Why I Stay in Airbnbs When I Travel

woman walking on pathway while strolling luggage

Pete and I have done a fair bit of traveling over the years. When we’re on the road, we look for accommodation based on three criteria: location, budget, and bang-for-buck. We’re usually pretty flexible, equally happy tent camping in a beautiful spot or staying in a nice hotel in the center of town.

While both of these options sound amazing, 9 times out of 10 we stay in Airbnbs.

Airbnb’s have been slightly controversial over the years, some people worry about staying in another person’s house and there’s been some tension around how it disrupts a city’s housing market. While acknowledging these issues, I would say that I’ve never felt unsafe in an Airbnb and I’ve loved finding quirky spaces and meeting hosts eager to share their city with me.

Some of my favorites have included a yacht on a lake in Oregon, an old converted carriage house in St Louis, and an Airbnb in Bluff, where our hosts greeted us with fresh Paua on arrival. Some places use lockboxes so you never even meet your host while others offer a more social environment; there are endless options depending on what you’re looking for.

After living in techy cities like San Francisco and Portland, I was surprised by how reluctant many New Zealanders are to embrace the Airbnb concept. People here seem to go with what they know, even if it means paying more to stay in a hotel that hasn’t been renovated since the 60s. Luckily for Pete and myself, we’ve found no shortage of listings when we’re out an about exploring NZ.

So far we’ve stayed in Airbnbs in Martinborough, Wellington, Takaka, Blenheim,  Mt Lyford, and Bluff. I’m sure we’ll stay in more as we venture further South and West – I’m hoping to get over to Franz Joseph this Summer. I’d also love to find some sort of farm stay, where I can experience a bit more of rural Kiwi life.

As a traveler, I’ve found the experience great for getting a little local flavor through hosts’ recommendations and it’s almost always more budget-friendly.

It’s Good For Traveling In Large Groups

One of the perks of Airbnb is the ability to rent out a whole house. If you’re traveling with family or friends, it’s easy to find a place big enough to fit everyone. Airbnb’s provide common areas like living rooms and kitchens that you wouldn’t normally find in a hotel room so you can save heaps of money by using the kitchen to cook meals and hang out without having to go out every night. Most of my family will all be staying in Airbnb’s near us when they come to New Zealand for the wedding.

There’s Something for Every Budget

Not every Airbnb is cheap, some can cost hundreds of dollars a night while others can be as little as $30/night. The cost will vary depending on the size of the house, the location, amenities (e.g. pool, jacuzzi, gym) and the time of year (off-peak/on-peak). There are three options for rooms: a shared room, a private room, and the entire place. I’ve never stayed in a shared room, which seems couchsurfing-esque, where you could end up in someone’s living room on the sofabed…hard pass for me. After a long travel day, I need my own space to crash, so I  prefer getting a private room or renting out an entire place. You can book whatever works for your wallet and the size of your group.

Picking A Good Airbnb

Not every listing is a gem. Before booking a place, read the reviews. Make sure there are photos and recent reviews with descriptions of the place that match the listing details. Look out for separate listings that appear to be the same house, sometimes hosts have two rooms listed which may result in sharing a bathroom (which has made us late before when the other guest took forever to get ready in the morning). You can also refine your search to only show superhosts, who are highly rated, responsive, and have at least 10 stays at their house a year. If you’re going somewhere more remote, double check that Uber is available or there will be some other way to get home if you end up having a couple of wines in town. I say this from experience, long drunken walks home are not fun, especially in heels…

Do you have any New Zealand Airbnb recs? Help a girl out and leave your favorite finds in the comments below.

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2 thoughts on “Why I Stay in Airbnbs When I Travel

  1. Hey Pete! Great write up on Airbnb. Having been traveling for the past year, we have spent many night in Airbnbs.
    New Zealand is damn amazing! We spent 3 weeks there last summer in a campervan. I hope you get to Franz Joseph, it was one of our favorite places. The top of our list has to be Wanaka though, have you made it there?
    Carine & Derek


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