Ukraine: why so many people are booking Airbnbs in the country right now

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Lauren Geall
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Central Kyiv

A growing social media movement has seen thousands of people book Airbnb reservations as a way to send money directly to the Ukrainian people.

Ever since Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine on 24 February, people across the world have been searching for ways to help the millions of civilians whose lives have been turned upside down. 

As you might expect, this has largely consisted of donations to charities in the form of food, clothing, hygiene products or money.

But some people on social media have discovered a creative way of getting money to Ukrainian people – by booking Airbnbs they never intend to use.

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The movement, which took off on Twitter at the end of last week, has seen thousands of people make reservations at properties across Ukraine – according to figures released by Airbnb on Saturday, over 60,000 nights were booked in the country from around the world on 2 and 3 March. 

And as the movement continues, Airbnb has waived its guest fees and Host fees for new reservations, to ensure that as much money as possible gets through to the people of Ukraine.

On Twitter, people have been sharing their reservations alongside the messages of support they sent to the Airbnb owners in the hope of inspiring others to do the same.

“Saw the idea to book an Airbnb in Ukraine to help send direct support (amongst other means, I’ve also given to charity) and I went searching,” read one tweet. 

“Having a chat with this lovely Ukrainian woman who was so surprised to hear the whole world is watching and sending support.” 

Newsnight presenter Emily Maitlis also tweeted: “Friend just booked Airbnb apartment in Kyiv (that clearly he will never go to) as Airbnb have waved their commission. There are lots of different ways to help/donate but this is one more.” 

While booking a room on Airbnb is just one of the many ways you can help the Ukrainian people (here’s how to support the 1.5 million refugees who have fled the country), it’s inspiring to see such a simple but powerful gesture spreading across social media at such a dark and uncertain time.

Last week, the rentals company announced they would be offering free, short-term housing to up to 100,000 Ukrainian refugees – and have since announced it will be suspending its operations in Belarus and Russia in a show of solidarity with Ukraine. 

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Lauren Geall

As Stylist’s digital writer, Lauren Geall writes on topics including mental health, wellbeing and women’s issues. She’s also a big fan of houseplants and likes to dabble in film and TV from time-to-time. You can find her on Twitter at @laurenjanegeall.