Amizade is Portuguese for friendship.
Through the adventures we are having in our own home, my husband Justin and I have more reasons than ever to know and understand friendship in multiple languages. Why?
Because we are Airbnb hosts.
If you are unfamiliar with the company revolutionizing the travel industry, it’s time for an introduction:
Founded in August of 2008 and based in San Francisco, California, Airbnb is a trusted community marketplace for people to list, discover, and book unique accommodations around the world — online or from a mobile phone.
Whether an apartment for a night, a castle for a week, or a villa for a month, Airbnb connects people to unique travel experiences, at any price point, in more than 34,000 cities and 190 countries.
Although certainly no Scottish castle or Italian villa, Justin and I do share our guest bedroom in our little house with people from all over the world through this sleek online platform. Some may think that’s a crazy idea, but let me tell you: becoming Airbnb hosts has proved to be an excellent and enriching decision for us during this season of our lives.
After several years of traveling with Airbnb, we joined the Airbnb host community in January 2014. Since that time, we have welcomed over 100 “strangers” into our home. Sometimes, guests are just passing through town for a night or two and in need of a comfy bed and hot shower. We are happy to provide them a place of rest and comfort, even if their brief stay doesn’t allow for much time together. Justin and I believe we are called to share our home with others, and so we do.
While sharing space is one aspect of this role, there can be much more to a hosting experience. For us, the true joy of being Airbnb hosts comes from the surprisingly deep heart-connections we have with some of our guests. Guests such as Beta and Duda.
Beta and Duda are a lively young couple from Rio Grande do Sul, the southernmost province of Brazil that borders both Uruguay and Argentina. They stayed with us for twelve nights, the longest booking we’ve ever had to date. Over the course of their stay, they became more than just Airbnb guests: they became our friends.
Although they had a busy agenda, Beta and Duda still made time to talk with us at the end of a long day at the theme parks or an exhaustive shopping spree. Often, we sat at the kitchen table together, where we ate meals, shared stories, discussed the differences between our cultures and countries, and simply got to know one another. We shared the common spaces in the house with effortless ease, each couple relaxed in the presence of the other. We acted like we had known each other for years.
This particular amizade grew strong quickly, taking each one of us by surprise. In her Facebook caption of a photo taken from the night we all went out dancing, Beta commented on the mutual impact of a positive Airbnb experience:
Eu esperava conhecer o Mickey… eu esperava conhecer lugares lindos. O que eu não esperava era conhecer pessoas que me fizessem sentir em casa em um outro lugar desse mundo. O meu maior ganho dessa viagem, definitivamente, foi a amizade de vocês. Obrigada por tudo Hailey e Justin. Espero ver vocês logo e aqui pelo Brasil na próxima vez!
I expected to meet Mickey… I expected to see beautiful places. What I did not expect was to meet people who make me feel at home in another place in this world. My biggest gain, definitely was your friendship. Thank you for everything Hailey and Justin. Hope to see you soon and here in Brazil next time!
Before they arrived, I suspected that Beta and Duda would be very likable guests. Indeed, they were more than likable, and I was surprised by how incredibly sad I was to see them go. Just hours after they departed, I discovered a little hole in my heart, an understanding that our friendship – nossa amizade – is real and that I will miss them very much.
Despite the heartache over parting with guests such as Beta and Duda, I am utterly grateful for these Airbnb friendships that are shaping the relational landscape of my life. In fact, the stories of the people I meet and the places I travel with Airbnb are showing up here on Global Heartbeat: Jean Michel and Martha have stayed with us twice already and are due for another visit soon. My trip to Andorra was made extremely special by my abundantly gracious hosts, Antonio and Montese. A business trip to Munich was made sweeter by reuniting with Julia and Kevin, former Airbnb guests of ours who live in the Bavarian capital.
Truly, Airbnb offers incredible opportunities in a world where hate, fear, and anger have corrupted our ability to trust and appreciate our fellow human. In my humble opinion, Airbnb’s greatest achievement is fostering community around the world. We are a part of that community, and our lives have become infinitely richer as a result.
What are your thoughts and experiences with Airbnb? Have you made any great connections with guests or hosts? If you haven’t done so, would you consider using Airbnb? If you are an Airbnb user, how has traveling this way impacted your life? If you’re an Airbnb host, have you been taken by surprise by the friendships that can develop?