2018 was a tough year for me. I may even say it sucked. But one of the highlights of my year for sure was my trip to Montréal, Canada. This may seem silly to say for such a short trip, but I believe it really was a turning point for me and my life. But that’s a post for another day. The post for today is centered on an experience I had on my trip.
If you are curious about what it’s like to do a photoshoot, particularly with Airbnb, then this post is for you! I will go over my experience and review it overall. Keep reading if you’d like to find out more about it!
When I was getting ready to go to Montréal back in May 2018 I knew I wanted to have amazing photos to recognize my first big solo trip. Since I wouldn’t have the convenience of a companion to assist me with capturing amazing shots, I decided to hop on over to Airbnb to find a photographer that offered the experience I was looking for.
What is an Airbnb “Experience”?
An Airbnb experience is a collection of different events and activities you can partake in during your travels. Think of it like an “excursion.” There are many types of experiences that Airbnb offers: photoshoots, walking tours, horseback riding, cooking classes, dance lessons and more. These are great and often cheaper ways to do activities than booking it with a local tourism/travel group.
Just wanted to make this clear that this post is not sponsored or in partnership with Airbnb. I simply want to share my experience of this experience and hopefully help you all decide whether it’s worth doing. I’ve also at the time of this post only done the photoshoot experience. I haven’t experienced any of the other activities, but I plan to as I travel more. Just remember that your experience will greatly depend on your experience host, so it will vary.
What are Experience Hosts?
You may be familiar with the model of being a host for a property on Airbnb. You have a spare room or vacation home and you rent it out to people traveling in the area. The hosts are responsible for arranging how their guests will get checked in, provide certain amenities and be available if any questions arise. Well, an Airbnb experience host has a similar role. For simplicity, just think of them as a tour group leader.
They are there to show you a good time. So they should be friendly, be open and able to answer many of your questions and of course, provide you with a great experience. Thus, as mentioned, your experience can be effected by your host. From what I understand many of the Airbnb experience hosts are private individuals. In fact, it seems like a great side hustle to start if you live in or near a city that attracts tourists. You can take photos of people, give them a tour, etc.
How to Book an Experience
Booking an experience on Airbnb is very straightforward. It’s a similar process to reserving a rental house on the site. Just head over to the main page, click experiences. If you want to browse or are open to the experience you’d like to have you can browse through the different categories. Concerts. Social impact. Nightlife. Surfing. Health and wellness. But let me tell you, all the different experiences I mentioned don’t even scratch the surface of what’s available.
When doing research for this post I found spa visits, wildlife spotting, plane rides and a workshop to make wooden Chinese trinkets. You can browse by location or type in what you’re looking for. Then, just like reserving a hotel you read the description, can look at photos (and sometimes videos), read reviews and read about the host. If you like what you see you check to see if the dates you’re looking for are available and then it’s all done! Submit the boring stuff about payment and you’re set. Your host may contact you to confirm details or you can message them.
Now, on to MY experience!
The experience I reserved was for a walk + photoshoot for about an hour and a half. I thought this was a steal because I’d get a walking tour of the city and at the same time get pictures! Originally, it was only supposed to be me and the host. But due to weather complications she asked me if it’d be okay if one of her other clients joined us. I agreed and was kind of nervous because I’m not a picture person. The thought of having one person (the photographer) see me take photos was nerveracking enough, let alone another person!
But it all was fine in the end. Both of them were really cool and we were able to chat a lot. We were all around the same age and talked a lot about travel. The guy with us was traveling throughout Canada and told stories of his travels. The photographer moved to Canada and told us about that experience. Luckily my Airbnb experience host was really awesome. She was friendly and made me feel comfortable, even when I wanted to resort to the awkwardness I typically feel when taking photos. She even attempted to get me to loosen up and take some funner photos.
The Start of the Day
Our meeting point was in front of the Notre Dame Basilica. This was great because this was on my list of “must sees.” I arrived and sat in front of the basilica and took in the sites. Soon my Airbnb experience host and the other client showed up. After introductions, the photoshoot began! We scoped out the different angles, making certain the Notre Dame was in view.
The photoshoot occurred my second day in Montreal. The night before I went to bed I went into the bathroom and saw one of my eyes were BLOODSHOT red. I didn’t know how it happened and it seemed to pop up out of nowhere. It couldn’t have been worse timing since I was going to be photographed the next day. Well, when I woke up it was a little better but I still looked like I either had been crying or had allergies. Luckily, it wasn’t too noticeable in the photos.
After taking several photos the photographer would show me the photos to ensure if I liked them. Then, after both I and the guy finished there, we began exploring the city and find more photo spots. We walked for about two hours. When I returned to my room I was EXHAUSTED. It was so much fun and a lot of walking. I felt like a lot of the day passed and it wasn’t even noon when we finished.
But that’s jumping ahead a tad. So we walked through mainly Old Montréal. The photographer/Airbnb experience host told us little tidbits of history, her favorite places to eat and knew where to get the best photos. She was also super adaptable and if either of us saw a spot we wanted a photo in front of she’d do it. We could even suggest certain angles or she would direct us (mainly me) to do a pose that would work better.
Cute Shops, Table Hops & Parks
Due to her familiarity with the area, the photographer showed us this cute café that we could take photos in. It is called Tommy Café and is located on Rue Notre-Dame (Notre Dame Street) in Old Montréal. There’s this amazing tall window with plants draping from the ceiling. I was nervous at first but she assured me that we didn’t need to buy anything in order to take photos. Although the guy with us did end up getting a drink. She had the idea to take photos on those wobbly tables (see earlier in the post for my “funner” photos). All day she suggested great ideas due to what she knew of the area.
Address: 200 Notre-Dame St. W
Hours: 8 am – 8 pm
Phone: +1 514-903-8669
Overall my experience with my first Airbnb experience was great. The photos from the photoshoot turned out great. I received great pictures for memories and to use on my blog and social media. Plus a walking tour! I explored Old Montréal and the Old Port mainly. After heading back to my hotel for a quick recharge I retraced some of the route to explore spots that caught my eye. I’d definitely recommend giving this a try.
Also, give another Airbnb experience a go! I hope to do more in the future, definitely another photoshoot. But perhaps something more adventurous like a hike. In either event, this won’t be my last experience with Airbnb experience.