The Airbnb experience in Australia and New Zealand
By Greg Hung
Greg is a World Explorer, Film-maker & Travel & Technology Serial Entrepreneur has directed, shot, edited, and produced over 30 high definition travel and lifestyle related videos on Youtube videos in addition to producing ChicVoyage in Asia – modern travel adventures on the Amazon.com store. He has been instructed by globally renown SLR Director and film-maker Phillip Bloom.
On my second major travel film adventure I elected to stay with locals throughout Australia and New Zealand for a local experience and cost savings aka the Airbnb experience. As I write this post I’ve stayed at one private apartment and booked 4 private rooms in cities such as Bondi Beach, Sydney, Auckland, and Melbourne. I feel I have sufficient experience to share something with new travelers. Most friends and acquaintances I’ve spoken with still haven’t heard of the concept of Airbnb.
When you book a private apartment through airbnb this is not much different from renting an apartment space. The key differences are is that it is likely the space is already furnished, has key toiletries, and is ready to live in an enjoy. In Bondi beach Sydney I was fortunate to have access to some extras such as a surfing DVD, wetsuit, and surf gear in a custom sandstone apartment with a surf theme. A very original and cool experience indeed.
A private room experience is completely different from the private apartment. It means you will be living with the host(s) and sharing some space with them such as the kitchen and the living room. The benefit of this choice is it is a better value option and if you are traveling alone you benefit from some company with local people. You immediately gain access to helpful hosts in your city, who are available to you throughout your stay in the city for questions and perhaps if you hit it off you may even hang out with them.
If you are choosing a private room be sure that you are comfortable living with other people and their house rules. You maybe also to get a sense of the host personality by their writing style in the description, their profile, and reviews from past guests.
In my experience it is also a bit of an exciting anxious moment the first time you meet the host. You may have certain expectations about what they look like and what they are like based on their online profile; however be prepared when you meet that the offline hosts may be different from your expectations.
After you meet a good host will help you with the luggage and show you to your room and where key things are like the bathroom, wifi password, and the apartment key (your key to independence). They may take some time to chat a bit and show you around the area and provide you some information and a map.
Don’t be shy about asking questions, and don’t hide in your room too often. I recommend getting to know your hosts and be open about sharing your plans and information about yourself. I’ve found that it is very similar to living with room-mates.
In Australia and New Zealand I’ve relied on the local expertise of my hosts to provide recommendations of where to go rather than rely as heavily as I have in the past on travel guides. In Auckland my hosts were very helpful to provide me insider information such as visiting Muriwai beach and based on my departing flight and their knowledge of the weather what the best times to go were. You cannot underestimate the value of this personalized local information!
In Melbourne I met an interesting couple in the same age group that invited me out to watch a movie and take me out on a local city tour. My experience has been positive so far. I have been living out of the suitcase for a month now and staying at airbnb has made traveling alone a little easier to make a good genuine connection with a local. Remember the hosts are providing you with their keys to their home, one of their most trusted assets. If you respect their home and their house rules I’ve found that your hosts will go out of their way to help you get the most of the city while you are there.
- More options for places to stay for less
Other benefits that Airbnb offers is that you now have a wider range of choices to stay and probably at better price points than hotels. You can pick a modern condo apartment or living in house with a terrace in a suburb. I believe your choice in accommodation does heavily shape your experience.
- A local experience – Access to kitchen and washer
If you want to save on money and live like a local select a space that will allow use of their kitchen and washer. This means you will buy groceries and cook for yourself and save on eating out every night.
- Some friendly company
My travels in the past several years have been alone. I am a social person, and I’ve found that Airbnb hosts often are well traveled themselves and good company to chat at the beginning of the day or at night. This social interaction with local people definitely gets overlooked and is much welcomed.
I feel that Airbnb has used technology and taken a leap of faith on sharing and trust to offer to an alternative way to experience travel. Overall so far I am excited about the possibilities that are available to experience travel in a new way going forward.
Coming Soon : The Video