I’ve never been one for offering advice when it comes to travel, as I always feel that someone else will have done it much better. My forte is more what to pack in your make-up bag, but we will get onto that another day. However, after my recent trip to Italy with Gemma, I do feel like a little bit of a pro at using Airbnb for my travel accommodation.
Airbnb is an online community where people list their spare rooms, apartments, probably sometimes even mansions for holidaymakers and travellers to rent. It can be great if you are on a budget, travelling solo, or looking for something last minute; the latter of which normally always applies to me.
I have been using Airbnb for over 3 years now, and below I have compiled a few things that I have learnt to help you not only book the best accommodation for you, but so you can also make the most of your stay….
“Central” in the listing does not always mean central. On several occasions, I have seen a listing that brags of being in a central location and when I’ve arrived and discovered it’s actually a 3 mile walk to the city centre, I have felt a little cheated and a little disheartened. Now, I always make sure to use the view the listing on a map tool. This way, you can get a good idea of the nearest transport links, the area in which you will be staying, and what attractions are nearby.
Your host is a local, ask them for advice. One thing that sets Airbnb apart from say hotels is that you are staying in someone’s home. Our recent visit to beautiful Bologna was short but sweet, and the reason it was so sweet; we had a lovely chat with Zita, our host, and she told us where to go, what to see and what to eat – most of the time, your host lives and breathes their city so take advantage of this – get to know them and ask where to go for the best pizza slice or the best espresso – something only a local, and not Google, can tell you!
Read the description thoroughly. I made the vital mistake of not correctly reading a listing recently, and I had no idea that there would be no towels when I arrived at the apartment. And let’s just say, I wasn’t prepared and using my pyjama t-shirt to dry myself for two days was not my favourite experience ever. Always make sure to read through the description, amenities, house rules and any other information your host provides. A lot of time, thought and effort has gone into creating their listing so be sure to spend the time having a read; it will make for a much smoother experience.
Communicate with your host. One thing I always make sure to do is to arrange check-in with my host as early on as I can, so that they have plenty of time to make arrangements if they don’t live at the property or are at work. Don’t be put off if a listing has a check in time of 2:00pm and you arrive at 12:00; most Airbnb hosts are lovely and if they can let you check in earlier or check out later, they will! Many hosts will also be more than willing to help you with local transport and reaching the property so don’t be afraid to message them asking for advice, and do call them if you are trying to find the property and are lost; I guarantee they won’t be annoyed, they know you’re in a strange place!
Know what you want. Some locations have 100s of listings, I remember once searching for “Paris” and boy did it scare me how many listings there were. Before you begin your search, decide on the area where you would like to stay, for example we decided on the 11th arrondissement, pick a budget – Airbnb has some amazing cheap rentals, so don’t think you have to pay extortionate prices – and decide whether you want an entire place, or a private or shared room. It’s also good if you know your dates of travel before you start the search – this way only listings that are available on those dates will show in the search and you won’t be disappointed when you find out that beautiful apartment looking out to the Golden Gate Bridge was actually booked up months ago! Do also use the search on map tool – a great way to ensure only properties within a certain radius are displayed to you – we did this for our recent trip to Venice and had the perfect location!
Remember to write something on your Airbnb profile. Potential hosts will want to get a vague idea of who you are as a person, why you love to travel, what you love to do, before they agree to share their home with you. It doesn’t need to be an essay, but don’t just stick to your age and location. Oh, and be sure to upload a picture!
My last and probably the most important point; RESPECT! Your host is opening their home to you, it is not a hotel; show them respect, clean up after yourselves especially if using a shared kitchen or bathroom, and remember to thank them for their hospitality! A lot of the time, Airbnb is a lot cheaper than staying in a hotel, and these hosts didn’t need to let you stay, they chose to, so show your appreciation – I’m not talking paying gratuity or buying gifts; a heartfelt thank you will do!
If you’re a first time Airbnb’er, I hope these tips come in handy! If you are more experienced and can think of anything else, please leave a comment!
Thanks for reading!