While hotels are nice sometimes you want something a little different from your travel accommodations.
Enter Airbnb, an online marketplace that allows people to rent out their extra spaces. Listings include vacation rentals, private homes, bed and breakfasts, apartments, boutique hotels, and various non-traditional accommodations.
It’s kind of like an online dating site for cool places to stay when you travel, complete with user reviews, verification, and secure online transactions.
The site currently features properties in 110 countries. As you might expect it works best in major cities.
Interested renters can search by city or country, narrowing by date, price, and type of space. Hosts provide a description, pricing info, and dozens of high quality photos.
When it comes to making a transaction Airbnb essentially acts as a matchmaker. The parties deal directly with each other (though everything is done through the site). Dates are confirmed through a messaging system, and booking is done online, with either a credit card or PayPal account.
Once a reservation is accepted both parties receive an itinerary. As an added measure of security the money isn’t released until 48 hours after guest arrival, in case the accommodations turn out to be less desirable than advertised.