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As full-time travelers since 2014, Airbnb is our go-to resource for finding accommodations worldwide. We have booked more than 100 accommodations on Airbnb and have racked up more than 1000 nights spent in Airbnb beds.
Our vast knowledge of how to use Airbnb was gained through trial and error – and now we are sharing our top tips for Airbnb guests, so that fellow travelers can have the best Airbnb experience…from start to finish.
Why Use Airbnb?
Since its inception in 2008, Airbnb has evolved from the ‘home share’ mentality to a fabulous alternative to hotel stays. The robust searching platform makes it easy to pair guests with accommodations.
Owners have also gotten savvier, and many are now offering short-term vacation rentals though the Airbnb system that previously were only available through agencies or word of mouth.
We believe that staying in homes, rather than hotels, can make traveling more affordable, more comfortable and lends to more local experiences.
With our Airbnb hacks, you can find the best accommodations at the best prices for the best experiences!
What Exactly Is Airbnb?
Airbnb is a platform that allows property owners to rent out their space to travelers.
It really is as simple as that…yet, there are many misconceptions about what exactly Airbnb is. To help clear the air – so to speak – let’s discuss a few frequently asked questions before we dive into our top Airbnb tips for guests.
Will the Owners Stay in the House with Me?
Maybe! It depends on what type of accommodation you select – and there are filters that will allow you to choose exactly what you want. (We cover this in more detail in our list of Airbnb rental tips!)
It used to be that when booking through Airbnb, guests would be staying in the home along with the owners – but so much has changed! In fact, the majority of the listings on Airbnb are furnished vacation rentals – and not somebody’s private residence.
During our numerous stays, we have only once stayed in a private bedroom while the owner stayed in the house in their room at the same time. For all of the other rentals, we booked the entire home and had the space completely to ourselves.
Are Airbnb Accommodations like B and Bs?
Some people assume that Airbnb is like a traditional Bed and Breakfast – as the name, Airbnb suggests. However, this is not necessarily true. In fact, in all the places we have stayed, none of them have had the feeling of a B&B.
Can You Save Money on Airbnb over a Hotel Room?
One of the top Airbnb guest tips is that booking space through the platform is cheaper than booking a hotel room. Yes, booking through Airbnb can be less expensive than a hotel room, but not always.
What Are Other Alternatives to Airbnb?
Hotels are the obvious alternative to Airbnb – but there are other vacation rental websites where travelers can book accommodations.
The most popular sites are VRBO and Turnkey – but even Booking.com has expanded their platform to include private owner rentals.
A unique way to secure accommodations around the world is by Petsitting. In fact, while it is most likely sleeping in an apartment rented through Airbnb during our travels, it is also fairly predictable that if we are Pet Sitting with Trusted Housesitters.
Our Best Guest Tips For Airbnb
As frequent, satisfied users of Airbnb, we feel very well-qualified to share a few Airbnb tips.
Our list of Airbnb tips for guests covers everything from creating an account to top Airbnb price tips to how best to interact with hosts.
Our tips are not only ideal tips for first-time Airbnb guests, but for repeat users as well. We personally use these Airbnb tips and tricks when booking accommodations to ensure we find the perfect place to stay!
#1 First Time Airbnb Tips: Create Your Airbnb Account and Save
The first step in renting on Airbnb is to create an account. One of our best Airbnb tips to save money is to use this link when you create your account on Airbnb. By creating your Airbnb account through this link, you will get a discount on your first stay (and who doesn’t like to save money?!).
#2 Complete Your Airbnb Profile
Unlike booking a hotel where the only thing you need to provide is your name and a credit card, Airbnb makes the experience a little more personal.
Some of the information in your profile is required – like an email address, phone number and a photo of yourself. Make sure your profile picture is a clear photograph of your face. Airbnb also requires that you verify your identity, which is all done online via secure encryption.
Additionally, within your Airbnb profile, you can write a brief description of yourself, including your travel style and hobbies – and one of our top Airbnb tips is to fill this information out completely. Furthermore, you can add information about where you are from, what languages you speak and what you do for work.
The reason that you will want to provide this information and why we include it as one of our Airbnb profile tips is that – unless the property is listed for Instant Book – you will need to Request to Book with the host. Having a completed profile will give the host a better idea of who’s asking to be their guest.
Pro Tip: Providing a current email and phone number in your Airbnb account settings is essential. After you have booked a place, the host will contact you to verify check in instructions, share accommodation information and keep in touch during your stay.
