We live and breathe travel, but some things are simply more important. And it's hard to imagine anything more important than what's happening in Ukraine these last few weeks.
Watching Russia invade Ukraine starting last week has been horrifying, and it's not getting much better. Seeing peaceful Ukrainians take up arms as others crowd into underground subway stations for safety, watching the untold damage to residential areas, hearing the stories of heroism of the Ukrainian people … everything else in the world suddenly seems insignificant.
Still, it's been heartening to see many Americans travelers find their own small way of helping. And one new way to lend a hand to the people of Ukraine has quickly blossomed into a movement: Booking an upcoming Airbnb stay hosted by a local Ukrainian and paying for it, but never staying there. It's an easy way to get money straight into struggling Ukrainians' pockets.
Yesterday I shared an idea to support Ukraine by booking rooms for rent on AirBNB. 24 hours later, 100's of people are booking AirBnBs in Ukraine as a way to send immediate monetary assistance to people in hard-hit areas. The messages in response from the hosts are so moving pic.twitter.com/ai2Je8VKCt
— IG: @quentin.quarantino (@quentquarantino) March 3, 2022
Social media is full of stories of travelers and well-wishers reserving a stay in Kyiv, Lviv, Kharkiv, and beyond – and the grateful responses from Ukrainian hosts are even more touching.
Of course, as this method gains even more steam, there's room for abuse. It's worth paging through some past reviews and doing some research on the host just to ensure it's not a phony listing. Or you might consider booking an Airbnb Experience like a food tour to be more sure you're donating directly to a local Ukrainian.
Got the new Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card? Dustin from Waller's Wallet flagged this on Twitter as a great way to use the card's one-time $200 Airbnb or VRBO credit – part of a stellar welcome bonus that is ending soon – to do something to help.
Just pay for your Ukrainian Airbnb with your Venture X Card and that credit will kick in automatically for up to $200. There are some other ways to cover Airbnb stays with points that you could employ to limit your costs while still providing direct aid to Ukrainians.
To its credit, Airbnb has seized the opportunity to do even more to help. In addition to providing free housing to refugees fleeing the Ukraine, the homeshare platform has confirmed it is currently waiving its usual service fees on all bookings in Ukraine. Cleaning fees are set by hosts themselves, but Airbnb isn't collecting its own fees on these listings.
You can also donate directly to Airbnb's emergency housing fund via PayPal or directly through Airbnb, which will help put a roof over thousands of Ukrainians' heads.