In addition to private homes, Airbnb lists camping sites with more flexibility and convenience than traditional platforms — here's what it's like and what I'd do differently next time

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Airbnb Camping Lead

  • In September, I celebrated the end of summer with a camping
    trip in the Pacific Northwest that
    I booked through Airbnb
    .
  • I considered camping to be relatively low-risk during the
    pandemic because it’s outdoors and spaced away from others.
  • Many feel the same and when I planned my trip, all federal and
    state campsites were booked up as this form of travel surges in
    popularity.
  • As a result, I turned to
    Airbnb
    , which also lists private campsites in addition to
    vacation rentals.
  • Backcountry campsites on Airbnb are more expensive than
    traditional ones but are easy to find, book, and plan — here’s
    what it was like to go camping through Airbnb.

Having just moved to the Pacific Northwest this summer, I knew I
wanted to plan one last foray into the outdoors before the autumn
rains took hold of the skies.

A friend recommended the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest in
Washington’s Central Cascades, also known by its more whimsical
name, the Enchantments. With sheer granite mountain peaks and
turquoise-blue alpine lakes, it seemed like the perfect place to
spend a few nights under the stars.

But I was hardly alone in my interest. Options to book a
campsite on state booking sites like Recreation.gov were long
gone. 

Thankfully, as an experienced
Airbnb
user, I recalled seeing campsites pop up in previous
search results and turned my attention to the vacation rental
platform. Indeed, once I sorted by campsite, under the “unique
stay” category, I found around a dozen listings in my desired
location. I booked two nights at
a campsite near Leavenworth for $105 per night
, near the
trailhead where my friends and I planned to hike.

But like most best-laid plans during COVID-19, I had to
reschedule my trip multiple times as a result of
wildfire smoke
. For this reason alone, I was especially glad to
have booked through Airbnb. 

Unlike other campsite booking platforms, Airbnb was highly
flexible and made it easy to reschedule and message the host. Not
only was our host understanding, but she provided us with updates
on smoke conditions, too. 

Had I booked a federal campsite, I would have simply lost my
reservation. According to Recreation.gov’s refund
policy
, users may apply for a refund if the campsite was closed
during wildfires, but it’s unclear whether smoke conditions would
qualify for a full or partial refund.

While I paid more to book through Airbnb, it was worth the added
convenience and flexibility. Though, there were also some
unforeseen aspects to planning it this way that I wish I knew about
before. Here’s what my experience was like, and what you should
know if you’re considering camping through Airbnb.

Keep reading to see what it was like to
camp through Airbnb
during COVID-19.

I booked White Aspen
Camping
, a privately-owned campsite that
lists seven campsites on Airbnb
.

Each campsite has a capacity of between two and eight guests, so
even when totally full, there would never be more than about 30
people on the property. 

It’s located on top of a mountain ridge with a spectacular view
of the valleys below, and the area seemed pretty spacious.
For $105 per night
, we would also have access to running water
and amenities like fire pits, picnic tables, garbage cans, and,
most impressively, a flushing toilet. These would all have been
absent from the federal and state sites I was considering.


The property
also offers a glamping tent with luxury amenities
like a propane grill, outdoor shower, and more, but my friends and
I were fine to rough it.

We would be staying at one of the rustic campsites. We’d need to
pitch our own tent and cook our own food but wouldn’t have to worry
about taking out our trash and could use a shared restroom
comfortably. 

What ultimately sold me on
this Airbnb
, however, were the views overlooking the mountains,
particularly one extremely vibrant sunset photograph. Although it
didn’t have many reviews, each one mentioned the spectacular view
as the main selling point.

Some did warn that the site could be windy, being on the top of
a ridge, but at the time that seemed like a worthy trade-off.

The listing advertised 673 private acres, which offered
“thousands of miles” of trails, which I thought would be a nice
option for additional hiking. The location was also perfectly
poised to watch both the sunrise and sunset, which felt like
getting a two-for-one deal.

Before booking, I was sure to consult carefully for proper
COVID-19 policies.

The listing stated that the hosts had committed to Airbnb’s
enhanced
cleaning protocol
, but since this is a campsite, the only
things that needed to be sanitized were the bathrooms and picnic
tables.


The campsite
does host other people camping, but on the weekend
I visited, it was mostly empty.

As part of Airbnb’s COVID-safe guidelines, the host committed to
sanitize all surfaces, use approved products, wear a mask and
gloves, and follow local guidance. Our check-in, however, was not
contactless as the host had to guide us to our site. But she did
stay six feet away at all times and we were always outdoors with a
persistent wind.

When we arrived, the bathroom appeared sparkling clean and felt
safe to use. The irrigation system was impressive and the flushing
toilet was probably the cleanest I’ve ever seen in a forest.

Had there been other guests, I do wonder how it would have been
possible to sanitize the bathroom and high-touch surfaces between
every use.

Of course, because this was a camping site, the use of the
bathroom would have also been optional, and most guests use their
own supplies.

