“A journey is best measured in friends, rather than miles.”

In school, we were often asked the question: What do you aspire to do? Some people want to be musicians. Others doctors. Others want to work in the business realm. My answer was always consistent: I wanted to travel, and experience cultures different than my own.

Once upon a time, I was a shy little girl, anxious as could be. I stuck to my normal routine, my close friends, and my little home town on Long Island. I always pondered the thought of what existed outside of my comfort zone, but never dared to go there.

One day I woke up, and decided to make my dreams a reality. I graduated with a Master’s degree in Psychology. I worked. I saved money. I realized that the only one who can help me through my anxiety, was me. It was then that I realized my desire to explore different cultures could be fulfilled on trips within my own country. This is when I came across my beloved Airbnb.

To date, I’ve used this home-sharing network in 9 different cities. I have memories from these trips that would not exist if it weren’t for Airbnb. In Los Angeles, I developed a deep friendship with my host and we keep in touch on a regular basis. In San Francisco, my hosts took me under their wings on Halloween, to the most outrageously exciting party I’ve ever been to in my life. Most recently, in Brooklyn, I brunched regularly with my host-turned-friend, who I know will be an amazing travel buddy for future adventures. I now have friends all over the US, who have made foreign places feel like home to me, almost instantly.

Last month, there was a hearing in Los Angeles regarding limitations on this home sharing network— attacking the character of the guest (and the spirit of the website in general). A disheartening decision that came from this anti-airbnb hearing: The city of Manhattan Beach has officially banned short term rentals.

“My property rights are sometimes imperiled because of the movement of my neighbors,” said Councilmember Amy Howorth, who supported the ban. “If people are coming in and out — that’s a really different neighborhood than I moved into and paid money for. That’s why my house cost so much money: Because this is a tight community.” (source: Manhattan Beach Airbnb Ban)

Money. That’s what it all comes down to, right? So, let’s talk about money then. We are told to travel while we’re young. Experience is far more valuable than money will ever be. As a post-grad with a salary of a part-timer, how on earth can I enjoy such a luxury? Without home-sharing networks such as Airbnb, never in a million years would I be able to afford the adventures that have pushed me outside of my comfort zone, allowing me to overcome the anxiety that I have been crippled with since I was a child.

So, here’s what I have to say to Councilmember Amy Howorth: Take a seat by your window in your super expensive house in your tight community, and watch the world change around you— because it’s happening whether you like it or not.

I think the innovation of a sharing economy is a wonderful thing. Airbnb, Uber, Citi Bikes… it is all just proof that this generation realizes there has been a problem with our economy, and we are taking strides to overcome them. And, the money that is being saved on run-of-the-mill, hotel accommodations is being spent elsewhere in the city. The more I save on living expenses, the more likely I am to spend on other tourism, supporting the city I am visiting in a different, yet just as significant way.

On Friday, October 30th the New York City Council is meeting to discuss a bill which would punish New Yorkers with up to a $50,000 fine for sharing their homes. To put this into perspective, a round trip ticket from London to New York, leaving tomorrow, is $796. A person who is simply opening up their home, contributing to the sharing economy, making travel affordable, and making ends meet for themselves would be punished with the price of about 62 round trip tickets from here to London…That is preposterous!

If Airbnb, home-sharing, travel, or just plain moral fairness means as much to you as it does to me, I urge you to tell your story here: Share Your Voice!

Having such wonderful experiences with this network, I truly can’t imagine my life without it. And if you haven’t had any experiences with it, I recommend that you try it! People often have negative views on things that they don’t understand. People are motivated by greed, and have a real fear of the unknown. This generation is much more open minded than previous ones, making home-sharing possible (and so successful!).

Long live Airbnb! Don’t let the haters bring you down.

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