I travel frequently, and during the last two years, my preferences for where to stay have shifted. In the past, I would search for a hotel room, but today Airbnb is the first website I always visit. I do some study on the area before choosing a neighborhood that will make me feel like a native for a few days.

I had a very pleasant first experience in Paris in 2016 and have been an renting from Airbnb ever since. For the amenities like a pool or fitness center, I still occasionally rent hotel rooms, but if the trip is longer than a few days, you can be sure I’ll be staying in an Airbnb along the route for the following reasons.

1. KITCHEN = MEALS AT A DISCOUNT When I travel, I try to save as much money as I can since tiny things add up. I appreciate having a kitchen in an Airbnb accommodation so I can prepare quick meals. Going grocery shopping is one of my most favorite things to do when I reach a new location. I choose breakfast or lunch items there to eat while I’m there and bring with me when I’m out and about visiting the neighborhood.

Just last week in Bergen, my traveling companion and I browsed the aisles of the neighborhood market, choosing our coffee, veggies, bacon, eggs, and other necessities for our three-day stay. We then bagged everything up and brought it back to our apartment to prepare meals together.

2. MORE ROOM Budget hotel rooms are infamously small in Europe, and hotels frequently feel claustrophobic and impersonal. Many of the hotels I’ve stayed at while traveling have the tiniest bathrooms you can imagine and hardly enough space to move around the bed. I can get a lot more space by renting an apartment on Airbnb for the same (or less) price.

I left this awesome Airbnb apartment in Oslo about two weeks ago. We had a dining room that was close by and a fully equipped kitchen where I could relax and work while sipping my morning coffee. The apartment’s interior reflected the owners’ thoughtfulness. It has a beautiful rooftop view of the city and far larger bedrooms and baths than a hotel. It was a lot more unwinding!

3. ACCESS TO WASHER/DRYER The best advantage ever for renting an Airbnb home or apartment is having a washer and dryer in the unit. When I can wash my clothing in the middle of the trip, I can pack very lightly because I can put them on again as soon as they’ve been freshly washed. This implies that since I’m wearing two outfits, I can travel with just my carry-on luggage.

4. PERSONAL TOUCHES AND A SENSE OF COMMUNITY The sense that you get to live in the area for a short period of time is another fantastic benefit of a well-researched Airbnb. My trip experience is much improved when I have the keys to an apartment since I feel more at home while visiting the city. My traveling companion and I stayed in a wonderful apartment in Le Marais while in Paris (see below). To acquire a sense of the arrondissement, we spent days riding bicycles all around the area and touring the neighborhood. After a day of sightseeing, it was so pleasant to come home to the same apartment in the afternoon to rest up before leaving again for dinner and an evening stroll.

I also enjoy looking at the decisions the owner has made with the decorative features. drapes: cotton, velvet, or linen? sectional or sofa made of woven or chenille? What kind of artwork is displayed here? What dishes in the kitchen cupboards are adorable or unusual? I always value the unique touches, careful linens, and decorative details selected to enhance the comfort and pleasure of the visit.

5. LOCAL INSIDER ADVICE One thing I like to do is ask the host for recommendations on where to eat, what to see, which streets to explore, and small hidden gems you won’t find in tourist brochures. Most frequently, the proprietor has taken the effort to put up a guidebook for you, which is a thoughtful touch and frequently leads to some of the best discoveries, further improving the trip than simply browsing for restaurants on my smartphone.

I enjoy that the Airbnb website allows you to read frank reviews about the home or flat, and having the app on your phone makes it easy to get in touch with the host or owner when necessary.

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$40 OFF YOUR FIRST TRIP IS YOURS IF YOU SIGN UP FOR AIRBNB USING MY LINK! Have you ever used Airbnb? What is your background?

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