One of the questions I get asked most often (both on this site and from friends/family), is how Thom and I can afford to travel on a somewhat frequent basis. Although there are a number of factors that play into our ability to come and go as we please (the amount of available funds we have to put toward an adventure savings, being the biggest), when Airbnb asked if I’d like to share my experience as a host, I figured it’d be the perfect way to kick off what will be an extended conversation about how we’ve managed to make globe-trotting possible without totally breaking the bank.
For Thom and me, Airbnb has completely redefined what it means to travel. We’re no longer forced to pay for overpriced hotels in touristy parts of town, we get to stay in historic neighborhoods and engage in meaningful conversation with locals, and we’re able to gather food at the market and enjoy it from the comfort of our tiny rental apartments. Essentially, Airbnb has made it possible for us to be away from our home without feeling like we are, and that has been monumental in shaping our travel experiences. After giving it a bit of thought (read: six long months), we decided that we wanted to give other travelers that same opportunity, here in Denver: the ability to travel but still feel at home.
You probably can’t tell from this site, but I’m an inherent nurturer. I get a total kick out of having guests in our house and really love making sure people are happy and well cared for. It’s easily the best quality I inherited from my Oma (her stubbornness, however..), and given that my big dream is to one day own and operate an actual B&B, Airbnb has been the perfect way to dip my toes in the water without making a huge commitment. And the best part? Hosts receive round-the-clock support and have the ability to deny guests if their plans don’t fit with their schedule. So those college kids on spring break who are coming to town to experience Denver’s night life and partake in all that recreational ganja has to offer? I kindly thank them for their interest but am forced to (politely) decline.
The other great thing about hosting? It’s provided an extra cushion for our monthly budget, which can get pretty tight considering our unconventional jobs that come with intermittent paychecks. Thus far, we’ve used the supplementary income to make an additional payment on our mortgage (doing this just once a year shaves quite a bit of time off the life of the loan) (and translates to thousands of dollars in savings), but are planning on putting this month’s earnings toward the home renovations we’re doing at the beginning of May. I expect that later in the year we’ll use the additional remunerations to cover the costs of travel – and although it’s not going to fund our trips completely, the money we make from hosting will be the difference between roughing it in hostels or treating ourselves to cozy, private apartments. We certainly don’t rely on the income we receive from Airbnb, but it has been an extremely convenient way to make a bit of extra cash off of a room that is essentially only used for my early-morning workouts and Thom’s late-night research.
I’m curious: Do you use Airbnb? Would you ever considering being a host? It took some time for me to warm up to the thought of sharing our personal space with strangers, but now that we’ve experienced it and have been able to fund various endeavors that would have likely gotten put off until the end of time, I’m happy we decided to turn our spare room into an extra source of income that’s allowed us to connect and develop meaningful relationships with travelers we would have otherwise never met. If you’re looking to do the same, I’ve compiled a list of tips that I think will be incredibly helpful to those of you who are entertaining the idea of participating in the sharing economy. An economy that has not only connected us with like-minded travelers, but has allowed us to live more comfortably while funding our passions.
Notes: These cookies were the direct result of our very first Airbnb guest who confessed – after I had made a batch of Welcome to Our House Blueberry Muffins – that he was trying to watch what he was eating while in town. Given that our house tends to be full of desserts (and I tend to push those desserts on anyone who walks through the door) I decided to start putting a healthier spin on my baked goods so that he could still enjoy homemade treats without feeling like he was sabotaging his diet. With that being said, these cookies are not your typical peanut butter cookies given that they’re made with only a handful of good-for-you ingredients (making them pretty damn healthy, as far as I’m concerned). If you’ve got a peanut allergy, feel free to replace the peanut butter with your favorite nut/seed butter. And if you don’t like oat flour, spelt, buckwheat, white whole wheat, etc. should work just the same, but I recommend starting by adding 2 tablespoons of flour, then work up to 1/4 cup, as needed.
This post is sponsored by Airbnb. All opinions are my own, and I think Airbnb rules.
EASY PEANUT BUTTER COOKIES
2 tablespoons natural peanut butter
1 tablespoon Grade B maple syrup
2 teaspoons refined coconut oil, melted
Pinch of fine sea salt
1/4 cup oat flour
Preheat oven to 325˚F. Line a small baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside. In a small mixing bowl, stir together the peanut butter, maple syrup, and coconut oil. Add the sea salt and oat flour, and mix just until combined. If you want to add a tablespoon of crushed peanuts or finely chopped chocolate, now would be the time. Using a 1 teaspoon cookie scoop, drop the dough onto the prepared baking sheet and smoosh with the back of a fork. Bake at 325˚F for 5-7 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool. I prefer to pull my cookies from the oven at 5 minutes, for something that’s soft and chewy. But if you prefer your cookies on the firm/crumbly side, bake them for the full 7 minutes. Cookies will keep in an air tight container for up to three days.
Yield: 12 bite-size cookies (or one guilt-free serving)