A few weeks ago, my friend invited me to Berkeley, California for an impromptu vacation, of sorts. Desperately needing a break from Chicago’s 40 degree weather, I decided to go with it. Once flights and PTO were taken care of we were left with the small matter of not sleeping on park benches while we were there. We looked at several hotels in the area, and the average price was about $150 per night. That meant spending $450+ for a weekend in the Bay. Our flights didn’t even cost that much combined. In the words of a very wise woman, “AINT NOBODY GOT TIME FOR THAT!”
We hopped right to Airbnb and browsed for private rooms in the area. Yes, we were slightly concerned about allegations of racism and discrimination, but we were far more concerned about not spending $500 for a weekend in a 100 sq ft room. We eventually came across a lovely home in the middle of the city, and reached out to the (white!) owner to explain the nature of our request. The host was extremely friendly and respondent, and within minutes he had approved our stay.
When we arrived all I could think was “Why the hell had I not booked Airbnb before?” It was only a fraction of the price of a hotel ($69/night), so we saved more than $200! Our room had its own private bathroom, a desk area for working, a Keurig and a mini fridge, free cable TV and wifi, and a huge walk-in closet.
It also included free breakfast every morning and homemade brownies and champagne upon arrival. Not to mention the wife was a professional chef who was kind enough to share her dishes with us.
There’s also the matter of this gorgeous backyard garden/patio complete with a fire pit table and a two-person hammock.
But much more impressive than all of the amenities and aesthetics was our host family’s kindness. They welcomed us into their homes with open arms and minds. They introduced us to their friends like we weren’t strangers at all. They gave us tips on transportation and suggestions on events (like Oakland’s First Friday). We talked about everything from music and food to race and academics. The husband went out of his way to show up when my friend presented on W.E.B DuBois and Critical Theory at a symposium at the University of California, Berkeley. A neighbor even told us we welcome to come back and sleep on the couch in their tiny 2 bedroom apartment anytime.
If that doesn’t make you awww – at least internally – your heart is made of coal.
So friends, the moral of this story is you don’t have to spend a Mercedes Benz car note on accommodations. Plan your trips with confidence knowing that there are options between the hotels and hostels of the world. Glorious homes, with wonderful people just waiting to welcome you to their corner of the world. And if you’re lucky, you can save a sh*t ton of money and make a new friend along the way.