There’s no question about it: Airbnb is a ridiculously popular brand for providing awesome, unique accommodations around the world… but they’ve also negatively impacted numerous cities, communities, and the livelihood of locals. With that said, is there a way to use Airbnb responsibly? I think so. Here are my tips on how to sustainably travel with Airbnb.
Psst. This post contains affiliate links. Read our disclosure.
Before I get into the deep darkness of Airbnb, I have to be honest with you…
I’m a huge fan of it! Truth be told, I LOVE traveling around the world with the opportunity to stay in someone’s home and get a real feel for “local” life.
Isn’t it such an honor? That someone would open their home to strange, maybe even oddball, travelers and tourists?
Yet, it provides such a unique experience and I’m completely head over heels for it.
But with that said, I’ve recently learned there are some real dark and disturbing issues behind Airbnb and the incredibly negative impacts Airbnb-ing can have.
While I’d love to go deep into the problems Airbnb is currently ensuing, this particular post is all about how to do it more sustainably and ethically… but here’s a quick and dirty list of what’s going on:
- Eric T. Schneiderman, the New York attorney general, found nearly three-quarters of all Airbnb rentals in the city were illegal. And up to 72% of reservations made in NYC in 2014 were illegal. This continues to undermine the city’s efforts in providing affordable housing to people who actually live there.
- Raids and protests have occurred in numerous cities around the world, like Paris and Barcelona, in response to the overwhelming amount of tourists coming in, staying in Airbnbs, pushing locals out of their homes, and literally ruining the livelihood of local communities.
- Due to the popularity of Airbnb, real estate markets have ridiculously inflated in cities like New York and San Francisco. This article says, “Locals claim they are being squeezed out of their own neighborhoods by commercial landlords.”
- It continues to play a part in overtourism, which affects all travelers.
With that in mind, I do believe there are certain steps you can take to effectively use Airbnb more responsibly to have a positive impact on your destination and the world.
Table of Contents
TIPS ON HOW TO RESPONSIBLY USE AIRBNB
Do Your Research
First things first: do your research on a destination.
Do the locals like Airbnb? Is it helping the community or hurting it? Are most listings entire rental units that have turned into short-term listings?
You’ll find that in heavily visited destinations, Airbnb is typically a burden, rather than a positive.
Also, make sure to see if Airbnb is even legal in the destination you’re traveling to. In Paris, Barcelona, and Santa Monica, you’ll find some of the strictest policies on who and who can’t rent out listings through Airbnb.
See more info about legal vs. illegal use of Airbnb in popular cities here.
Want to know my absolute favorite zero waste items I always pack along for a trip? Click here!
Skip Out on “Entire Places”
While finding a place to stay through Airbnb, you’ll have the option to choose either a Private Room, Entire Place, Shared Space, or now even a Hotel Room.
Instead of staying in an Entire Place, aka renting out an entire apartment or home, opt for a Private Room or Shared Space.
Because in most cities where Airbnb is causing housing issues, it’s because landlords and rental agencies are kicking people out or jacking up the rent to capitalize on listing entire apartments.
Think about it: if you choose to stay with someone, rather than in someone’s apartment, you know for a fact they’re genuinely living there.
Whereas if you rent out an entire place, you have no idea if it’s owned by a rental agency, a foreigner who owns multiple apartments and rents them out, or just a local who has an extra space.
When you choose to just stay in a spare room, you’re simply a traveler helping them out with their monthly rent or mortgage.
Not to mention, you get to meet someone new! And someone who can give you insider advice on how to spend your time in the destination.
Stay Outside the City Center
If you can (or are open to the idea), stay outside the main part of the city or destination.
This helps in reducing overtourism — such as in Amsterdam, where the center is literally overflowing with tourist — and moves tourists to less-visited areas, where there’s an opportunity to support other local businesses.
Personally, I love staying outside city centers, as it gives me an opportunity to get my walk on, as well as get to know an off-the-beaten-path neighborhood!
Check the Host’s Profile
To make sure a host isn’t taking advantage of city’s tourism, check their profile to make sure they’re not listing multiple properties with the sole purpose of making a sh*t ton of money.
This also gives you a chance to read reviews on what the host is like and what their accommodations is like.
I actually just came across some wild information… Airbnb’s top 40 hosts in NYC have grossed more than $35 million combined.
A similar story emerges in San Francisco where 4.8% of hosts control 18.2% of Airbnb’s local listings, according to the SF Chronicle.
That’s crazy, right? RIGHT?
Thus, it’s so important to check your potential host’s profile or make sure you stay in a shared home where you know the person listing actually lives there.
With these tips in mind, you can start roaming the world with Airbnb more responsibly! But seriously though, don’t be a dickhead who participates in using Airbnb the wrong way or plays a part in overtourism.
Ultimately, every time you visit a place, you have the opportunity to help or hurt it (and I sincerely hope you choose to help!).
What do you think about this article? Any opinions or tips for other readers who might want to use Airbnb responsibly? Share in the comments below!
Not sure what to check out next? Readers love these posts:
- How to Have a #PlasticFreeJuly Every Month
- Overtourism: 10+ Destinations Saying “Wish You WEREN’T Here!”
- Why You Should Never Go on a Cruise if You’re a “Sustainable Traveler”
- A Big Fat List of Unethical Animal Encounters to Avoid if You’re an “Animal Lover”
Like this post on how to responsibly use Airbnb? Pin it!
As mentioned earlier, this post contains affiliate links. Which means if you make a purchase through the links, this site receives a small commission at no extra cost to you. This helps us to continue bringing you wanderful inspiration! Read our full disclosure here.