AirBnB

I have just come back from a trip around Central America, where I used AirBnB extensively. This was my wife?s suggestion- I?d had the impression previously that AirBnB was only for long term accommodation. I had some wonderful experiences, and I felt like sharing.

One thing I didn?t realise when I started was that I could have earned $US25 in booking credits if I?d had a referral from a friend, and that friend would have also earned $US25 in credits. So just in case anybody is going to use AirBnB for the first time, contact me for a referral code; or anybody else who has used AirBnB can reply to this post and you can contact them for a referral code. Depreciator is one member with extensive AirBnB experience as a host; there will be others. The important thing is that any first time user can get credits for free.

We started by trying a place in Sydney, just to see how it worked. We went there for the weekend to get together for a family celebration. We were after a room to sleep three people, on the southern beaches. We got a lovely place, just a block back from the beach. The host was a motivational speaker, teaching people how to speak in public ? unfortunately we didn?t get to meet her. It was a lovely spot, and great to wake up in a real house, and not just a motel room.
First up in Latin America, I stayed at Antigua, Guatemala, a lovely old Spanish colonial city, with a lovely young couple. I was delayed getting there due to heavy traffic and rain- but my host was standing outside in the rain waiting for me to arrive, not knowing how long he would have to stand there. The house doesn?t front onto the street. The house was excellent, nice and clean, about a 15 minute walk from the town centre. They gave me the option of joining them for their activities- I was fortunate to be there at the time at a nearby spectacular kite festival. I still keep in touch with these people.
https://www.airbnb.com.au/rooms/2169398

I had two weeks at language school in Guatemala, where I was hosted by a local Maya family, which was arranged by the school.
One night was in a hostel in Guatemala City- a lovely big old room, 15 minutes walk from the historic centre.
In Monte Verde, Costa Rica, I stayed at a magnificent place on the edge of the rainforest, with a fantastic view of the rainforest and into the canyon. On several mornings, I was woken up by monkeys in the trees just outside the window. The host also provided rainforest tours. He?s born and bred in the area, and knows the wildlife. We saw a lot of wildlife on the tour, which I would have totally missed by myself. We did see a quetzal bird, a magnificent bird which can be very hard to find.
https://www.airbnb.com.au/rooms/3544065

In La Fortuna, Costa Rica, the place turned out to be a standard hotel- except well removed from the township, which meant extra transport expenses, as I was travelling by public transport. Often, a hotel lists in AirBnB- sometimes they are good, other times not so much.

In San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica, I stayed in a unit. This was a place which really showed the value of the personal touch. Just as the bus was arriving in San Jose, I discovered that my backpack had been stolen from the bus. My host went to great lengths to help me out- finding out where to go to report the loss, and even let me pay Paypal in exchange for cash, which I very much needed.

Quepos is a small town near the coast, near the Costa Rica?s smallest and most popular park. I stayed out of town, up the side of the hill, with views over the marina, and a pool, bbq and bar- every Aussie?s dream.
https://www.airbnb.com.au/rooms/694306

Another coastal town ? Puerto Jimenez. This was beautifully situated, surrounded by rainforest- but I allowed myself too little time to go to the nearby national park.
https://www.airbnb.com.au/rooms/3018888

In the highlands Panama town of Boquete, I stayed in a house, with a beautiful view of the volcano, rainforest and coffee plantation, with glimpses of the distant Pacific. The house is beautifully maintained, and an excellent glimpse of the US expat way of life in Panama.
https://www.airbnb.com.au/rooms/1173618

In Medellin, I was on a 15th floor penthouse, in a gated complex, with fantastic views over Medellin.
https://www.airbnb.com.au/rooms/1056244

In Caye Caulker, Belize, a coral island, I was beachside. A lovely- and colourful- place in a laid back Caribbean beach.
https://www.airbnb.com.au/rooms/1314967

And finally, the most unusual accommodation I?ve stayed in. Belize has a big population of Mennonites, which is a Christian group related to the Amish people in Pennsylvania. While there are many Mennonites in Belize who still don?t use cars or modern machinery, this was not one of them. They do use the internet, but not TV. The women still wear traditional long dresses and white bonnets. There is an extremely strong sense of community- I arrived just at the completion of a full house renovation done while the lady of the house was away for six days- performed with the help of many of the members of the church working together, just like a barn raising which I?ve seen shown on TV.
https://www.airbnb.com.au/rooms/1110572

Not all requests for accommodation were accepted- I had rejections for about 25% of requests. Quite often, they are just ordinary people with their own activities. Sometimes they don't like to accept people without a rating (both the guest and host get the chance to rate each other); some like to check social media as well.
 
