It used to be that when traveling, you had two options: A private but overpriced and sterile hotel room with the potential bonus of bedbugs OR no privacy at all in a cheap, possibly sketchy hostel with the potential bonus of waking up to your bag having been stolen.
But those days are officially over! No more questionable stains on your bed sheets or wearing flip flops in the shower!
You now have the option to stay anywhere from homes, studios, castles, even this thing! You can have as much privacy as you want at a price tag that fits your budget. Sound too good to be true? Well it’s not and it’s amazing! Airbnb gives you the charm of living like a local without having to compromise on amenities.
AND, with this link you get $30 off your first booking! Discounts and a better vacation? Miracles do happen!
If you’re only staying in an area for few days, you may not need to be super picky with your space. But if you’re like us and doing more long-term stays (like a week or more), being a little picky can make all the difference.
Trust us. We’ve stayed in 50+ Airbnbs and have become booking pros!
Start your search by using Airbnb’s first round of filters: set your desired location, date and price range and choose a private room vs. entire apt/home. But don’t stop there!
Do you need wifi? Linens and towels? Free parking? Would you prefer a washing machine and a dishwasher? Want to bring your pet along? Have a specific neighborhood in mind? There’s a filter for all of those too!
So let’s say you’ve added all of your desired filters and have found a few potential candidates.. How do you choose the winner?
Look through the pictures
You can typically immediately discard several options based on the decor. Not everyone’s into older buildings with hardwood floors and quirky features like us and that’s okay! Find the places that look most appealing to you!
In addition to giving you an overall vibe of the space, pictures can tell you a lot about the listing. For example, that “full bed” listed may actually be an air mattress, futon, or pull out sofa which may not be what you’re looking for. Also, maybe the shower is teeny tiny and you’re 6+ft tall. No bueno.
Really examine the pictures to help ensure there won’t be any surprises when you arrive.
Read the reviews
Since reviews aren’t anonymous, people tend to be a bit nicer with them than they should be. This means sometimes you have to read between the lines. If you notice a lot of people saying things like “The room was great, but the street was a bit noisy - nothing earplugs won’t solve!” or “The apartment was charming, but a bit more cramped than the pictures let on...” it could be an indicator of bigger, potentially deal-breaking issues.
Reading reviews is almost always my deciding factor when booking. I’ve looked at quite a few listings that seemed great, but upon reading the reviews I realize that they’re a hard no. Our biggest red flags are low scores on cleanliness and location and multiple last minute cancellations by the host - because nobody likes getting dumped!
It’s usually easy to spot any major issues right off the bat, but reading the reviews will definitely give you invaluable, first-hand info.
Get a feel for public transportation options near your Airbnb
Before we started taking this into account, we’d often book a place based more on price than location. While it felt good to save money in booking fees, it sometimes meant that we’d pay the difference and then some in transportation costs. Not to mention the hours we’d waste sitting on trains each way. Plus, if your space is far from public transportation, you’ll either end up lugging your bags much further or having to pay for cabs rides to and from the airport.
Since you won’t know the exact address of your space until you book, try mapping from nearby cross-streets. Having a general idea of how much and how long transportation will be will help you make the most out of your stay.
Book in weekly increments
This is especially helpful if budget is a big factor. The majority of Airbnbs offer a pretty good discount if you book for a full week and even bigger discounts for the entire month. We’ve personally saved hundreds in booking fees simply by staying 7 days instead of 5-6!
So make sure you try tweaking the dates before you write a place off. Who knows, your ideal Airbnb might suddenly drop down into your price range and you’ll have an extra day or two to put off packing. Winning!
Maybe you found what seems like a great listing, but it’s brand new and there aren’t any reviews or pictures of the room. Or maybe you’re arriving late at night and aren’t sure if the host is flexible with check-in times. Reaching out to confirm these details will help put your mind at ease. Plus it’ll potentially give the host a gentle nudge to update their listing for future guests.
Reasons you should reach out to your host before booking:
- To coordinate check-in and check-out times (especially when they’re early or late)
- If you have a member of your party who won’t be staying the entire time to ensure you don’t overpay (since you sometimes pay extra when more than one to two people stay)
- To see if there’s public transportation nearby
- To clarify house rules and amenities
Overall, Airbnb is a wonderful tool and a huge reason we’re able to travel so comfortably on a budget. We know that staying in someone’s home may seem awkward at first, but with these tips, you may end up feeling even more at home than you do on your own couch!
Here are links to some of our most favorite Airbnbs we’ve stayed in from around the world:
Los Angeles, CA
Twentynince Palms, CA
Las Cruces, NM
Bay St. Louis, MS
Point Marion, PA
Prague, Czech Republic
Mexico City, Mexico
If you're heading to Maldives, check out this post to find the perfect airbnb in Maldives!
Have any awesome Airbnb tips to share? Let us know in the comments below or reach out to us on Twitter! And if you end up booking an Airbnb for the first time, tell us how it goes!
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