.
- Loss of privacy for the hosts. This is typically not an issue as Airbnb hosts are understanding of the situation, and are usually very accommodating to their guests.
Why we became hosts…and a $32 incentive for you to join.
Keith and I both discovered that people who use AirBnb, are positive, adventurous, down-to-earth, love travel, and have a general lust for life. We believe that surrounding ourself with these positive people, who typically become friends, is a wonderful extension of what we embody in our day to day life. Our guests are welcome into our home, and are often treated to some of the food/wine in the pictures. I happen to LOVE to bake!
We were fortunate enough to have an incredible first renter in our home who was a lovely young lady from Montreal (full circle) who was in town for a couple of months on business. She loved to cook, bake, and was a great guest in our home.
If you are ever in the Oakville, Ontario area, feel free to look up our listing at AirBnb, and you can use this link to save $31 on any first booking! It’s a great way to discover the world, #OneLessStranger at a time. Let us know how your trip goes in the comments below, or feel free to ask us any questions.
Sarah and Keith