One of my favorite ways to save money without sacrificing experience is finding alternatives to hotels. As much as I love room service, I don’t always love the price tag. Airbnb is a savior in this department.
When I studied abroad, we mainly resorted to hostels & staying with friends of friends – the best way to conserve cash! If Airbnb was around then, it would have been wonderful.
Now that it exists, Airbnb is one of my favorite ways to save money AND enjoy cities more like a local. Here are some tips for choosing the best place.
Quick Trip (2-3 days)
If you’re in & out for a quick weekend, I’d recommend staying near downtown. Pioneer Square, First Hill & Belltown are all neighborhoods within one mile of Pike’s Market. You can easily walk downtown (Space Needle, Pike’s Market, ferry rides, etc), but you’ll save a little money staying out the outskirts.
Long Weekend (3-5 days)
Downtown Seattle is beautiful and bustling, and I love it. BUT – there are so many gorgeous neighborhoods within a few miles of the city center, they’re worth checking out. Depending on what your activities are, check out Freemont (craftsman style homes, charming coffee shops, etc), Eastlake (close to UW, close to the water), or Wallingford (adorable mini Main Street with shops & restaurants) – these are great areas to stay if you’re looking to live a little more like a local.
Even if you’d like to mix tourist attractions in, no problem! All of these areas are easily accessible by bus (which you can read about and plan trips here!) You can use Google Maps to see what the bus schedule is from any area. Don’t be afraid to message an Airbnb property owner to ask which bus stops are within walking distance from their place.
Most places boast free wi-fi, but here are a few things you might want to double check before booking.
Is there a place to park?
Many places closer to downtown (such as Pioneer Square) have limited parking or can only offer street parking. Check with the property owner if you plan on renting a car.
Shared Space or Total Privacy?
There are three options on Airbnb: Entire Place, Private Room or Shared Room. Shared Room is the equivilant to couch surfing. You’ll be crashing with a stranger. I’ve heard of people who choose this (often cheaper) option and luck out with the entire place to themselves anyway. It’s a great way to meet new people but can be tiring if you’re looking to relax after a long day of sight seeing. Private Rooms often come with their own bathroom, but double check the details on the location. Some of the also have their own private entrances, so they’re just as good as the entire place! Obviously Entire Place means you’ve rented the place out – all to yourself! This is a really great option for traveling with groups or a few couples. You can get a 3 bedroom house for a fraction of the price you’d rent 3 separate hotel rooms.
Check in/Check out policies?
Arriving late or early is something to consider with Airbnb, as you’ll be getting keys from owners sometimes. It’s also nice to check if your host is ok with you leaving your bags for a bit on the day you check out if you’re taking a later flight. That way you can get out of their way but enjoy your last day sans luggage.
My #1 Tip is…..
Always read the reviews! Be mindful of the fact that sometimes one apple ruins it for the whole bunch, so don’t just take one guys word for it. Read as many as you can and take note of the reoccurring themes: Loud street noise? Comfortable bed? Proximity to sights & transportation? You’ll typically get your questions answered here (even questions you didn’t know you had!), so it’s important to spend a little time reading through them.
The Airbnb community is a WONDERFUL thing, and we love it. Have you ever stayed in an Airbnb property?
Other travel posts you might enjoy:
How to incorporate travel into your budget
How to save on flights (using One Way Tickets)
Carry on guide
Seattle City Guide
Perfecting the Multi-Way Flight
Luxury on a Budget: Hotels & Lodging
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