Airbnb pros and cons

Airbnb has a bunch of pros and cons, most of which we figured out quite quickly in our travels.  As we get better at picking out places to stay, our experiences get better too.  But at the start we didn’t really know some of the downfalls to Airbnb over a hotel or hostel type of option.  The idea of Airbnb is to try and get the best of both worlds: the community atmosphere and price of a hostel with the convenience and comfort of a hotel.  Usually it works out and it’s great: here we talk about how Airbnb has replaced hotels for us.  Sometimes it is hell…

Special thanks to Bill and Nic’s House, City Center Cusco for inspiring this article

First, the major pros that we’ve come acro…

mom!!  Moooooommmm!  MOOOOOOOMMMMMM!  MOOOOOOOOOOMMMMM!!!!

Whoops, sorry.  That was just one of the kids who is a little tired needing a bit of attention before nap time.

As I was saying, one of the major perks to Airbnb is the price.  There are often great deals to be had on properties in the prime tourist locations.  Some of the more popular properties are going to be priced equivalently to some hotels, but in general we’ve found there is good value to be had by staying in the home of a local denizen.
One thing to keep in mind wi-

HE HIT ME!!!  MOOOOOOMMMMMMMMM!

Heh, kids will be kids!  They have their good days and bad.

One thing to keep in mind is that the homes will typically be local homes from the area, with all of their local charm and limitations.  Hotels in the area usually cater to tourist standards.  The higher priced the hotel, the better the standards will be to US or European expectations.  Homes on Airbnb probably won’t have these standards, so it’s good to set your own expectations accordingly.
Here are a few examples from our travels:

  • Doors/Windows in Jamaica don’t fit their frames – there will be lizards and bugs in the room
  • Homes in Peru are often made from adobe brick – it’s too solid for wifi signal to pass through
  • Hot water heaters as seen in the US (big tanks of hot water on demand) aren’t common in many countries – either much smaller tanks (10 min of water for the house) or it is typically through a machine that heats it on demand as it passes through. In Central America, this electrical heating device can be right on the shower head with exposed wires inches from you while you shower
  • Buenos Aires apartments that leak when it rains.  And by “leak”, I mean there are puddles you will be expected to mop and squeegee up after it stops raining

If you want a more hassle-free experience or just something closer to home, a hotel might be better.  But you’ll pay for —

Hey… seriously kid, you shouldn’t be in my room.  Go find your parents.

I’m locking my stupid door this time.

Anyway, Airbnb is a good way to save money while you travel.  How much time do you really want to spend in the hotel anyway?  Every second you’re outside of the hotel, it’s just costing money.  Money that could be spent having fun.  Also, it’s giving tourism dollars directly to community members.  I remember some trips to Mexico and how some of the people looked at the tourists with disdain.  Many of the resorts in Mexico are now all-inclusive and shut off to locals with literal gates and armed guards.  I can understand why some Mexicans would be upset.  If the best parts of my country were closed to me and I didn’t see a dime from the tourism business, it’d make me mad too.  Airbnb gives to enterprising local communities rather than a big corporation.
The room is good for sleeping.  Time for a na-

waaaaaahhhhh WAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!

Oh my fucking god do these kids ever shut up?!  The entire house wakes up at 6:30 AM because that’s when the kids wake up and it’s impossible to sleep when they are up.  We’ve been nice and understanding that children have bad days, but it’s been 4 days in a row with nothing but constant screaming.  Sigh.  Fine, no nap.  Let’s take a shower and go walking.

Just like how some of the quirks of local buildings will show through in an Airbnb home more than a hotel, so will some of the day-to-day responsibilities of the locals be imprinted onto you.  This can range from quaint to deal-breaker.  For example, the majority of toilets in South America just can’t take toilet paper being flushed.  There’s a little basket alongside the toilet to throw the waste into.  It works just as badly as you’re thinking.  The basket is gross and smelly, turning your bathroom into a dark and scary place.  The same is true with hot water: it will often be inconsistent and randomly change temper-

WHAT ARE YOU DOING PEEPING UNDER THE SHOWER??? GET. OUT.

