I Popped My AirBnB Cherry For New Year’s

Is staying at an AirBnb a rite of passage among avid travelers?

Walking the streets at 4am.

Before the holidays, I mulled over accommodations for my trip to Toronto. I was going alone so there was no set itinerary or list of activities. I knew I wanted to be close to the action but not too far away from the airport. I was hoping to catch a deal at one of the nicer hotels but Groupon failed me.

Talking about this with a friend who travels a lot, I was advised to try AirBnB.

I’d read stories — some good, some bad, mostly just okay because visitors never stayed more than three nights at a time. I was only going to be in Toronto for two days so I figured why not? Let’s see what’s the city has to offer.

More people than I could have ever expected, both here and abroad, use AirBnb as secondary income.

When I peruse the listings, I was shocked by how many people “rent” rooms in the same place where they live full-time. For example, one host that I’d sent an inquiry to told me that his place would be occupied for the requested dates because family was in town. The idea of hosting a complete stranger in the place where your flesh and blood sleeps is just…odd to me.

Nonetheless, it’s a business model that’s thriving all over the world. People enjoy hosting and it’s a cheap alternative for travelers who would rather spend their money on activities and entertainment. Which is exactly what I did.

The place I stayed was absolutely amazing! I didn’t expect it to look like the pictures but pictures don’t do it justice. The furnishings and the decor was impressive. The bed felt as comfortable as my own and I even had a private balcony which didn’t get used because it was so damn cold all weekend.

My host was cool as hell. He wasn’t around much because of the holiday weekend but he answered all my questions; from check-in to a recommending a nice place to grab dinner. I went into the situation a little apprehensive because here I am, this big black guy in a Champion hoodie and bubble vest with Tims, and my host was this shorter, kind of mousy white guy. I’m sure that we could have had more great conversations had we crossed paths more often.

New Year’s Eve also happened to be the first time I saw snow this season. As a quintessential Northerner, the only snow I can appreciate is the first one. After that, it’s just an inconvenience.

I hit up the Ripley’s Aquarium as well. During the summer, I went to the Brooklyn Museum for a sneaker exhibit and wound up spend the morning wandering around. It’s a goal of mine to get lost in some nerdy activities this year. I forgot how relaxing it can be to take your time and enjoy things that are bigger than you on many levels.

Like the rest of the world, I settled in the city’s square to see the ball drop and the clock usher in a new year. I took a few moments to reflect and say a prayer for 2016.

What I liked the most about using AirBnB is that the host did everything to make me feel welcome. I was under the impression that hosts treat their spaces like a hotel. They give you the basics of how to get in and get out of the spot and stay out of your way. However, I had a fresh set of towels waiting for me upon arrival along with a small snack basket. I even cooked a meal in the host’s kitchen; the same kitchen I imagine is usually filled with close friends trading stories about their nomadic adventures (because nobody on AirBnB seems to have a regular, blue-collar job lol). The only downside was cleaning up after myself. Nobody likes to clean on vacation.

AirBnB unites people under one roof to talk about life experiences without feeling intrusive.

Having had a great time in Toronto — much in part due to the stress-free environment of my host — I’m looking forward to using AirBnB again in a city I’ve never been to. And while I’m not ready to completely part with staying at a Hyatt Place or somewhere more luxurious like the Mondrian, I can see why so many people are enamored with AirBnB.

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