We first used Airbnb a few years ago for a one-month trip through Vietnam.
We stayed in a narrow, four-story apartment with an outdoor roof-top kitchen in Ho Chi Minh City; in a small house with a garden steps from the beach near Hoi An; in an apartment with bunk beds and a neat full-wall mural in the centre of Hanoi; and in a family home in the mountains of Sapa. Each stay went really well and these experiences sold us on Airbnb.
Since then, we’ve used the platform in more than a dozen countries on four continents and almost all of our stays have been great.
But Airbnb has become quite controversial in many cities because of safety concerns and it's negative effect on afforable housing for local populations. Although I'm not sure we should ignore or boycott the platform, these are big issues and I do think some more regulation is needed to ensure safety and preserve communities.
As traveler, I'm not sure what the right answer is but I do think we need to be mindful, pay attention to these issues, and adapt our travel practices as things evolve. Our family uses lot of different types of accommodation, not just Airbnb, and we try as much as possible to appreciate, blend into (vs. takeover) and spend money in the communities that host us. Responsible tourism and trying to find a balance is important to us and every trip, desitnation and booking is different.
That said, Airbnb is sometimes more affordable than hotels and can offer bigger spaces with more amenities that are both inside or outside the tourist centres. There are some really neat properties and amazing hosts who will go out of their way to give you a memorable, pleasant and more authentic experience. We've had Airbnb hosts who have taken us for breakfast, invited us to a Chinese New Year dinner, helped arrange a haircut with their cousin, and even gotten up in the middle of the night to make us delicious quail eggs wrapped in bacon for an early morning bus ride treat.
If you’re new to Airbnb and finding the process a little daunting, or if you’re an Airbnb user who wants to take things to the next level, here are some tips for a better Airbnb adventure.
10 tips for searching and booking on Airbnb
Searching through Airbnb can be overwhelming and frustrating. It takes a bit of getting use to, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll find some great options. We’ve stayed in some wonderful homes, while saving money and getting a real taste of the community and culture. Here are 10 tips to help you find a great Airbnb home away from home…
How do I find the best deal on Airbnb?
10 tips for being a great Airbnb guest
If you’re planning to use Airbnb regularly, you’ll want to make sure you gather good reviews along the way. It’s much easier to ask for discounts, get the bookings you want, or ask for extras if you have a good profile. Here are some tips for being a 5-star Airbnb guest.
How can I be a good Airbnb guest?