Airbnb may be the biggest, most popular, and best-known independent accommodation service, but it’s not the only one. With the growing popularity of the brand, the number of digital nomads, and the shift in preferences for both short and long-term stays, there are now countless services offering a similar product to Airbnb.
As much as we would like to praise Airbnb for being the best service that we’ve ever had the pleasure of using, it’s just not the reality. Sure, there are some really great apartments, hotel rooms, and homes listed on the app—but there are just as many, if not more, misleading listings and poor-quality homes offered online.
Book enough properties on Airbnb and sooner or later you’re likely to land in one that you’d wished you’d avoided. From direct competitors to luxury substitutions—we’ve searched the web and used our own experience to find the very best Airbnb alternatives for digital nomads.
Agoda is a fantastic platform for digital nomads looking to travel and explore Southeast Asia. Using the “Long Term” stays filter, users can book an entire home or apartment via Agoda to find more spacious, more local accommodation options.
One of the most interesting features of Agoda is the bundle option, which allows guests to book multiple legs of their journey at once. The discounts are often small (less than 5%), but these can add up quickly, creating enticing offers for multiple properties. Agoda is often regarded as the most cost-effective booking service in Asia.
Digital nomads that crave the original recipe Airbnb won’t find a much better alternative than Homestay. The concept is simple—connecting host families with students and independent travelers looking for accommodation. Instead of the dedicated IKEA-furnished apartments and endless listings of hotel rooms that Airbnb has become, Homestay offers a stay in a local home in every listing.
There are both long and short-term accommodation options available and, importantly for budget-conscious nomads, prices are typically lower than you may expect from Airbnb. Plus, all Homestay properties offer breakfast. Homestay is more under-the-radar than Airbnb and fewer hosts are willing to open their homes to guests. If you do manage to find one, it’s a surefire way to really get to know the local way of life.
Vrbo, originally known as Vacation Rentals by Owner (VRBO), allows users to browse apartments, cottages, villas, and cabins across the world. Comparing prices of a Vrbo holiday home and Airbnb rentals and the two are somewhat very similar. There are a handful of small differences—it is easier to find budget accommodation on Airbnb, for example. But when comparing similar quality properties, the two are often equal.
On the other hand, Vrbo makes no secret of offering holiday homes—the idea of a vacation rental that is booked for a short stay by a couple or a family, etc. This may be fine for couples or families traveling together, but long-term stays may prove difficult.
For individual digital nomads, Vrbo is unlikely to be the best-suited accommodation service and although there are some fantastic properties listed, these are exclusively full properties. With a lack of single rooms, hotels, or studio apartments available—the service may fall short of the mark for the needs of digital nomads.
One of the major gripes that Airbnb users have with the listings themselves lies in the lack of quality available in the app. An apartment may look clean, stylish, and comfortable in a listing—but the reality can be somewhat different on arrival. That’s why some remote workers don’t mind paying more for the peace of mind that luxury home bookings have been hand-picked and have top-quality support packages.
From Greek island getaways to charming homes in Edinburgh’s old town, the selection available on Plum Guide is unmatched. Every property featured online at Plum Guide has been meticulously vetted by their expert team. Properties are available worldwide, but you have more choices in Europe. There’s a huge number of properties in the United Kingdom, countless up for grabs in Spain (particularly Barcelona), and even a handful out over in Thailand for a tropical luxury break.
Sonder offers luxury rooms, suites, and apartments spanning more than 30 cities over eight countries and three continents, and its mobile app is one of its biggest advantages over Airbnb. Check-in is easy on the app and works alongside 24/7 customer support—with no issue or concern too small to be taken care of. The majority of Sonder’s properties are based in North America, followed by a good bulk of listings available in Europe and a handful of properties in the Middle East, particularly in Dubai.
Blueground is one of the most exciting Airbnb alternatives for digital nomads, designed with beautiful, move-in-ready homes worldwide, perfect for a location-independent lifestyle on the road. The platform only features hand-picked properties to offer the best apartments, neighborhoods, and experiences around the world. All properties are designed by professional interior designers and furnished with exclusive pieces designed, sourced, and produced by the Blueground team. Modern leases allow guests to move in and move out stress-free, creating a streamlined process ideal for online entrepreneurs. There’s the option to live on a month-to-month basis or to book longer stays for a discounted overall price.
House and Pet Sitting
Both house and pet-sitting are fantastic, creative Airbnb alternatives that can work perfectly for digital nomads with a relaxed schedule. There are countless different platforms, Facebook groups, and communities out there all looking for house and pet sitters around the world. With more than 144,000 members, Trusted House Sitters is one of the most popular services occupying this category. It’s free for house sitters to create an account and browse the homes available.
It may sound like the plot of your favorite holiday Hollywood movie, but it can very well be a reality for home-owning nomads. There are countless different home exchange services and programs out there ranging from the budget-friendly homeexchange.com to the luxury-focused thirdhome.com. With the chance to live and work from thousands of properties around the world, it’s a tempting deal. Bear in mind that although you get the fun of living in somebody else’s home, you will also be hosting somebody in yours.
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Although Airbnb reigns as the undisputed king of the holiday home, apartment, and homestay platform, there are plenty of alternatives out there that digital nomads can use. The holiday-home specialists at Vrbo, the luxury apartments available from Blueground, and the creative alternatives of house and pet sitting—the solutions are endless.
Not sure which Airbnb alternative is best for you? Don’t just decide on one. Choose three or four of your favorite-sounding accommodation options and trial each one—you may just surprise yourself.
We always encourage remote workers and digital nomads to look for the magic outside of their comfort zone, at least every once in a while. If it’s the luxury apartments that you spend most of your time in, give a capsule hotel or a hostel a try on one of your upcoming trips.