Want to get out and explore a new city or state with your friends? Traveling without a parental guardian has historically posed a challenge for some college students, as hotels in many cities require the booking party to be at least 21 years old. Enter AirBnb.
The hotel alternative has made a splash in the tourism industry in the past few years, becoming a popular lodging option for many travelers. One of the best parts? The minimum booking age is only 18.
AirBnb serves as a community marketplace for property owners to list their extra spaces for travelers to book and stay in. The concept might seem strange at first, but it has proven to be widely successful. AirBnb facilitates and monitors the bookings to ensure the safety and enjoyment of both the hosts and guests.
The level of interaction and privacy varies. During your search, you can select a preference for a private home or apartment, private room or shared space. Private apartments and homes are typically accesses using a lockbox, and while you can contact your host with questions, you typically will not meet them during your stay. Alternatively, the other options usually allow you to meet your hosts, a feature many consider to add a hospitable flair to their stay.
A week before October break, my four friends and I made a spontaneous decision to go to Montreal, instead of going home to Miami, Fla. and Columbus, Ohio. In fact, the total costs of our stay and transportation were less than a round trip to go home, so it was a no-brainer. We decided to explore a new city and discover a new culture that was a mere six hours away by bus.
There was no other way to fully experience Montreal and its culture than to temporarily live among the Canadians and stay in an AirBnb apartment in the hip local neighborhood of St. Henri. It was a great sized apartment with three bedrooms, one bathroom, a kitchen and a small living area. We were initially surprised to see there was no TV in the apartment, but we ultimately ended up appreciating the quaintness and charm it brought to the place. We had a little tiny patio outside on our second floor apartment with cute hanging plants, creating a very homey and local feel for us throughout our stay. The apartment was also conveniently located a few blocks away from the metro station to give us easy access to downtown or wherever else we wanted to go. Not to mention, when splitting the already great price of the AirBnb among the five of us, it was extremely economical.
Our host’s name was Mathilda. Although we unfortunately never got to meet her, she was a great host and could not have made our stay better. We arrived to a clean, organized place with towels, shampoo, soap and even coffee (very important for a coffee lover such as myself) all provided. We bought the rest of our food at a nearby market to cook our own breakfasts and dinners.
We kept very busy during the day. I am convinced there is nothing in Montreal that we did not see, even if we just looked at it for a second. We had an entire week there and truly did not waste a second of it. When we would come back exhausted from all of the day’s activities, it would be a relief to get back to the quiet, cozy environment of “Mathilda’s” for a nap and time to relax before we went back out again at night.
A hotel would not have given us the same experience in Montreal. We got to witness the culture firsthand and learned to adapt to what it was like to live in Montreal rather than having touristy accommodations. Leaving Mathilda’s was heartbreaking. We had to say goodbye to our home away from home for the week. But we could thank Mathilda for our incredible local Canadian experience.
So, if you are a college student looking for a unique experience in another city with a local feel and want good prices as well, AirBnb is definitely the way to go.