Kate in the Middle: Check Out of Hotels, Check In to Airbnb

Writer / Kate Rhoten

Summer is here. Vacation plans have been made. I want to share an alternative to hotels if you are traveling or looking at options for future trips.

Many of us have stayed in hotels or rented a condo at the beach through a rental management company. Perhaps you have heard of VRBO (Vacation Rentals by Owner) or HomeAway (part of VRBO). We used VRBO once in the past for a summer hiking vacation in Breckenridge, Colorado. VRBO was founded in 1995; HomeAway was in 2006. HomeAway is the parent company of VRBO. They each state that they have over one million listings.

July 15 Solana Beach CottageAnother company in the overnight accommodations sector has taken off since it began in 2008. This would be Airbnb. It started during the last recession and became “the easiest way for people to monetize their extra space” as described on their website’s About page. It now has over 1.2 million listings available in over 190 countries. Airbnb is headquartered in San Francisco, California.

The uniqueness of Airbnb is that they offer places to stay from a room in someone’s home to an entire castle. Don’t believe me; check out their site at Airbnb.com. Out of all the companies that offer accommodations for families, Airbnb is my favorite one.

The website itself is beautifully designed. The user interface on the Internet, as well as an app on your tablet or phone, is easy to navigate. That just makes hunting for a place to stay that much more enjoyable. Plus our inquiries to the owners were responded to in a very timely fashion.

Last year, we tried Airbnb for the first time when we went to California. We were attending ComicCon (yes, I went with my family and enjoyed the bucket list experience). We had reserved a hotel, but when you start factoring in miscellaneous fees and dining out, we decided to look into Airbnb. That’s when we found the perfect place and canceled the hotel.

We stayed in a beach cottage at Solana Beach. This was a perfect location as it got us away from the busy areas of downtown San Diego and Mission Valley. It was just a two-minute walk to the beach without a single road to cross. We were very pleased with our selection, and our youngest loves the beach, so he was thrilled. The place was clean, comfortable and recently remodeled.

We used Airbnb for a second time this past March for spring break. This time, we stayed in a condo in Sunny Isles, Florida — just north of Miami. This condo was on the west side of Florida’s A1A Highway, which runs alongside the beachfront buildings — another short walk that was all of four to five minutes. If you’re interested in the condo lifestyle, you can try to noteworthy properties like the condos for sale in Kapalua. July 15 FL Boys room

It had two bedrooms and two bathrooms. The boys each had a queen size bed and a television in their room, so they were happy not to be on top of each other. Our room was perfect for us, and it had a television as well. We had great beach access, and it was not busy at all. That was very relaxing for us.

Next month, this column will cover what you should know going into a rental through Airbnb and our top reasons for continuing our vacation rental searches through them. I will also outline our costs on the places in Solana Beach and Sunny Isles compared to the hotels we would have stayed in.

Until then, enjoy the long days of summer and vacation if you have one coming up.

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