Nature As An Airbnb: A Review

For a quick getaway last weekend, my friends and I planned a three-night stay in nature. Nature is not listed as an Airbnb rental property, but that’s no reason we can’t measure them on the same criteria. You can spend your vacation days sleeping in an Airbnb, or sleeping in nature, after all.

The scenery in nature is nice. The scenery in Airbnbs can be nice, but sometimes is pretty meh, or occasionally tacky or even creepy, but you go ahead and book a stay there anyway because it’s cheaper than similar listings and close to some cool stuff in a city.

lost coast trail 2

RATING: Nature performs well as an Airbnb in this measurement

Nature, while impressive square footage-wise, has zero bedrooms. Airbnbs, in my experience, usually have walls and some sort of cushioned sleeping surface. Which, in this case, might tip the scales in the favor of Airbnb.

lost coast trail 3

However, in an Airbnb, all guests reuse the same mattress and pillow covered by a thin cotton sheet. In nature, you carry your own mattress in a backpack, and cover yourself in a sleeping bag that smells kind of bad, but smells like you. And instead of using a pillow that dozens of strangers have drooled on, you ball up a jacket and pretend it’s a pillow, which works well enough. What it lacks in loft and cushion, your “pillow” makes up for in the comfort of containing almost no bacteria from other people.

lost coast trail 4

RATING: Nature performs as well as an Airbnb in this measurement

Most Airbnbs contain several pieces of furniture, upon which guests can rest or recline in various positions for minutes or hours. In nature, furniture is limited to logs, stumps, or rocks, which are comfortable enough, but objectively cannot hold a candle comfort-wise to most manmade furniture. You will, for example, probably never see your Uncle Gary excuse himself from a Thanksgiving dinner in order to have a nap on a large rock.

lost coast trail 5

RATING: Nature does not perform well as an Airbnb in this measurement

Most Airbnb rentals have some sort of food-preserving technology, as well as food-cooking devices like stoves and toasters. (Unless you’re only booking a room in someone’s home, in which case you do not have access to food in the house.) In nature, you have to carry or kill all your food, and sometimes, like on our trip, you have to carry all your food in big canisters so bears won’t eat your snacks, or you.

bear canister lost coast trail

In nature, you basically have all your food with you at all times, which means unlimited access, but also a burden, in weight in your backpack. Also, you’re pretty limited to non-perishable, calorie-dense food, whereas in an Airbnb you can fill the fridge with milk products and heavy things like cantaloupes, and even aspirational foods like kale and asparagus that Ideal You will eat but Actual You avoids until they go bad and you throw them away. Also, in an Airbnb, you’re probably a lot closer to 7-Eleven pizza and roller-grill delicacies, available 24 hours a day.

RATING: Nature performs as well as an Airbnb in this measurement

In the typical Airbnb, you use a toilet to dispose of human waste, and are able to wash your hands with soap and water afterward. In nature, there are no restrooms, so when you go No. 2 you have to dig a hole in the ground and squat above it to poop. Scenic, but can be strenuous if, like most Americans, you’ve taken 99.9 percent of the dumps in your life in a seated position. However, because restrooms are nowhere in nature, restrooms are theoretically everywhere. If you can dig a six-inch-deep hole in the ground, it’s a toilet. So there’s really almost no reason to soil yourself because you can’t find a restroom.

cathole lost coast trail

However, in nature, there is no running water or pre-foamed hand soap. So, you rub some of this gel on your hands, pretending it destroys all bacteria. And then you try to forget it the next time you dig your hand into a bag of trail mix.

hand sanitizer bottle

RATING: Nature does not perform well as an Airbnb in this measurement

Overall, nature has lots of dirt and dust compared to the average Airbnb. As far as you know, the Airbnb you’ve booked has been wiped down with industrial cleaning products prior to your stay. But, theoretically (if not actually statistically very likely), someone with whooping cough could have stayed there the previous night and spent the entire night hacking away. Nature typically disperses most airborne pathogens, and you’re not likely to get Athlete’s Foot standing in a creek. But, you’re also not likely to find bear scat in the hallway of your next Airbnb, so there’s that:

bear scat lost coast trail

RATING: Nature performs as well as an Airbnb in this measurement

Airbnbs almost always have a source of running water for drinking and washing up. In nature, you rarely find a municipal water source, so you have to filter it from a creek or lake. Which is fine, but mildly inconvenient.

man filtering water lost coast trail

RATING: Nature does not perform well as an Airbnb in this measurement

There is no wifi in nature. Airbnbs usuallly have wifi.

man searching for cell phone service lost coast trail

RATING: Nature does not perform well as an Airbnb in this measurement

Nature is not close to brewpubs, coffee shops, bookstores, or restaurants. In general, it is inconvenient, lacking basic amenities like flush toilets, running water, heat, air conditioning, furniture, wifi, and cable. Animals can kill you, weather can kill you, and you have to spend a lot of time taking care of your basic needs and have no time to check social media or watch Netflix.

OVERALL: As an Airbnb, nature does not measure up. But let’s not bullshit ourselves, it’s way better than pretty much any Airbnb.