Use Airbnb to Save Money on Vacation

I only recently tried Airbnb, despite knowing about the website for years.  If you’re unfamiliar with the premise, Airbnb creates a marketplace for individuals to open their homes to travelers.  Lodging options range from a room in someone’s home, an entire property for individual use, or unique stays like a bed in a treehouse.

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Airbnb touts benefits like being able to stay in local neighborhoods for a “real” immersive experience.  It offers social interactions between travelers and locals and provides amenities that a standard hotel may not have, such as a kitchen or extra space.

But the number one reason I’d recommend Airbnb is for cost savings.

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Bargain offerings compared to most hotels

I spent this past week on the Island of Hawaii, a beautiful state that is admittedly expensive to visit.  I was lucky enough to have hotel rewards to cover two nights at a very comfortable Marriott resort, but the other nights at full price were causing a budgeting headache.  Conveniently, at the time I was planning our trip, Airbnb was offering a coupon for first-time users and so it seemed like the perfect opportunity to try something new.

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The outcome?  100% Success.

My Experience in Hawaii: An Airbnb Review

Our first two nights were spent in Kona at the Big Island Retreat.  Instead of paying the market rate of $200/night during spring break at a standard hotel with zero local flavor, we paid just $85/night once I applied an Airbnb coupon code.  Not only did we save a ton of cash, but we had a beautiful room in a great location.  Throw in a kitchenette, outdoor grill, beach rentals (even surfboards!), and laundry facilities and you can see why this experience trumped the chain hotel down the road.

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The Pineapple Room at Big Island Retreat (Kona, HI)

For our next set of nights on the Big Island, we headed to Volcano, a tiny town where just one step up from camping still costs a bundle.  I’m not afraid of roughing it, but for the same money as a rustic cabin with no electricity or running water, we stayed at the Volcano Artist Cottage.  Admittedly, I think the description was a bit oversold, but I can overlook that.  For $90/night (after discount), we had a private outdoor hot tub — a lovely extra after spending a day hiking at Volcano National Park — and a kitchenette which was much appreciated in a town with few restaurant options.

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The kitchen facilities at Volcano Artist Cottage in Volcano, HI

While our first property was essentially at a guesthouse and the second was a private cottage rental, we went to Airbnb’s bread and butter for our third stay on Hawaii, staying in a private room in someone’s home.  At our disposal was a furnished basement nicknamed the”Waipi’o Hostel”, including a common space and kitchen facilities.  The location was ideal for our needs and the price was right (just $56), but I’ll be honest: I probably won’t choose this type of stay again.  It was fine for one night, but I prefer a bit more privacy and anonymity.

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The Waipi’o Hostel, a short jaunt away from Waipi’o Valley, HI

If you haven’t used Airbnb yet, you might just find you like it.  Booking a stay isn’t the one-click process of a standard hotel since you’ll need to communicate with the property owner prior to the stay, but if you are willing to put in some time to sort through options, read reviews, and shoot off a booking request, you can save hundreds on your next vacation.

Save Money With an Airbnb Coupon Code

If you join Airbnb via my referral link, you’ll save $25 on your first stay.  Airbnb sometimes offers other coupon codes for returning visitors, but they are typically short-lived and may not overlap with your travel schedule.  Run a quick internet search for current offers to make sure you’re applying the best coupon possible!

Of course, you can also play host and offer up your hospitality by renting your own space to earn some extra money.  This isn’t something I’m interested in (you never know who might throw an orgy when renting your home), but it seems to work for thousands of users.

Have you used Airbnb as a guest or a host?  What was your experience like?  Will you use it again?

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Joining Airbnb via my referral link includes a discount on your first stay and provides a referral credit to me (at no cost to you).  Thank you for your support!

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8 thoughts on “Use Airbnb to Save Money on Vacation”

  1. I’m using Airbnb for the first time next week. I got a deal for one night free (saving me $125), and the other two nights of my stay will be covered by points from my Barclaycard World Arrival Mastercard (also covering the cost of my flight). A one bedroom on the Upper West Side of Manhattan with stellar reviews and a great host (she’s been wonderful in our communications), so I’m looking forward to a wonderful visit. I’ve also got apartments picked out for my London and Paris trips for this fall.

    1. @RMF325, I hope you have a great first experience! It sounds like a terrific stay and some great options for future trips as well. Happy travels!

  2. When it is good it is great. But when it is bad it is really, really, really bad. I tried for 2+ weeks to get a room in San Diego via AirBnB in February and hit nothing but road blocks. Hosts didn’t respond, suddenly didn’t have the room available despite their calendar showing it open or ran a bait-and-switch on the rate. It was ridiculously annoying. I ended up at the W – not my favorite chain at all – for a rate comparable to the AirBnB options. At least there I knew what would happen when I submitted my reservation request.

    1. @Wandering Aramean, I hear you and I will definitely agree that Airbnb is neither quick or simple to deal with. I had about 5 emails from one of the property owners before my visit. To me, it was worth it — I have plenty of time preceding my trip to take care of things and I never limit myself to staying at that one “perfect” property (whether it’s Airbnb, hotel, or otherwise). Good warning for others though.

  3. I used a mix of Club Carlson points and AirBnB for a two week trip in Norway. I had no problems with AirBnB at all and stayed in really lovely places with great hosts. One was a full apartment with panoramic views up on the mountain above Lillehammer.

  4. Hi Becky, great article and very useful to hear your experiences with airbnb. I’ve been using airbnb for a while and have to say that I think they’re great.
    Thanks for sharing, Will

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