#3 Airbnb Search Tips
When booking Airbnb’s in 2022, you will find that there are nearly 6 million properties to choose from. Accommodations range from entire castles to couches in someone’s living room.
In order to sift through the data and find lodging that includes everything that is important for your trip, one of the best Airbnb tips and tricks for guests is to use the Airbnb search features.
As a matter of fact, using the filters is one of our biggest Airbnb tips for renters! You will definitely want to take advantage of the plethora of filters available on the search page in order to find the right place for your stay.
After entering the basic information – location, dates and number of guests – on the home page, you have the option to fine tune your Airbnb search.
First, choose Type of Place (this is where you can select Entire Home, Private Room within a home, Hotel Room or Shared Room – Private and Shared usually mean staying with the owner).
Next, adjust the Price Range so that you only see properties listed within your specific budget.
Searching Airbnb Amenities: More Filters
If you are looking for specific amenities (wifi is essential for us) you will find them listed across the toolbar and even more under the More Filters tab.
Selecting amenities will help narrow your search so you don’t have to wade through listings that won’t work for you. In the results, the Airbnb amenities icons are clearly displayed so that you can quickly confirm what is included at the accommodations.
Pro Tip: Here is a little bit of extra Airbnb advice for guests: Before you begin your search, make an Airbnb checklist of all the must-have amenities for your stay (needs). Make a second list of features that would make your stay even better (wants). As you search, use these lists to help narrow down your search.
#4 Airbnb Map Feature
The Map searching feature is incredibly helpful – and it’s one of the best Airbnb tips for searching. You can expand the map to full screen as well (just use the arrow (<) in the upper left corner of the map).
Once you know the neighborhood you want to stay in or the specific sight you want to be near, zoom in on the location on the map and the search results will only include that area.
Location is Key
One of our best Airbnb renter tips is to have a general idea about where you want to stay. Location is still key!
Factors to consider are distance from sights, neighborhood amenities and ease of access for transport.
For us, it is usually important to be located within walking distance to most attractions (or at least near a main public transit line that can get us quickly to many sights). We also like to be in a neighborhood where there is a grocery store (or at least a market, restaurants, cafes and bars).
That said, being in the heart of the city is not always ideal. City centers can be noisy and chaotic – and apartments in the center are often more expensive. Weigh the pros and cons of your location before you decide exactly where to stay.
Pro Tip: The exact Airbnb address is not revealed until after you have booked your stay; the map only indicates the general area of the location.
#5 Airbnb Price Tips: Look Beyond Nightly Rate
One of our best tips for booking Airbnb accommodations is to look at the final rate…not just the price per night. If you only look at the Price Per Night displayed on the picture and map, you may be surprised by the actual cost. Which brings us to Additional Airbnb Fees…
Airbnb Additional Fees
The price listed on the map and in bold in the property listing is the base fee. (In the list, the total price for the stay is listed in light grey, but the same info is not provided when clicking on the map).
To see the additional fees and total cost, click on the property to expand the listing. A review of the total fees is listed on the right-hand side.
Fees that are commonly seen here are the Service Fee (this is Airbnb’s cut) and Cleaning Fees, which are determined by the owner. Occupancy Taxes and Municipal Fees (if applicable) are also listed here.
Since there are additional fees to consider, two rentals that are listed at an identical price per night can actually vary drastically in total price. Lower per-night prices don’t always equate to the lowest cost per stay.
Pro Tip: Pricing isn’t that straight forward in Airbnb. Hosts can charge extra for more than one guest and they can also adjust pricing to be dynamic (charging more for weekends, holidays and the like). One of the best Airbnb booking tips to find the best price is to search for a range of dates. If you’re flexible in your plans you can choose up to 7 days on either side of your preferred days.
#6 Airbnb Photo Tips: Don’t Always Judge A Place By The Pictures
One of our best tips for renting on Airbnb is to not believe everything you see. Specifically, use caution when viewing Airbnb photos.
Some of the best Airbnb advice for hosts is to use excellent photos of the accommodations. Therefore, some owners use special lenses – like wide angle or fisheye – to make the space look bigger and brighter than it actually is.
While this, in and of itself, may not be a huge deal, it can lead to a disappointing stay when you arrive and find the rooms are much smaller than you anticipated. We once rented an apartment that pictured a kitchen table that looked like it seated six people, when it actually could only accommodate two.
