Airbnb is a really hot topic right now. Some of us have heard horror stories from the news. However, my experience with Airbnb has always been very positive. For those who don’t know, Airbnb allows individuals to rent out their homes to travelers. There are three options for Airbnb: (1.) Entire home to yourself, (2.) Private room in a home, (3.) Shared room in a home. I’ve never shared a room – but I have rented an entire home, and rented a private room. I’ve never felt unsafe, but I do my due diligence prior to booking.
Here are some general tips for selecting great Airbnbs, and some tips specific to private room stays.
General Airbnb Tips
- READ THE REVIEWS: It’s always best to stick with places that have a lot of reviews. However, if you want to go with somewhere that only has a few (say 5-7), make sure all the reviews are 5-star.
- Check the amenities. Some places provide towels, soap, etc. Some don’t. Don’t automatically expect all of the benefits of a hotel. Most of the Airbnbs I’ve stayed at had all of the hotel amenities and more – tea, coffee, snacks, towels, lotion, tampons, etc etc etc. It all goes back to reading the reviews.
- Be aware of location. You should do this regardless of where you stay, but Airbnbs are in private homes, so they may not be in the area of your typical tourist activities. Take that into account when calculating savings.
- Know the check-in policies. What are the policies for coming in late at night? What are the policies for checking in early? Is there a key lock, or is it coded access? If someone has to meet you with a key, there is going to be less flexibility than a home with coded access.
- Contact your host prior to booking. I always send a note to the host, even if I have the option to “book instantly.” I introduce myself, let them know why I am coming, then ask any questions I have. I do this in order to check response rate. The last thing you want is to try to check in or have an issue, and have a host that takes forever to respond.
As I mentioned, there are two options for a shared Airbnb. You may be sharing a room or you may have your own private room. Some things to pay attention to:
- Is the bathroom shared? I ALWAYS stay at places that have a private bathroom. I can’t fathom sharing a bathroom with a complete stranger.
- READ THE REVIEWS. I said this for the other one, but it is even more important that you read reviews when you are sharing space. See what people complain about. Some things I look for:
- Are there pets? I’m not a fan of pets, so I steer clear. Some people have pet allergies. Not every host puts on their profile that they have pets, but it’s almost always in the reviews
- What is the temperature in the home? Some people keep their homes warm, others cold. When you are sharing the home, common courtesy is to keep the temperature in the home as is.
- Can you use the extra areas? Read the descriptions very carefully. Some places stipulate that you must only use the area that you are sleeping in, while others give you full access to the home – kitchen, backyard and other areas.
- Is the host on site? Some people just rent out the place, while others actually live on site. If the host does not live on site, know that you may be sharing the space with other strangers. This is a little less predictable than when you are sharing the home with a host.
I feel that Airbnb is a great option for solo travelers, whether you are trying to remain budget conscious, want something different, or want a built in family.
Always remember that you are in someone’s home, not a hotel. Take your shoes off if you see that the carpet is really nice. Don’t get stains all over the towels. Pick up after yourself – yes, there is a cleaning fee, but your host can rate you. If you trash their home, they are going to leave an unfavorable rating and others will not host you. Outside of that, you wouldn’t want guests in your home to trash your house.
Have you used Airbnb? What was your experience with it? Comment below.