Want To Travel Cheap? Join the Sharing Economy and Airbnb Your Place!
My family loves traveling! For us it is infinitely better when that travel is free/cheap. It just feels good! Here is one way our family of four has managed to make travel really affordable – we Airbnb our house whenever we are gone. Yup, we “move out” of our house for as short as a 3 day stay. It can be scary to step into the sharing economy and invite other people into your house I get it, but with a little trust most people are really happy with the results.
Renting our house on Airbnb made us feel like we hit the jackpot!
A Recent Airbnb Cheap Travel Example
My kids want to learn to surf. We live in Colorado. Let’s go to San Diego! We booked tickets early so got a great deal on Southwest [we had points to burn from a credit card sign up] and booked our return using miles on United. So no direct cost for travel. We then rented a car – we used Amex points for 1/2 the car so it was super reasonable [cost us
$130 for the week]. We rented a house in Encinitas, a block to the beach, for $250/night which turned out to be one of our biggest expenses. This is where it gets good – we concurrently rented our house in Boulder for $250/night. This was basically a wash though we paid a bit to Airbnb for the transaction on both ends. The costs for our week surfing trip – above our normal expenses – was surf lessons and 1/2 the car. And a few t-shirts the kids picked up along the way. This works for me – I’m ready to book another trip pronto!
Here is how you can make Airbnb work for your family
We hosted our first Airbnb guest last summer. It was a leap of faith but we were traveling for six weeks [internationally] and it just seemed one of our biggest resources was going to be left on the table. We jumped in with both feet and listed!
Then we patiently waited. And waited. And waited. Then it happened, someone reached out about renting for a week. I looked up their profile and she had just joined Airbnb and had no reviews. Yikes! We exchanged emails multiple time and finally I felt comfortable accepting her housing request.
Get your property listed
- List your property on Airbnb. It’s free and easy to list your property. You need to take some photos and think about exactly how you want to describe your property. Be accurate. Be detailed. Be honest. What is great about your location? Are there any drawbacks? Don’t advertise something you don’t have. Remember people will rate you and good ratings are the key to success in this endeavor.
- Set your price. This is a bit tricky. Do some research. Look around on Airbnb for houses near you. What are they listing their places for? Does the price fluctuate based on events nearby? What price would make it feel fair for you to move out and share your home with others? It’s not a science – trust your gut.
- Set your calendar. List the dates your home is available and the price for those dates. For example, during the Ironman in Boulder, CO, the prices can be set higher as there are no hotels available in the city.
- Do you need a rental license? In a lot of cities they are starting to make anyone renting their space out get a rental license – even for short-term rentals. If you are only renting once or twice your compliance is up to you. In Boulder, CO it costs $130 for a rental license for four  years – not too bad.
- Make a plan for getting your home organized/cleaned. We only rent out 3 of our 4 bedrooms so we can keep one for our stuff. We put a lock on the door to the extra bedroom. When we have renters, everyone gets a moving box, and then empty their rooms of valuables, things that are sentimental, and their closets. These boxes are packed up and put in the locked bedroom. We use one size box and make it super simple. We declutter and organize somewhat so it’s easy for anyone to enjoy the house. We hire a cleaning person to clean after we leave before anyone rents.
- Have a local contact. When we were out of the country we had a local friend act as the renters’ contact person. They were on call if anyone needed them and they walked through the house between renters to make sure it was all in order after the cleaners came in.
- Review your guests. Airbnb will ask you to review your guests. Your guests will also review you. This is a very important step in the sharing economy process – making things transparent. The guest won’t see your review until they have reviewed you, so feel free to be honest. I like to focus on the positive, but I won’t hesitate to mention something that could be improved. When you review each other, your reviews will then be public for everyone to read. Having positive reviews will increase your traffic and interest in your property.
Get the kids bought in!
Our boys are okay with this plan as they have done it for a long time. They think it’s normal. When we started renting out our house when we traveled we offered that we would give our boys something they wanted if we rented the house out for X days. It worked. They cleaned their rooms out well and spent the time rooting for us to get that extra week. We did get that extra week and we rewarded our kids!
Dream about your vacation!
If you don’t already have a vacation planned, head over to Airbnb or Trip Advisor and poke around. They have great suggestions and ideas of what to do in all these locations. I got a 10 page booklet about what to do in and around San Diego when we booked our trip to Encinitas. Also, hosts offer guidebooks which often tell you a lot about what to do in and around their property. It can be a helpful process as you clarify your travel plans.
Please share your experiences!
Have you had experiences sharing/renting your family home? Would you do it again? Are their other options beyond Airbnb and VRBO that are family friendly? Please share!
Questions about family travel, how to Airbnb your place, or anything else, give me a shout at Email Amanda