Pro Tip: On the flip side, some hosts do not have access to professional photography equipment – and their photographs often fall short of adequately depicting just how lovely the accommodations are. Scrutinize the pictures, but also keep in mind that some great hosts of amazing places are not professional photographers.
#7 Read Airbnb Reviews Thoroughly
Reading reviews is one of our top Airbnb renting tips! We sometimes rely more on reviews than the pictures or the descriptions.
Once you have weaned down your list with price and filters, read the reviews thoroughly. The reviews can give tremendous insight to the realities of the listing. Hosts are salespeople – and sometimes they over-promise and under-deliver (and sometimes vice versa!).
The reviews help shed light on the true conditions of the lodging. The comments are where you will find out about details not specified in the listing – like noisy neighbors and drafty windows. Pay attention to what is important to you.
For example: fast, secure and reliable wifi is a necessity for us. If the listing states wifi, but the last three reviews state that there were problems with the wifi (or in one case we saw, a public network from the restaurant below!), it’s reason for concern.
All that being said, bear in mind that many negative reviews are inflated. If one minor thing went wrong (that could or could not have been the fault of the host), the overall experience and subsequent review can be tainted with nitpicking disappointments.
We suggest reading all of the reviews and then proceeding based on a complete look at all the information available. One of the best tips for Airbnb guests that we can give is to simply trust your instinct.
Pro Tip: Another one of our Airbnb tricks and tips regarding reviews is to not only read what guests say, but also to read responses from the host. This will provide insight into their personality (which is important to know if any situations arise during your stay!).
Bonus Tip: Booking Airbnb Without Reviews
Many tips for using Airbnb recommend to only book accommodations with at least a few reviews, which we don’t necessarily agree with. If you come across a property without any reviews, we wouldn’t suggest immediately dismissing it.
A listing without any reviews is likely new to the platform – and, often, the host will offer a discounted price to lure in the first few guests. What this means is that you can score a true deal as a first-time guest. One way to get an idea of what the property might be like is to check to see if the host has other properties listed under their Airbnb profile…then go read those reviews.
On the other hand, if it’s the only rental listed, has no reviews, few pictures and very little description; then it might be best to keep looking. When considering whether or not to book a place without reviews, our next Airbnb tip becomes extremely important.
#8 Contact Airbnb Host Prior To Requesting To Book
One of the great things about Airbnb is that you have a personal host…and one of our best Airbnb tips is to start a conversation with the host prior to booking. When we first started using Airbnb – and any time we need to Request to Book – it’s a mandatory step for us.
Regardless of the pictures, the prose and the reviews, we want to be certain we’ll match well with the host.
Using the Contact Host button (located under the Listing Description section and at the bottom of the posting), we message the host, include a few sentences about why we are traveling to the area and then ask for confirmation on any details that we might be unsure of.
If we are staying longer than the minimum number of nights, this is when we would also inquire about long-term discounts (if not already stated in the listing).
Pro Tip: How the host responds to your initial message is a fairly good indication of what you can expect going forward. Of course, if they don’t respond at all, keep searching!
#9 Keep Up Communications With Your Airbnb Host
Once booked, the communication with the host doesn’t stop. We always provide the Airbnb Additional Guests information – and then we follow up with information regarding our travel details.
The most important details we share with our hosts is our estimated arrival time – as many hosts meet guests at the accommodation.
However, it is not just flight info that is important, but also how we intend to arrive at the apartment (If by Uber/Lyft, we ask the host: How much should it be? If by public transport, we inquire: Can you provide walking directions from the train station/bus stop?).
We also inform the host of other travel details, like if we are traveling internationally without an immediate cell signal or internet connection (meaning, we might not be able to communicate while in transit).
Pro Tip: It is also important to communicate to your host any issues that arise throughout the stay. Is something broken? Is something missing? Let them know; if they don’t know about the issue, they can’t fix it.
#10 Set Your Airbnb Expectations
This is probably the most important of all our Airbnb rental tips: Clearly understand the type of accommodations you are staying in and set your expectations accordingly.
The accommodations rented through Airbnb are typically not hotels. Don’t expect a concierge, in-room dining, daily maid service or standard hotel amenities. Normally, sheets and towels are provided, but it isn’t unusual to only find one roll of toilet paper in the bathroom and no soap.
Some hosts make more effort than others and provide extras like shampoo, a hair dryer, coffee, sugar, cooking oil and the first morning’s breakfast. If those things are important, communicate that with the host before booking.
