If you are looking for an affordable alternative to motels, hotels, and their ilk, then you may want to consider www.airbnb.com. Through this online service, persons seeking shelter for a night or longer can find it, virtually anywhere in the world, and typically within the home of an individual or family. My wife and I [...]

If you are looking for an affordable alternative to motels, hotels, and their ilk, then you may want to consider www.airbnb.com.
Through this online service, persons seeking shelter for a night or longer can find it, virtually anywhere in the world, and typically within the home of an individual or family.
My wife and I had our first Airbnb experience, staying in the bedroom of a private home in Yukon, Oklahoma last month. Overall, it was a good experience and about $20 cheaper than we usually pay to stay in a motel room in a nearby town upon our occasional stays in Oklahoma City.
The perks: you meet an individual or family and share their space for a while. Our Yukon host, Thomas, hails from France. He met his wife in college and settled in her home state of Oklahoma seven years ago. We had a nice visit upon our arrival and even met some members of visiting family, who also invited us to join them for supper that evening. When our host, Thomas, learned of our interest in genealogy, he showed us a poster with his family tree from France.
With Airbnb, you also have the perspective of a local who lives in the area you're staying (rather than some hotel employee possibly from miles away), someone who can recommend good restaurants or other attractions nearby.
The negatives: often, you share a bathroom with your hosts. For those with allergies, you may encounter pets. Security may not be as good as in a hotel parking lot and lighting at night may be limited. Also, parking itself may be an issue in some locations.
The best part about Airbnb to me, however, is the potential for discovery along the way. Thus far, we have three Airbnb stays reserved in the Czech Republic for a trip there later this year. It will be interesting to meet our hosts and hear their stories (all of them speak English), as well as hopefully practice a little Czech.
Overall, Airbnb offers a viable, generally less expensive, alternative to lodging for those who like to travel. The website additionally sells experiences ranging from 'After Hemingway: Discover Havana's literary past & artistic present' to 'Eat International: Circle the globe in LA with a well-traveled host.'