To Airbnb or Not to Airbnb?
Short answer, yes, to Airbnb. Hotels and other accommodations can get expensive, especially when traveling for an extended period of time. Thankfully the sharing economy has welcomed solutions to this problem in the form of platforms like Airbnb. But once you start to do your research on it, you will certainly come across some of the horror story that will deter you so here are my tips for booking and staying in an Airbnb. Here are some of my tips for successfully booking an Airbnb stay to ensure a great experience.
In order to decide whether Airbnb is for you or not you must know thyself, and be completely honest here. It is tempting to convince yourself that you will be comfortable with Airbnb-ing to save a pretty penny on accommodations but that savings is not a worth it if its going to spoil your adventure. So first ask yourself the hard questions, “Am I okay staying in someone’s home with them? Am I comfortable enough to potentially spend some of my time socializing with strangers? And will I still be happy without all of the amenities of a hotel on my vacation?” If you are the type who isn’t as comfortable around strangers Airbnb may not be for you. There are some options for studios or apartment rentals but depending on location these will be more expensive then your average private room. Some Airbnb hosts like to entertain their guests and it’s hard to say “no, thank you” when you’re in the room next door. I haven’t encountered this myself but know people who have and if you aren’t interested in socializing then you should have an escape plan ready. And finally, if you are used to the amenities and pristine presentation of hotels you may not like bed and breakfast vibes most Airbnb homes give off.
Amenities I look for in an Airbnb rental:
- A private bedroom
- Air conditioning (if traveling in warm months)
- Private bathroom
- Detailed pictures of the room and common spaces
- Close to public transportation
- In a safe neighborhood
- On a lower level or access to an elevator
- More than one electrical outlet in the bedroom
- If towels are provided
Do your due diligence
It can be super overwhelming researching and booking an Airbnb home. Depending on where you are traveling to you probably have loads of options in your price range and they all have a mix of good, bad and mediocre reviews. Start by narrowing down based on price, availability for your dates and amenities, then the number of reviews. The more reviews the better because you know the host is experienced. After that I then start looking at ratings, the higher the better of course, but I also look at the recent reviews, if those are high then you're pretty much golden. Finally read the rules thoroughly and for good measure read any recent average or less than average reviews to catch red flags. Once you rule out the incompatible spaces you should have a decent selection to reach out to.
Some Airbnb homes can be booked immediately and others you have to make a request and be approved by your host. When writing to your host, be completely clear and honest with your plans. Are you looking for somewhere you can cook, double check that is okay. Do you need to be walking distance to the city center, confirm that is possible. Will you be meeting a friends who may need to crash, mention that too. Only you know what you need while travelling, maybe you just need a place to lay your head but it doesn't hurt to give more information than too little and have a poor experience.