Hello Stranger | My First Airbnb Experience

I have heard about the convenience and sometimes cost savings of staying at an Airbnb but have resisted until now. It takes a special person to open up their home to strangers. Would it be clean? How does the process work? How much does it cost? A girl has questions.

Recently, I had the opportunity to get some answers when myself and a friend hosted a girls weekend to celebrate our mutual friend’s upcoming wedding. We wanted something intimate and local but still allowed us to feel like we were getting away. It had to be near water and reasonably priced. The hotels in the area offered a resort feel but cost more for a weekend than we were willing to spend.

How does it work?

Airbnb is an online site that connects people with personal residences to rent with those looking for a temporary place to stay. You can also host an experience as a way for locals to introduce tourists to their community, city or culture.

The site is user friendly and it’s free to sign up, search, and create a profile. Then you simply search for a place based on your selection criteria (city, date, number of guests, amenities). You will get to learn a little about your host as well as additional policies specific to their rental space. As a safety tip, Airbnb recommends that you only communicate and pay directly through Airbnb. You have the ability to send messages to prospective hosts and ask questions before finalizing your reservation.

There is an Airbnb service fee for each booking you make on the website, and in some areas you also pay an additional occupancy tax and fees (similar to a hotel). Some properties also charge an added cleaning fee. Cancellation policies also vary so make sure you read all of the print before booking. Finally, read the reviews (the good and the bad) to help with your final selection.

Picture Perfect Place

After some searching, we settled on a lakefront property in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area for two nights. I didn’t know what to expect so I will admit I was slightly nervous to book. Would the place actually look like the pictures? Would the host be easy to work with? Would the amenities be as outlined in the property description? YES!!! I know that there are some who have had negative experiences, but I couldn’t have asked for a better first experience. We had the entire house ( 3 bdrms, 2 baths, 2 livingrooms) to ourselves. Wifi was provided as well as towels, bed sheets and other basic essentials. I never met the host personally as the process was self check-in through a smart lock, but I found her very responsive to my questions posted on the Airbnb site.

More importantly, our friend was pleased with the accommodations. We each had our own bedroom. A quick trip to the store stocked the fridge with the appropriate food and drinks. And, the bride-to-be had the opportunity to unwind from wedding planning activities and relax every morning on the dock overlooking the lake. The fully-equipped kitchen also gave us the chance to pamper her with home cooked meals made in love.

I would share more about the weekend, but what happens at the lake stays at the lake. And although I haven’t given up on staying at hotels, I would definitely add Airbnb to my future travel plans whether staying close or traveling far away.

So, did I get lucky or have you too had a great experience with an Airbnb? I would love to hear about your stay—good or bad—and any tips you have for those thinking about using Airbnb on their next trip.

Title Musical Nod: Hello Stranger (Barbara Lewis)

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