Accommodation Sharing - Check out of hotels and into homes

Accommodation Sharing: Check out of hotels and into homes

Accommodation Sharing

If the first decade of the millennium was the decade of hotels, since 2010 we have all been enjoying a decade of accommodation sharing. The Internet has revolutionised the way in which we research, find and book places to stay on the road, and enabled us all to tap into an international community willing to open up their homes and host a stranger.

Accommodation Sharing

flickr image by La Boirie

Accommodation sharing options loosely fall into two options: those you have to pay for, and those that are free. Both options are invariably cheaper than staying in a hotel of comparative quality, and what is more you will get a taste of local life and, frequently, benefit from the invaluable insights of your host regarding where to go, what to see etc. If you are really in luck, they may even show you around.

Accommodation Sharing

flickr image by dumbledad

If you are travelling on a shoestring budget and can’t afford (or don’t want to pay for) accommodation, Couch Surfing is for you. This online community allows users to create profiles, to offer accommodation (anything from a couch to a bedroom with en suite bathroom) in their own home, and to request accommodation from other community members.

Community accommodation

by Charles D P Miller

The website restricts cash changing hands, but guests are encouraged to give their host a gift, which could be cooking a dinner, walking the dog, or bringing a particularly good bottle of wine. The global couch surfing community is about four million members strong, and other (much smaller) variations on the theme include the Hospitality Club, Global Freeloaders, Be Welcome, Nomadbase and, for speakers of Esperanto only, Pasporta Servo.

luxerious accommodation

flickr image by vidalia_11

Being prepared to pay something towards the cost of your accommodation opens up an even wider selection of options, some of them quite luxurious.

Accommodation sharing

Air BnB enables users with a spare room (or even an entire flat) to list them on the site when they are not occupied. You can search options for the dates you wish to stay, and then contact the host to make your booking. Air BnB takes a small percentage of the booking fee and handles all the payments, so your card details are secure. The site enables you to find a room when hotels are fully booked, and also broaden your options in suburban or rural locations where there might not be a hotel nearby.

Air BnB

flickr image by quinn.anya

Air BnB and Couch Surfing work worldwide, but there are also accommodation sharing sites that focus on a specific geographical area. One of the best of these is Amsterdam Stay, which enables guests to book a great selection of rooms in canal-side houses, flats and even onboard houseboats. You can book a room for long- or short-term stays, and hosts will frequently guide you around the local area to help you get your bearings.

Air BnB

flickr image by OuiShare

If you are travelling in the USA, Roomorama has a good network of properties, including very cheap apartments in New York, and they are searchable by area as well as by price.

The question everyone asks about accommodation sharing is “How do I know it’ll be safe?” No one wants to move in with an axe murderer, after all. Though security cannot be guaranteed, all of the accommodation sharing platforms do attempt to put safeguards in place. Amsterdam Stay vets accommodation offers before they can be listed on the site, and in the case of Couch Surfing and Air BnB, guests and hosts alike are encouraged to rate each other and comment on their experience. This peer review system, though not fail safe, does seem to weed out the weirdos and so if you pick an accommodation offer or guest who receives consistently positive ratings, you can be pretty confident you won’t get a nasty surprise.

Date posted: 25th March, 2015

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