Airbnb is an online marketplace connecting people who want to rent their homes with people looking for accommodation while travelling.
We first used Airbnb on our road trip to Australia and New Zealand.
The accommodation was limited in some remote areas, and if there were any hotels at all, the rates were high.
We tried it, loved it, and have been using Airbnb on our travels worldwide since.
This is all you need to know before trying Airbnb for the first time.
Creating A Profile
You will need to create a profile to be able to make any bookings.
A good profile is essential because hosts will look at it before confirming the reservation.
You will be required to provide basic information about yourself, a profile picture and a few types of verification.
This way, the hosts will know who to expect and also that you are a reliable and authentic person.
Both the Airbnb website and the app are very user-friendly.
You can narrow down the listings by the room type (entire home, private or shared rooms), price range, size, neighbourhood, amenities or property type (apartment, house, guesthouse, b&b, etc.)
We usually look for free parking and wireless internet.
Be aware that if you stay in a private room, there might not be a lock on the door because it’s someone’s home.
If you require a lock, you can select this as one of the amenities.
You can also search for the properties by using the map, especially if the location or the price is important to you.
You can check the listing calendar for availability too.
Check Profiles And Reviews
Be careful who you choose as your host.
We believe that most people listed on Airbnb are friendly and genuine, but shady people can be anywhere.
Although Airbnb has a lengthy verification process for both the guests and the hosts, which should eliminate the risks, always check the host’s profile and reviews.
Check if the host has been verified and how active and responsive they are.
Become familiar with the property description and look at the photos to find a match which is right for you.
We only book listings with good reviews and which we have a good feeling about.
Instant Booking Versus Booking Request
Some hosts allow you to make instant bookings which means that after you agree on all the details, the reservation is confirmed immediately.
That’s usually the best way for last-minute bookings when you don’t have time to contact the host and wait for their reply.
Most listings are bookable on request, meaning you need to contact the host first, and they will or will not confirm the reservation then.
Be aware that if you request the booking and the host confirms, it will become a confirmed booking and depending on the cancellation policy, you might not be able to cancel.
A better way to check the availability is to send the host a message (click on the ‘Contact host’ icon in the listing description) and specify what you are looking for.
If the property is available, the host will send you a provisional reservation, which you can confirm.
This way, you can contact a few hosts simultaneously and confirm only the booking that’s the most suitable for you.
Airbnb properties are usually cheaper than hotels and might come with extras like parking, breakfast or internet access.
Hosts usually let their guests use their kitchen at least to make a cup of tea or coffee and use their fridge, which can be handy when it’s hot outside.
However, it’s always a good idea to check the hotel rates in the area to ensure you aren’t missing any special deals.
Additional fees might apply, so always verify the final price before confirming the booking.
On top of the room rate, you will always have to pay the Airbnb service fee.
Some hosts might also charge a cleaning fee or a deposit.
You can choose to pay the price in your home or local currency.
In our experience, paying in the local currency is usually cheaper because our credit card exchange rates are lower than the ones from Airbnb.
But this will depend on your bank’s rates, so check their exchange rates and compare.
When you make a reservation, you will need to provide your credit card details, and Airbnb will charge the card.
The host will receive the payment 24 hours after you check in.
This way, both parties are protected.
That’s why you should always process your payments via Airbnb and not pay any money directly to the host to keep your bookings and money secure.
On The Go
We recommend the Airbnb app – it allowed us to book accommodation at the very last minute many times.
If you’re travelling abroad, buying a local sim card, including data, is a good idea to get good coverage and avoid paying hefty roaming fees.
You can get in touch with hosts and send them messages.
You will receive a text message after they reply, so you don’t need to keep checking the app.
Agree on the check-in process with the host in advance because they might not be at the property when you arrive.
Let the host know if you are going to arrive late at night.
Hosts will usually send you a message with the check-in instructions or ask you to call them when you arrive so that they can talk you through the check-in process.
Hosts will usually discuss how to check out with you, especially if they won’t be present during your departure.
After checking out, both you and the host will be prompted by Airbnb to leave your reviews.
Once you both write your reviews, you can read them.
The reviews stay in the profiles, and others can see them, so be sensitive about what you say.
You can always send a private message to the host if you wish.
The better reviews in your profile, the easier it will be to get bookings in the future.
Meeting Local People
Airbnb is great for meeting locals because you usually stay in their homes.
You will see how they live, and you might learn something new and get inspired.
Airbnb hosts are usually very open-minded and enjoy meeting people from different countries.
They are often well-travelled themselves.
They know their neighbourhood well, so they can advise you where to eat or suggest some places off the beaten track worth visiting.
You need to understand that the hosts open their homes to you, so you should be respectful and keep the place tidy.
Most hosts like to have a chat to find out more about you.
However, some hosts might prefer more personal space, so try to be thoughtful.
You’re coming into their life, and they might be tired after a long day at work.
If you don’t feel like chatting, tell the host that you have something to do or that you are tired, and they will give you more space.
You will stay with strangers, so keep an eye on your valuables, especially if you can’t lock the room.
Some hosts might rent more rooms at the same time, and you won’t know who is staying in the other rooms.
We have never had any security issues, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Airbnb is a great help if you are looking for alternative accommodation.
The quality and value of some listings are excellent.
Each of the stays is a unique experience that will enrich your trip.
Once you try Airbnb, returning to hotels is hard because you’ll miss the local experience.
Thanks to Airbnb, we met many interesting people who inspired us, and we even became friends with some of them.
We believe that following your common sense and basic safety precautions is a great way to travel.
If you are ready, give it a try…
Have you tried Airbnb yet? If so, how was your experience?
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