Forget Hotels, Motels and Resorts – A New Way To Stay

AirBNB Condo and Apartment RentalsOne of the things I dread when traveling is finding myself in a run down, poorly managed hotel. I research every little detail of my trips beforehand, and it’s a drag when the hotel doesn’t match the description on the travel site.

Many times you’ll find that a hotel has odd rules; no outside food or drinks in your room, no guests, no parking on the grounds, etc. It gets old fast!

I generally prefer to rent a condo or apartment now. All the comforts of home, and usually for less money. You are free to stock your refrigerator and save a lot of money (and eat better too), you have total privacy – no front desk watching your every move, and in general, I think it’s much safer, as there’s no staff with access to your room (and room safe).

The hard part about staying in condos or apartments is finding them! In the past, you had to Google search for the town, and comb through hundreds of text listings with no idea where they were or what they really looked like. All that has changed.

Note: If you want to list your own vacation properties or long-term rentals in AirBNB, check out Your Vacation Property for details, and an offer to get free professional photography services for your listings.

I now use AirBNB.com to locate and book apartments all over the world. AirBNB puts people together – if you have an apartment, home, or condo available, you can list it at AirBNB, even if it’s only available a few weeks or months out of the year. The site has great search functionality, and the results show detailed photos, well written descriptions and maps of the area. The site is growing very rapidly, and you can expect to find listings almost anywhere. Some of the listings are for shared accommodations – you get your own room, but you’ll be sharing the rest of the place with others. Some ads are for the couch in the living room – great if you’re on a strict budget, but that would be a real surprise when you and your girlfriend show up. Read the ads carefully to be sure.

With some quick searching, I found a nice, clean, modern studio in Pattaya Beach, Thailand, for $20 per night. Try finding a hotel with that kind of value! Here’s one in Kamala Beach, Phuket, Thailand, only minutes away from the main nightlife area – it’s quiet and safe – for only $49 a night! How about a 3 bedroom, 3 bathroom luxury villa in Pattaya Beach, Thailand, with a large swimming pool, daily maid service, and an optional full-time staff for only $140 a night?

Try a search in the box below and check it out for yourself.

Here are a few links I’ve set up with preselected destinations:

Manila, Philippines

Pattaya, Thailand

Panama City, Panama

Las Vegas, Navada

A few things I didn’t like about the site are:

The small locator map that shows the pinpoint locations of your search results is hard to read, and it gets very slow and freezes up sometimes when you zoom in. Solution: Above the little map are three buttons, List, Photo and Map. List is the default view. Photo gives you a gallery view, and Map, as you might expect, loads a large map with your search results plotted. Ouila!

Edit: The little map view is fixed – or maybe it was my browser causing the problems. It works fine now regardless.

If you use the search box on the site, the main URL doesn’t change, making it hard to send a link of search results to a friend. Of course, I found a work-around! Just make your own link like I did in the examples above. Simply change the URL in your browser bar to read whatever city/location you want. Here’s a URL you can play with yourself:

http://www.airbnb.com/search?location=Honolulu,%20Hawaii&af=1112104&c=direct_link

Copy the link as is, and paste it into your browser. Now, just change the location (in this case Honolulu, Hawaii) to wherever you wish to search. By the way, the “%20” just tells the web site it’s a blank space – it’s not absolutely required, and should work fine without it. The &amp is HTML encoding, and should remain. Leave the rest of the stuff in the URL and search away. Feel free to share the link with your friends – they’ll appreciate it.

There’s currently no way to bookmark a listing for later. That would be very handy.

These are small issues, and don’t really affect the site’s usability. It’s still very easy to use and search results come quickly.

One more tip – when reviewing a listing, look in the upper right corner of the photos – some are verified by AirBNB staff, so you know it’s completely trustworthy.

If you use AirBNB successfully, or god forbid, you have a bad experience, please leave a comment here and let everyone know.

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