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Niche Alternatives for Airbnb

by SharonKurheg

The growth of Airbnb over less than a decade has been staggering. From its humble beginning as a couple in San Francisco who rented out their loft to make some extra money to a modern-day business with an operating income for $450 billion in 2017 (last known numbers), it’s been, for many homeowners and guests, something of a godsend.

But for others, not so much.

There are several groups of people who, for reasons, the traditional Airbnb setup just wouldn’t work as well as one would hope. But fortunately, there are plenty of smaller companies who cater to those in these niche markets.

House & Pet Sitting

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We’ve spoken about TrustedHousesitters in the past – we used them while we were in Australia and Japan for 3 weeks, to watch our house and dog. It’s a simple service wherein you pay a small fee to become a member and then you can go through the process to choose a house and/or pet sitter, or you can be the one to watch houses and pets while people are out of town. Here’s a report of our experience with them, and here is TrustedHousesitters’ website.

Age 50+


The Freebird Club follows the principles of Airbnb, except all travelers and homeowners are age 50+. Oh, and there’s another part to it – their goal is social traveling for mature adults, so one other requirement is that when the homeowners and housesitters meet, they have to hang out, so they can mingle and have fun together. As per their FAQ:

Freebird Club operates as a peer-to-peer social travel club…It is important that you are there to welcome them, and have some sort of communication, offering tips, advice, or getting to know them a little.

Freebird Club has hosts in 35 countries so far but is growing daily. Check out their website for more info.

Travelers of Color

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Following the issues that have occurred when people of color have tried to book via Airbnb, Noirbnb makes traveling easier and safer for those with darker skin around the world. From their website:

The African American tourism industry is valued at over $50 billion. Additionally, people of the African diaspora infuse billions into the global tourism economy every year. Historically, travelers of color have been an underserved and underestimated market by the larger tourism industry. Even in the modern sharing economy, which disrupted the travel industry, the impressive and growing Black travel market has remained largely ignored. Noirbnb was created to change that.

LGBTQ+ Travelers


The world is becoming more and more open minded every day, but two men or two women traveling as a couple can still be awkward to some Airbnb homeowners. Established in 1991, LGHEI (Lesbian & Gay Hospitality Exchange International), which is pronounced Elle-Gay, helps same-sex couples find hosts who are gay themselves or who are gay-friendly, so no one has to go through any sort of uncomfortable conversations. Click here for LGHEI’s website.

Travelers Who Keep Kosher


Observant Jews have a host of requirements when they travel, most of which are beyond a simple Airbnb ad. Between those needs and a religious-based scuffle with Airbnb itself, koshnb.com was born. Without having to worry about Kosher food, Shabbos, a mikvah, Shul, etc., because the host’s house has everything a religious Jewish family would need, including location, observant Jews can vacation with much less concern.

koshnb.com connects its clients with home and apartment rentals all over the world. Their website is https://koshnb.com/.

Muslim Travelers

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Like Jewish travelers, Muslims may have specific concerns when renting from non-Muslims who might not understand or appreciate the needs that their religion dictates. Muzbnb can help by assisting traveling Muslims in finding welcoming & affordable homes, villas, resorts and condos to rent that are, among other things, within walking distance to a mosque.

Writers or Journalists In The Field

Made for and by journalists, if you’re traveling to cover a newsworthy event, there are other journalists who may be able to open their home and host you, thanks to an organization called Hostwriter. Hostwriter also has opportunities for journalistic advice and collaboration.

Bicycle Tourists


If you’re bicycling across the U.S., Europe or anywhere else, you may not want anything fancy at night – just a place with a warm shower and a warm bed while you’re on the road. Warm Showers (http://warmshowers.org) has those touring cyclists in mind.

Car Sharing


Turo like a cross between Airbnb and Uber/Lyft, wherein instead of renting out your house or apartment, private car owners are able rent out their vehicles via an online and mobile interface. Established in 2010, by 2017, according to Turo, four million users had registered to use their service and 170,000 privately owned cars were available for rental. Check out Turo’s website for more info and to see why car rental companies are not overjoyed with this new way of tourists having access to cars.

*** Huge thank-yous to Jessica G., Darlene K. and Jewish Girls Travel Forum for their assistance in writing this post!

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary

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