Thursday, April 14, 2016

Car2Go and Airbnb

I'm a pretty traditional traveler when it comes to my work trips...  book a flight, hotel, and rental car.  Done!  But when I travel for fun, I'd rather save money or do something unique and different.  When planning our trip to Austin, Texas, I decided we would give Airbnb a try (click for a $20 referral if you haven't already signed up) versus a traditional hotel or something I'd used in the past like VRBO.

I found a 2-person property I liked in East Austin.  It had a separate/private entrance, ensuite bath, and lots of little conveniences like fridge, microwave, coffee maker, etc.  So we booked with our host, who sent us our passcode for the door 24 hours before our arrival.  It was truly seamless!

We absolutely loved our little space.  I joked that we could live there in that suite; the bed was comfy, the whole place was clean, and our hostess was super sweet.  I liked that even though we had phone numbers exchanged just in case, the hostess and I could message via the Airbnb app/site in an non-invasive way.  We had total privacy and really liked our little home away from home.

I think my favorite part about Airbnb is that is puts you in places where people want to live, i.e. walkable neighborhoods.  While I like my hotel stays, this gave us a chance to be in the heart of a cool place, vs. somewhat removed in a chain hotel, which tend to be in areas where there aren't always as many unique, local spots.  I know we're like the last people ever to try Airbnb, but I'm officially converted!

Now, one thing we did try that you may not have experienced yet?  Car2Go.  I didn't want to pay to rent a car the whole four days we were in Austin, because so much was walkable or a cheap Uber ride.  So my friend suggested we use Car2Go (note: we used her card as an added driver vs. signing up, which costs like $30, since we don't live in a city that has it).

Yup, we totally rocked a two-seater Smartcar while driving around Austin.  We reserved one on my phone at the airport, then took it out to Jester King and Salt Lick.  Then, once we got back to our Airbnb, we just parked it and ended the rental.  You could park it just about anywhere within the Austin city "home area", and just leave it!  And sure enough, someone else would take the car for their next little journey.

It was so cool to see how the car would unlock when you started the rental from your phone, or the little card-scanning box on the dash.  It was so automated and neat!  There were screen instructions in the car for how to start your journey, make a stopover (i.e. keep the car key with you vs. parking and ending the transaction), and more.

Now, it was definitely an adjustment driving a Smartcar.  The thing doesn't like to go to fast, the brakes are touchy, and it's kind of like driving a glorified golfcar.  So tiny!  Not what you want to take on a long haul outside the city to be honest.  But parking it was a breeze.  We thought we'd only use it on the first day when we wanted to go outside the city, but we also used it for some short little jaunts around the city when we got tired from walking.  I think it's slightly cheaper than Uber overall for those short trips (and has no wait once you locate a car), and since our Airbnb was in a free parking area, it was super convenient.

It was kind of neat to try out TWO trends that are disrupting the traditional travel industry in one trip!

Have you tried Airbnb or Car2Go?  Or something similar?

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