What do you do when you get invited to five fantastic weddings for close friends and family while trying to plan and pay for your own? You accept them all and figure it out of course! At least, that’s what my fiancé and I have done this past year. We are blessed to have so many great people surrounding us and to be asked to share in so many special days. However; the both exciting and daunting part of this year’s festivities was that four of the weddings happened to be out of state. We wanted to do everything we could to make it work financially without compromising our savings for our own big day!
We are four weddings into our five total for the year (the last one happens to be out of the country entirely, in Mexico next month!). But, I can thankfully say we have made it work. Our biggest stretch came in September when we had three weddings, in three weeks, at three different wineries, in three different states. Each one was unique and the celebrations were a blast!!
In order to make this year of “the weddings” happen we had to make some cuts and cost conscious decisions. The one I’m here to share with all of you today was testing out Airbnb for the first time ever.
Airbnb is a space rental service for travelers that is built on a community of hosts offering a variety of different types of places to stay. It’s similar to VRBO (vacation rentals by owner) with the option to rent an entire property, apartment, etc. for your vacation. However; travelers can also choose to stay in a private room in an occupied residence or even stay in a shared room in a residence. With hosts in 190 countries and more than 34,000 cities it is certainly a global lodging option.
Generally, from my own searching, I have noticed that the pricing can be a much more affordable option than hotels. We used Airbnb for our stay in Sonoma, CA for one of our winery weddings. After searching through piles of rentals and comparing rates and reviews against hotels it became clear that Airbnb was a no brainer option to save some money. I’ll admit that I’m not the type of traveler that would feel comfortable sharing a residence or room with a host. However; even selecting the entire property option saved us more than $250 a night (Yes, you’re reading that savings number correctly!). We went to Sonoma during high, harvest season when hotels are in a big demand and the prices skyrocket. We were looking at options like a Holiday Inn at a whopping rate of $400 per night! Being that it was my first potential Airbnb stay, I only looked at properties with more than 30 reviews. Of course, I was also very particular about all of these 30 reviews being positive. In the end, we chose a loft property that was a mile from the center of Sonoma. It was a total of $159 per night. It seriously looked way too good to be true. After finally submitting my request for our dates to the host, we were sent a handful of questions to validate who we were, our reason for staying, etc. It was pretty much the host vetting us out, just as we had with their property. Once they accepted our request we were then sent the house address and phone numbers along with a bunch of confirmation details. My fingers were crossed that we weren’t going to arrive and there be no house at that site, or walk into a dump etc.
On the day of our arrival we were greeted by the couple that owns the house and their very friendly dog. They showed us up to our loft, which was an apartment above their garage and separated from their house. When we walked in, I took a huge breath of relief. It looked identical to the immaculate and clean photos I had viewed online. Our hosts had also provided us with pamphlets of things to do in the area, sat and talked with us about restaurant and winery recommendations, and provided us with jugs of cold water to have on hand for our stay.
Throughout our stay we barely saw our hosts. They were cordial if we bumped into them in the courtyard on the way to our car however; they seemingly gave us space to just enjoy our vacation. While we didn’t have turndown service or the luxury of walking downstairs to a bar, the room still had the hotel appeal. The first restaurant we tried from their recommended list, on the day after we arrived, ended up being one of my favorite meals of our entire trip. I instantly knew I liked our hosts! Their thoughtfulness to leave guests a wine key and glasses to indulge in winery purchases was also a nice touch. The bed was very comfortable, we were given spa scented toiletries to use in the bathroom, and the hosts’ even hand delivered our wedding welcome basket that was sent to the property.
Our only pitfall during our stay was how cold it was a night in the room. However; it was truly our own fault. We were not used to the 90 degree days turning to 30 degree nights. We would often leave windows open for too long and we also forgot to ask how to close the skylight every single night before bed.
Our stay was very encouraging for future stays using Airbnb. The process to book was easy, the customer service from the site and our host was pleasant, and our stay was both convenient and comfortable. Oh, and that little piece about saving more than $800 total on our 3 night Sonoma stay wasn’t too shabby either!!
Airbnb will definitely be a travel tool we use for future stays! I’ve already scoped out some of the awesome global properties that are a fraction of the price of big name hotels. If you haven’t browsed the website yet, bows a great time to introduce yourself.
And now…the best part of my post! I’m sharing a $20 credit for your first stay!! All you have to do is use this code: www.airbnb.com/c/missys6?s=8
Happy Travels Everyone!