Using Airbnb in Rovinj, Croatia View out the wood-shutters

7 Tips For Using Airbnb

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As full-time travelers for the past two years, Airbnb has been our go-to resource for finding homes abroad. We’ve booked 35 accommodations through Airbnb for a grand total of 325 nights. It’s fairly predictable that if we are not Housesitting with Trusted Housesitters, we are most likely sleeping in an apartment rented through Airbnb. While we don’t claim to be experts at using Airbnb, with our overwhelmingly positive experiences, we feel well-qualified to share a few tips for using Airbnb.

{The beautiful views from some of our favorite Airbnb apartments…}

For those unfamiliar with Airbnb {stop right now: use this link to create your profile and save money on your first stay!} there are many misconceptions about what exactly Airbnb is. It is often assumed that by booking through Airbnb, guests will be staying in a home along with the owners. This is not always the case – and in our 35 stays, we have only once stayed with an owner; the 34 other times we booked the entire home. Second, people often think of Airbnb as a traditional Bed and Breakfast. This, too, is not necessarily true. In fact, in all the places we have stayed, none of them have had the feeling of a B&B.

{A few more of our favorites – both inside and out…}

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 more savvy, and many are now offering short-term vacation rentals though the system that previously were only available through agencies or word of mouth. We believe that staying in homes, rather than hotels, makes traveling more comfortable and lends to more local experiences.

If you are new to the idea, try these 7 tips for using Airbnb:


1. Complete Your Profile

Unlike booking a hotel where the only thing you need is a name and credit card number, Airbnb makes the experience a little more personal. 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 whether or not they want to accept you as a guest. A clear profile picture and description of yourself (travel style, hobbies, etc) are essential. Take it a step further and request references from friends and family who are also Airbnb members.

2. Use Advanced Filters when Searching

There are more than 2 million properties listed on Airbnb, which 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 to you, take advantage of the plethora of filters available on the search page. After entering dates, number of guests, room type (this is where you can select Entire Home, Private Room within a home or Shared Room – the latter two usually mean staying with the owner) and price, click on the More Filters button to fine-tune your search options. If you are looking for specific amenities (wifi is essential for us!) or property types, this will help narrow your search so you don’t have to wade through listings that won’t work for you.

Likewise, use the map searching feature. If you want to stay by a specific sight or know the neighborhood you want to stay in, zoom in on the location on the map and the search results will only include that area.

3. Look beyond Price per Night

If price is an important factor, don’t only look at the Price per Night displayed on the picture and map. Click on the property to expand the listing and review the total fees 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. To see what other fees the host charges (which can include extra guest fees, as well as long-term discounts), scroll down the listing to the Prices section. Since it is up to the host to determine the fees, two rentals that are listed at an identical price per night can actually vary drastically. Lower per-night prices don’t always equate to the lowest cost per stay.

4. Read Reviews Thoroughly

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 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, was 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 that information…and trust your gut feeling.

If you come across a property without any reviews, we wouldn’t suggest immediately dismissing it. Often, the host has priced it below market price because it is new to Airbnb. When considering whether or not to book a place without reviews, our next tip becomes extremely important.

5. Contact the Host Prior to Requesting to Book

Starting a conversation with the host prior to requesting to book is practically 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 About This Listing section, we message the host, include a few sentences about why we are traveling to the area and then ask for confirmation for any details that we might be unsure of. For example, I would write:


Hello “Hosts Name,”

We have an exciting week planned for our upcoming trip to “city name.” We very much look forward to experiencing the cafe culture and seeing the sights. We saw your listing on Airbnb and think it might be perfect for our stay! Since wifi is extremely important to us, we have just a couple of questions: can you tell me if it is a high speed connection? Is the data capped?

We look forward to hearing from you!


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).

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.

6. Keep Up Communications

Once booked, the communication with the host doesn’t stop. We email our travel details; not just flight information, but how we intend to arrive at the apartment (If by taxi, 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 that we travel in foreign countries without telephone or internet connection (meaning, we might not be able to communicate while in transit). It is also important to communicate to your host any issues that arise throughout the stay. Is something broken? Let them know; if they don’t know about the issue, they can’t fix it.

7. Set Your Expectations

This is probably our most important tip: Clearly understand where you are staying and set your expectations accordingly. The accommodations rented through Airbnb are not hotels (OK, sometimes they are, but very rarely.) Don’t expect a concierge, in-room dining, daily maid service or typical 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.

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.

Bonus Tip: Reviews

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.

We want to know: Are you comfortable using Airbnb for travel accommodations? Why or why not? Do you have any tips for using Airbnb? Tell us in the comments!

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7 Tips for Using Airbnb Seven Tips for a Better Airbnb Experience

11 thoughts on “7 Tips For Using Airbnb

  1. Johnny

    Hi JetSettingFools,

    Really love your website, and interesting article on Airbnb, all of which I agree with. I am doing a university dissertation project on Airbnb and about this idea of ‘Belong anywhere’ that they sell, and with your experience with Airbnb, I was wondering if you would be interested in a answering a few short questions about your experiences.

    It would be very much appreciated, my email address is:
    Just comment on here or something and I can get in contract with you.

  2. Michelle

    We have used airbnb in Europe and in Australia – knowing what you want and where you want to be is a good place to start, it’s easy to be ‘distracted’ by the details once you start searching. We have had only positive experiences, even when the hosts unexpectedly cancelled a month out from our Paris trip, Airbnb helped us find an alternative and gave us a discount voucher to help out.

    • Thanks for the comment Michelle! Great to hear that you have had positive experiences with Airbnb, too. We haven’t had a host cancel on us, but it’s good to know that Airbnb will help if they do!

  3. We stayed in Airbnb apartments about 300 nights last year (2015) and every night this year. We love Airbnb. Good tips. We’re long stayers and usually book a month at a time – a lot of people don’t know that if you book for 28+ days then you get a monthly rate which makes things much more economical. In many cases you can pay the same for one month that you would pay for 2 weeks at the nightly rate.
    The other thing you mention is contacting the host. We do the same, usually to clarify certain aspects (like to double check on the wifi and get the host’s answer in writing) or to get further details on the location, local transport, or stores in the neighborhood. We have a checklist of what is most important to us.
    But probably the most important thing is other reviews, not just the content, but how they say it. If reviewers write long, effusive comments you just know that the host is special. If you look at the reviews of the place where we are staying in Rovinj right now you’ll see just that: long, glowing reviews. And she’s the best host we’ve ever had. People will usually write positive things about a place but you can tell a lot based on how it’s written.
    Good post,
    Frank (bbqboy)

    • Thanks! That’s a really good point, Frank, about how the guests talk about the host. Truly an insight to what a future guest can expect! We really don’t know how we would travel without Airbnb. The connections we make with the host and the apartments we have stayed in have played such an important role in our travels ~ as I’m sure is the same with you. Great tip about the long-term stays, as well!

  4. Anonymous

    We used airbnb based on your recommendation and could not have been happier. It was much more bang for the buck and it allowed us to see how the locals live.

  5. Anonymous

    You guys are the best guest we’ve ever had. Polite, clean, no noise. Your welcome back to our bnb any time.

  6. Anonymous

    Having used Airbnb myself, these tips are very helpful for anyone who would like to book through Airbnb!!!!!!!!!

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