Regardless, plan on making your own bed and be ready to purchase toiletries from the corner market if you haven’t packed them. Find all of our packing advice on our Travel Packing Tips page!
Pro Tip: We often equate staying in Airbnb apartments to staying at a friend-of-a-friend’s house. We treat the space and host with respect, and we’ve been treated with respect in return.
More Airbnb Tips and Tricks
Our above Top 10 Airbnb Guest Tips are a round-up of our best advice for using Airbnb. Most of our suggestions are tips for booking on Airbnb and communicating with the host. However, with our years of experience using Airbnb, we have a few miscellaneous tips for staying at an Airbnb that fellow travelers might find helpful as well.
Airbnb Private Room Tips
Booking a private room is a great option for budget travelers – as it is usually much less expensive than renting an entire home.
Although we have only booked a private room once, we do have a few Airbnb guest tips for staying in a home with the host.
As you are essentially signing on to be a roommate, it is important to be courteous and communicative with your host – especially regarding any communal areas of the home, like the kitchen, shared bathroom and laundry room.
Airbnb Laundry Tips
We love Airbnb apartments that have laundry facilities – but washing machines can be tricky (especially in foreign countries!). If you don’t understand how to use the laundry machine, it is best to ask the host for instructions; we have flooded a bathroom and ruined a few clothing items because we attempted to figure out how to use the machine without asking.
Other laundry tips for Airbnb are to bring your own travel-size detergent (just in case they don’t have any!) and maybe dryer sheets, too. That said, many places outside of the USA do not have dryers, so you may need to adjust your laundry day to allow time for clothes to line dry.
Airbnb Safety Tips
We have never felt unsafe in any of our Airbnb rentals. However, we do make sure that all doors and windows can securely lock as soon as we arrive. We also recommend you follow any of your own safety routines as you would in any other type of accommodation.
In terms of personal safety within the home, use caution in slippery showers and when using sharp kitchen knifes that you are not familiar with.
Best Time To Book Airbnb
Some people claim that the best way to book Airbnb accommodations is to wait for last minute deals…but we don’t agree.
While hosts can choose to drop rates slightly in the week leading up to your trip, we don’t think the savings is worth the risk. In our opinion, the best overall value apartments are the first to get booked, so booking a couple of months in advance is actually a better practice to get the best price at the best place.
Pro Tip: Always check the hosts cancellation policy before booking!
Long-Stay Tips Airbnb: 30 Days, 28 Days, 7 Days
One of the best price tips on Airbnb is to book an Airbnb long term reservation. Many hosts offer significant discounts for week-long and month-long stays. We have seen (and booked!) Airbnb long term pricing discounts of up to 70% off the nightly rate with a stay of 28 days or longer.
Additionally, in some cities, the taxes and fees may be eliminated if booking 30 days or more.
Airbnb Price Tips and Tricks
We have already mentioned a few tips for Airbnb guests that involve how to get the best deal (booking early, staying longer and booking a private room). That said, there is one more trick you can try: Finding the accommodation online outside of the Airbnb platform.
If the host has named their property, do a quick Google search for the property name and city – and see if you can find a website or contact information. Once you have the info, you can get in touch with the owner to inquire about special rates for booking direct (and, thus, avoiding the high Airbnb fees).
How To Leave An Airbnb Review
After your completed stay, Airbnb will send an email prompt to review your experience. Be honest about the pros and cons and give helpful information for future guests.
You will have an opportunity to give private feedback to the host, as well. If there were any issues, concerns or observations that you didn’t communicate with the host during your stay, this would be a place to do so.
Airbnb Alternatives and Combinations
On a longer trip, you could consider using a combination of Airbnb apartments and another type of lodging.
Let’s say you have a big 3-city trip to Europe planned. You could mix up your accommodations so that in some cities you stay in a hotel and others you use Airbnb. Ideally, you would book an Airbnb in between – so that you could do laundry and take a break from eating out with some in-home meals.
In our travels – while we are in transit, on a long layover, or are in between two Airbnb accommodations in the same city, we often find that traditional travel lodgings, like a hotel or hostel, are sometimes better for just one night.
We personally love using Airbnb, however, it isn’t necessarily for everyone, every time. Hopefully, our tips on Airbnb have helped you to determine if it is right for you.
We want to know: Do you have any tips on using Airbnb? What is your best Airbnb advice for guests? Tell us in the comments!
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