It makes my day when people say they used my notes on their European travels. A frequent follow-up question is: Where did you stay? Being my age or thereabouts, these folks have mostly outgrown hostels. For a night or two, sure, a hostel's okay. But for longer term stays, I swear by AirBnB.com.
AirBnB is an online platform where you can book a room or an entire house in different cities. You can choose how much space you want, what amenities the house should have, which part of the city it should be in... anything you want, really. The trust-based review system is pretty awesome. You enter your payment information, but aren't actually charged until you get to the place, and don't complain to AirBnB. Ideally, you'd pick a place that has many positive reviews so that you don't find yourself in that position at all.
As a digital marketer, I'm in awe of their system. They've figured out a brilliant alternative to accommodation. Personally, it's often made my trips even better. It saves me the most important commodities I can possess while travelling - time, and money.
Location, location, location: Staying in the city center, or near the places you want to visit, can save you a lot of money, and, even more importantly, can save you valuable time. I've noticed (affordable) hotels are rarely near the places I want to visit as a tourist. AirBnB's, on the other hand, are all over the city, and you can often find one in an ideal location for a fraction of a price you'd pay at a hotel.
Home away from home: When you're away for a while, it helps to have the stuff you're used to at home. A functional kitchen to grab a lazy bowl of cereal... because you shouldn't have to head out early when you're on vacation. A washing machine. Wifi! You'll find hotels in many countries charge extra - and exorbitantly - for perks like these. At an AirBnB, apply the right filters, and you can have anything you want. It also helps to have someone welcome you in an unfamiliar city, and answer all your questions.
Group vacays: I've used AirBnB as a solo traveller before and had absolutely no complaints. But the site really shines when you're travelling in a group. While you'd have to pay for two hotel rooms, or cramp together in a hostel dorm otherwise; with AirBnB you can have the run of a house to yourself. Even if you're just travelling with one other person, it's always more fun to have a house to yourself rather than be confined to one room.
From a shotgun house on St. George Street during Mardi Gras (for less than $50!) to a XVII century apartment near the Seine in Paris (for $55 a night), AirBnB has enriched my trips, and helped me create memories I couldn't have otherwise experienced.
This isn't a sponsored review, just some thanks sent their way. If you do decide to use AirBnB, let me know - I'm happy to share the tips that have helped us find the best places.