Over a year ago (wow -- it's been awhile since I've been out of the country), my friends and I were heading to Iceland. Our grand plan was to get a super cheap airplane ticket (thanks WowAir), rent a car and then travel the entire country. We wanted to be on a budget, but not sell ourselves short of the experience. When it came time to find accommodations, we looked into hotels and hostels, but there weren't many options.
With a bit of hesitation, we decided to look into Airbnb. I was cautious for safety reasons: we'd be in a foreign country, staying in a strangers house. I've seen Taken, so let's just say this seemed like a prime way to go missing. But really, there were no other options when you're in the middle of nowhere in Iceland.
We scoured the map and found an Airbnb in every city we needed, so we booked three separate stays. I tried to not tell my father about it, since I was pretty convinced he'd lose sleep over the idea of me staying with a stranger.
The first place we went in Iceland was to our Airbnb house, and all my worry dissipated. Not only was the woman friendly, but she was incredibly engaged and helpful. She also said something profoundly simple:
She said she had never let anyone stay who made her uncomfortable, but there has also never been a time where she's had to not let someone stay. Then she continued to say that you know in your gut if someone is dangerous, and you have to trust yourself. It made me trust humanity, seeing her faith in it.
She didn't just let us into her home, she let us into her life.
She made us coffee, chatted with us about world politics and then helped us create a road map for exploring the city. It was like being at home in a new country. Plus, we were able to hold onto our autonomy of the trip without needed a tour guide, but with a better understanding of what we should do.
Another hesitation I had with Airbnb was that I was going to be staying in someone's house and not a hotel. Call me pretentious, but sometimes I like the fancy feel of big, plush beds and fancy soaps. Aaaand continental breakfasts (duh).
As I continued to use Airbnb, I was amazing to find many options that rival a hotel, but with the hominess of a house. For example, the house I stayed in Asheville has locally-made soap in every bathroom.
And in the second Airbnb in Iceland, we stayed in a mansion that had big plush beds and a homemade, filling breakfast. We were ballin' on a budget, so I filled up on carbs, yogurt, meats and cheeses.
Oh, and the third Airbnb of Iceland? We had an entire house. That's 2 bedrooms, a living room, bathroom and full kitchen. And what's even crazier? The price we paid for our entire apartment. It was incredibly cheap.
I hate paying a lot for amenities when I travel, you know, since you don't actually spend time in the room. Airbnb has options that range from staying in a tent in someone's backyard (I'm not exaggerating) to renting out an entire mountain home.
You can get really good deals for houses that are in city-center for a fraction of hotels that are right next door. You also have a wide range of styles to pick from, ranging from shared rooms, private rooms, entire houses and more. So. Many. Options.
Plus, you get the comfort of home with the professionalism of a host.
If you want to immerse yourself when you travel, and do it on a budget, try out an Airbnb. For $40 off your first time, use this code (and you can share it with your friends too): www.airbnb.com/c/saraw348.
If you use an Airbnb, you'll have to let us know how you like it!