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I don’t usually stick with one type of accommodation; it varies between hostels, hotels, and AirBnbs. Lately, though, I’ve been using AirBnb more frequently because of a few reasons: cost, space, and vibe. I love AirBnB because I can get an entire apartment or studio to myself at a WAY lower cost than a hotel.
After my sister had a generally horrible first AirBnb experience (per my recommendation she tried it out and probably never will again), I was inspired to write a post that goes over how to pick a good AirBnb!
But first… What is AirBnb?
AirBnb is a website where you can rent out either a room in someone’s home, an entire apartment, or an entire house. It’s great for solo travelers, families, couples, pretty much anyone!
Personally, I never book one specific type of place; sometimes I stay in homestays that behave similarly to hotels, sometimes I have an entire little studio to myself, sometimes I’m just in a single room with a shared bathroom in someone’s actual home. It depends on the country you’re in and the cost.
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How does it work?
Once you’ve made a profile, you can search for homes in any area like you would a hotel. AirBnbs are supposed to be pretty transparent; there’s a list of amenities included, and you pretty much know what you’re getting and what you’re not getting. Most of them are not like hotels; there isn’t always daily housekeeping, and you’re expected to clean up after yourself. You’re staying in someone’s home; you’re not supposed, nor are you allowed, to trash the place! I personally always leave the place exactly as I found it; you’re getting reviewed, too!
Sometimes, the host greets you; other times, there’s just a lock box with a key in it. Figure out what kind of place you want and you can narrow your search with filters. You can narrow things down from amenities, facilities, property type, the language of the host, number of bedrooms, etc. AirBnb is super convenient, but you have to know what you’re looking for.
How to Pick the RIGHT AirBnb
Take the amenities and features into account!
What’s important to you? Do you want a place that is entirely your own? Do you want your own bathroom? Is there air conditioning? Is there heating? All of these are important things to consider! You can set filters for ‘deal breakers,’ and it will make the hunt a lot easier.
Always read the host’s description of the space & their OWN policies
When you’re viewing a listing, there’s a lot of information at once. If the home description seems all right to you, scroll down further to policies and read the “house rules.” Sometimes, check-in is super late and you’re arriving earlier. Always note the check-in and reach out to the host to see if you can check in earlier. If you’re checking in super late and it’s the type of property where the host meets you, it’s necessary to reach out to them in that case as well. A lot of properties have self-check-in, but not all.
My FAVORITE AirBnb was a 6 story walk up with no elevator in Paris, France, and a view of the Eiffel Tower with no air conditioning, no refrigerator, and a shared bathroom. ALL of these things were listed in the description. That’s why it’s important to read it – you need to know what you’re getting!
Pay attention to the location
If you’re using a desktop, the right side has a map of the city you’re looking in; if you’re looking at a place that’s in the middle of nowhere but half the price, it’s because it’s in the middle of nowhere and you need transportation to get around!
READ THE REVIEWS! AirBnb reviews are MORE IMPORTANT than hotel reviews.
Let me just say this; 4 stars on AirBnb is really like 2 stars. When there are places with 5-star ratings (and multiple reviews), go for the place with 5 stars. If someone has an average of 4 stars, that means something with the listing isn’t lining up with what you’re actually getting. If the place has an actual name, Google it for more reviews.
Take the reviews into account. Slow, unresponsive or uncooperative hosts are a bad sign. This is probably the biggest pain in the ass you can deal with; after all, it’s like a hotel completely ignoring you. It’s really important that the reviews are positive for hosts and mention quick responses. If it doesn’t, stay away! I’ve had one really rude host, and it completely ruined my experience. The reviews made it clear that the owner was kind of a jerk, but I chose to ignore that and hoped for the best. Bad move on my part – I regretted it!
Reviews about dirt, smells, and uncleanliness. Honestly, I never really see bad reviews about dirtiness, smells, and uncleanliness – if you do, stay far away!
Communicate with the host
While this doesn’t necessarily apply to picking an AirBnb, it can; communicate with your host about anything you need or any questions you have about the property; you can do this before you even book! If you found the perfect AirBnb but their check-in time is later than you want, MESSAGE THEM! Ask them if you can check-in early; at the least, they will let you drop off your bags, and you can go out and explore. A majority of the AirBnb hosts I have communicated with are flexible and kind people who want to give you a positive experience. Communicate your needs and you can’t go wrong!
If you’re considering booking an AirBnb, I hope these tips have helped!
Have you stayed in an AirBnb before? Would you do it again?
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Until next time,
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I miss Vietnam for a lot of reasons. I will keep missing it, though, until it’s time for me to go back there for good. Loving a place makes it difficult to appreciate where you are, even though Chiang Mai has its own beauty and things to love. In just a few days, I’ll be heading out to a small village and learning about Thai culture, food, and life. I could not be more excited for the experience, and I can’t wait to be able to write about it and to disconnect for a few days. Until then, it’s street food, coffee, and more street food.