Travel musings: AirBnB and Servas

27 Jun

I recently returned from a very fun three week vacation to England (and Wales). I stayed in private homes (oh, and one guest house). I’ve got lots of interesting home and garden photos and will load some as I get them organized and whatnot.

I stayed in a combination of AirBnB rooms and Servas family stays. These are both organizations of which I am a member. With Servas (an Esperanto word for “service”, and a group that used to be called “Open Doors” in the rest of the world), the stay is free (you pay an annual fee to belong) and the hosts are supposed to provide one meal and the guests another — the stay is supposed to be for two nights. The goal behind Servas is international understanding, peace and goodwill. I love the idea of Servas. I’ve been a host for about eight years, but I rarely get any travelers any more. I had really nice stays as a Servas guest and met lovely people who very generously made me a part of their lives while I stayed there. I stayed with a family in Lancaster that I especially liked and I hope they’ll come and visit me.

With AirBnB, the traveler pays to stay and there’s no onus on the host to do anything other than let the travelers in. I’ve been an AirBnB host for just over a year and have people staying with me nearly every week. I found my AirBnB hosts to be just as welcoming and friendly as the Servas ones. AirBnB hosts tend to be younger (some in their 20’s and 30’s, but most I’ve encountered in their 40’s and 50’s, while Servas hosts tend to be 60’s and older), and the accommodations are MUCH cleaner (overall — I stayed with one AirBnB host whose house was not clean). In the end, taking a family of four or five out for a meal is as or more expensive than paying for a room, so financially they can be pretty similar. Also, if you want some alone time, AirBnB can be better, as you’re under no obligation to spend time together.

Anyway, they’re both great ways to travel for people who like to meet people and see inside other peoples homes.

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