Home Away From Home

In 2007, I went on a school trip that gave me the chance to tour Japan for almost a whole month. We stayed at hostels, small traditional inns and even got the chance to experience 3 home stays with locals who volunteered to take us in and show us around their town. That was an eye opener for me. I had never stayed in a stranger’s home before. Yes, my parents did have friends overseas who would let us crash with them. But they were always close friends of my parents. This was totally different.

After Japan, I never thought much about home stays again, often opting to stay at cheap hotels instead. Then in 2011, I discovered Airbnb. For those who don’t know, Airbnb is a community that allows people to list their homes and to book accommodations available on their site. Currently, there are homes available for short term rental in over 34,000 cities and 190 countries. And its a community that’s continuing to grow.

So how did I come to learn of Airbnb? Well I chanced upon an article online that talked about the merits of renting someone’s home while on holiday. The article was referring to another short term home rental site called Roomorama. Similar in idea, Roomorama was launched in 2009 while Airbnb was founded in 2008. I explored both sites and found that I liked the look of the website and the ease of booking a place through Airbnb more than I did Roomorama. But more than that, I found that there were more rental options I liked at Airbnb than with other home rental sites I discovered in my research. And since booking my first vacation rental home with Airbnb, I’ve never looked back.

I’ll be honest, the first time I booked an apartment through Airbnb, I was terrified. Was I going to get cheated? Was it safe? Without a hotel concierge to guide me if I get lost, will I be able to find the apartment on my own? What if I hated the whole experience of renting someone’s apartment?

All these fears are natural. You’ll be just fine as long as you do ample research before booking an apartment with Airbnb. Like any other hotel, reviews are important. Read them. All of them. Be comfortable with the price and the extra charges (if any) listed on the site. Make sure that you communicate well with the owner of the apartment before you confirm your booking. Also, don’t feel shy about asking questions or clarifying any doubts with the owner. They are your best guides to the city. You can pick up some tips from them even before you step foot in their city.

So far I’ve booked 4 apartments through Airbnb. My first experience with Airbnb was awesome! I was going to Paris after my grand tour of Europe, and since I had been travelling for nearly a month, I wanted a quiet and cosy apartment to go home to each day. And I found that peace and comfort in Djamila and Theo’s charming apartment in Montmartre. In fact, on the last night of my stay in Paris, I had gone to one of the restaurants Djamila and Theo recommended to me the first day I arrived and bumped into them there. We ended up sharing a table and I got to know them and the owner of the restaurant better. It was night of fun and laughter.

Paris

Source: Airbnb (Théo Augé)

My second experience was in Santorini when I stayed at Laskarina Didoni’s beautiful Cave House in Oia. The views are gorgeous and the house was perfect. I didn’t get to meet Laskarina in person but she was just a text message away. I remember having trouble getting the washing machine to work because the instructions were all Greek to me as the instructions were in Greek. But despite the fact that she was back in Athens enjoying her Christmas holiday, she patiently helped me to get the machine up and running.

Santorini

Source: Airbnb (Laskarina Didoni)

After Santorini, my best friend and I visited Athens. We booked Anna Savva’s penthouse loft apartment which had a great view of the Acropolis from the bedroom as well as from the private rooftop terrace. This allowed us to enjoy the lovely fireworks display from the comforts of her apartment! It was definitely a memorable New Year’s Eve.

Source: Airbnb (Anna Savva)

Source: Airbnb (Anna Savva)

My fourth and most recent experience with Airbnb was in Bali. You must be wondering why I didn’t just pick a resort from the countless retreats available in Bali. Well, Airbnb had worked so well for me in the past, I didn’t see a need to book an expensive resort when I could enjoy Bali from the comforts of a home away from home. Daniel Weiskopf’s Canggu villa had a private pool and a team of very helpful staff, and that was all that we needed for our short weekend getaway.

Source: Airbnb (Daniel Weiskopf)

Source: Airbnb (Daniel Weiskopf)

Of course not everyone’s experience was a good one. I have read other travellers’ horror stories while searching for a home to rent. And that is why I reiterate the importance of reading other people’s reviews of their experience with the Airbnb host. I know it is time consuming, but reading them all can save you a lot of trouble. Reading the reviews also help you discover more about the host and the apartment itself.

But you really should go see for yourself what Airbnb has to offer. And there’s no better time than now to check out Airbnb. Why? Because you might stand a chance to win a SGD7,500 voucher for air tickets and a SGD5,000 Airbnb accommodation voucher. Sounds too good to be true? Well, check it out for yourself.

If you already have an Airbnb account, perfect! All you have to do is to log in, pick a unique listing, and write a note to tell the wonderful folks at Airbnb why you deserve to win. Remember to include #WinAView in the note and then click Save. After you click Save, your entry is automatically submitted. No confirmation will be sent so don’t panic when nothing happens after you do as you’re told.

Airbnb will be picking 3 winners based on the originality and creativity of the note and the uniqueness of the listing. So start browsing Airbnb to search for a listing now! You have until June 22, 2014, 11.59pm (Singapore time) to enter this competition. And the best part is, you can submit as many entries you like, as long as you follow the guidelines stipulated by Airbnb. So do check out the terms and conditions here. It states there that you must be 18 and above and be a Singapore resident. (Finally! A competition I can enter!)

If you don’t have an Airbnb account, don’t fret, you can easily create one for free and start your hunt tonight! Hurry! You only have 17 days left!

What do you think?
Have you heard of Airbnb before this post? What’s the best Airbnb experience you’ve had? Which of these short term rental sites do you prefer – Airbnb, Wimdu, 9flats, Roomorama, or GoWithOh? Which do you prefer – vacation rentals, hotels, or hostels?

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3 responses to “Home Away From Home

  1. Pingback: For The First Time: The SIA Brat Goes Solo | Adventures of The SIA Brat·

  2. Pingback: Panoramic Fever: My Top 10 Panoramic Photographs | Adventures of The SIA Brat·

  3. Pingback: The Brat Reviews Navutu Dreams Resort & Spa (Siem Reap, Cambodia) | Adventures of The SIA Brat·

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