We’ve shared apartments in Edinburgh, booked a house set in the cliffs of Capri (Sophia Loren’s house was next door), had the warmest welcome at an Irish guest house, stayed in the cutest apartment around the corner from the Coliseum in Rome. I mean seriously the list goes on but you catch my drift.
Without further ado here are our best advice to taking on Airbnb:
Don’t dismiss private rooms
I know it sounds scary and even weird to sleep in a stranger’s home, especially if they are home too. But that is what the review section is for. Airbnb has strict rules on reviews so there aren’t fake one like sites such as Yelp.
If you’re on a budget private rooms are going to be your best friend. It isn’t as bad as staying in a hostel, I promise. But the upside is its just as cheap and most of them are lightyears cleaner.
Our first private room was in Edinburgh, Scotland and Niki and I were super nervous. Would the hosts be weird, rude, make us feel uncomfortable? The answer to all of that is of course a big NO. Our hosts were really warm and helpful but they didn’t over do it either. If we had questions they had answers but they weren’t trying to be our best friend either. Most hosts use Airbnb as side income so they are at work during the day anyways. I think we saw them once or twice in the three nights we stayed there.
I always book with hosts who say something along the lines of “We love hosting our guests and answering questions but our priority is to respect your privacy. We are available whenever you need us.” This tells me that they won’t be counting down the minutes until I arrive back to sleep for the night and they aren’t going to make me feel uncomfortable.
Remember the only reason you need to stay somewhere is for sleep and maybe to cook a couple meals. You didn’t fly to Scotland to sit in an apartment all day, you’re going to be too busy doing all the things!
Pay attention to the details
You will find places that have every detail about their home listed, what it has to offer and their rules and expectations of their guests. There will be other listings where the host uploaded a few pictures and included the bare minimum of information. I prefer to stay where the host has provided well-informed expectations so that I know if their home is a good fit for me ahead of time.
For example, one of our stays in Ireland: we checked-in and our host told us that she holds a strict curfew.?! It felt like we were 16 again, of course we had way too much fun and didn’t come home on time so I had to call her and ask permission to stay out past TEN! It was pretty bizarre.
Think about what you want out of your stay and then use the filters on Airbnb in your search:
- A kitchen will save you a ton of money for easy meals
- Access to a washer and dryer
- Parking for your rental car
- Wifi access
- Close proximity to public transportation
Don’t forget to check the cancellation policy so you know how much time you have if you change your plans.
Use the interactive map
The map is a really great tool for choosing which neighborhood you want to stay in. When we stayed in Rome we knew we wanted to stay within walking distance of the places we were planning to visit. We used the map to find the cutest apartment just a two minute walk from the Coliseum.
If you have a car push the map out further from the heart of the city to find significantly cheaper options.
Google the neighborhood so you don’t end up like Niki when she visited Washington DC a few weeks ago. When her Uber driver dropped her off he told her not to walk around alone because she booked herself an apartment in a not-so-great neighborhood.
Airbnb prices fluctuate with the seasons. Try to be flexible with your dates and you are more likely to be find cheaper rates. Off season not only gives you better deals but gives you your destination all to yourself. There is something magical about a far off place that you don’t have to fight crowds to enjoy.
Weekdays are often cheaper to book than weekends! Most listings offer a percentage off for booking a full week or even a month. Do your homework and you will find places with prices that make you do a happy dance.
As someone who hosts an Airbnb, we love when potential guests introduce themselves.
- Be nice
- Tell us what your travel plans are
- Why you’re visiting the area, etc.
We are willing to welcome strangers into our home so try not to be shy. Give us a reason to approve your stay without having to hope we made the right decision.
Hosts are not the only reviews on Airbnb, guests are also reviewed by their hosts. Some hosts do not accept a guest unless they have at least one review already. So try to be a decent human being.
Staying in someone’s home is not equatable to a hotel room.
- Tidy up after yourself
- Don’t be loud and obnoxious
- Try not to break things
If you are interested in the cutest little town in Northern Italy here is our Airbnb listing, we would love to host you 🙂