I guess many people are familiar with the Airbnb platform: there are many hosts in many cities in many countries who are making their spare rooms available to travelers who just need a place to crash for a few days. You just need to see which room description sounds more appealing to you and book it. Besides saving money, compared to if you stayed at a hotel, you will experience traveling like a local, which means talking to the homeowners and getting real insider tips.
I need to say something first, you may not be as fortunate as my husband and I were but if you are, man you will be so addicted to this platform you won’t even consider hotels anymore for your next trips.
So here we go. We were visiting Portugal with almost no planning ahead when we decided to go to the city of Sintra, near Lisbon. At that moment we were at a guesthouse doing some volunteer work. I had checked the Airbnb website before, so I decided to download the app to make things easier. Created my profile and started checking the available rooms in Sintra’s historical village. Found one I liked: pictures, description, feedback and price. But I was too apprehensive being my first time doing this. Didn’t know the host, the actual location not even the accuracy of the post. Funny enough I wasn’t worried. Although I exchanged some messages with the host just to see how the “texting impression” would go. Good! Nice from the start! So I did my booking and paid it online.
|One of the hosts :)|
Next day we went to Sintra by train. We arrived 15 minutes later but our host was there waiting to pick us up as previously arranged. By the way, I had no idea what our hosts looked like! And I had never done such a thing in my entire life! This trusting thing was going pretty well. It was a ten minute ride from the station to the house, and we were already getting to know one another.
We arrived at the house and were introduced to our bedroom. Just like it was shown in the website! We finally met the host I texted to and she was incredibly nice to us making us feel at home. We had a private bathroom and free access to the kitchen and living room. We were thrilled for having chosen such nice hosts when all of a sudden we are invited for dinner!
Something I quickly learned is that all Portuguese people know how to cook and drink their wine. It was our first Airbnb experience and it felt like we were visiting friends. During dinner we mentioned we were going to visit the main tourist places the next day because we only had one day there. So they handed out a map explaining the best sites to go and “if you don’t mind I can give you a ride”. What?! “Sure, we’d love that!” That’s exactly the traveling like a local experience I was telling you about. You not only get to know a new place but also the people who live there.
|At the Iniciatic Well in Quinta da Regaleira-Sintra|
We were spending an excellent day in Sintra when our host called to check if we were ok. We told him everything was fine, we were having a pretty good time. We were leaving one of the most iconic sites in Sintra, when we saw our host on the phone. “Oh, hey!” He asked us if we were going to do something else because he could give us a tuk-tuk ride to off the beaten path places. What?! “Sure, let’s go!”
Our trip to Sintra couldn’t have been better. Big Airbnb fans we became. In case you are wondering we had no plans after our check out. So not me! Around midnight we started looking for a room in Lisbon in my Airbnb app. I made a pre booking and hoped my future host would see it in the morning. Bingo! Next day, reservation complete. This time I knew what she looked like and her address. All ready to go!
As you can see, nowadays my go to website for room reservations is without a doubt Airbnb. Choosing well, being a nice host and a nice guest is the key to have an amazing experience while traveling.
Guests must remember they are staying at somebody else’s home and respect that. Hosts may be receiving a foreigner in their country and should make their guest feel welcome.
I definitely recommend Airbnb. It has all the perks to make your trip unforgettable!