Airbnb has changed the way that we travellers, well travel, and it’s never been easier than it is now to live the local lifestyle while on the road. The platform makes it entirely possible for you to stay in a house, apartment or beach cottage that feels like your own, in virtually any city in the world. It’s a fact that Airbnb has reduced the cost of accommodation when traveling. Throw into the mix added amenities, which, depending on your choice of lodging, could be a private pool, a gourmet kitchen, your own private beach, or…? the list is endless.
And It’s Growing Fast
On a recent trip to Europe we combined the Airbnb experience with hotel stays, and found that it’s a great way to travel without the high cost of hotels, and meet some interesting locals while you are about it. We stayed in Airbnb’s in both Amsterdam and Bergen, really comfortable homes, in the city centre, at affordable prices.
There are around 60,000,000+ people using Airbnb right now, and that number is growing daily, but if you haven’t tried the site yet, here are a few tips to help you get the most out of it.
Safety & Security
The Airbnb platform connects owners of accommodation, known in Airbnb terminology as “hosts” with guests, and provides all the necessary support and security checks to facilitate the process. If you’re a little nervous about it, which is perfectly natural since chances are that you’re going to be in a new city, you can relax. Airbnb has some pretty strict checks on potential hosts, who are required to go to great lengths to verify their bona fides. Guests are invited to rate the hosts as well as the accommodation, and the reverse is also true, with hosts being given the opportunity to rate the guest. By reading the comments left by previous guests you’ll quickly be able to separate the good hosts from the chancers.
First order of business is to create an account, which you can do here: https://www.airbnb.com/. It’s a very simple process, and Airbnb will guide you through the steps. Connect your account to a social media account like your Facebook or Linkedin profile, sharing as much information about yourself as you feel comfortable with, this proves your identity to potential hosts. Once you’ve set up the account you are ready to start searching for that perfect spot for your next holiday.
Finding The Right Spot
Airbnb has some really useful filters which allow you to find the perfect place. If budget is an issue (and when is it not?) and you are looking to save money, then choosing “Shared room” will be your best bet. If privacy is more your style then “Private room” is a good choice, and if you want complete privacy then select “Entire home/apt”. You can also filter by price range, so if you’re looking for hotel standards then you should filter the price to the higher end. But if your travel style is more casual, then a less expensive choice might be better for you. There is also an option to choose “Instant Book”, which are listings which don’t require approval from the host before you can book them.
After your stay it is important to give honest feedback about your visit that will assist others to make their choice. Honesty is absolutely key when using Airbnb, think about it, you chose your accommodation based on other’s reviews, and your review will help the next person to do the same. Remember though, your host will have the opportunity to rate your behaviour as a guest, which in turn helps other hosts know what sort of guest you will be. Bad reviews from hosts could result in other owners turning you down in the future. So, respect your host’s house rules, if it says no pets then leave your cat at home.
Getting The Communication Right
Ask questions of your host before travelling so there are no unwelcome surprises on arrival. On our last trip we had a mis-communication with our host in Amsterdam, with the result that we arrived an hour earlier than he expected and ended up waiting in the rain on a Sunday afternoon for him to arrange access.
Discuss the best check-in times for both yourself and your host, arrange how collecting and dropping off of keys is going to work. Know who to contact if something breaks or doesn’t work, where to find wifi passwords, and so on.
Know what happens if you (or the host) is obliged to cancel, each host has different options for their cancellation policy, before making a booking make sure that you know whether their cancellation policy is strict or lenient.
Little things like that make the difference between a great stay and a disaster. In the unlikely event that something does go seriously wrong you can contact the Airbnb help centre 24/7.
The Times They Are A Changing
The traditional “all inclusive” tourist packages of the past have given way to experiential travel, people want to experience real life in the places they visit. The way people travel is changing, theses days we don’t want to stay in accommodation that shelters us from local life. Next time you travel I can really can recommend that you try using Airbnb and experience your next destination on your own terms. Try it: www.airbnb.com, you won’t regret it.