Hands up if you love perusing Airbnb and shortlisting houses in each of your dream destinations? Yah, me too. I love creating Wish Lists for our ongoing itinerary and would prefer to stay in an Airbnb over a hotel any day.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few years you’ll know how insanely popular Airbnb has become, flipping the hotel industry on its head by offering unique ways for people to travel and changing the lives of its community. It’s now available pretty much anywhere in the world (across 65,000+ cities in 191 countries) so if you haven’t tried it, you’re in for a treat.
Plus if you sign up using this link you’ll get a discount on your first stay (and I’ll benefit too)!
What’s the appeal?
You get to live like a local. It’s much quicker to climatise to a new country when you come home to a house full of furniture, a fully stocked kitchen and a real ‘locals’ guide to the city. And if you’re lucky – you’ll make friends with your landlords so they can show you around or take you for a drink!
Also – they now do experiences! Guided bike tours through Tokyo, Live Salsa in Mexico and Wine tastings in Tuscany are all available to do with locals. It somehow feels more authentic than booking through a tour company and less ‘touristy’.
We’ve certainly been through a few Airbnb’s on our adventures and have picked up some valuable tips which have helped us secure some great spots, as well as dodge a few curveballs. Here they are;
What’s WiFi got to do with it?
Everything. Wifi is more important than you may think. We’re so used to that sweet taste of 4G LTE and think it’s available everywhere. Well listen up guys – it’s not. We learnt the hard way in Costa Rica and the learning curve cost us hours in productivity, a lot of back and forth with the hosts and led to an eventual house swap.
If you’re working remotely – I recommend the WiFi map app. It gives you a list of free WiFi spots and their passwords which can be a lifesaver. It’s a give-take community so you can upload any that you come across and is updated in real time.
If you’re on holidays – disregard this and turn off your damn phone. You’re on holidays!
Be Specific About what you want
If there’s something which is a deal breaker for you – tell the host when you’re making the request. Open communication can save a lot of hassle if there is a disagreement.
We always mention we work online, therefore need good a WiFi connection – so when one of our houses had a connection akin to dial-up we were in a good position to ask for a refund or be moved to another property.
Yes, the list of amenities will tell you what the house offers but if you arrive and find that your two bedroom villa doesn’t have a door between the two bedrooms (true story), there’s not much you can do.
The Longer you Stay the Less you Pay
Did you know that many Airbnb’s offer discounts for weekly, fortnightly and monthly stays? Yup. A monthly stay can be discounted by up to 60% off the total price!
For those of you doing a 6-night trip, go on and add another night – you’ll basically get it for free.
Occupancy Tax is Real
And it’s as high as 15% in some countries. About a year ago Airbnb agreed to start paying hotel tax in certain US states. Since then, it’s spread throughout the rest of America as well as France, Netherlands, Portugal and India. There is a loop hole, however, in that typically long-term stays are exempt from the tax.
Location, Location, Location
Seems kinda obvious but it’s easy to wooed by amazing houses just outside the city. If you do opt for a place outta town – make sure you have a car or have seen a bike rental shop nearby so you can get to the grocery store/the beach/the ski fields etc as not all areas offer taxi services and public transport can be MIA – trust me on this one.
Love thy Neighbour
You never know when you’re gonna need that cup’a brown sugar for that key lime pie you bakin – so it’s not a bad idea to go and introduce yourself to your new neighbours. But seriously, this can be super handy when coming into any unexpected dramas ie; when someone bought a corked bottle of wine rather than a screw cap and it’s wine o’clock and the shops are closed yes I’m looking at you Mr Simon Thompson. Thank the lord we’d made friends with our French neighbour earlier who of course, had a corkscrew (classic French).
On the flipside, sadly there are people who are very much against Airbnb, arguing that it destroys communities by a constant surge of tourists in the area and are petitioning against it. We’ve had to keep the fact that we’re Airbnbers from others before (on request of the landlords) so just be mindful of such party poopers and just say you’re visiting your friends.
Research your Neighbourhood
In any city, there are certain pockets that appeal to certain people. So this will greatly impact the vibe of the area. Doing a bit of research will go a long way into picking the perfect spot, which is full of the kinds of bars, cafes, parks, galleries, surf breaks you’re seeking.
And remember – neighbourhoods change – so what was once known as the rough end could now be (and most likely will be thanks to gentrification) a pretty sweet area, bustling with the coolest cats around ie; East Austin, Brooklyn, The Mission in San Francisco, Montmartre, Paris.
So what does it take to get approved?
My friends frequently Airbnb their amazing Bondi pad. I asked them what they look for in guests and what it takes to be approved. Here were their top criteria;
- A friendly message telling me a bit about yourself and what you’re hoping to see in the local area.
- A friendly profile pic of yourself or with your partner who you normally travel with. Not one of your pet parrot
- Great reviews from other hosts – this is the most important ie; your past will catch up with you
Lastly, a secret one – They usually pick people who don’t know anyone in Sydney = no raves in the apartment.
And what are the most important things to hosts once they do approve a booking? Coming home to a clean apartment and good communication.