Airbnb Vs. Hostels Vs. Couchsurfing: Which should you choose?

Airbnb Vs. Hostels Vs. Couchsurfing: Which should you choose?
For decades the standard “backpacking the world” adventure consisted of lots sights, tons of new experiences, and an ungodly amount of hostel rooms.
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This same backing adventure can still be had and is a great option for those who want to see the world. However, recently a new trend has emerged thanks to a new tech savvy world. Instead of finding a new hostel room in every new city, many have begun to take advantage of the new age of technology. By reaching out though websites Airbnb and Couchsurfing, many can now choose to stay in the homes of locals.
Each offers a great way to experience a new city and culture, albeit in completely different ways. Picking one over the others is akin to picking apples over oranges, its all really what you prefer.
Price is usually the first and last thing everyone looks at when making a decision on where to stay, what to buy, etc, and this case should be no different. Looking at the overall price its beyond easy to pick a winner as Couchsurfung is free, however it does have its fair share of pitfalls.
The difference between hostels and Airbnb is actually quite minimal. Hostels will tend to be slightly cheaper especially when trying to find accommodation near to the city center or other local attractions. You’ll certainly give up some creature comforts when staying a some hostels, and you are guaranteed to kiss your free space goodbye. However, if you plan on staying in a private room at a hostel, Airbnb tends to be the far cheaper more exciting option.
This one really comes down to how you want to spend your time, but based purely on price its hard to beat free.
Winner: Couchsurfing
Comfort is huge when exploring the globe, even though its a good bet that the sights and sounds of the city will keep you out for most of the day, there will be times in which kicking back with a good book in a quiet room are essential to enjoying your stay. Obviously each place will vary wildly and no place will be like any of the others, each Airbnb is different than the last just like each hostel isn’t like any others.
When looking at the experiences overall though its easier to see which places offers a bit more comfort for your stay. Couchsurfing and Airbnb tend to be quite similar in their approach to comfort. The difference lies in trust, Couchsurfing is a great options for anyone on a budget, but the site has very little way other than reviews of what your stay will ultimately be like. It rarely offers a glimpse of where you’ll sleep and you might find yourself in a situation similar to this. If you would rather see where you’ll sleep and how the place generally looks Airbnb is the far superior option. You’ll be able to see exactly how much free space is actually your own and usually you’ll be able to lounge about wherever you please.
Hostels are another story all together, they are generally known for there economic pricing and for that you’ll trade quite a lot of free space and in turn comfort. Going from your own room and double bed to a shared dorm and a three man bunk is a culture shock all in itself. This doesn’t mean you can’t find free space or comfort, in fact quite the opposite. Even though your room may not allow for tons of free space, most hostels offer sitting rooms made exactly for relaxing. Its not impossible to find a space all your own in a hostel, just expect it to be a lot smaller than your used to.
Even though hostels do a great job of trying to give you space they simply can’t match the comfort the Airbnb and Couchsurfing can provide. Its close but for the simple fact that you can see where your going to sleep before you dive in makes Airbnb superior to Couchsurfing.
Winner: Airbnb
Experiencing Culture
Travel is usually part sight seeing part cultural experiences. You can travel the world and see all that there is to see but if you failed to really wade into a new culture than you really have only gone half way. Places are defined far more by the people and cultures in them than the places themselves, so its essential to try to get the most of a culture while exploring a city (especially for Americans and our flawed vacations).
Airbnb and Couchsurfing attack this head-on by simply taking you directly into the homes of the people who live there. You will of course find a few people who will be less than accommodating, but overall people realize that they are defacto ambassadors for their city and would like nothing more than for you to truly know and appreciate their culture. Many hosts feel almost obligated to take you out and show you around town, making sure that you don’t miss any of the local flavors along the way. Couchsurfing actually goes a step further because the site has a great (albeit overlooked) social element. Many “surfers” plan weekly meetings and you’ll find it easy to mingle with the locals anytime you want.
Hostels on the other hand seem to operate on another level at times, seemingly giving you the half and half approach. You’ll certainly be hard pressed to find any locals in the hostel outside the staff (many of which aren’t locals either), but most hostels reside in in the more populated parts of the city, which will allow you to get out there and start experiencing everything you can. Furthermore, many hostels have bars or restaurants in them which locals frequent intermittently because they tend to be the cheaper end of the spectrum.
Couchsurfing and Airbnb are close in this respect too, but in the end Couchsurfing goes the extra mile and allows for far more cultural interaction then you’ll find with Airbnb.
Winner: Couchsurfing
Finding a Travel Buddy
More and more people are starting to strike out in the world on their own, letting them seek out the things they want without having to convince others to come along. However, making friends is crucial to ensuring a great travel experience.
Airbnb really falters when helping you find anyone other than your host to interact with. Keeping this in mind your host will probably be more than willing to show you around, however its good to remember that they most likely have their own lives and that they can’t help you about town every day of the week. Meeting others to share in your travel journey is really on you. There are more than a few way to do this but Airbnb will pretty much be useless in these areas.
Couchsurfing as mentioned before has a great social element involved in it, one that many hosts are actively involved in. Hosts are usually more than happy to take surfers out on the town or even to local Couchsurfers meetings, allowing you to meet many like-minded individuals many of whom are looking for someone to explore the city with as well. The website doesn’t make this overly clear to newbies but once you learn the ropes its quite easy to find just about anyone to share a great travel experience with.
For whatever reason hostels might be the best place to make great friends, especially when saying in a dorm setting. Its simple psychology really, being stacked on top of each other every night you might as well try and get along, the great thing is, you probably will! Everyone in a hostel, no matter their age, wants the same things you do, to see a the sights, experience the culture, and make great friends.
Couchsurfing has a great social element even though its not fully thought out yet, but hostels really do take the cake when it comes to meeting people.
Winner: Hostels
Conclusion Its impossible to really say one is better than the others because that truly comes down to you and your preferences. Each option is different and each has its own pluses and minuses, there truly is no perfect option.
After weighting it out, all we can do at TravelRelapse is offer a little advice: Try the mix-and-match system, take a little time to explore each one, you may find that you enjoy meeting great people on Couchsurfing but would rather stay with a host on Airbnb.
The real winner in this situation is you, because of the great technologic options that exist, you’ll be able to custom tailor your travel adventures, and that’s all that really matters.

Tags - Airbnb Vs. Hostels Vs. Couchsurfing
Airbnb Vs. Hostels Vs. Couchsurfing: Which should you choose? Airbnb Vs. Hostels Vs. Couchsurfing: Which should you choose? Reviewed by Zahir Style on July 13, 2019 Rating: 5

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