At the launch of Airbnb‘s latest campaign, ‘That’s Why We Airbnb’, we managed to chat with, Jim Sarbh, and learnt some of his travels stories and his love for exploring new places. By Tara Choudhary
What makes you choose Airbnbs over hotel stays?
I think it’s important to choose an Airbnb over a regular hotel because in a hotel, inevitably, you’ll order food into your room and end up watching TV. You’ll basically use the fact that it’s a little cave, where everything you need can be delivered to your room. However, staying in a place where a person lives gives you a different perspective on the city. It facilitates interaction with the local people living there as opposed to only travellers in a hotel. By going out to find your own food and using the kitchen to cook, you get a more pervasive and authentic experience of a different city. That’s not possible in a hotel. Hotels practice quality control, thus end up looking same all over the world. You kind of know if they’re good. They all have a similar vibe, but in an Airbnb it’s more of a wholesome experience. If you’re lucky enough to get a good host, they’ll show you the ropes, take you to places, find you all the things you might need and I think that’s a wonderful experience in itself.
Which has been your best Airbnb experience so far?
I think when I went for the Sundance Film Festival — that experience was really nice and cool. I was with so many people and we were all jam-packed into this Airbnb, and we really just all got along really well. We had no problem being smashed together in this one place and it was cold, so, you know there’s warmth in numbers!
What do you always carry with you when you travel?
Uhhh, I’m a very simple traveller to be honest. I just take clothes, a little speaker and toiletries. I take the stuff I need, that’s all.
What kind of traveller would you say you are — a systematic, planned traveller or an impulsive and spontaneous one?
I’m pretty spontaneous and impulsive. I kind of let the city tell me what’s going on. I mean there are some places where I would really like to see certain things, but I don’t mind letting go of those plans if something more interesting comes up. Like, I remember being in Hampi and there were certain temples you needed to go to during sunset because it was supposed to be the most beautiful view. So sometimes, the things people suggest are really interesting things. But, what ends up being my favourite in all of these places is just a little café on the side of the road, where you watch people go by and see what the locals talk about and look like. The older I get, the more interested I am in seeing and hearing the mundane stuff and not the fantastical stuff.
Do you remember your first independent trip?
When I went to the States, we would make trips around there. I went to the Emory University in Atlanta, so we would make day drives to places or down to Florida for the weekend, or to Philadelphia for Thanksgiving — those were the first ones. But, the first big solo trip that I went on was to Spain for two months. I was doing this thing called ‘WWOOFing’ which is the World Wide Organisation of Organic Farmers, where you go and stay on a farm for a while, like a month, and the way it worked is, you work from eight-12 then you have a siesta from 12-four, where you have lunch and sleep. Then you work again from four-eight and then we’d go out for a drink or hang out on the farm, and just have a grand old time, you know! And then you’d go out in the night, there was a fiesta that happened in the week that I was staying in this small town. So you know, you’d work then you’d come home, eat and drink a bit, you’d take a nap and you’d wake up at like 12.30 am and go out, and then you were out until seven in the morning, and then go straight to work at eight — it was amazing!
How many countries do you think you’ve visited so far?
I have absolutely no idea how many countries I’ve been to at this point. But, I would love to go to Bali… Iceland, as I’ve never been there. I haven’t been to South America, I mean I have but when I was two-years-old and have no recollection. My dad was a captain on a ship, so I used to just go to places with him as a child.
What does travel mean to you?
The truth of it is you can find everything you need wherever you are, but I feel travel just opens up your perspective to the fact that there’s such brilliant diversity and variety in the world—not just with human beings but with wildlife, flora and fauna, architecture, music, food, culture and everything else. I think as soon as you get opened up to this, it continues to diminish your sense of nationalism and patriotism, and instead makes you believe more in an interesting global society, where everything can be shared. I think that is much better than not venturing out of your country at all.