This article is not meant to be an end-all, be-all to tell you what you should do as a traveler. It's simply meant to compare and contrast hotels and AirBNBs from our experiences so that you can make informed decisions to best suit your travel wishes.
Tip #1: Don't be afraid to ask questions. Because AirBNB provides an easy way to directly message your hosts, ask questions before you go so that you know what to expect when you arrive.
AirBNBs, however, are as varied as their hosts. This year, we have stayed at two homes with no TVs. Some provided toiletries like shampoo and conditioner; others did not. Some were in the city; others were in the middle of nowhere. Most of our hosts we met in person, but at one location, we never met our hosts. Some offer extra services like airport pick-up; some do not. Some locations offer a whole place to yourself; some offer private bedroom and bathroom; and still others have only a private bedroom with a shared bathroom. And the decor at each AirBNB is based on the hosts' own unique personal tastes.
What does that mean for the frequent traveler? With a hotel, you generally know what to expect. With AirBNBs, you'll want to decide which features are most important and make sure they are listed in the options within the listing. I have also found that, although we do always read hotel reviews, it is much more important to read reviews with AirBNB listings, as they help us get a feel for the place and know what to bring with us.
Tip #2: If you are the type of traveler who loves variety and adventure, AirBNB is the way to go! But if you want to play it safe and know what you're getting, hotels may be the better option.
When planning our trip to Belize, we knew we wanted to stay in Bermudian Landing to photograph howler monkeys in their native environment. We found a couple AirBNB options, but no options for hotels, which made it an easy decision.
Tip #3: Remember that if there are no hotels around, you may be in an area with limited access to grocery stores and restaurants. Make sure you find out what to take with you before heading to your BNB.
Tip #4: Do keep in mind that the cost of the room itself is not the only cost to consider. If you are comparing a hotel and an AirBNB host with comparable prices, check to see if either offers complimentary breakfast, free airport pick-up and drop-off, a full kitchen, an on-site gym, or other services and amenities.