17 Mar My First Airbnb Experience in Austin
It’s SXSW season and though I’ve never had the chance to go, I thought it would be a great time to share my trip to Austin, along with my first Airbnb experience. Austin is a cute little college town filled with active people – usually running everywhere with their dogs. Maybe we just happened to be there during a marathon, or the fact that the town is filled with parks and activities, or maybe they need to compensate for the great amount of delicious BBQ the city has to offer – I don’t know. Nonetheless, the live music capital of the world is filled with fun things to do from watching bats under the congress avenue bridge, to bar hopping on 6th street with live music, kayaking in Zilker Park, visiting historic sites, swimming in their beautiful natural pools, and did I mention finger-licking BBQ? It’s a lively city filled with trendy little shops/restaurants with cute signs, cows on the side of the road, and if you want to blend in, just add “y’all” to your vocabulary. I’ll let the pictures (below post) do most of the talking and get into what made this trip exciting for my boyfriend and I, being able to stay with locals through Airbnb.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with Airbnb (air bed and breakfast), it’s a cool unique way to connect with others all over the world and cut travel costs by renting out people’s homes/rooms/couches/tree-houses/whatever, and learn about the city through a local’s eyes (you can read more about it here). It’s also useful when hotels are overbooked during big events like SXSW. We decided to try it out after hearing great things about it from our friends. We found a listing for $39 a night – what a steal! Of course it wasn’t the cheapest out there, but there were a lot of things we considered. We factored in location, accommodation preferences (we didn’t need much, but cats are always a bonus), the hosts’ reviews, cleanliness, how responsive the host is, etc. When we found a match, I sent a friendly little introduction to the host, Darlene, with the room reservation. She replied almost immediately, but before she approved my request, she wanted to make sure we were aware that their home is 15-20 minutes away from Austin. We really appreciated this especially since you are not given the exact address (just the neighborhood for safety reasons) until you are approved. After ironing out possible concerns, she went ahead and approved our request. We were left a spare key under the doormat, which made checking-in a breeze. Even though we arrived pretty late, Darlene was sweet enough to give us a tour, made us feel at home, suggested a few things for our itinerary, offered to make coffee in the morning, and then gave us our space. It’s always a good idea to discuss the interaction preferences. Some hosts like to be involved in your trip, while others are just trying to make a quick buck and provide the space. Darlene and her husband had work and appreciated our independence. The place exceeded my expectations (looked way better in person than in pictures). The house was brand new, spotless, had high ceilings, our room had the comfiest mattress, the softest microfiber sheets, and a cozy warm down comforter. I am not a heavy sleeper at all, but I slept like a baby and did not hear my alarm clock go off 5 times (according to my boyfriend, oops). We had a pleasant stay overall and our host was really cool, someone I’d hang out with back at home.
Although we were a little nervous to try out Airbnb, we wanted to give it the benefit of the doubt. There are definitely good people out there, you’d be surprised. However, it’s not just guests who get nervous at times, hosts have to take precautions too. It’s amazing how Darlene and her husband were so trusting with us, strangers, staying in their home with a spare key; it really goes both ways. Now, as much as I love Airbnb, I don’t always prefer it over hotels. When the introvert side takes over and I want complete privacy, or if it’s just more convenient, I will book a hotel instead. Otherwise, I’ll go through Airbnb when I’m feeling social and adventurous, plus some say it’s better than hostels. Overall, I’d recommend people to try it out at least once, given all the precautions. It’s not for everybody, but you’ll never know unless you try, y’all …
Quick Tips and Facts about Airbnb
- Payments are made by credit cards or Paypal on a secure platform
- Payments are held in escrow until you check-in
- Everyone has different cancellation policies so make sure to look out for that.
- Neither the host or guest will see reviews until they are both submitted
- Airbnb customer service is available 24 hours
- Not all places offer breakfast
- Airbnb collects information from everyone including name, driver’s license, email, phone number, social media, etc.
- Make sure you read all the reviews – even the ones they leave (gives you an idea of who they are), search them online, exchange emails, tell someone where you’ll be staying, and leave the moment your gut tells you something is wrong (especially if they don’t resemble their profile picture)
Educate yourself about Airbnb safety by clicking here.
Sign up for Airbnb here.
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