The sharing economy has greatly changed the travel industry over the past several years. While traditional bed and breakfasts have operated for hundreds of years (They were THE original form of accommodation), the explosion of websites that allow people to share part or all of their home, apartment, condo, etc. has changed the way a great many people travel. This type of accommodation allows the traveler to experience their destination a little more locally. I like to divide sharing economy rentals into three categories:
- True home-sharing, where you stay in an extra bedroom of a house that is shared with your host. This option gives you the most interaction with your host.
- Traditional bed and breakfast, where there are several rooms for rent, and the host is generally staying in a different/partitioned off section of the home. This option gives you some interaction with both your host and other guests, usually in the morning when everyone gathers for breakfast (this is my favorite place to get travel tips – B&B hosts and other guests almost always have awesome advice).
- Renting an entire house. This option gives you the least interaction with your host – they may even simply provide you with a code to get into the house and never have any interaction at all.
One important thing to remember when booking these types of accommodations – Although most traditional B&B accommodations play by the rules, newer sharing economy (especially renting an entire home) options are often illegal to own and operate in many communities. So, I recommend doing your homework if you’re thinking about going this route. Additionally, there has been some research that has shown that these types of accommodations can negatively impact sense of community in neighborhood areas, especially in places where you have a lot of short term rentals in a small area. This means full time residents are displaced, housing and tax prices go up, and the cost of living in general can climb as well.
Despite some potential drawbacks, this type of accommodation is still a great (and sustainable) option in many destinations. There are quite a few options for booking – probably the most well known is AirBnB, though they certainly aren’t the only game in town. HomeAway and Flipkey, are all also great options – and you’ll likely find some overlap in the inventory on each site as many owners will list on multiple sites.
If you’re looking for the traditional Bed and Breakfast experience, I recommending starting your search at BedandBreakfast.com.