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Airbnb: Cheap Accommodations and Vacation Rentals for the Budget Traveler

Updated on March 20, 2012
Travel the world!
Travel the world!

When traveling on a budget, it can be a daunting task to find a reasonably priced hotel. Even hostels are becoming too expensive for the budget traveler with the hostel rates on the rise. The answer for the 21st century budget traveler is VACATION RENTALS!

In recent years there has been an influx of online services popping up that match people seeking vacation rentals and short term accommodations with those with spare beds, rooms, entire apartments or houses, or other properties for rent. These are regular people who list their properties for rent, and they are often listed at bargain prices. You can now travel the world without having to win the lottery first. I was able to spend 5 nights in New York City for only $48.25! That’s less than 1 night at most NYC hostels!

You can read how I did my trip to NYC for cheap here:

You might have concerns with safety when traveling to a distant place without actually physically seeing the place you will be staying. I’ve read many horror stories on the internet of people who found rental properties on craigslist or other classifieds and were informed to wire a deposit, but when they arrived, the place they had rented didn’t even exist. I would advise against renting over craigslist. Craigslist scams generally involve a listing in which the person who lists the ad asks for money to be wired to their account or sent by Western Union as a “deposit” for the place you would like to stay. With Western Union, anybody can go to any Western Union branch and give the name that the money was wired to and pick up the money. This is a scam that is out there, so don’t fall for it and choose a trusted vacation rental site instead that can protect you against these scams and other forms of internet fraud, and make it almost impossible for the hosts to cheat you out of your hard earned money.

Stay in an airplane in a tree in Costa Rica! How cool is that?
Stay in an airplane in a tree in Costa Rica! How cool is that?


This is my number one choice to find short term rentals when I travel. I have used Airbnb twice now and had a great experience both times. This is the site that started it all and for most people including myself, it is the go-to site for finding accommodations wherever I plan to go. It is free for users to list- anything from a couch to sleep on to an entire private apartment. You can also find some cool and interesting places to sleep from tree houses to teepees to yachts to jet air planes! There are over 100,000 listings in 192 countries and counting. The amount of properties listed is why I always end up renting off of Airbnb over other sites, because I always find a better place to stay for cheaper on Airbnb than on other sites.

Search for exactly what you want and need!

There are also many search filters to help you find exactly what you want. There are many useful filters that allow you to search for places that allow pets, places that have a washing machine, places with wifi internet connection, places with swimming pools and much more. You can also search by price, which makes it easier to find places that fit your budget. One of the best search options is the ability to search for places to stay by “distance”. Search any address, postal code, or city and then sort by “distance” and the airbnb search results will be shown from the closest to farthest place to stay (shown in “miles away”) based on the address you entered for your search. So, if you have a conference to attend and want to stay somewhere close to reduce travel time, you can find the closest place available on airbnb using this search option.

Safety and Support

Airbnb hosts and guests also leave reviews for one another after the trip. These reviews work a lot like Ebay’s feedback system, which allows other members of the community to read about others experiences to help them to decide where to stay, or as a host, whether to allow a member of Airbnb to rent out their space. You also have the option of searching for the most “recommended” places to stay. These are places with the most positive reviews from other Airbnb members who have stayed there before. To help ensure that no one can scam or cheat anybody of money and that the accommodations are as described, Airbnb retains the money the renters pay and releases the money to the host 24 hours after the renter has checked in. In this way Airbnb essentially acts as an escrow service. Airbnb also offers a 24/7 support telephone line, in the case of an emergency or general support. Guests and hosts are required to verify their phone numbers as a measure of safety. This is either done through an automated voice call which gives you a verification code to enter online, or a text message which includes the online code. Recently Airbnb has introduced “Address Verification” to increase the level of trust for listings on Airbnb. Airbnb has been sending out a mailer to verify new and existing hosts addresses. Listings with verified addresses will receive a “Verified Address” badge and in turn this will increase search ranking of listings that have a verified address.


Airbnb accepts two forms of payment, you can either pay by credit card or via Paypal. The Paypal is very useful since it gives you the option to use money from your bank account, credit card or existing money in your Paypal account.

$25 Credit when you use the link below

Use the link below to sign up and you’ll get a $25 coupon code added to your account for your first trip:

Unfortunately, I was unaware of the referral program that airbnb had and I did not use a referral link when I signed up and didn’t receive the $25 code. If you choose to list a space to host guests, Airbnb will give you another $75 coupon code.

Other Airbnb like sites

There are also many other similar sites to airbnb, but most of them are just clone sites. They have much less listings and offer very little incentive to use their site over airbnb.

Some other airbnb like sites for budget travelers: (lots of listings in Europe)


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    • brittpinkie profile image

      Brittany Doherty 3 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      I've just written a hub about Airbnb. I think it's a great site, but it really depends on the individual traveller. It's definitely not for everyone, and I kinda agree with Emily- I wouldn't want to go on holiday to stay in someone else's house with their junk every where, haha. But I think it depends on the place you rent and what sort of holiday you're looking for.

    • thriftykash profile image

      thriftykash 3 years ago

      Sorry to hear that Emily. I've used it 4 times now and no complaints. Met some awesome people along the way as well. It's good to read the reviews and see what other people say about the places you want to stay at. Some of the properties listed aren't the homes that people live in, but properties people use as their vacation rental business (they strictly use it to rent out and make money).

    • emily dickenson profile image

      emily dickenson 3 years ago from California

      I had a very bad experience on Airbnb. I will never use them again. I don't want to stay in someone else's house with their stuff everywhere. It was very funky for the price I paid.

    • nycvacation profile image

      James and Rimma Kennedy 4 years ago from Staten Island, New York

      Very valuable info. We use Airbnb to host our property and have had many satisfied guests visiting New York.

    • thriftykash profile image

      thriftykash 5 years ago

      There is currently a coupon code for $25 off until March 31, 2012. Use the promo code "BESTVALUES" to get $25 off a booking of $100 or more. This code expires on March 31, 2012.