I kind of resist getting on the new trends in travel. I have my old ways, they work, and I seldom have any real need to change them. But once in a while something comes up that rattles everything. Short-term apartment rental sites, like Air B&B, or those like Booking.com which offer short-term apartment rentals has been such a disruption.
Renting out apartments for a month or two has always been one of my common travel practice, but using short-term rentals sites to find them is something new — you used to have to look on bulletin boards in cafes and supermarkets to find them.
Some years ago this practice also wasn’t that common. Few travelers were really doing this, and it was very easy to get nice places dirt cheap.
Now that this practice has become widespread and there are people all over the world renting out their unused homes to travelers — and obtaining homes just to rent out — travel is being changed.
Short-term apartment rental sites are now allowing large amounts of travelers to stay in places they wouldn’t be able to otherwise. There is usually a distinction between tourist / commercial zones and residential. Short-term apartment rental demolishes this division. Almost inherently, apartments are in residential areas where people actually live. These were for the most part no-stay zones for travelers showing up in places where they don’t know anybody.
When you travel you basically need three fundamental services: transportation, food, and, if you’re not just camping, accommodation. Ultimately, you can get transportation to just about anywhere. Everybody eats, so anywhere that has people is also going to have food. The element that’s keeping a broader swath of the world at bay from travelers is accommodation. The places of the world that have hotels and hostels and guesthouses is just a sliver of the total places available.
Short-term apartment rental essentially puts more places on the travel map. New towns and parts of cities are being opened up to visitors that were basically closed before due to a lack of accommodation and a reason to go there.
My family and I never would have stayed on the beach in Vega Alta in Puerto Rico if it wasn’t for the apartment that we rented there via Air B&B. There were no hotels. We probably never would have known the place even existed.