People waste hundreds a week just to stay in an “okay” hotel in an expensive city. And it’s easy! Traveling to your destination and accommodations can be the most expensive part of your trip. And when those two huge costs are factored into the rest of your vacation, it’ll probably limit you in what you can and can’t do. So those surf lessons you wanted to take? Maybe next time. Or that five start restaurant that everyone raves about on Yelp? Let’s just split a dessert there.
Now there are some ways you can cut costs when it comes to picking accommodations. You could stay at a cheap hotel (which isn’t so appealing) or check out Couchsurfing.com if you’re into that kind of thing
But, there is another way you can stay in an amazing and affordable place without it ruining your vacation plans.
The Secret to Staying in a Nice Place for Cheap
Alright, so let’s just say that you want to visit Los Angeles. Now almost every good hotel is gonna cost a pretty penny in Southern California; it’s a tourist destination so it’s a given. And you’re looking into staying right in the center of everything because that would make it the easiest to get around (especially in LA traffic.. I would know, I used to live there).
Now even the cheapest hotels are $50 per night and they’re usually in the bad part of town. And even if they aren’t, well… let’s just say you’re not going to enjoy your time there. And of course hostels are ok, but you usually end up sharing a room with another person.
You can stay in a nice home all to yourself, in a great location, and spend anywhere from $35-$55 a night (depending on your budget of course).
So what’s the secret? Airbnb.
What is Airbnb?
Airbnb is a site where you can rent someone’s house, apartment, flat, or loft (I’ve seen a yurt once) for however long you want and not have to spend huge prices. Yes there will be people who are in a prime location that will charge a lot, but if you’re on a budget, then ignore them.
You’ll find many places with great ratings from previous people who stayed there and to be honest, it’s pretty fun to use.
How to Use Airbnb
Now when Silas (my husband) and I had first heard about Airbnb and checked it out, we both thought it was a bunch of hype. Everyone kept on raving about how they were able to stay in a nice place for super cheap, but every time we went on there, we only found big prices. That is until one day I decided I’d experiment with it.
I thought I’d see how expensive a place in Paris was per night. I mean, it’s Paris so it’s gonna be expensive right? Well I was in for a surprise.
I was seeing places for just $35-$40 a night…. that were nice.. with an amazing view. So how was I able to find homes like this in France?
Use the Filters: Airbnb uses something called filters. So when you first search a city, you’ll put in the dates you want to visit and how many people will be staying. Those are the first filters. And then once Airbnb takes you to the page showing all of the listings in that city, you’ll find 2 more options: Room Type and Price Range. So with Room Type, you can choose whether you want the “Entire Home,” “Private Room,” or “Shared Room.” If you’re someone who likes their privacy, then I think you’ll want to go with the first option.
Now the Price Range option is very important. It’s the difference between finding a place that’s $200 a night and $40 a night. All you have to do is drag where you want the circle to drop on the price bar, and it’ll filter out everything that’s not in your budget.
Now underneath those two options, it’ll say “Filters” and give you even more choices. These choices can range from the size of a bed to the neighborhood you’ll be staying in. It’s just a great way to filter out anything that doesn’t interest you. So if you have to have a place with a washer and dryer, you can choose those as some of your amenities.
Choose The Right Time: As with any place, prices will be higher during a certain time of the year. So going with the LA example, if you’re visiting around the holidays, it’s gonna be pretty hard to find a place that’s under $50. Now if you really want to travel during an expensive part of the year, you’re expecting prices to be high, and you’re ok with that, then go for it. But if not, then research what the off and shoulder seasons are for the place you’re visiting.
Look for Places Outside the Center and Zoom In: I’ve found that if you just search for a certain area or city in general, Airbnb isn’t going to show you all of the options. Now sometimes they will, but usually they’re going to show you places that have higher ratings so they don’t overwhelm you with how many Airbnbs are on the map.
So if you want to find a place that’s in your price range, then you’ll want to look in surrounding cities (if you can’t find one in the center), or zoom into certain areas. Staying just five minutes outside the city center can mean the cost of $20-$30 a night. And zooming into a certain part of the city can make other options pop up that weren’t there before.
Again, zooming in doesn’t mean there will always be a hidden Airbnb, but it’s definitely worth trying out. I’ve found some great deals that way.
If You’re Traveling Long-Term or Full-Time
Now if you’re able to find a job that allows you to work from anywhere or you’ve saved up enough money to travel long-term, then Airbnb is definitely the way to go!
Silas and I are both full-time bloggers which means we can work from anywhere with an internet connection. And being full-time travelers, there’re two things we don’t want: to be tied down in a rental contract for months or stay in expensive hotel/hostel prices.
We both love the flexibility to be able to move when and where we want. And signing a lease is a great way to make sure we aren’t able to do that. With Airbnb, you don’t have to be tied down to a 4-6 month lease, you can stay two weeks, a month, or even 2 months. It all depends on whether you love the place you’re visiting or you want something new.
And when it comes to expensive hotels and hostel prices, Airbnb definitely beats them out as well. Yes, hostels can be cheap, but Airbnb hosts will give you a weekly and a monthly rate. This means that if you’re staying more than a week or a month, you’ll get a discount off the final price.
Airbnb is Extremely Personable
Now if you don’t like the rude service of a hotel or you want something that’s a bit more warm and inviting, then Airbnb is a great way to go. Some hosts will leave you food, and you’ll definitely have the cooking supplies you need to make meals in the home and save money from eating out every night.
Airbnb has definitely changed the way we travel and we’ve gotten to meet some very nice people. It’s given us the flexibility to pick a new city and stay there for as long as we want without being tied down. We’d highly recommend it as a great option for finding accommodations. Because among all of the homes the site has, you never know what gem you might find.
Now if you have any questions about Airbnb, let me know in the comments down below! I’d love to help you out!