Most of the time when you visit your partner, you will have guaranteed accommodation with them. However, this is not always the case. When Chelsea has visited me at university in Lancaster, she has been able to stay with me in my rented house with my housemates and I. When I have visited her in Bellingham, I have been able to stay with her at her family’s house, and will be able to stay with her at her own apartment during my upcoming trip. But this is not something that can be taken for granted. There will be situations where you do not have guaranteed accommodation.
For example, while visiting me in my hometown of Plymouth Chelsea and I do not stay at my family home, because there simply is not room (there is barely enough room for me when I visit during university holidays). And in April we are planning to take a trip across Europe to see some of the capitals. Namely: Athens, Rome and London. In these situations, the first thought is to try to book a hotel. And this was what we did at first. For our very first night together in Plymouth, we decided to book a hotel close to the city centre, the Jury’s Inn. For Chelsea’s surprise trip to visit me in December, she booked another hotel close to the city centre – Travelodge.
We quickly realised however, that for visits that lasted longer than a week, the cost of hotels could quickly rack up into a pricey bill. And, on top of flight costs, it made for some pretty expensive trips. That is when we began looking into alternatives. We looked into sub lets and apartments before stumbling across Airbnb. This should be a pretty familiar name to some people, as it has gained media attention for changing the travel and accommodation industry.
The premise is simple. Anybody can list a property on Airbnb, whether you have a spare room, apartment or house. And then anybody seeking accommodation can book, through Airbnb, to stay in your property. Simply use their website or mobile app to select your destination, arrival and departure dates to see a full list of all available properties that match your criteria. You can filter the results more by price, accommodation type, and size. You can even select the amenities you want to find the perfect place for you.
Why We Love Airbnb
By now, it should be fairly obvious that Chelsea and I are huge advocates for Airbnb, and use it in our own trips. We have stayed in Airbnb properties in Plymouth (with the intention of doing so again), and are planning to use the service again when we take our European tour in 2015. But what is it about Airbnb that we love exactly? Well, the obvious benefit is the cost. Depending on when you book a hotel, even a good deal can cost you upwards of £50 per night. Airbnb however has accommodation to suit your budget, no matter what it is. Whether you are looking for 5 star luxury, or a good deal. Chelsea and I found a property in Plymouth for £24 per night, saving us nearly 50% of what we would have otherwise spent on a hotel.
But, it doesn’t stop there. Another huge benefit for us was the access to a full house. While we were only renting out a single room in a shared house, we still had access to a kitchen, living room, bathrooms and washing facilities. This is not something that most hotels offer, and means you do not have to eat out every night. This is something that adds greatly to the cost of a hotel, being forced to constantly eat out or at the hotel restaurant. With Airbnb however, you can cook your own meals. And you can even do your own washing, so you don’t have to take a trip to the laundrette when you run out of clothes to wear.
These are important factors, not only because they save you money, but also because they make you feel like a normal couple. It is easy, when staying in hotels, to view each trip you take to visit your partner almost like an extended holiday. You are detached from the real world; not able to cook, wash your clothes, or just do basic chores. Airbnb, on the other hand, offers a taste of what life can be like outside of this. And to long distance couples, this is a hugely important factor. Because you do not often get a chance to experience a normal life as a true couple, even these little differences that add a sense of reality make a huge difference. It offers you a rare glimpse into what living together in the future may be like.
Housemates and Hosts
Often, when using Airbnb’s services, you will not be alone in the property. You will either be sharing the house with other guests, or the host themselves (the owner of the property). Chelsea and I stayed in a student house with a spare room over the holidays, sharing with 4 Plymouth University students. Our host, Chris, was not around while we lived there, but was always on hand when we needed him, and made sure we were settled in, before leaving the property to us.
It is true that there have been stories of unsavoury activities happening in Airbnb properties, and concerns over safety. But it is important to bear in mind that these are a very small minority. The Airbnb community is huge, and for the most part welcoming. If you ever feel unsure about a property, you always have the opportunity to read other people’s reviews of both the property and the host before booking it. The whole system is designed to make you feel safe and secure, and not as if you are just in some stranger’s home.
Our experiences with housemates and hosts have only been positive, and you are taken care of on a much more personal level than you could ever expect from a hotel. We enjoyed our stay in Plymouth thoroughly and have no hesitations about using Airbnb for our future trips where accommodation is harder to come by.
Should You Use Airbnb?
This is a very simple question to answer. If you have your own accommodation, with which your partner can stay with you at, then no. Not only will you save money by staying at home, but it gives them a real insight into your life. They will be living with you in your home environment, and get to know who you truly are. It is money saving, convenient, and the best look into your future you could possibly ask for as a long distance couple.
However, if you do not have accommodation on hand (due to personal circumstances, or because you are going on holiday together), then yes, definitely use Airbnb. Not only will it save you money over hotels, but it will bring you closer together as a couple. You will be able to do things you would not otherwise be able to do as a couple; cook, clean, wash and more. While they may sound mundane at first, you will soon learn to appreciate the more ‘normal’ moments that you and your long distance partner share, even these!