Renting Your Room to Travelers

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Bed and Breakfast

Today, the Internet gives us opportunity and advantages we never would have imagined 10 or 20 years ago.

Take, for instance, renting out a room to make some extra cash. For centuries, boarders have found homeowners willing to provide a room to let. This isn’t new. Today, however, the age-old tradition of renting a room has a twist to it: The internet.

As I type, billionaire Warren Buffet is railing against the hotel industry and encouraging his Berkeshire Hathaway shareholders to pass over traditional lodgings in Omaha, who are gouging lodgers due to the 30,000 who descend upon the city for BH’s annual meeting. Buffet instead advises attendees to stay with locals renting rooms through Airbnb, one of the internet’s hottest commodities.

Now companies like Airbnb are off-the-charts for popularity because people are making part-time money on their home without suffering a full-time privacy invasion from permanent renters.

It’s important to note that Build Direct is not affiliated with, nor can recommend, Airbnb or their many competitors. There are potential horror stories and insurance risks, and there are all kinds of laws in all kinds of cities. We encourage you to consider all your options, but do research for your area before you jump into bed with a room-renter.

All that aside, if you’re a homeowner with a spare bedroom, and you don’t want a permanent room-renter, you might be the perfect candidate to offer a traveler a space.

Room for B&B Rooms Of All Kinds!

Whatever space you have will work. The great thing about these sorts of services is, people of all kinds of financial means are using them. A smaller, less-stellar room may well appeal to someone whose only concern is the right location at the right price.

Tell the truth about limitations, price the lodgings accordingly, and you’ll be more inclined to get great reviews even if your room has shortcomings.

Minimizing Decor

A fresh coat of paint is wise, and so too is new bedding and towels that can handle more frequent washings. Spend a little and treat this like a business investment, because it is one. Keep your receipts for the taxman too.

Consider neutral themes with relaxing tones. Stay away from brash furniture, and invest in a good quality bed so that a bad night’s sleep doesn’t get mentioned in your reviews. You’ll need black-out blinds for the same reason. Good heavy curtains might keep warmth in and noise out during the winter, but they may also make the room stifling in the summer, so plan accordingly.

vintage side table bedroom

Avoid strong colors or anything that screams feminine/masculine. The budget-friendly appeal of online room listings means a wide variety of travelers use them, and you don’t want to lose a rental because your inner-’80s decor-goddess decided pink would look nice in the room.


Keep accessories and textiles to a minimum, because you want a room you can clean quickly, which smells dust-free and stays low in allergens for guests. Likewise, consider leafy plants instead of pollen-producing flowers, because nature’s air freshener is great, but allergic reactions are not.

Don’t hang art or photos that include people. Guests won’t want to see your family photos, they don’t care about your life’s memories, and a portrait of some random guy looks creepy. Hang great photography or art that has places and nature, or is abstract, but doesn’t include people. Think simple, clean, inspiring art. Nothing too loud or overwhelming. You want to be the Switzerland of decor: Neutral, neutral, neutral!

Candles may be romantic, but they’re also a real safety hazard. You don’t know the people coming to stay or how responsible they are, so forget about including them. Instead, put the main lights on a dimmer switch.

Consider things a hotel would have. A mini-fridge would have a huge benefit for half the travellers out there. A plate or two for snacks, glasses for water, these are necessities. A little kettle for tea, or a one-drink machine like a Keurig or Tassimo would be a wonderful plus. Things like special creams and soaps would be great, but when your costs start adding up, your profits vanish. Instead, having all “pump-style” toiletries means more than one guest can use them without sullying it for others.

Save yourself more hassle by providing an easy-to-set alarm clock. Basic electronics options and a good WiFi connection, plus a nice desk to work at, makes your room a great option for people traveling on business, and they’re the ones most likely to spread the good word for you.

And So Much More

It’s worth having good photos of your space, since that’s the first thing people judge by. Enlist a friend to help, and ensure every possible light is on, day or night, so it’s as bright as can be.

Look into what your home insurance rules and local laws are. Making $75 a night isn’t worth it if legal and financial troubles follow suit.

Consider it research if you must, but take a short trip and have the experience of staying with someone through whatever booking site you choose, so you know what the end user’s experience is before you sign the dotted line. Talk to friends and online connections to see who’s tried it and what cautions they can share.

With Risk Sometimes Comes Reward

You’re taking a chance when you do something like this, and for some, it’s paying off with great dividends as they gain more disposable income.

It may not be right for you, but then again, it could help you pay your car off a year early. Anything is possible.

Luckily, the internet’s full of great information, and if you’re thinking this has possibility for you, you’re getting in while the market isn’t too saturated. Who knows? Maybe a B&B room in your place is exactly how to make a little extra money this summer.

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Steffani Cameron

Steffani Cameron is a Victoria BC-based writer on a variety of topics. Here on the BuildDirect blog, she specializes in writing about smaller, urban spaces. How do you make the most of your smaller space? How do you decorate it to suit you? And how do you wage the war against clutter and win? This is Steff’s specialty.