If you are going to be traveling for an extended period of time, chances are you won’t want to stay at a hotel. Not only can it be very costly, but it can be very hard to feel like you are at home in that type of environment. So what options do you have? Hostels are great if you are young and want the experience of living with other people, but not very enjoyable if you are traveling for work, with your family, or will need peace and quiet. As I said before in a previous post about travel hacking: “I’ve stayed in hostels before, and there’s no shame in that. But there is a time in life to enjoy the finer things.” House swapping or short term rentals can be risky and hard to come by. That leaves a fairly popular option, Airbnb.
I’ve stayed in hostels before, and there’s no shame in that. But there is a time in life to enjoy the finer things.
Airbnb is a website that offers short-term rentals. People sign up and put either their entire home or parts of their home up for rent. There are some great benefits to using Airbnb; it can be cheaper than a hotel, you will typically have more space, and it can provide a unique experience. But there are some things to watch out for though. Ask anyone who’s stayed in an Airbnb before, and you’ll likely get some mixed reviews. Seems Airbnb stays are a “hit and miss”. Not ideal if you’re planning for that long awaited (and saved for) trip.
I’m not even talking about the horror stories regarding cleanliness (or the lack thereof), or hidden cameras inside the properties. I’ve seen it all. But what happens more often is misrepresentation of the property. In other words: the pictures looked (way) better than reality. Even though you are unhappy about that upon arrival, there is little you can do at that moment. Not all hosts are good with communication, or may not even be available at all. That means if there is a problem while you are renting (such as the cable, water, or electric going out), there may not be anything you’ll be able to do. You always have the option of contacting customer service for a refund and leaving a bad review, but that is something people are hesitant to do because it might cause future rental requests to be denied. Plus, your trip is already ruined.
So how can you do your best to ensure that your Airbnb stay is enjoyable? Here are 5 criteria that will help you validate the property before booking, which hopefully will help your next stay in an Airbnb to be a successful one:
1. Check Out The Reviews
Pretty pictures and story like property descriptions can be useful and enticing, but the only way to really know what kind of rental you could be getting is to read the reviews. This will often reveal information about the listing that the hosts won’t. While there are bound to be some people who are never happy and will leave a bad review regardless of how enjoyable the rental was, keep an eye out for issues that are mentioned multiple times.
2. Google Street View
One of the perks of using Airbnb is being able to skip the hotels and feel like less of a tourist. Using Google Maps to check out the general area of the rental will help you see what kind of restaurants and shops are nearby. This will also help you find out if it looks like a safe neighborhood that you would want to stay in.
3. Instant Book
When you finally find a place you want to rent on Airbnb, you’ll need to be approved by the host. This can be and hard, especially if you have never rented before. The best way to get around that is by finding a listing in the Instant Book category. Just look for the lightning bolt next to the price. If it has one, you can book the rental right away, no approval needed.
4. Ask Questions
Communicating with a potential host before you book your rental can help you in many ways. It can get you answers to questions, get an idea of their personality, and ease any concerns you might have. Most hosts respond within 24 hours. If it takes days and days for your host to respond that can be a bad sign and you might want to consider moving on to your next option.
If you are trying to keep your rental budget friendly, keep an eye out for fees. Besides the nightly price, Airbnb has 5 additional fees that can be added on. These are the cleaning fee, service fee, extra guest fee, value-added tax, and local taxes. If you are unsure of what fees might be added to your bill, follow our previous step and don’t be afraid to ask.
Bonus Tip. Go VIP
Maybe you’re like me and Airbnb’ing isn’t your thing. Check out my Travel Revolution class to see how I often secure hotel room upgrades and VIP status at many hotels around the world. That way I save money, get a unique experience (upgrade!). As I said before, there’s is a time in life to enjoy the finer things. And it’s up to you to decide when that time starts. Staying in the cheapest hotel possible is not the experience that’s worthwhile remembering. I hardly ever stay in the room category I booked – hotels always upgrade me to something nicer. Quite often much nicer than what I paid for. Instead of shopping for the lowest price, learn how to get the best experience with many extras and benefits included, like free meals, room upgrades and other bonuses. Watch the Travel Revolution preview video today.