Did you know you can find a self contained apartment or house using AirBnB? Many people think AirBnB is for young people looking to sleep on someone’s couch or rent a room in their house (similar to a Bed & breakfast, but not always including breakfast) as this is where AirBnB got their start. However today using AirBnB to find an apartment or home you can have all to yourself is just as common. And using AirBnB when you travel is easy.
Add in the other AirBnB benefits such as flexible check-in and check-outs, a local host, wi-fi and more often than not kitchen and bathroom essentials (think salt, pepper, oil, plastic wrap, etc.) that many vacation or serviced apartments don’t have and it is a good option. And often it is more affordable than the alternatives.
And because these are usually homes of real people, many are in residential areas which provide an opportunity to experience a destination more like a local than a tourist staying at a hotel. How about a great apartment in Paris near the Eifel Tower or an apartment with a river view in Chicago?
Using AirBnB When You Travel
Anyone can list their home, house or spare room on AirBnB. As the site has grown safeguards have been added including verifying the identity of all users, this includes both those listing accommodation and those renting.
It is a social site, where both hosts and renters can review each other for other users to see. If someone is a bad host, pictures are inaccurate, the listing is not as promised, or issues don’t get addressed it appears rather quickly in the reviews. If someone is a bad guest, this also will appear rather quickly in the reviews.
GET INSTANT ACCESS
to this PDF DOWNLOAD!
Get this one day itinerary download including a
MAP FOR EXPLORING VENICE.
To get started you can search without an account, but if you find something you would like to inquire about or book, you need to open a free account. You can use this referral link and receive a $25 USD discount on your first stay.
Searching AirBnB for the Perfect Accommodation
Simply nominate your destination and hit enter. This basic search will return all accommodation options for that destination. This may be thousands of listings so refining your search can save you lots of time.
Some common filters to narrow the results:
- Dates, enter something close to the time you will be traveling, this eliminates already booked properties.
- Number of guests: this will accurately display the cost for the number of travelers entered.
- Type of accommodation: entire home/apt, private room, shared room.
- Then you can click on the more filters button and further refine your needs-
Neighborhoods, Amenities (kitchen, wi-fi, washer/dryer, A/C, most of the common ones are there). Tick all that are important to you. If you can’t find what you want you can always change these to make them less restrictive.
- Lastly you can specify a budget amount.
This will then return both the listings and a map displaying where the listings are, which can be helpful.
If you want to save your listing, create a shortlist of favorites. You need an account to do this, but it is a great way to manage listings of interest or in different locations.
Inquiry and Booking on AirBnB
Okay so you have found a couple that look interesting, what now?
- Read the reviews! They will often tell you things not in the listing. Was it noisy? Is it really in a good location? Was it clean? Check-in smooth?
- Look at the pictures. Know what is important to you- if you want a shower do you see one or is there only a bathtub? Want a table to eat at or a place to work? Do you see one? If there isn’t one shown in the pictures, chances are there isn’t one there. It might be helpful to create a checklist and look for the same items in each listing.
- Has the host taken the time to tell you about the apartment, location and things to do? This is part of them “selling” their property to you.
- My advice is ALWAYS contact the host and ask a question. Doesn’t matter what it is, you can ask about arrival, transport from the airport or train station, check-out, or how far it is to something you want to see. Why? You want to open the lines of communication and see how responsive and helpful they are. Also see if there are any language issues, your host and you may not speak the same language. You will be staying here, if something goes wrong will they respond quickly and be helpful? Or will it take days to get an answer and then be less than helpful. Remember there is no front desk to go down and ask; this person is your local host.
- Always check the cancellation terms.
Tip: If you are flexible, many hosts offer a discount for weekly or monthly stays. A month long stay in some locations can be substantially discounted.
We have stayed in some AirBnB properties for a month for about the same cost of 5-6 nights in a hotel room. And had much more room and been more comfortable. As we like to cook when we travel, we always look for a kitchen. This can provide us with an opportunity to go to the local markets and shop at the grocery store. We also prefer a space to work from that is comfortable. Using AirBnB can help you stretch your budget much further. If you like luxury hotels, tack a couple of nights on in a different location at the beginning or end of the trip.
Booking on AirBnB
Okay you have found your perfect accommodation, corresponded with the host. AirBnB takes care of the payment. Unfortunately you pay when you book it, but the owner isn’t paid until you check-in.
Once you have made the booking you need to make arrangements with the host for check-in and check-out. (You can discuss this when you make contact with the host in your inquiry, then you are just confirming in this step.)
If someone is going to meet you there, be respectful of their time and either be on time or let them know you are running late. If you are going to obtain keys from somewhere make sure you have instructions. Also check the instructions for how to get there. It is amazing what some people provide for directions or instructions for key pick-up. Also, at the risk of pointing out the obvious, if you don’t have a mobile phone that works in that country telling you to call is not going to work, or email or text or anything else.
If on arrival you find there are some issues, contact the host first. If you can’t resolve it, contact AirBnB, they can help you out.
Our Experience Using AirBnB
Using AirBnB frequently saves us a lot of money and allows our travel budget to go further. We have had some wonderful hosts. Really helpful and considerate people who go the extra mile to make sure you enjoy your trip.
This may be as simple as a welcoming bottle of wine or providing breakfast provisions, maps and tourist brochures. Or concierge activities like arranging transportation, translating for us, letting us check-out late in the evening to catch an overnight flight, someone to ask questions, printing a document or even taking us on a walking tour of the neighborhood and showing us their favorite places.
We have had a few hiccups- usually around check-in (thus the advice above!), but nothing that has ruined a trip or stopped us from using AirBnB again. We have used the site for close to five years now, all over the world, and we have only had to actually leave a property once. For this AirBnB got involved including refunding our money.
The issue, since you are dying to know, was the listing was inaccurate and we had booked for a month. For a week, we might have been able to stick it out, but we were paying way too much for an apartment that lacked the basics (a microwave is not a kitchen in my book) and did not have the amenities represented in the listing. This was my own fault as I was in a hurry and made an exception to the “see it in the picture” rule and instead took the owner’s word for it. Had this been a hotel I had prepaid, I wouldn’t have had any recourse. The property we moved to was excellent and probably a better choice anyway so it all worked out for the best.
One of the things I really like using AirBnB is the ability to find a place with plenty of room, a kitchen, work space and a great location. It makes traveling much more pleasant and allows us to experience a place more like a local than a tourist. When we travel with others, be it friends or family, using AirBnB enables us to find a place we can all be comfortable in and still have a place to share some time together. A BBQ, a home-cooked meal or a game in the living room is sometimes much better after a hectic day of touring than having to find a restaurant and go out yet again for something to eat. We can still eat out when we want but it gives us a lot more control over our budget and diet.
If you haven’t tried AirBnB, hopefully we have convinced you to give it a try. For your first stay, you can use this referral link and receive a $20 USD discount on your first stay.
Have you used AirBnB? What has been your experience using AirBnB when you travel? Or do you have any questions we didn’t cover? Just leave a comment below. We will answer.