How Airbnb Kicks Off Your Bucket List Travel AND Income Goals

For the past year I’ve met cool people from around the world (one of my lifetime life list goals!) by renting a space through Airbnb (fulfilling another life list goal to have a rental property).

I’ve stayed at Airbnb rentals and have played host to dozens of guests. Here’s a bit of what I’ve learned. In short: LOVE.

Airbnb lets people around the world rent anything from a room to a treehouse to an RV to a villa. You get to see reviews of both guests and hosts. So you can feel confident you’re getting what you think you’re getting. And if there’s a problem, Airbnb will step in. Basically the system keeps us all in check.

Vanity Fair wrote about the explosion in luxury treehouse lodging thanks to Airbnb. So, don’t think just because your work studio doesn’t have a bathroom that someone won’t want to crash out there to wake up to your trickling garden fountain.

historic affordable airbnb craftsman bungalow in portland oregon
We rented a room at this historic Craftsman home through Airbnb in Portland, Oregon.

The Airbnb experience for travelers

I’m getting ready to embark on a long-anticipated trip to Morocco. We booked our first night at a “riad” (super cool restored historic villa) listed on Airbnb. The French owner answered all of our questions about how to get there, with that personal touch you usually get staying in an inn. Much as with a hotel, we won’t choose to stay at places with no reviews — too risky to gamble our travel experience on an inexperienced host.

Need I say the lodgings tend to be cheaper than a generic hotel? Plus, you have plenty of opportunity to chat with the owner and know if you’re on the same page: If you’ve ever gone to a bed and breakfast and felt like you were staying at your parents’ house with the level of coziness, well if that isn’t your thing, you can make sure the style of the Airbnb spot matches your style.

you can list any type of home on airbnb including trailers
One of my goals was to buy an Airstream trailer, and I worked on setting it up as an Airbnb rental. This didn’t work out afterall but people are making good livings renting out Airstreams and having fun staying in them.

Renting out on Airbnb vs VRBO

I also use VRBO as do millions of people. It’s a fixed fee as an “advertising service” for people with properties. The thing is you need to craft a rental agreement with guests, and VRBO doesn’t review them — although it reviews the properties. So the burden is on you to really vet the people renting. This takes a lot more effort and entails more risk than Airbnb. Still it’s worth getting your property in front of more people by listing it on VRBO. If you do, here’s a $50 off VRBO coupon for listing a property.

No money to travel and no rental? Check out Couchsurfing

Previously I have enjoyed Couchsurfing as a completely free way to connect with people around the world who want to meet people passionate about travel and life. Early on, I felt Couchsurfing had really nailed their friends / reviews / profile in a way that you could instantly tell if a person was “good” or had ulterior motives…or was simply not pleasant as a guest or host.

Unlike Airbnb where guests usually have different motivations for renting, from family visits to work to needing a sublet while remodeling, Couchsurfing in my experience fits with more nomadic souls or very young or retired folks — on a budget, open to exploring and connecting, often traveling alone. Here I talked about one of my great Couchsurfing experiences as a host in Berkeley.

stay in a treehouse
I’ve always wanted to stay in a tree house. (photo by Susie Wyshak)

Feel free to ask any questions about renting through Airbnb and VRBO, or how the hell that sunflower got so big, and I’ll try to answer.