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When we decided to travel to Brazil for the World Cup, we knew it was going to be an expensive trip! Not only is Brazil an expensive country for travelers on a budget, but the added influx of tourists for the World Cup meant the prices were double, sometimes even triple the usual rates.

I pride myself in being savvy traveler. When it comes to saving money on flights or accommodation, I have my strategies. After years of traveling, I’ve learned to turn to Agoda or Booking.com for best selection and prices on hotels worldwide. But when it came to finding accommodation for our trip to Brazil, even my trusted sites couldn’t deliver. Prices were through the roof, with the cheapest hotel rooms starting at $300 per night. And even hostels, which I still prefer to hotels for their social atmosphere, were going to cost us $100 per bed in a 10-14 person dorm! I knew it was time to get creative.

Copacabana Palace in Rio de Jainero, Brazil

Copacabana Palace in Rio. Rooms at this luxurious hotel right on Capacabana Beach were starting from $1000 per night!

I have heard of Airbnb before, but have never had a chance to experience it first hand. If you are new to the Airbnb, here is what it’s all about. Airbnb is a website where people can list their lodging and rent it out to others. The website started in 2008 in San Francisco, and today millions of hosts and travelers around the world can list their space and book unique accommodations anywhere in the world. Airbnb now has listings in 190 countries and more than 34,000 cities, and Brazil was no exception.

So, it was time to give Airbnb a try. After signing up and creating a profile, I was able to browse through hundreds of listings online, check their availabilities, their rates, and contact the hosts for more information. I quickly found out that similar to hotels and hostels, Airbnb hosts were also inflating their prices for the World Cup and many were being really selective about who they would allow to stay in their apartments.

It took us a few weeks to contact the hosts, find out their World Cup rates, and choose the places that fit our budget and our dates. But once all was set and done, we were more than pleased with the outcome. We rented a fantastic apartment in Rio, 5 minutes away from Leblon beach for $66/person/night, a massive 3 bedroom apartment in Brasilia for $54/person/night and a modest 2 bedroom apartment in Sao Paulo for $60/person/night, saving us just under $100/person/night, or about $2,500 between Max and I for the 2 weeks we were in Brazil!!!

But it wasn’t just the savings that made me what to share this alternative accommodation option with others, but the Airbnb experience itself. I really didn’t know what to expect. I was worried about the cleanliness and the legitimacy of each place. Would the owner really be there to hand over his keys to us as agreed? Or would they run away with our money, leaving us stranded on the streets of Brazil?

My fears never materialized. Airbnb is run on trust and reputation. Guest and hosts are asked to verify their identities prior to making a booking, so you always know who you are dealing with on the other end. Plus, both sides are asked to provide feedback at the end of each booking. The more positive feedback you have, the more likely you are to be selected next time you apply for accommodation and if you are a host, positive feedback can set you apart from other hosts. Positive feedback is gold!

Despite the fact that we were new to Airbnb and didn’t have any feedback on our profiles, we managed to find some great places in Brazil! Exchanging messages with the hosts was easy despite the language barrier. We would type our message in English and the Airbnb translation service would translate it into Portuguese, ensuring that our search wasn’t limited to just those that spoke English!

The apartments that we stayed at varied in size and in quality, and despite my worries, they were all clean and perfectly suited for our stay. One, was a spare unit that the owner was using as a rental property, it came with towels, toiletries and even breakfast food in the fridge! In my opinion, it was better than many hotels! Another, was a family home, outfitted with everything from kids toys in the bedroom, to takeout menus in the kitchen. No accommodation felt more local and more authentic than that! And the third, was a home of a single guy, who clearly chose to leave his home for a few days to make some money from World Cup tourists. It was small, it wasn’t luxurious and it painted a perfect picture of a day in a life of a middle class Brazilian. Our stays in Airbnb accommodation helped us to not only save money on our trip, but also gain a better understanding into the real lives of locals away from the tourist crowds and hotels.

Entrance into our apartment building in Leblon, Rio de Janeiro.

Entrance into our apartment building in Leblon, Rio de Janeiro. Such a lovely area!

Clean and fully stocked bathroom in our Rio de Janeiro apartment

Clean and fully stocked bathroom in our Rio de Janeiro apartment

Kitchen inside our Rio de Janeiro apartment

Kitchen inside our Rio de Janeiro apartment

One of the rooms inside our Rio de Janeiro apartment

One of the rooms inside our Rio de Janeiro apartment

Living room in 3 bedroom apartment in Brazilia

Living room in 3 bedroom apartment in Brazilia. It looks like this Brazilian family was fairly well off

Kids room in the 3 Bedroom Apartment in Brasilia

Kids room in the 3 Bedroom Apartment in Brasilia

Since our trip to Brazil, Airbnb has become my top choice for accommodation, both abroad and here, in Australia. We’ve have just come back from another great Airbnb experience in Noosa, and have already booked Airbnb for our Christmas trip to Costa Rica and an upcoming weekend away in Yarra Valley Wine Region.

I’m a budget traveler, but Airbnb caters to all budgets and preferences. Browse through some of these REALLY UNIQUE Airbnb properties all over the world. How cool!

If you haven’t given Airbnb a try yet, now is your chance. Sign up for Airbnb and you’ll get a little welcome gift from me – $28 USD or $29AUD to go towards your first booking, no matter when you choose to book! CLICK HERE TO CREATE AN AIRBNB ACCOUNT

*This post was in no way or form endorsed or encouraged by Airbnb. I simply wanted to share my experience to help others learn another great option for accommodation bookings! **By signing up for Airbnb using the links at the bottom of this post, you will receive $29 Airbnb credit that you can put towards your future bookings. I, in turn, will earn a referral bonus of $29 when you book your first stay and $86 if you decide to become a host with Airbnb.

Have you ever stayed in Airbnb accommodation? What was your experience like?
Share your stories in the comments section below.