Don’t Travel There: But book a room in Ukraine anyway

People have been trying to find ways to help Ukraine and Ukrainians, to get money to them directly, and have come up with a brilliant way to do it: book an Airbnb.

Only Russia is facing sanctions, not Ukraine.  The cell phone, SWIFT and credit card networks in Ukraine still work, which means they can access money sent to them.  So people around the world have started booking rooms in Ukraine (homes, not hotels) to get money to people immediately.  Those booking the rooms have no intention of travelling to Ukraine, but the money gets to people who need it.  It’s brilliant.

People are booking Airbnbs in Ukraine — not to stay, but to lend their support

Some people have found a novel way to get money to Ukrainians as their country is under attack from Russia: booking immediate Airbnb stays they don’t intend to use.

Sarah Brown, who lives in Salt Lake City, is one of those who got the ball rolling in a Facebook group for Airbnb hosts. She booked a stay in Kyiv.

Someone in the Facebook group noted that it was important to support Ukrainians in places other than Kyiv, so Brown booked two more stays in smaller cities, with plans for more.

Ekaterina Martiusheva is the host of the first apartment Brown booked in Ukraine.

Speaking to NPR from Kyiv, Martiusheva says the bookings mean a lot: “These days we do not have any income. We do not have any right to ask our country to help us, because all the country’s resources are for the war and for the victory.”

Airbnb hosts are paid 24 hours after a guest checks in, so people abroad are booking stays and letting hosts know that it’s a gesture of solidarity, and they don’t plan to appear.

The idea spread over the last few days, and Airbnb is waiving all host and guest fees in Ukraine for now.

Normally I wouldn’t praise a company, but this small gesture says and does a lot.  Kudos.

Continue from the item:

Martiusheva says the donations via Airbnb bookings have been valuable because of human connections. “It’s not just money, it’s the support and encouragement. We get these notes of people who are calling us brave, and it does feel great,” she says. “It’s just amazing, really.”

She has also been directing donors on Airbnb to contribute to a fund for the Ukrainian army as well.

It gets money to people who need it, and just as importantly, it lets people show support on an individual basis, not like the Red Cross which can feel impersonal.


  1. Pierce R. Butler says

    Airbnb hosts are paid 24 hours after a guest checks in…

    So this is just a symbolic gesture?

    It gets money to people who need it…

    So payment does get through?

  2. ryangerber says

    It’s difficult to imagine anyone with less need for money than an airbnb landlord. Surely even the worst charity would be better than this.

    • jrkrideau says

      I would suggest a donation to the International Red Cross or Médecins sans Frontières might be a bit of a better idea. Sending money to AirBnB landlords is perverse.

    • says

      I take it you did not read the item, nor any other covering the story.

      It’s not hotels. They’re giving money to people renting rooms out of their homes, to people who now have no jobs and are giving shelter to refugees themselves.

      Yes, the ICRC helps, but it’s more than just money. Contacting individuals and personally offering financial AND emotional support does just as much.

      • jrkrideau says

        Actually I did. The thing is ICRC or MsF have the knowledge, and organisation to leverage a donation and target it to the greatest need. An AirBnB does not especially in a war.

        • John Morales says

          You’re not listening, are you, jrkrideau?

          An AirBnB does not especially [help?] in a war.

          It’s being used as a medium. As a conduit.

          Money goes straight to citizens, not to aid agencies. And it’s obviously a choice.

          Important (my emphasis):

          The idea spread over the last few days, and Airbnb is waiving all host and guest fees in Ukraine for now. On Wednesday and Thursday, more than 61,000 nights were booked in Ukraine from around the world — bookings that grossed nearly $2 million, Airbnb tells NPR.

          I’m with Intransitive on this. ‘Tis better than good.

          And it’s leveraging Russia’s sanctioned financial status; Ukraine is not so sanctioned.
          Money transfers are a thing, and tanks and rockets and barbed wire can’t stop the internet.

  3. John Morales says

    Then there are plain old reviews. Welcome to C21, Russia!

    (March 1, 2022)

    “Leave 5 star reviews (unless its Russian State owned, then feel free to leave 1 star ratings). The point is to push information to the Russian civilian population being lied to by Putin,” tweeted user @YourAnonNews.

    Grand Cafe Dr. Zhivago, a famous fine-dining restaurant in Moscow with Kremlin views saw an influx of Google reviews early on Tuesday. Some people attached pictures of destruction wrought by the Russian military.

  4. jrkrideau says

    @ John Morales
    “And it’s obviously a choice.”

    It is and probably better than nothing if you want to donate but it sounds completely untargeted.

    I just think it is a very poor choice.