Booking & Choosing an Air bnb for travel

Saturday, April 27, 2019

My first time using Air bnb was January 2018 when I visited New York (picture above), and since then I have stayed in an Air bnb in Paris and in England. Booking an Air bnb for the first time can definitely be NERVE WRACKING, and I can't tell you how many HOURS I spent browsing listings online to find the perfect place for my travels, but in the end I have become more comfortable and confident with Air bnb and wanted to share some of the tips and lessons I have learned along the way:

  • Look At All Your Options: Air bnb can seem overwhelming at times, and to be honest there are so many options to choose from, but if you are on a budget or looking for something specific you really do have to take the time to look at all your options. Make sure to save your top places in a folder for that trip so you can go back to look at them. Once you have narrowed down your options then you can choose from those. If I am being honest I probably spent over 2 hours finding our air bnb for NY and about an hour for my Glasgow trip.
  • Thoroughly Check Reviews: Reviews are my lifeline on Air bnb....granted, I have only used air bnb 3 times, but I never add a place to my list or book unless the reviews are good. I always look to see if the host communicates well with guests, is available to help with questions or once you arrive, give you plenty of information, has the place clean, etc....
  • Check To See How Long They Have Been A Host: I also like to see how long they have been a host on Air will tell you on their profile, but also if they have been a host for awhile they will have more reviews which helps you narrow down your choices. The crazy thing is that when I booked our Air bnb for New York the place we chose was very new, there was only 1 review and the host had only been on for about 6 was kind of nerve wracking and I almost didn't book, but everything seemed perfect and the host got back to me in a timely manner and thankfully by the time our trip came around here were many more reviews (which were all good).
  • Message Them: Always reach out! I never book a place or even seriously consider it until I message the host and see how long it takes them to get back to me, even if it's just a simple general question like "Hey, I am thinking about booking your place and was wondering ___________". I like doing this simply to see if they are really active and if they would be able to answer questions if I need them to. It also shows them that you are interested and sometimes they will go ahead and put those dates on hold for you. 
  • Make Sure it Offers What You Need: Air bnb always lists what the place offers like, wifi, and extra bed, coffee maker, etc....look to make sure it has all the amenities you need for your stay, especially if you are staying for a longer time. 
  • Location, Location:  Always consider the places you are wanting to go and see where you are traveling. I always like to try and pick a place that is in a central location to the sights I want to see. On air bnb, you can see the general location of the place, so you can visually see where it is in regards to sights you want to see. However, don't book a place just because it is cheap if it is super far from the places you are wanting to go. Also, if you are booking an Air bnb in a place that uses a Subway system as it's major form of transportation I like to find a place to stay that is near a subway station, bus stop, or train. 
  • Mapquest and Research The Neighborhood: On air bnb they never give you the exact address of a place until you book it, so when you look on their map you will only get a general idea of where the place is at. For my New York trip I actually asked the host more about the neighborhood and location and they answered some questions for me. The helpful thing is that on air bnb they show you a map with the star of the general location, but you can actually zoom in to see a 3D google earth view and sometimes see the street, which is helpful in determining a location.
  • Pay Attention To Security Deposit: Air bnb always gives you a price breakdown for each place, but when you are searching places they only give you the general amount, so if a place says it $87 a night you won't know that it could have a $20 security deposit and $10 cleaning fee until you look at the price breakdown, so in total you would nto be paying $87, your total would be $117. This sometimes causes me to take places off of my "potential list" because when you add up all the costs it is more expensive. When I traveled to New York last January our apartment in New York was a higher price per night than some places, but the security deposit was lower so it evened out. 
  • Check In and Check Out .... always ask if they are flexible with it: some places have self check in which is helpful so you have a lot of flexibility there but others have a specific time frame which might not always work with your travel schedule. A lot of hosts are flexible with times and are usually accommodating so ask before you decide. If you needed an early morning check in because of an early flight I might suggest booking the day before that way the place is already yours, and just communicate this with your host. Some hosts even have "self check in" where they give you the code to a lock box with the key to the apartment, that was the case for our Air bnb in England and it was so helpful with out weird schedule. 
  • Communicate With Host & Arrive When You Say: Air bnb has a built in messaging interface (you are not supposed to contact them outside of the app) for you to contact and communicate with your host. Let them know your arrival/departure time frame and make sure to arrive when you actually told them you were arriving so that things are ready for you :) All the hosts I have had so far were great about communication and super helpful with my odd schedule. 
  • Leave The Place Better Than You Left It: I have always been taught to leave any place I am visiting better than when I first arrived, so make sure to clean up after yourself when you leave so that there is less work for your host! 
  • Go With Your Gut: It can be a bit nerve wracking booking on air bnb because you are choosing to stay at a random persons house/apartment. If something doesn't feel right stick with that feeling. Sometimes you might find a great place with perfect pictures and an awesome price, but if it is new to Air bnb and has no reviews yet I would be cautious. 
Following these steps has helped to relieve any uncertainty about booking an Air bnb and I hope it helps you when planning your next adventure!

- Madison


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  2. Airbnb is good idea when you're travelling abroad but I read somewhere bad reviews of airbnb. So, choose wisely and stay smart. Have a happy holiday.
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