Photo credits: All images by Brien Crothers
Following my adventures on the John Muir Trail (JMT), I headed to Europe for another trip of a lifetime. I’d like to spend a few posts sharing about some of the lodgings we stayed in and the cost savings we found on the way.
It all started one evening around our breakfast nook table with two laptops, some snacks, and a bottle of wine. The four of us—my wife and I and another couple, who are travel companions and longtime friends living in our community—knew where we wanted to go in Italy and had loose ideas of what we wanted to see and do.
Our goal for that evening was singular: book only our lodgings for three-and-a-half weeks of touring Italy. Rental cars, train tickets, and tours would be booked later.
After a few clicks and keyboard taps, we discovered that apartments and homes available through Airbnb were plentiful in Italy and less expensive than the price for two rooms at a hotel. The four of us could save money using Airbnb instead of hotels. That evening, we were able to request dates for specific apartments or homes and narrow down options for locations with many choices. Within a few days, all the details were worked out and our prospective hosts had accepted our requests, thus finalizing the reservation process for Airbnb.
Are You Adventurous Enough?
To use this method of travel, an adventurous spirit and an acceptance of the quirky, and sometimes funky, is in order. With Airbnb, a person may stay in someone’s home or rent a home that is solely used through Airbnb as a source of income. Some travelers desire five-star lodging and to be pampered and fawned over. That is absolutely fine. However, I am of the cheaper-longer-farther school of thought, meaning that if we can make some concessions, accepting a little quirkiness or an uncomfortable bed occasionally, we can travel more often and experience more—and stay within our household budget.
The beauty of these new Internet-based options is the data available to the user: information provided by other users who are objective third parties. With websites like Airbnb.com, you can see feedback and ratings on a home or apartment before reserving. Take advantage of this opportunity. We avoid anything without a good rating and always read at least some of the feedback provided by previous renters.
It’s What I Call a Numbers’ Thing
If one couple is planning a trip to Italy and wants to book lodgings in advance, it could cost about €100 ($112) per night for an average-budget hotel room. This figure is a reference point and can be any level that fits the couple’s desires and budget. If two couples are traveling together, they would need two hotel rooms for a night at a total of €200 ($224). If they were to rent an apartment and split the cost, they could actually save more money. They could rent a two-bedroom apartment or home for their stay through various web-based options. We used Airbnb for €150 ($168) per night, or €75 ($84) per couple, on average.
Back to the Quaint or Funky
With an adventurous mindset and an openness to expanding your dining options (resulting in further savings), you may benefit from renting an apartment or home. Most places offer a kitchen, living room (common area), and, often, a washing machine. Having a common area for some downtime at the end of a long day on your feet is grand. For example, my wife and I and our travel companions would meet up and sip on a chilled beer or glass of wine and snack on a few antipasti (appetizers) while talking about our respective days. Later, we’d head out for dinner or decide to dine in.
Cook In, Save Money
For our group, the antipasti and cold beverages would sometimes lead to dining in. It was always fun to discover what utensils were available in our rented apartment for making dinner. Then we would head to a grocery store to pick up the needed items, and we’d spend the evening enjoying one another’s company, taking the conversation wherever it led.
Drawbacks, Though Few
With an Airbnb‐rented apartment or home, you are pretty much on your own. We had great communication with our various hosts, and they were always available to address our needs or questions (with a few hiccups, which will be covered in the next post).
Because you are on your own, you make your own bed. And, depending on the length of your stay, you may need to perform some cleaning or resupply paper goods. The places we stayed in all came with clean linens and towels, and our average stay ranged from two through five nights. We also paid the minimal cleaning fees in advance, which resulted in little extra work during our vacation.
The opinions expressed in this post are solely those of the author. Airbnb did not endorse or provide compensation for this review.