Sunday, November 19, 2017

I've Rather Lucked Out with AirBNB.

Because of what I do for a living and the hobbies that drive me on the side, I spend a lot of time on the road. Because I don't have a lot of money for those overnights, I utilize a lot of cheaper options for lodging. AirBNB makes that easier.

First off, you should know, this isn't an ad. AirBNB has no clue I am writing this and I won't receive money from this (though, if you use this referral link, you get $40 off your first stay of $75 or more and I'll get a little travel credit for future AirBNB stays myself - and after you stay, you can get a referral link, too). I'm posting this because I get a lot of questions about the service.

Secondly, I'm a realist. I'm also a bargain hunter of some renown - after all, back in the introductory years of Priceline I did manage my share of four star hotels for $15 a night and I collect all the hotel points I can towards free stays. For my AirBNB hunting, I keep an open mind. I'm usually looking into these sort of accommodations in situations where a points-friendly hotel or Arkansas State Park lodging option is just not convenient to where I am going.

With that in mind, here are some of the places where I've stayed.

Grace Cottage at Historic Washington State Park is an old favorite of mine. Until more lodging becomes available, it's the only overnight place to stay indoors in my budget range (though the 1914 Historic Schoolhouse is a marvelous option for groups of more than five). The 1920s era home is beautifully appointed with comfortable touches, and it has one of my favorite kitchens ever.  Go read more about it here. (Grace Cottage now uses for bookings)

I've done some amount of off-season and cusp-season travel to Branson, and was thrilled to get a two bedroom condo at the Wyndham Branson for just $40 a night. Being able to have separate bedrooms is a blessing on a generational trip, and having the comfort of a location where I can use a
full kitchen and washer and dryer is a bonus.

Even during the season, $80 a night is a remarkable rate for a Branson-area condo, and being at a Worldmark by Wyndham in a secluded area off the Strip is a real blessing.

This past spring, Grav and I wanted a couple of days of downtime before returning home after a whirlwind series of trips. I had personally seen weeks of travel in a row - Bentonville, Austin Texas, south Arkansas, Memphis, the entirety of
Crowley's Ridge and the Great River Road in Arkansas, the Arkansas Governor's Conference on Tourism and then Gulf Wars in south Mississippi. We decided to forgo luxury for beach access and ended up in a second story apartment a long
block off the beach in Bay St. Louis. While the accommodations weren't fancy, they were useful - and having a kitchen to cook our own meals and separate sleeping spaces was a plus. Thanks to travel credits I'd accumulated from previous folks who came to AirBNB, our entire price for two nights 900 feet from the beach was all of $75.

For the most part, I have looked into the Entire Home bookings for AirBNB. I'm a rather private person and - especially when I am working on a project or an assignment - I tend to want to be independent and left to my own devices. A recent event we attended at Meeman-Shelby Forest State Park in Memphis left me scrambing for something close to the park yet affordable. The temperature was forecast to be quite chilly and I wasn't quite up to roughing it in a tent.

Fortunately, an AirBNB just four miles away afforded me the opportunity to attend the event and come and go as I please - while giving me a warm place to stay and a hot shower to boot. Better still - at $29 a night for a suite in a host's home, I was able to save about $70 a night more I'd have spent for a hotel another 20 minutes away. The convenience and comfort was worth the proximity - and I was lucky to have really nice hosts.

When AirBNB came on the scene a few years ago, I wondered whether it was something that I'd be able to work into my lifestyle. It requires a great deal of trust. I'm the sort of person that's nervous abut asking someone if I could crash on their couch (I don't want to put anyone out) and the initial presentation of the service seemed to fit that format. Instead, it's offered a lovely framework for connecting available space, folks looking to raise a little money towards their own goals and travelers like me who want to be able to explore and share the world around them without going bust.

There's my thoughts on the matter. Have questions? Feel free to share them in the comments.

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