Since this campsite was located on private property, our host
included driving instructions from the nearby town of Leavenworth
to help navigate backcountry roads that seemingly led to the middle
of nowhere.

The directions were clear and a sign advertising the campsite
led us up the right road. But we didn’t have any cell service and
it was raining heavily, which made the roads feel precarious.

In fact, a large puddle in the middle of the road seemed
impassable. Thankfully, we were able to communicate our concern to
the host, who offered to drive down to meet us and guide us
through. 

She led us to
the campsite
where she explained how everything worked. As soon
as we arrived, we were also happy to find that all our phones
(T-Mobile) were able to pick up a 4G signal.


The campsite
was pristine and well-manicured with trails that
wove between neighboring campsites, the bathroom, and the picnic
area. The area for our tent was also very clean and we did not have
to spend any time picking out rocks to make it flat.

There were multiple picnic areas and fire pits available where
the views were the best, and many campsites were set behind trees
to provide some shelter from strong gusts of wind.

Our host, who lived on the property, also offered to sell us
firewood. It was easy to communicate with her and nice to know that
someone was nearby in case of emergency.

The location was
superb with a spectacular view overlooking the valley and the sun
setting over the mountains across the way. Although it was cloudy
when we arrived, the fog lifted in a dramatic display of clouds
that seemed to be flying right towards us.

During our stay, there were only two other groups. It was quite
peaceful and secluded, but the whooshing wind did drown out most of
the other natural sounds. Walking around the site, we didn’t once
run into any other guests and even though we could see other tents,
it felt like we had the place to ourselves.

We made good use of amenities like a water spigot, which came in
handy for washing dishes, and the bathroom, which also provided
shelter from the wind when we needed to get changed.

The picnic tables were wet, so we used our own camping chairs.
Even though this location billed itself as a
luxury campsite
, we still needed to cook our own food and wash
and dry our dishes. But provided trash cans meant we didn’t have to
worry about taking the trash out with us.

Because our trip was rescheduled from its original dates, the
site was a lot colder than expected. The wind conditions were
extreme and it was very difficult to keep a fire lit. As a result,
after one very cold night, we opted not to stay for a second and
drove home early.

This, however, was a risk we expected and not our host’s
fault.

Despite our early check-out, I still believe that choosing an

Airbnb campsite
instead of a traditional one opened up a new
world of camping possibilities. A mountain ridge like the one at

White Aspen
was a rare place to camp, even more so thanks to
provided running water and amenities.

And because it was privately-owned with a host, it added a new
element of hospitality to the experience. 

At the same time, there were several details I didn’t consider,
such as road conditions, extreme weather, and how those may impact
a location. Next time I camp through Airbnb, these are all things I
will ask my host about. 

While Airbnb offers an easy booking process and many unique and
rugged locations that experienced campers may enjoy, novice campers
should be prepared to do plenty of research and ask a lot of
questions before making plans to pack up the car and hit
backcountry roads.

Who stays here: This was kind of like glamping
for people who are against glamping. Although White Aspen does
offer a
glamping tent
on the property, their rustic campsites offered a
standard camping experience with just a little bit of added
comfort, i.e. running water and a bonafide flushing toilet.

We like: In a place this remote, I might have
felt anxious about spending the night so far away from
civilization. However, the knowledge that the host was living
on-site, and only a message away felt reassuring.

We love: I won’t soon forget standing at 5,000
feet elevation and watching the clouds roll beneath my feet in an
exclusive location that we pretty much had all to ourselves. It
felt like a true rarity and a one-of-a-kind experience.

We think you should know: For
a campsite
that costs about the same as a basic hotel room, we
certainly didn’t pay for a good night’s sleep. But we also weren’t
expecting one. and were paying for the location. However, once you
factor in the spectacular location, amenities, and on-site host,
the price felt justified.

We’d do this differently next time: I would
have asked for more information about the road conditions. I also
would have felt extremely anxious in a basic rental car. 

By nature, camping trips are risky business. Our trip had a lot
of obstacles and mishaps from smoked-out weekends, big puddles, and
high winds. It wasn’t exactly the whimsical escape into nature I
envisioned.

However, my choice to
camp through Airbnb
offered added flexibility, inventory,
convenience, and amenities over booking through a traditional
camping platform. 

If you’re considering a camping getaway, Airbnb is well worth a
look to see if it fits within your needs and budget, especially if
other
major options are all booked up
. And although there are likely
similar backcountry campsites, they will require more camping
know-how and you won’t always be able to bring your car. Not to
mention, an on-site host, toilet, and running water cannot be
guaranteed.

Although the timing wasn’t great for my particular trip, I’d
happily give
the site
another shot in the summer when conditions would be
better suited to enjoy such an incredible location. 

Book
this White Aspen Airbnb starting at $83 per night

Source: FS – All-Travel destinations-News
In addition to private homes, Airbnb lists camping sites
with more flexibility and convenience than traditional platforms —
here's what it's like and what I'd do differently next time