Much like Uber and Lyft have created disruptions in the taxi industry around the US, AirBnb has created a similar disruption the hotel industry in the US. VBRO and Homestay offer similar things both in the US and abroad. So a traveler, how do you decide whether to find a hotel or try out a homestay?


VBRO apartment in Dusseldorf, Germany

I’ve stayed in hotels, hostels, bed and breakfasts, VBRO, AirBnb, and timeshares around the world… all opinions and advice here is my own. There are different “best options” for different types of trips and travelers.

  1. Think about what type of trip you’re taking and what amenities you expect. If you don’t want to lift a finger and be catered to – a hotel or resort is probably the way you should go. If you want it to feel like home, a VBRO or AirBnb might fit you better.
  2. Do your homework. If you’re traveling- what is at the top of your list and will your accommodation work with that? Does the neighborhood connect to public transportation? Does it look well maintained and safe when you check Google street view? If it doesn’t meet your criteria, keep looking.
  3. Look at the reviews. VBRO and AirBnB reviews have to be by previous travelers. For hotels, sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor can have unverified reviews. But any set of reviews will help you understand the types of problems with the lodging and area.
  4. Correspond with the VBRO/AirBnB host. Talking with them can tell you a lot. Are they responsive? Friendly? Answer your questions?
Dining area and deck of VBRO apartment in Dusseldorf, Germany

Dining area and deck of VBRO apartment in Dusseldorf, Germany

Personally, I really like not staying in hotels unless I’m on work travel. When I travel for races, staying in an actual apartment/home gives me control over what I eat. When I travel for fun, it gives me someone to talk to and to notice if something happens to me. So I tend to prefer AirBnb/VBRO if I’m traveling alone or just with one person. If there’s a group, a hotel may be cheaper.

Hotel on Grand Cayman

Hotel on Grand Cayman

For example, on my upcoming trip to northern California. I’m staying at an AirBnB for 3 nights that’s a mile from the beach. Perfect for runs to and along the beach, dedicated parking, but a homey and relaxing feel. Then I’m staying 2 nights in a hotel with other wedding guests closer to the venue of a friend’s wedding, and it’s closer the airport. Combining these two gives me the best of both worlds depending on the activities and vibe of the day.

Neighborhood pizza recommendation from AirBnB host in San Francisco- and I had a place to store it for a second meal!

Neighborhood pizza recommendation from AirBnB host in San Francisco- and I had a place to store it for a second meal!

I’ve had some great experiences- a host leaving me tea and giving me neighborhood recommendations, a host cooking a native meal for me, a host giving me a bottle of wine, having a big apartment with a deck. I’ve met all kinds of interesting people at hostels over the years- and only had 1 towel stolen. I love staying in different places and seeing what each location offers.


What do you do for lodging when you travel?



4 Thoughts on “Travel Lodging: Hotels vs. AirBnB

  1. I’ve never stayed in an Airbnb but I’d totally be up for it!

  2. Oooh! this is really interesting! We stayed at an AbnB for a race in Washington, it was nice. the neighborhood was quiet, but our host was noisy. But we saved a ton of money!

    Have you heard the TED talk by the founder of ABNB? it’s very interesting!

    • Christina on July 27, 2016 at 8:37 pm said:

      Thanks! And it’s good to hear that there are some mediocre experiences out there. Sorry the host was noisy! I haven’t heard the TED talk- will have to look it up.

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