Site links travelers and rooms for rent

BROOKHAVEN, Pa. - August 30, 2010

Stewart has listed this upstairs bedroom in his Brookhaven home on the room rental website

He's asking $55 a night, which includes a private bathroom and access to his kitchen.

"When I travel, I like to do the tourist thing, but I know that if you really want to get to know someplace, you want to go with the locals," Stewart says.

Gaston and Alexa de los Reyes, who live in University City, are also hosts on

They bought The Pink House at 45th and Baltimore with the intention of renting out the downstairs two-room suite, while they and their two children live upstairs.

The rental includes a kitchen and bath and costs $110 a night.

The site does include expensive villas and hotels in exotic locations. But it's the less expensive room rentals in private homes that are drawing a lot people looking for ways to save money while traveling.

Of course, renting a room in your home has its risks. The hosts correspond via email with guests before bookings are finalized.

"Before we started the process, we had our concerns," Gaston de los Reyes explains. "So we did set up a security system that separates our apartment from downstairs. We have that if we feel we need it."

"In general, the biggest source of comfort is getting to meet the guests and knowing that they're here for a wedding or meeting them or meeting their children, and so we have a nice balance, that's arm's length but also there's a personal connection with the people that we host."

Alexa de los Reyes adds, "The very first time we rented to people we didn't know, we had a sudden feeling of, 'oh my goodness! Who are these people? We don't know them. What's going on?' And then they left and they left a very nice note, it was perfectly clean and everything was fine. And we thought, well it is a bit of a leap of faith in a certain sense, but also, they're not complete strangers."

Stewart says, "I've not only not had any bad experiences, but the two that I had -- even though they weren't my kind of personality -- it was just great, just a

great experience."

To check out the rooms available for rent on, click here.

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