DIDN’T YOUR PARENTS TEACH YOU ANYTHING???

Cleaned up, ready to go.  But where?
Hotels have concierges, but Airbnb places have something better: locals who can answer questions ranging from directions to suggestions to talking about the culture in which they live.  It’s a great way to really personalize the experience of where you stay.  Some of them even offer tours they’ve created, making some of these mini-hotels in their own right.
For example, today we’re going on a “day in the life” tour of a native Peruvian.  We are going to an adobe brick and dirt floor home where we will be served cuy (guinea pig!), we’ll see careers such as building the clay shingles and baking for the comunity, and…
Oh, some of the kids are coming too?  Yeah, we’ll be right there!  One sec!  Do we want to go now?  It’s the two oldest, so there should be less screaming, right?  I think we’ll be OK, let’s go.

HE TOUCHED ME!!!  WAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!!!!

Jesus H Christ, this kid is picking his nose and wiping it on us in the minivan. What kind of fucked up, shitty parents are these?  I guess we should be thankful he left the syringe with a needle at home and the bow and arrow are in the trunk? This kid is special needs (comment of a teacher also on the tour) and we are babysitting him on a “tour”!  And the mom wants $160 where we babysit her monster children!  She’s not getting another goddamn dime from us.  We’ve been in the goddamn car for hours and everyone is pissed.  

Fuck it, we’re leaving tomorrow morning even though we have more days booked and paid for.  We just can’t stand this bullshit any longer. (the other couple on the tour decided to leave too)

And that’s how our first experience with Airbnb went.  With us leaving even though we paid for a longer stay, just because it was so awful.
But it got better!  Other experiences we’ve had since then have been great and really added to the local flavor and will be ingrained into our memories.  We have met wonderful people who we’ve talked away the evenings with.  We’ve even had to squeegee the floors when it rained in Argentina, which only added to the charm.  Just… don’t wipe boogers on me if I stay in your home, OK?
UPDATE: Bill and Nic no longer rent private rooms in their home, I guess we weren’t the only guests who had complaints

Follow:

4 Comments

  1. CeCe
    November 24, 2014 / 1:32 pm

    Great story and story telling!
    Looking forward to more.

  2. KC
    November 24, 2014 / 1:39 pm

    I now have a great understand of Peru and the pro and cons of AirBnB, great local culture and avoid homes with small children. Great story.

  3. Nic
    February 8, 2015 / 10:28 pm

    I know you won’t post this but I took these right off Bill and Nic’s Profile page. Too bad you didn’t like it since so many people did! But why did you stay in a house with kids if you don’t like kids?
    I took out some positive reviews she included because they were so long. If you want to read positive reviews of her place, go to the Airbnb site where there is plenty. -John

    • John
      Author
      February 9, 2015 / 4:16 am

      Yes we like kids. I come from a huge family where 60+ cousins get together every holiday under one roof and it’s great. My friends have piles of kids that I see every week [when I’m in the US]. The difference is that my friends and families’ children are well behaved. They listen to other people and are respectful. They don’t wipe boogers on others, peep in showers, scream incessantly, or use dangerous objects.
      Regarding your positive reviews, Airbnb has a ratings problem. People are so worried about getting negative feedback themselves that the CEO of Airbnb has stated that literally 99% of reviews are positive. Having a ton of positive reviews is nothing to brag about, because everyone has them. Airbnb keeps changing their ratings system to try and encourage more honesty.
      ALL of the guests we stayed with while at your place complained when you guys were gone. All of these same people left positive reviews. They said they didn’t want to leave negative reviews because they were afraid they wouldn’t get accepted by future hosts on Airbnb. One couple we took a collectivo with complained about your children the entire way to Ollentaytumbo. They were incredibly pissed. One person who told you that they were leaving town actually went to stay in another hotel because they couldn’t take it anymore, just like us. We saw him several times over the next few days in Cusco.
      In short, your place sucks. You can use this to get better, or ignore it can continue to suck. Your choice.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *