There’s travelling like a tourist and then there’s travelling like a local. Airbnb has made the second option so much easier in recent years. By staying out of hotels and hostels and getting to live in a home, your travel experience can be completely different and sometimes more enriching. I love being able to experience real-life when I travel and not just stick to the usual tourist opportunities. Don’t get me wrong, I still love doing an open-top tour bus and a bunch of museum and attraction visits when I travel to somewhere new but I also like to understand the normal way of life for locals.
I’ve stayed in Airbnb properties for city breaks, overnight stops and even for a month-long rental. I’ve stayed in Airbnb properties where we’ve had the whole apartment or house to ourselves and I’ve stayed in rooms within a house where the owners are also still resident. I’ve stayed in Airbnb properties for breaks with a boyfriend, on holiday with my parents and on trips by myself.
I’ve learnt a fair few things about using Airbnb which I hope will be useful to others wanting to use Airbnb. So, in this post, I’m sharing 6 things you should know about using Airbnb…
1. Remember that it isn’t a hotel
Everyone has different standards when it comes to maintaining their home. No-one tells an Airbnb property owner how they should clean and furnish their home and no-one checks up on them to ensure a particular level of cleanliness and hospitality has been met. In many cases, it won’t be exactly a home from home so be prepared that you may not be faced with clean towels and bed linens (and I just hope it isn’t any worse than that). Although the listing may say that basics are provided, you may find only one toilet roll for a family of 4 for a two-week stay.
It is important that you check the Amenities icons on the listing carefully, read the description fully, check out all of the photos and read through the reviews. That way you should get a more complete picture of what you’ll likely be faced with on arrival.
2. Understand what the total cost will be
The Airbnb listing might show £72 per night but check the section about pricing and also do an availability check for your trip dates to make sure you know exactly what you’ll be paying for. Some places charge more for a weekend, some places add a discount for a longer stay, some places include a cleaning fee, some places charge a supplement for extra guests, and then there’s also the service fee for Airbnb.
3. Communicate with your host
Building up a good rapport with your host is ideal, even if you’re not actually going to meet them face to face during your stay. Ask them for local recommendations and also if there’s anything specific you’d need to know about the property – you don’t want to show up somewhere in the midst of winter and not be able to figure out how to turn the heating on!
Having a good level of communication is also helpful when it comes to collecting and returning keys. I’ve heard stories of people turning up as per the listing info and then not being able to get hold of the host and being stuck outside for hours or worse. Sending a reminder message just before your trip to clarify the process and making sure you have all the contact details you need is definitely the way to go.
4. Don’t make assumptions
The listing may show a beautiful kitchen and mention the lovely farmers’ market that happens across the street but that doesn’t mean the cupboards are well-stocked with cooking utensils and equipment and you’d actually be able to cook a decent meal there. It’s important not to make assumptions about a property as it may leave you disappointed on arrival.
5. Always have a back up listing for your trip
Owners can cancel a trip with quite short notice. I’ve had this happen twice but thankfully had enough time to find other bookings instead. This was made easier by having a few back up options saved in a wish list so I already knew what was available during my trip dates.
6. Do some local research
Just because the listing says it’s in a ‘good’ area of the city, it could still be on the worst street in that neighbourhood or next door to a loud, all-night club that hasn’t been mentioned in the listing. Do some local research into the area and the exact location to make sure you’re comfortable with where you’re going to be staying.
Also, the listing might say it’s only a 5 minute walk from the nearest bus stop but if that bus route doesn’t go anywhere you need to get to then it isn’t very helpful. Again, do your own research and make sure to choose a property in an area that works for you.
Have you stayed at an Airbnb property? Was your experience positive or negative? What was the main thing you learnt? Leave me a comment and let me know.