Described as a nomad by her friends, she’s a certified wanderluster. When she’s not hard at work at her job in the media industry, she is busy thinking and planning her next getaway. As a frequent traveller, she’s a big advocate and fan of Airbnb (www.airbnb.com.sg), a community-driven hospitality website that lets travellers like Riley book unique homes being offered by locals themselves. The site has an amazing range of homes, from a single room to the whole apartment. This opens up new experiences for travellers who instead of exploring the main tourist attracts and routes, will choose the path less taken to get insights on how locals live and see things that no guidebook could ever show.
Staying in a local’s home offers Riley all the charm and appeal to create that magical travel experience. Now, she almost always uses Airbnb to look for accommodation when travelling, forgoing the usual hotels and hostels most travellers opt for. She first learnt about Airbnb in 2010, and booked her first holiday back in 2011 when she visited London with a friend. There, she fell in love with how homely and comfortable the experience was, and has never looked back since.
In an interview with Vulcan Post, she describes to us her attachment to Airbnb, why she tries to avoid staying in professional hotels, and shares some of her adventures and tips for fellow travellers and Singaporeans.
What drew you to Airbnb?
I guess it was the convenience of it all as well as the opportunities to explore how the locals live. Hotels are great, but let’s face it, most of them have no personalities and as much as I get much of the amenities and creature comfort, it doesn’t beat staying with a local. I also get to interact and learn more about the culture and surroundings of my area through my friendly host. Also, I get living room space or a backyard under the stars to chill out and hang out with my friends. At the end of the day, it’s great to go back to a ‘home’ away from home.
What have you taken away from using Airbnb instead of the traditional mode of accommodation?
Definitely the local way of life. Most places I stay, it’s just a private room, meaning the host stays in the same place (although I’ve had a few places where I booked the entire apartment), and with that, I get to interact and learn more. My hosts have been very kind and hospitable. We definitely need more of these people in the world; it would certainly make the world more interesting.
Do you have any interesting/funny Airbnb stories to share?
I stayed in this place in Stockholm which was pre-WWII and buildings during that time had no showers in the apartment. Our host had turned one of the small storerooms into a shower (you can turn 360 degrees and reach for everything with your hands outstretched). She gave us a tour of the building, which has HUGE industrial size washing machines and dryers that each unit can book via a pen and paper on the wall system. And there was even a sauna! I would go back to the same place because she provided the best homemade breakfast ever! It was some simple Swedish fare, and I can never forget the taste of her jams (couldn’t find it in the supermarket).
Are there any ground rules you uphold when staying in other people’s homes that others keen on using Airbnb should know about?
You are staying at someone’s house, and the least you could do is to treat it with respect.I would always clean up just before leaving, so I can leave the place as close to what it was when I arrive.
Would you encourage other Singaporeans to try Airbnb?
Yes! It’s great! You get to mingle and it’s a part of travel that I feel is so underrated. It’s not just about exploring a new country; it’s about immersing and soaking up the environment like a local.
Do you have any tips for other travellers?
Try Airbnb, it’s awesome, there’s plenty of choices for all budgets and chat with your hosts if they’re around, most of them have a wealth of information on local activities, foods, and experiences that no guide or internet can possibly provide. You also get to make friends that you would otherwise never get to meet – these stories and friendships will always stay as lasting memories long after the holiday is over!
To enjoy the amazing experience that Riley has had,just follow some quick steps:
- Signup at airbnb.com.sg, verify your account, and start browsing the amazing listings in preparation for that year-end holiday.
- Shortlist a few homes (we know it’s difficult, too many beautiful ones to choose from!), and either book your accommodation through the instant book function, or communicate with your host, who will approve your listing within 24 hours.
- Before you travel, talk your host! Find out about what there is to do in your neighbourhood and get authentic recommendations on how you should spend your time there. Also, there are neighbourhood guides written by locals for certain cities on Airbnb – be sure to check these out to take the path less travelled.
- Finally, enjoy your amazing experience, and don’t forget to leave a review to tell the world how much you enjoyed your stay!