Part of the Airbnb philosophy involves creating a more social, authentic travel experience by pairing travelers with hosts in more than 34,000 cities around the world. Travelers looking to stay like a local can search for the perfect room or entire home to make their trip one of a kind.
I have had my share of good and bad Airbnb experiences. Everything from no heater in a winter cabin in Colorado to a condo with a perfect beach view. I have learned so much about how to select the right place to stay, making sure that it fits within my trips parameters and is a place that helps me stay like a local.
Ask Yourself Is Airbnb For Me?
Airbnb properties are not hotels. Taste, cancelation policies, host personalities and price vary wildly. If you crave the consistency and the amenities of a standard hotel experience, Airbnb is not for you. Understand that the authentic, local Airbnb experience comes in many forms. Closets might be full of the owner’s belongings and you may encounter the hosts leftovers in the fridge. (I’m looking at you Melbourne Australia flat)
Do Location Research
Good research is the key finding the right rental. Start by finding the location you want to stay in. Get specific. Do you need to be within walking distance of a certain venue? Do you have your heart set on a specific view? If you have no idea what part of the city you want to stay in, start by googling, “best part of X city to live in”. I have even used the Zillow app to hunt down the right area.
Make A List Of Absolute Requirements
Are you willing to only have a room? Is your pet coming with you? Does it have free internet? If you are renting a car, where will you park? Washer/dryer? Do you want to make your own meals? What are your requirements for a happy stay.
Talk To Your Entire Group
Something to think about if you are traveling with a group is how everyone feels about common space sleeping. I personally am not a fan, others we have traveled with do not mind it. You need to know where everyone wants to sleep before starting your search because it will help you narrow it down. Also consider if those sleeping in a common space will want to pay less because of it.
Look For High-Quality Photos & A Detailed Description
I have made it my personal rule to never select an Airbnb with less than 8, high quality pictures. You need to know what you are getting yourself into and photos are the best way to do that. Keep in mind while you look at the pictures what is not included in them. Is the location a 2 bath, but you only see one? Ask about it. After looking at the pictures, I like to read the description and make sure they match. If something seems off, then move on. Oh and ask for more pictures of something specific, like that second bathroom, if you are unsure.
Read All The Property Rules
The rules vary, so make sure to read them. Some are reasonable and some are odd. Our rental in Dallas requested that we water their millions of plants every day. We decided to pass. If you are bringing your pet, the rules are especially important. Not reading them could end up costing you money, so make sure you read them. The cancellation policy is also very important.
Read ALL Of The Reviews
I cannot stress this enough, the reviews are so important, read them. You can learn a lot about the host, the sleeping arrangements and tons of other things you might not have thought about by reading the reviews. I especially love when someone reviews a location and a pro for them is a con to me.
Message The Host With Any & All Questions
A quick response from the host is a good sign that they are open and honest. If you are staying a week, make sure to ask if there is a washer and dryer in unit, otherwise you might end up using the coin machine down stairs. Also, a long stay might require a dish washer or disposal. Ask if it’s important to you.
Know The Minimums
Planning a road trip with a new Airbnb every night sounds like a great idea and is something I plan on doing in California next summer, but minimums can make that difficult. If you only want to stay somewhere for a night, make sure there are no minimums before getting your heart set on a rental. There are more fish in the sea and no rental is worth changing all your plans.
Verify How You Will Get Into The Rental
Be sure and check very carefully how you will be accessing your rental. Some are very strict about times you have to be there, times you leave, where and how you will get your key or access to the property, etc. Sometimes, this makes using an Airbnb for one night very cumbersome.
Look For Discounts
If you are going to be staying for an extended period of time, make sure to find a rental that gives you a weekly discount. Most of them do now, but occasionally I find one that does not and we pass on them.
Understand The Cancelation Policy
Make sure your rental has a cancellation policy you like. Some allow a full 100% refund up to 7 days in advance and some will not give you a refund no matter the circumstances. I like the ability to cancel, personally. And because we always book a place that allows us to do so, before the cancellation date comes I always go back to the rental and read all the new reviews. Most of the time things are still great, but every once in a while, they are not and I cancel the booking. It is just a little extra precaution I like to take.
Google Maps is Your Friend
Right before I book I always check out google maps and google street view. Maps helps me figure out how close everything is to the rental I have selected and street view is a way for me to double check the neighborhood and home I have selected. This is my last step in my due diligence.
That is my list. What ninja trick do you use to book that perfect Airbnb rental? I would love to hear from you.