A long-time Airbnb traveler shares her top tips for living on the go
- Airbnb is seeing users booking longer stays, with 20% of nights booked for a month or more.
- A long-term traveler told Insider that she had been living on Airbnb for six months.
- Although she funds the trip with an inheritance, her monthly costs are comparable to her old rent.
The decision came – as life-changing people tend to do – in the middle of the night.
It was January of last year and Denise Netzley said she had been thinking for several weeks about leaving her Los Angeles apartment and living on Airbnb for the foreseeable future.
“I woke up,” she told Insider, “and I was like, ‘Yeah, I’m doing this, I’m doing this 100%’.”
The next morning, she started getting rid of what she could, moving the rest to storage, and making reservations on Airbnb.
At 59, Netzley had savings from a career producing advertisements for Hollywood films, followed by a personal assistant business that was winding down. She also received an inheritance following the death of her father three years ago, which she says made the whole plan possible.
By becoming a full-time Airbnb guest, Netzley was joining a growing group of power users who are booking longer and longer reservations on the platform.
Company data shows that about a fifth of nights booked were for stays longer than a month, CEO Brian Chesky said in a recent Twitter thread in which he announced he was “now living on Airbnb.” .
The first reservation Netzley made was where she currently lives — at her father’s birthplace in Kansas City, Missouri. From there, she worked backwards, filling months of stays in Mexico and South Africa.
While making the reservations, Netzley accidentally discovered that some hosts offer discounts ranging from 15% to 50% when a reservation exceeds a certain duration.
In May of last year, Netzley handed over the keys to her apartment in Los Angeles and left for a six-week stay in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico.
“The first few days there, I was completely overwhelmed, a fish out of water,” she said. “But after the first week, I understood the terrain and felt comfortable enough to rent a car and start doing these day trips to different places, like Tulum.”
Netzley’s advice to even fish out of water is simple: “Sit at the bar of any restaurant when you go there, people will be more conversational. The bartender will help build rapport . I always sit at the bar almost everywhere I go.”
She spent August in a Kansas City neighborhood she had planned to live in after her trip before flying to Cape Town where a condo in a ten-unit building became her two-month base camp for shorter getaways in Africa.
“I discovered that I liked having a home base,” she said. “I love the idea of not having to pack everything. I could just grab a small bag and leave my stuff.”
Netzley added that she was able to get by with about half the amount of stuff in Africa that she brought with her to Mexico.
And while she wasn’t watching her budget closely, the purchasing power of the US dollar abroad meant that she was effectively living at a monthly cost similar to or lower than what she would have paid in rent and expenses if she just stayed in LA.
On her way back to the United States in December, she passed through Uganda and went on a gorilla trek which she said was the “absolute pinnacle” of the six-month trip.
Now back in Kansas City at the same Airbnb host she stayed with in August, Netzley says she’s “at a crossroads” trying to figure out how she can continue to support her future travels, including launching a new business idea.
Before getting started, she had decided not to get attached to the money from her father’s inheritance, and now she is determined not to let this new venture take up too much of her life.
“I’ve found on this trip — and this year — that there’s so much joy out there,” Netzley said. “I would never give this up for money, ever.”