We absolutely love Airbnb and stayed in over 15 Airbnb homes! From our $60/night Airbnb in Bangkok to our 15 person rental in Venice to our stays in Amsterdam, Costa Rica and Cuba, we have become experts in picking a great one. As a family of four Airbnb has saved us a lot of money and given our kids a lot more space to run around over a cramped hotel room, like our family-friendly Airbnb in Copenhagen. We get to live like locals and have a kitchen to cook meals when we don’t feel like eating out. If you haven’t joined Airbnb yet, sign up here and save $40 on your first stay. No need to be nervous about booking an Airbnb, just follow my tips below.
Read the Reviews
It is very important to read the reviews of the Airbnb host. While you shouldn’t let one person’s negative experience taint all the positive reviews be very diligent in reading as many reviews as possible. Unlike a hotel, there isn’t a manager you can go downstairs to speak with if something is not to your liking to get it fixed immediately.
Be Wary of Booking Hosts With No Reviews
I know that every Airbnb host has to start somewhere but I’m not interested in my family being a host’s guinea pig. I personally only book properties that have a minimum of 10 reviews with at least 3 being in the past 2 months. The only time I break this rule is if the host has other properties with excellent reviews. Airbnb has Super Hosts who have multiple properties and maintain a positive rating of 95% and above so I at least know the host is trustworthy and keeps up their properties.
Review the Photos
The photos are just as important as the reviews. They will show you exactly what to expect in the home, bedroom configurations, bathroom set-up, TVs, if the home has an open floor plan or not and anything you’d need to know. If it looks a mess in the photos it will most likely look a mess in real life. When reviewing the photos of the place if you find there aren’t photos of the bathroom or the listing states 3 bedrooms but you only see pictures of 2 ask the host to provide additional photos if they’re reluctant it’s probably a bad sign.
This is the Airbnb we stayed in during our trip to Honolulu. The Airbnb was half the cost of getting a hotel, had free parking, a washer/dryer, and there were restaurants on the same block.
Research the Location
While Airbnb won’t provide the exact address of the rental until your booking is made it does give the proximity if you look at the location map. With this, you can typically find nearby cross streets that will allow you to figure out the neighborhood. Be sure to research this for safety as well as access to public transportation or how walkable the area is if you will be without a car.
Message the Host
Even if the listing is an Instant Booking I always message the host first. This allows me to see how quickly they respond and how helpful they are. If it takes them days to respond to your inquiry of when you’re trying to put cash in their pockets imagine how poorly their responses will be once they have your coins.
Ask for Any Special Requests Up Front
One of the things I love most about Airbnb is their hosts typically are much better at accommodating special requests. When traveling to Europe we typically take the red-eye landing us in our destination at 6 or 7AM. While most hotels won’t allow you to check in that early without paying for an additional day, most Airbnb hosts will at no additional cost but you need to ask in advance. As someone who often travels with my young children, this is a huge deal as we usually need a quick nap before heading out to explore.
Determine What You Need to Bring and What is Provided
While unlimited towels, wash clothes, soap and other basics are expected at hotels not all Airbnb’s offer these. If it’s not clear in the listing or you can’t tell from the reviews ask your host if there are any basic amenities you need to bring.
Confirm the Check-In Procedure
Each Airbnb is different when it comes to checking in. In some cases, the host will meet you at the home to let you in and show you around. Other times there will be a lockbox with the key or a door with a keypad. We have also stayed in homes where we picked the key up from a neighbor or neighborhood store clerk. Just be clear of the check-in prior to your arrival so there aren’t any surprises when you get there.
Once you arrive to your Airbnb do a walkthrough of the place to check for any major issues, like misrepresentative photos, an incorrect location, or cleanliness issues. If things are unacceptable take photos and be sure to contact Airbnb’s customer service immediately. Contacting them within 24 hours can make processing any necessary refund easier.
Now sit back, relax and enjoy the savings and extra space booking an Airbnb has given you. Don’t forget to save $40 on your first stay by signing up here.