I am on a flight to San Francisco to attend Greenbuild. I am not staying at a hotel, opting instead to take the plunge into "couch surfing", a slightly less scary option than hostels. Okay, so I am not exactly couch surfing, but I am staying in someone else's home and sleeping in someone else's bed... still pretty creepy by many standards. I used a matching service called Airbnb. Similar to the old music peer-to-peer services like Kazaa or Napster, Airbnb connects individuals with a marketplace for non-traditional lodging alternatives. Unlike many file-sharing sites, this legitimate service will not have the feds knocking on your door! I am exploring this phenomena as a real estate solution that is based on the concept of adaptable reuse... on a much smaller scale. I arrived in Oakland right on time and as a sustainable traveler, I took the Air BART to the BART to Powell Street Station. There I connected with my landlord, walked over to Mint Plaza and settled down with a cup of joe to wait. I did not have to wait long, as she arrived very quickly with the apartment keys. We walked upstairs and she showed me the basics, then left me with the key and a set of instructions. Easy peezy! I walked down a few blocks to Whole Foods and picked up groceries for the week. I feel right at home.
I have been here for two days now, and things are going great. I would suggest that if you go down this path for lodging, you be comfortable sleeping in someone else's bed and using another persons utensils All in all, I am happy with this choice and look forward to the rest of the trip and future "couch surfing" opportunities. If you want to branch out on your own travels, here are a few sources to get you started.
- Airbnb: an obvious choice, given the mention in this article. Airbnb is easily accessible on the web and through an app on your mobile device through the iOS or Android app stores.
- VRBO: Vacation Rentals By Owner (VRBO) is a site that I have used in the past. From impromptu trips to Europe to local accommodations for visiting family members, VRBO has been a solid experience.
- Homeaway: Like VRBO (and co-owned), Homeaway offers vacation homes that provide travelers with hotel alternatives. The company also makes it easy for vacation rental owners and property managers to advertise their properties and manage bookings online.
- Flipkey: Similar to Homeaway and VRBO, Flipkey specializes in vacation homes. It is owned by Tripadvisor and provides user reviews and commercially managed properties, as well.
- Roomorama: Better for Europe and Asia stays, this is a good site for travelers headed abroad. 70 percent of the available properties are second homes that are handled by a management company. It also has features similar to Hipmunk, and allows owners to make offers based on ads from searchers. It also uses established security measures to raise the quality of experiences for both owners and renters.