A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about how much I enjoyed using Airbnb on my recent trip to Paris and Brussels. How staying in an apartment, as opposed to a hotel really helped me tap into that live like a local experience that I crave. If you’re not familiar with Airbnb, it’s basically an online service that helps people who want to rent apartments, houses or rooms connect with travelers who want to rent them. They handle the “introductions” and the exchange of money, and you coordinate the details of your trip with the property owner.
There’s another service that recently arrived in my town, that I’ve been really excited about as well,– Uber. It’s sort of like the Airbnb for driving. People sign up to drive for the service and then people who need rides use an app on their phones to hire a driver nearby. It’s been the final piece of the living as a one car family in a two-car city. Great for those times when it’s just a little too far to walk, and the bus would take forever.
When chatting with others about using these two services, occasionally the “weird” factor comes up. Essentially with Airbnb you are staying in a stranger’s apartment (or even a room in their house) and with Uber you are getting into a stranger’s car. When you describe it that way, it does seem a little odd, and yet it never occurred to me not to use either service for that reason.
In fact, it’s sort of the opposite. I actually like the personal nature of it. I’ve met Uber drivers who are young professionals picking up extra cash on the weekends and others who have decided to try to make a go of it driving full time for the service. Our Airbnb host in Beligium was cleaning our apartment in a dress shirt, cravat, and jacket when we arrived. He was as impeccably friendly as he was sharply dressed. (His lovely apartment is featured in the pictures in this post.)
I love meeting these people and I realize that I put a great deal of trust in the services that coordinate our meetings. Maybe I’m just very trusting or have a higher tolerance for the weird factor. But I really think that I simply crave these personal experiences more than I find it odd to sleep in stranger’s houses or get into their cars.
I would love to hear your thoughts on this one in the comments below. Do you use either service? Think they are awesome? Or odd?