Airbnb Tips and Tricks
Airbnb has made apartment sharing all the rage for travellers across the globe. As a budget conscious traveller myself, I rarely stay in hotels and much prefer apartment sharing. In fact, I'll confess, at the risk of sounding like a terrible hipster, that I've been apartment sharing for years, long before Airbnb came on the scene.
And I honestly can't recommend it enough.
Apartment sharing saves you money on accommodations, but it can also help you save a ton by allowing you to cook for yourself. Don't get me wrong, eating out at restaurants is one of my favourite things about travelling, but I don't always need to do it three times a day. Even just cooking breakfast for yourself can save a bundle when you're travelling on a budget.
Apartment sharing is also great if you're travelling in a group. Splitting the cost of a two bedroom Airbnb will keep your expenses considerably lower than if you'd booked two separate hotel rooms. Plus, apartment sharing allows you to experience the community like a local and spend your time living in a less touristy neighbourhood.
Needless to say, after nearly ten years of solo travel and apartment hopping across Europe, I've picked up a few things along the way. If you've never tried Airbnb or are relatively new to the concept, here are some important tips and tricks to keep in mind to ensure you have an amazing stay in your home-away-from-home.
1. Set Up Your Payment in Advance and Follow Protocol
Never, never, never conduct a financial transaction outside of the Airbnb platform. If you do, you risk being a victim of fraud and if anything goes wrong with your stay, you won't be entitled to a refund. Airbnb won't be able to help you in any way if you conduct a transaction independently. They've got pretty great systems in place to handle the small chance of any issues between you and your host, but you have to follow their protocol in order to be protected. Also: set up your payment method with Airbnb before you try to book. Airbnb won't confirm a booking unless your payment method has been verified and confirmed. Make sure you're all set up in advance to avoid someone else snapping up the perfect apartment.
2. Read Reviews With a Grain of Salt
Remember that there are two sides to every story, so think critically when you're reading reviews. I was once looking to book an apartment where a lot of reviews said it was smaller than expected. But when I read the apartment description provided by the hosts, it included the actual square footage of the unit. Common sense told me that there was nothing deceptive about this listing and that many of their guests weren't doing their research before booking. Which brings me to my third point...
3. Read the ENTIRE listing
Airbnb encourages hosts to be as detailed as possible about their apartment and the listing should tell you everything you need to know about parking, WIFI, and whether or not to expect a TV upon arrival. A good listing will also tell you something about the neighbourhood so you should have a pretty good idea of what you're getting into. Don't rely on photos alone and read every little detail the host provides to avoid disappointment upon arrival. If the listing seems to lack important details and the hosts aren't responsive to questions, give that apartment a pass and book somewhere else instead.
4. Get an International Phone Plan
This obviously only applies if you're using Airbnb on international travels. It may seem like an unnecessary expense to get an international phone plan, but it is an absolute must if you're apartment sharing. With the money you've saved by not staying in a hotel, the small expense of a phone plan is nothing. I learned this one the hard way. When you're apartment sharing, you don't have access to a 24hr concierge at a hotel desk to facilitate your check-in or handle issues. If anything goes wrong or if your flight is delayed, you need to be able to get in touch with your hosts. I was once locked out of an apartment share for hours because my plane was severely delayed and I had no way to contact my host. After waiting for me for hours, the guy gave up and went home. That was a rookie mistake I made in my early twenties that I will never make again.
5. Be Honest
Remember that someone is inviting you into their home so be honest if something goes wrong or you break something. Accidents happen and most people are understanding and reasonable. If you break something, be honest and own up to it. If you do, the hosts are more likely to forgive and forget. A friend I was staying with once spilled red wine all over the white bedsheets at an apartment we'd rented. We owned up to it, had the sheets cleaned, offered to pay for replacement bedding if needed, and the host never charged us a penny. If we'd said nothing and left a big mess behind for him to deal with, I firmly believe the outcome would have been different.
Apartment sharing with Airbnb is a great opportunity for travellers to experience a city like the locals and I truly believe it opens door for more budget-conscious adventurers. That being said, booking a stay with Airbnb is different from booking with a hotel in more ways than one. I hope my tips and ticks will help you navigate the world of apartment sharing on your next vacation.
Have you used Airbnb before? What do you think about apartment sharing?