For the Summit I went to a couple weeks ago I had to find a place to stay for the night of Saturday to Sunday. And that was the perfect time to test this new thing I got to know some month ago called airbnb. I already knew CouchSurfing and I have already done that but never tried airbnb. Let's see what airbnb is about:
A place to stay
If you travel a lot you always need a place to stay right? Well airbnb is about that. If a hotel is just too 'standard' for you, airbnb might be the thing. On the site airbnb everybody can sign up and setup his or her own apartment, living-room, garage or tree-house to be rented. The nice thing about this is that it can be very cheap. On the other side you never know what you are getting (at least not if there are not many reviews yet). But with normal hotel search sites you will probably not find stuff like this!
A place to connect
To stay somewhere with airbnb you have to connect with a real person. And mostly thees are not just your regular hotel recipe guys (or girls), thees are real people living where you are going. This has two great aspects: they can give you special places where you should go (including places which are more the local kinda places instead of just the regular travelers sights) and two they can be great to connect with - and might actually have time to go out and do something together.
You see how people life
This might not be so interesting by going to an other German city and seeing how people life there (I went to Berlin). But it sure be different if I were to go to another country like China or Australia. Seeing what the normal conditions are there and how the normal people life there might be very interesting to see (not being locked in some hotel complex).
What is the difference to Couchsurfing?
For me the main difference is the fact that with airbnb I pay for my stay. And the thing with CouchSurfing is that I do not feel comfortable staying at someones place if I do not have time to connect to them. So that is the main reason for me to look for other options than CouchSurfing. With airbnb it is just that: they handle the money for you and you do not have to exchange money while you stay there.
I think airbnb should be added to the list of sites to look at while searching for a place to stay. I think I will let CouchSurfing stay at the top of the list (for cases I find it appropriate) but let airbnb be a great second!