Homes for Vagabonds: The Airbnb Life

Home is where the heart is.
Pliny the Elder

Norman Tower in Dublin Castle, c 1228

When we let our apartment lease expire a year ago and committed to a lifestyle of traveling, we knew we’d want places to call “home” for extended periods of time. We have friends who do the RV lifestyle and enjoy it, but that’s not for us. It’s tough to get a motor home from Seattle to Dublin. And driving a big apartment on wheels also limits where you can live.

One of our mainstays for travel both in the U.S. and abroad has been Airbnb—an international organization that helps people rent out rooms, apartments, homes—and even boats—to travelers.

Through Airbnb we’ve stayed:

  • Near the Eiffel Tower in Paris with our friends Fred, Trish, and Julie. We could see the tower out of the window—well, at least part of it.
  • In a suburb of Dublin, a short walk from the light rail station, which got us to the city in twenty minutes.
  • In a small village on the southern shore of the Isle of Wight. We spent a month enjoying small town life and falling in love with the people and place.
  • On a yacht at a marina in the heart of Jacksonville, Florida. Some people flip houses—our host flips boats and turns them into rentals.

Other locations where we’ve used Airbnb include Berlin, Porto, New Orleans, Glasgow, London, and Phoenix. We usually stay at places where we have a private apartment or house, but in a few short-term situations we’ve rented a private room and shared kitchen facilities with the host.

View from our Isle of Wight Airbnb flat in Ventnor

Airbnb allows us to search for sites globally and see ratings from people who have stayed there. It also allows hosts to see how we’ve been rated by hosts from our previous stays. Our goal is to always be competing for “Guest of the Year” so we’ll be welcome back.

One of the advantages to Airbnb is we’re living in places where locals live—rather than being insulated in a hotel complex. Often the host will live nearby and be a great resource for information. We usually have full kitchen facilities so we’re not condemned to eating out all the time. And Airbnb tends to be less expensive than a hotel.

We like to use Airbnb for stays of three or more days. One disadvantage of the system is that you’re rarely just walking up to a desk as with a hotel. You usually arrange to meet the host at a specified time. Not convenient if you get delayed, which has happened to us.

Tips:

  • If you’d like to try Airbnb use this link: airbnb.com/c/dbrooke7 Laurie and I will get a travel credit and so will you.
  • Be sure to read both the description of properties AND the reviews. You can learn a lot from what people say in reviews—especially the bad ones.
  • Look for properties with both exterior and interior photos.
  • Make a list of amenities you want (such as Wi-Fi, Washer and Dryer, access to public transportation) and compare it to the listing.
  • There are competitors to Airbnb such as Vacation Rental by Owner (VRBO) and HomeAway. You can read more about those here.

If you want a furnished home on the road, we highly recommend you check into Airbnb. Please post any questions you have about short term vacation rentals, or notes about your own experiences, in the comments section.

Laurie enjoys Airbnb–on the water

Trip Update. Our three-week Florida adventure has taken us from the Gulf to Atlantic coasts and has been eye-opening. We’ve had a chance to see many aspects of the Sunshine State and see several friends from our Air Force days.  After three days on the water in Jacksonville we’ll be heading north to South Carolina to spend a few days with Barb, another friend from the Air Force.