AirBnB is great, Geoff! I had mainly good experiences with the accommodation and hosts except one place where I was molested and propositioned. He was miffed when I said no, apparently he expected a little 'extra' from female guests when they came to stay at his 'high class' rented apartment. Next night, I was sitting by the pool and debating whether I should go back up to the apartment (I had already prepaid for 4 more nights) when I saw him walking up with a petite girl. I felt highly embarrassed but I also felt a bit peeved as I felt I still had a right to sleep there no matter who or what he brings home. Guess that was his way of getting back at me and telling me silently that it was still his place and he can do as he pleased.

I crept back into the apartment with trepidation - yup, wine glasses on the table, her bag on the couch. They were already in his room. I felt embarrassed to even take a shower because the bathroom is next to the host's room and I was afraid of disturbing their romantic amorous behaviour with the noise.

So I tried to go to sleep amid her soft cries. I wondered 'pleasure or pain?'
The next day, after he had got his jollies, he explained away his previous behaviour with me airily that he was stressed up at office and the kind of stressful things he had to deal with at the office was just 'unbelievable'.

So AirBnB is great but you're still staying with strangers and there is a certain amount of risk. My host had the best comments from couples, guys and single ladies so I thought I would be safe. I saw a little more of his 'ahem', assets than I would have liked but I put it down to a good life lesson learned. Don't be too trusting and don't stay with single guys on your own.
 
Some great accommodation there, Geoff.
Airbnb is fabulous. We used it in Europe and have used it locally.
We've had our warehouse pad at home listed for three years now and it's occupied close to 100% of the time and usually booked out six months in advance. (Having a positively geared PPOR is great.)
Airbnb has a range of accommodation from shared rooms, private rooms up to whole apartment/houses.
If I was young and hopeful and travelling on a budget, I might opt for the shared room.
If I was a single woman travelling alone and I would opt for a private room but probably with a female host.
I have only stayed in whole apartments/houses, and that's what our space is i.e. it's a completely self contained 90sqm warehouse space.
What I especially like about Airbnb is the review system. I would never stay in a place that has not been reviewed by a fellow Airbnb traveller, and I rarely accept bookings from guests who have not been reviewed. So far so good.

Scott
 
Iv had a few experiences with AirBnb.

I'v stayed in a few places in the US and Australia where it's been great.

I'v just gotten back from a trip to Japan and ran into a few issues there:
- place not as described. Broken heater in one place and it was about -10degC. We also couldn't find the place as we arrived at midnight and the owner could not be contacted.

- The other place , they forgot to leave the keys for the apartment in Tokyo. The owner was away on holidays but was luckily contactable but it took over 2-3H for the keys to be delivered.
 
Great reviews GeoffW. I'll be booking that penthouse in Medellin when I visit soon. I use Airbnb a lot but always select "entire home" on my filter and usually book studio condos if I'm in a city. I'm staying in one now in Makati, Manila for AU$36 a night which is comparable to an $80 hotel with pool and gym facilities. As a regular visitor, I've often booked the same condos direct through the owner and bypassed the Airbnb fees. A lot of owners will also heavily negotiate the rates for longer stays.
 
Good on you for such a detailed thread Geoff- really enjoyed reading about your experiences and hope you got a well-earned rest :D
 
Just as the bus was arriving in San Jose, I discovered that my backpack had been stolen from the bus.

I forgot to ask about this. Was your bag on the roof of the bus or in the luggage compartment? I'm wondering how you could've avoided this. If your bag was with you this wouldn't have happened but not sure how big your backpack was or if you're a minimalistic packer? I'm a convert of the "one bag" style of traveling and recently invested in a Tom Bihn Aeronaut 45. I don't have check in luggage and my bag stays with me all the time.

http://www.tombihn.com/all/TB0906.html

Check the Tom Bihn forums for more info. I did a lot of research before deciding on this quality bag and very happy with it.

More info on "one bag" traveling here:
http://www.onebag.com/mail.html

There's also a sub reddit:
https://www.reddit.com/r/onebag
 
The bag was actually in the bus, on the luggage rack. It was a seven hour trip, and I wasn't awKe the whole time.
 
recently invested in a Tom Bihn Aeronaut 45. I don't have check in luggage and my bag stays with me all the time.

http://www.tombihn.com/all/TB0906.html

Check the Tom Bihn forums for more info. I did a lot of research before deciding on this quality bag and very happy with it.

More info on "one bag" traveling here:
http://www.onebag.com/mail.html

There's also a sub reddit:
https://www.reddit.com/r/onebag

I have a Tom Bihn Smart Alec backpack and am very happy with it.
 
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