Hotels Are So Passe, Alternative Lodging’s The Thing

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Seven months ago, we had arrived in Buenos Aires, on schedule, from Toronto’s Pearson International Airport. There were three-and-a-half of us — the half person was Benito, my friends’ cat — exhausted from the plane ride, but eager to meet Katrine, the lady who was supposed to pick us up and bring us to a pre-arranged downtown apartment.

We sat, we waited, we called (over and over), we desperately wanted showers and a siesta, and a spot where Benito could spread his legs. Katrine never came.

Tired and frustrated, we made the consensus to just take a cab to a hotel. We ordered a cab, packed it to the brim with our luggage and selves and asked the driver if he could take us to a hotel. He drove us to a small, “rustic” hotel just off the beaten path in Congreso, where we checked-in as three guests, smuggling the small furry half-person in.

I remember being relieved at the possibility of resting, even if it was only for a few moments before scouring the city for a meal. However, that feeling quickly dissipated after the first night, three-and-a-half of us crammed into one hotel room. We needed something more spacious. We needed an apartment for our indefinite stay in Buenos Aires.

So it was, when reading The Washington Post’s article on alternative lodging, that I felt an urge to share my own experiences. Although the first few days in Argentina were eventful and adventurous, it was a lesson learned: plans can always change, so create options.

Now, with more people traveling on a dime, options for cheap accommodations are increasing. Instead of having to blow a budget on hotels, travelers are turning to couches and home exchanges, not only to save some money, but to interact with other like-minded people. The Post quotes Lauren Braden, founder of Casa Casa, who said that the main purpose of the website was to “create friendships” and “personal connections.”

Casa Casa functions as an informal and inexpensive B&B provided by a host. The hope is for the hotel-like experience to be eliminated from one’s itinerary.

The article also mentions Digsville and Home Exchange, sites dedicated to house swaps and vacation stays.

No matter what the experience, it will be memorable. If the three-and-a-half of us were not abandoned at the airport, forced into a crumbling hotel for three nights, we would not have perused Craigslist to find The Loft, a vacation apartment located in San Telmo. We would not have met our wonderful hosts, and now good friends, Angela, Naty, Gonzalo and Jon, who are incredible people with so much knowledge of the city.

In the end, wherever and however you stay tends to either a) work out, b) be an adventure, or c) both.

By Brit Weaver


About the Author

Toronto born and based, Brit is an avid leisure cyclist, coffee drinker and under-a-tree park-ist. She often finds herself meandering foreign cities looking for street eats to nibble, trees to climb, a patch of grass to sit on, or a small bookstore to sift through. You can find her musing life on her personal blog,

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