Since I found out about airbnb, it has been my to-go lodging resource when scoping out a new travel destination. Some of its perks are: getting a feel for the local vibe, meeting residents of the town, visiting a new home, getting personalized recommendations of the area, and having more space and often being cheaper than a hotel.
I LOVE doing research, especially related to travel, but I know some people don’t share my enthusiasm. Spending hours scouring listing after listing is overwhelming for some people and can bring on a headache, exhaustion, and demotivation towards the trip. So, I decided I would share some of my tips for searching on airbnb, to help you know what to look for.
- Location, location, location. The old adage still rings true. When you’re traveling, you have a purpose in mind. Whether that purpose is exploring a new city, attending a wedding, or doing sight-seeing, you want to be close to where the action is. Not only will you save time and gas money, leaving you with more time and cash to spend on your trip, you can enjoy more of the area you came to see (by being able to walk to breakfast in the neighborhood, for example).
Airbnb has a map feature, allowing you to zoom in on the area you are traveling to, and select rooms from there. This is a better choice than simply scrolling through listings, some of which might be miles away from your desired location.
- Price. The other major contender is how much you are willing to spend. If there isn’t anything within your price range in the area you’d like to be in, then you may need to expand your search. Keep in mind that saving $5-20 per night may not be worth the extra 15-45 minute drive out of town every day. It’s usually worth it to spend a little extra money and be closer to all the action, especially so that you can change your plans if needed, or run back to the house mid-day to pick up your rain jacket. When thinking about price, be aware that the advertised numbers may be different from the final cost; make sure you check the upper right of the page listing for the final price after fees.
- Character. Decide what you’re looking for. If you’re visiting a quaint town, you will want to stay in an early century home that reflects the history of the area. If you’re traveling for an anniversary, a modern room with a comfy bed might be more conducive to your activities. If you have children or are traveling with friends, see if you can get the whole apartment to yourself for the weekend. Once you know what you need, you can cross off anything that doesn’t match up.
- Privacy. From my personal airbnb experience, my husband and I have had all the privacy that we’ve needed – and more. Usually this is not a person’s main source of income, so unlike at an actual bed and breakfast, your host probably has a life of their own, with work and other activities going on during your stay. They will be around (or be available by phone or email) to answer questions that you need, or maybe they’ll be up for a friendly chat, but your host will most likely not be in your way (they might even be gone entirely). Of course, if you’re looking for a romantic getaway, look for an “entire home/apt” rental, which will guarantee that your host won’t be around to pester you.
One other awesome perk of staying with airbnb: you can usually check in at any time! Whenever you arrive is normally fine, as most hosts will leave a key and any instructions you need by the door.
- Pets. I always miss my cat when I travel, and I love meeting other people’s animals, so I typically try to find a place that has a pet or two to make me feel at home. This criterion can help narrow down between two or three choices that are otherwise relatively similar. Obviously you might be on the other end of this spectrum, being allergic to cats or not being a dog person, so definitely include that in your search as well.
- Reviews. I am not vehemently opposed to staying somewhere that doesn’t have reviews, but this is certainly an important search criterion. If a place looks totally awesome and too good to be true, maybe there is a reason for that. Make sure to read reviews, too, to ensure that your host isn’t a complete slob, rude, or doesn’t offer the amenities you’re after. Safety is an important factor as well; if you are a single woman traveling alone, definitely make sure to find a person with a couple reviews, and even check their gender and age (by examining their profile photo). I do think airbnb is a trustworthy company, but it doesn’t hurt to be extra safe. Also, if someone has reviews for other properties that are good, I take that as credible.
Note: Make sure you leave a great review for your host after your stay to help their ratings (if they did a good job), and be sure to be detailed and include anything that would help other airbnb members looking for their next stay!
I hope this was helpful! If you’re in the market and new to airbnb, please use my referral link for $35 off your first ($75+) booking. Where would you like to go this fall?