For the 50+ Traveler

During our travels, my wife and I look forward to sampling new places to visit and stay. There’s something special about laying your head down at the end of a busy day as a tourist, knowing that your trip includes a comfortable bed in which to rest. I’ve long been a hotel fan, but then my wife “tricked” me and booked us into a bed and breakfast. Much to my surprise, I enjoyed it, and I’ve been a huge fan of bed and breakfasts ever since.

We’ve also enjoyed spending time at Airbnbs, which are much different than a traditional bed and breakfast. There are different options available when you rent an Airbnb -- a whole house or apartment, or reserve a room. We’ve done both. In fact, our first Airbnb experience was in Sutherland, Nebraska, a small town outside of North Platte. Our stay was in a room inside the house. The hosts stayed in the lower level of the house. However, we did spend time with them and have since become friends. While attending the International Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque, my youngest daughter and I had the run of a house she booked through Airbnb. One of the perks involved a roadrunner bird that frequented the neighborhood, even, it seemed, posing for pictures.

However, it really wasn’t until the fall of 2020 that I realized how wonderful Airbnbs are. My brother needed to have surgery, and I was driving him to and from the doctor during the process. We needed to be in Sioux Falls for about a week, so while I explored options for accommodations, my brother’s girlfriend and I thought we’d get a hotel suite so we could each have our own room. But, then, my wife, who was working remotely, decided she’d join us since we were going to be gone for a week. It occurred to me that an Airbnb may be our best option, allowing us to rent a house or an apartment, including workspace for my wife.

While the weeklong stay sounded great, it quickly changed. Following surgery, my brother developed an infection. So, what started as a five-day stay in a quaint bungalow in a quiet Sioux Falls neighborhood turned into 16 days, and included moving because of holiday reservations. Our extended stay involved four Airbnb locations -- a bungalow, two first-floor units, and a lower-level apartment -- and three owners (we stayed at the same owner’s property twice). Thankfully, my brother recovered successfully and we took him home in early December. But our experience showed us seven things to know and love about staying at an Airbnb.

1. Home Away From Home

Whether you’re in town for a night or a week (or longer), an Airbnb may be an excellent choice. Regardless of your plans, an Airbnb is like a home away from home. You can be yourself, to an extent. After all, you are in someone else’s house, apartment, or condo. Take your shoes off, change into relaxing clothing, kick back, and watch TV. Most Airbnbs offer streaming or cable services, or at least the devices to log in and use your own. If you need to work while at an Airbnb, some locations provide workspaces, and I don’t think anyone can get by without having Wi-Fi in the property. Since we had coffee drinkers with us, it was nice having a coffee maker in the kitchen.

Some Airbnbs will have unique amenities, like foosball tables. We had a blast playing several games during our stay at one of the apartments we called home for a couple of days.

If you enjoy walking, explore the neighborhood. We were near two small college campuses, so my morning and afternoon walks offered excellent views of unique architecture and older neighborhoods.

2. Enjoy Privacy

If you rent an entire house, you won’t need to worry about making too much noise and disturbing your neighbors, as you might at a hotel. You won’t need to worry about dimly lit hallways or riding elevators with strangers. You’ll have a house or apartment to yourself. You enjoy privacy like you would at home. Stay up as late as you want, or go to bed earlier than your housemates. It doesn’t matter in this case, as you have your own room, and they have a living room, den, or kitchen where they can hang out. When it comes to hotel stays, if you’re traveling with others and you want quiet time, you have to take a walk or go to the fitness center. At an Airbnb, depending on its size, you simply move to another room.

3. Cook Your Own Dinner

Save money on dinner. Instead of having to dine out 16 nights in a row, we were able to enjoy numerous home-cooked meals. You’ll find that most Airbnb owners stock their properties with cooking utensils, dishes, silverware, and cleaning supplies. During our stay, we shopped at a local grocery store and picked up ingredients for dinners. I enjoyed cooking for more than three people, and we had meals like we would have at home, such as lasagna, barbecue pork chops, and more. The neat thing about an Airbnb experience is you have an opportunity to cook or dine out/order in. In addition to using our Airbnbs’ kitchens, during our extended stays, we supported area restaurants by ordering a holiday dinner as well as a pizza from MacKenzie River Pizza, Grill and Pub.

4. Explore The Area

Since you don’t need to schedule your day around hotel cleaning schedules, you can plan your day as you choose. We explored downtown Sioux Falls and its public art and classic architecture. We also parked our car at Falls Park and took in views of the Big Sioux River waterfalls, as well as a walk along the river trail, taking us past sculptures, waterfowl, and the brand new Arc of Dreams sculpture that stretches across the river near downtown Sioux Falls. Since we were in the area for two and a half weeks, we visited Palisades State Park, about 30 minutes from Sioux Falls in western Minnesota, too.

5. Airbnb Offers Safety Precautions

Since most Airbnbs are in residential areas, your experience is like being at home. You’ll want to always ensure doors and windows are secure, as you would at home. With a passcode for the door lock, only you and the owner know your unique security code for the house, and it’s changed with each guest. Our experience with Airbnbs has included homes in decent neighborhoods, mostly older ones, and rarely in the suburbs. The Airbnbs we have stayed tend to have security cameras, so you can feel safe that you’ve chosen a nice home at which to stay. However, you’ll want to check out the area prior to your stay, as you would with a hotel.

Editor’s Note: Many Airbnb hosts are also following enhanced cleaning procedures that are detailed on their listings’ webpages.

6. Convenience In Booking Your Stay

Researching and reserving your Airbnb is as simple as logging on to your computer or using your mobile phone. In fact, I actually booked each stay on my phone. You can review a city’s listings with ease, deciding on which Airbnb fits your needs or preferences. While you will not learn the specific address of your Airbnb until your reservation is confirmed, you can get an idea of its location. You also deal directly with the owner when you make your reservation. Once you choose your destination and reserve it, you’ll quickly get a response with the owner’s acceptance of your request. Then, you’ll communicate with the owner through Airbnb, with quick responses. We needed to make a couple of special requests for early check-ins at two properties, and the owners were each able to accommodate.

Like a hotel, you’ll have a check-in time and checkout hour. Owners use this time to deep clean the property and restock amenities, such as K-cups or coffee for coffeemakers.

You’ll receive a message about an hour before check-in with the security code for each door, as well as additional contact information.

7. Value In Booking An Airbnb

Airbnbs offer an excellent alternative to high hotel costs. You’ll find most properties economically priced. Our 16-night stay using Airbnbs was considerably less than what we would have spent for a hotel suite or multiple rooms. You can find quality properties for as low as $60 a night (for a house), depending on which city you’re visiting. Regardless, Airbnbs offer excellent value.

Pro Tips

While researching your dates, double-check any minimum night stays. You’ll also need to plan for additional fees, such as cleaning costs. Even with these extra fees, your Airbnb stay will still be an affordable choice. For additional Airbnb insights and inspiration, consider