What on Earth is Airbnb?: How to Rent Your House To Strangers That Pay You

Videos by Rare

Videos by Rare

The future of travel is in the palm of your hands. No literally, the ability to plan your entire vacation couldn’t be easier nowadays. With apps on your phone and thousands of websites to research on your computer, figuring out the best way to see a new city can be a bit daunting. Thankfully, one website has made it economical and fun to travel all over the world and make money at the same time.

As a kid, I always remember trying to squeeze an extra person in the hotel room. There were five of us total (our parents and three children), making the traditional arrangement of four to a hotel room a bit of a squeeze. And since we were kids, my parents couldn’t see the logic in buying an extra room down the hall for one of us. So my Mom started to look up vacation rentals. She spent hours on various websites looking for houses to rent that were not only cheaper than getting another hotel room for our family but also gave us a kitchen to cook in, and a new way to fully experience the city we were visiting.

In 2008, Airbnb was founded in San Fransisco, California by roommates and former school friends Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia. The two were struggling to come up with their rent and decided to blow up an air mattress in their living room and rent it out as an AirBed & Breakfast. The two soon started to raise money for their company and started their website airbedandbreakfast.com.

A year later the founders shortened the name, got thousands of dollars from investors and had already booked 700,000 nights in properties like entire homes and apartments, private rooms, private islands, igloos, boats, castles, and tree houses.

Today guests can find Airbnb locations across the world including New York City, Los Angeles, London, Barcelona, Berlin, and Amsterdam to name just a few. But before you can pack your bags, here’s how the whole shebang works.

How To Use Airbnb


The first thing you need to do before you can use Airbnb is create an account for Airbnb.com. It takes a few minutes and lets your Airbnb host know who you are. It adds a little bit of community to the process and puts a face to a name, so try to add a recent photo.

Once you are squared away, you can either Discover places to rent in a city that interests you or put in specifications of a place you would like to rent short-term. The online marketplace is continually growing, making it easy to book a room or place at a last-minute. And don’t worry about showing up to a place and it is completely different than what it seemed online. The website uses a user review system to make sure everything is up to par for guests.

Some Airbnb locations are run like a bed and breakfast, where you can check in to a room at the front desk and enjoy dinner with other guests. Other times you are given a code to a door lock so you can enjoy your entire home without seeing another person. You never have to worry about exchanging cash, all payment is via the online payment methods on the site, making it super easy if you are in Europe and not able to exchange money.

How To Earn Money From Airbnb

Have some extra space in the house or live somewhere else for half of the year? Sign up to be an Airbnb host and earn income for hosting guests. It’s free to sign up and you earn a percentage of the income for each guest you host. Airbnb will work with you to figure out the best pricing for your own home. Just be sure to look up your local laws about the legality of house sharing in your area.

Got a destructive guest? Airbnb holds a $1 million dollar insurance policy for all its hosts so you can sleep easy knowing your entire house is safe.

If home sharing isn’t your cup of tea but want to earn some extra money on the side, then signing up to host “experiences” is the thing for you. Host anything from a cooking class to a walking tour in your city for visitors to enjoy and book through the Airbnb website.

Top Airbnb Picks 

Ready to book your plane ticket? Here are some of our favorite Airbnb short-term rentals.

World Famous Seashell House

Isla Mujeres, Mexico
The Seashell House
This house, located on Isla Mujeres is the perfect tropical getaway and includes in shell wifi. The closest airport is in Cancun, Mexico.

Underground Hygge

Orondo, Washington 

Tucked away into the hillside

Feeling a little undergroundish? This tucked away home is nestled in the hills of the Colombia River Gorge.

British Castle 

Cumbria, United Kingdom 

Augill Castle - unlike anywhere you have every stayed before

Feel like royalty in this bed-and-breakfast. Traditional English breakfast is included.

Watch: Take a Scenic Train Ride Across the U.S. for $213

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