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Earn Money and Meet People by Hosting Travelers in Your Home
With the recession still affecting everyone’s income people today are working to save money in every way that they can. People who normally spend money on travel are trying to find alternatives that allow them to reduce the cost of traveling while still getting the chance to take a little vacation. Many people are specifically trying to reduce the cost of accommodations by looking for hotel alternatives that offer cheaper lodging at their destination. An increasingly popular option is for travelers to stay in the homes of strangers who are interested in hosting guests. People who have room in their homes may want to consider being such a host for these budget travelers.
Why You Would Host Travelers in your Home
The main reason that people are starting to look at being hosts for travelers is that they want to earn a little bit of money. If you have an extra room in your house then you can convert that room into a room to rent to vacationers. They will pay you to stay there just like they would pay for a hotel except that you’ll be charging them less since they’re not getting hotel accommodations. They benefit because they get cheaper lodging and you benefit by getting some added income for a room that you’re not using anyway.
However, income isn’t the only reason that people host travelers in their own homes. In fact, some people don’t ask for any money at all but instead host travelers out of the kindness of their hearts. They are interested in meeting new people, particularly people from foreign destinations, and they do so by opening up their homes to those folks.
In addition to gaining the benefit of meeting new people, these people often bring perks along with them. For example, many guests will bring a small gift for the host or they will offer to buy groceries and cook dinner in the home. You meet someone new and get a great free meal in exchange for sharing your home. And since you’ll be meeting people from other places, you’ll be meeting people that you could potentially stay with for free if you traveled to the place where they live at a future date.
How Hosting Travelers Works
Basically all that you’re doing is turning your home into a miniature bed-and-breakfast or hostel. The best way to do this is to work with one of the programs that are established for doing this (see below). That’s because these programs are designed to link hosts with visitors in a way that is safe for all parties. It is possible to set up this sort of arrangement on your own by advertising your room for rent to vacationers on classified sites such as Craigslist. However, it is best to work with programs that let you review future guests through their sites to increase safety.
Once you’ve chosen the programs that you want to work with, you’ll create your profile on the site. Following the site’s system, you’ll advertise what you have available for rent and what (if anything) you are charging for the stay. You can make any rules that you’d like (such as no kids or no smoking in the home). You can also offer any extras that you’d like (such as guided tours, breakfast in the home or free Wi-Fi).
People will connect with you through the program to set up their stays. When they arrive, you should treat them like you would any houseguest. Make sure that they have a comfortable room with enough blankets, pillows, towels, etc. Depending on the arrangement, you may want to show them how to find things in the kitchen or to use the laundry. Payment should be worked out in advance through the program that you’re using.
Programs to Work With for Hosting Travelers
Some of the programs that you might want to consider using if you want to host travelers in your home include:
• iStopOver. This is a relatively new site but one which has gained a lot of popularity. That’s because this site seems relatively easy to use. Everything is arranged through the site. It is possible for guests and hosts to review each other so that you can see some recommendations for guests on the site which may increase your comfort level with trying out this type of arrangement. Payment is arranged through the site and you set the price that you feel is fair; a small fee is taken out of the payment by the company.
• AirBnB. This site is similar to iStopOver. You advertise what you have for rent and guests apply to stay with you. The difference is that you can opt to rent out just a couch or partial room instead of a full separate bedroom so if you have a small place but want to host people for extra income then this is an ideal site. Guests put up profiles on the site so that you can check them out and see if they’re suitable for your home.
• Roomorama. This site works like the first two. It seems to be fairly well-operated with a strong system in place for reviewing prospective guests and making sure that you get paid.
• Peer to Peer Travel Club. This works like the others. The major difference here is that you aren’t charged for your use of the site; there’s no fee taken out by the company. However, this means that there also seems to be less screening on this site so you’ll have to use your judgment when choosing how to let stay with you.
• Hospitality Exchange. This is a terrific well-established program for people who aren’t looking to make money by offering a stay but are interested in the opportunity to also stay with others around the world for free. You join up and become part of the network and then you can contact people as needed when you want to stay somewhere. Likewise, people in the network can contact you to stay on your couch or in your extra room.
• Couchsurfing. This is another free opportunity to network with people so that they can crash on your couch and you can crash on theirs. Note that with these programs you don’t necessarily stay with the same people that stayed with you; you stay with whoever will have you in the places that you want to go.
• Better than the Van. This is a unique hosting option in which you offer up your room to bands and musicians that are on tour. We all know these folks can’t afford to stay in a hotel. You don’t really get much in exchange for your generosity but you meet creative people and get to know that you’re helping them out.
Working with these established programs could be a great way to either earn some money or to meet interesting travelers or both.