Top 10 Tips for Airbnb Guests by JetSettingFools.com

Top 10 Tips for Airbnb Guests

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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, so that fellow travelers might have a better experience…from start to finish.  

 

What is Airbnb?

For those unfamiliar with Airbnb {stop right now – and 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 usually the case – and in our numerous stays, we have only once stayed with an owner; all of the 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.

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 system that previously were only available through agencies or word of mouth. We believe that staying in homes, rather than hotels, makes traveling more affordable, comfortable and lends to more local experiences.

 

Airbnb Tips

It’s fairly predictable that if we are not Housesitting, we are most likely sleeping in an apartment rented through Airbnb. As frequent, satisfied users of Airbnb, we feel very well-qualified to share a few Airbnb tips.

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Our Best Guest Tips for Airbnb

Our list of Airbnb tips for guests covers everything from creating an account to interacting with hosts. They 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

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?!).

Create Your Airbnb Account here – and Save Money on Your First Stay!

 

#2 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.

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. Furthermore, you can complete 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

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 for your trip, you will want to use the search features. In 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.

Use Filters

After entering the basic information – location, dates and number of guests – on the home page, you have the option to fine tune your 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 budget.

Searching Airbnb Amenities: More Filters

If you are looking for specific amenities (wifi is essential for us!) you will find them under More Filters. 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: Before you begin your search, make an Airbnb checklist of all the must-have amenities for your stay. Make a second list of features that would make your stay even better. As you search, use these lists to help narrow down your search.

 

#4 Map Feature

The Map searching feature is incredibly helpful – we only wish the map was a little bit bigger!

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) and 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.

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.

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 Fees – if the city charges them – are also listed here.

That said, the pricing isn’t that straight forward. 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). 

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: One of the best Airbnb booking tips to find the best price is to simple toggle your dates (if there is any wiggle room).

 

#6 Airbnb Photo Tips: Don’t 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. Also check for the “Verified By Airbnb” tag on the photos.

 

#7 Read 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, 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 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.

 

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. Often, the host has discounted the price because it is new to Airbnb (meaning you can score a true deal!). Also check to see if the host has other properties listed under their profile and 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 tip becomes extremely important.

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!).

 

#8 Contact the 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. 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 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 share with us the connection speed? Is the network shared with others? 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).

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

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 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 if we are traveling to a foreign country without telephone 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 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 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. 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

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 travelers might find helpful, too.

 

Airbnb Private Room Tips

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.

 

Leave a 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

We personally love using Airbnb, however, it isn’t necessarily for everyone, every time. If we’re in transit, on a long layover or in between 2 Airbnb accommodations in the same city, traditional travel lodgings, like a hotel or hostel, are sometimes better for just one night. When we do book a hotel, we start searching for a place to stay on Booking.com.

Read our advice for Booking Hotels and Hostels – Coming Soon!

 

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!

 

Start planning your next trip! Search for the lowest airfares, the best accommodations and fun things to do…then start packing!  Want more travel planning tips? Head over to our Travel Planning page for more information and tips on traveling – and for country-specific information, take a look at our Travel Guides page!

 

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Top Tips for Airbnb Guests by JetSettingFools.com

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11 thoughts on “Top 10 Tips for Airbnb Guests

  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: shing.siu.14@ucl.ac.uk.
    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.
    Dad

  6. Anonymous

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

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