While staying at unique accommodations sounds cool to most people, there is a subsection of this group that remains hesitant. I don’t blame them, it’s not easy walking into someone else’s space and hunkering down for a few days/weeks/months a time! Though that hesitant subsection has been slowly shrinking as Airbnb has gained public acceptance over the years, it sometimes helps to know how loyal Airbnb-philes do it. Because if we’re being honest, there are two ways to “Airbnb”: you can either wing it or you can do it like a boss. Winging it (rolling with the punches or however you want to call it) throws caution to the wind and accepts adventure with open arms. Sounds pretty cool, and it fits neatly into the world traveller narrative. Hijinx and hiccups are something every traveller has to (and should know how to) deal with. Being in my 30s (and having gone through some hijinx and hiccups of my own), I have learned that I prefer to have the adventure *outside* of my accommodations. So here it is guys: my guide on how to Airbnb like a boss.
Create a Wishlist
Nothing better than window shopping before you make the final decision! Before I stick a pin in my next destination, I narrow my options (or sometimes not) and head to Airbnb for a listing search in each location. Consider this the holiday porn that can (and possibly will) push you in the right direction… or confuse you more than before you started! Either way, scroll through those listings and click on the little heart at the top right to create yourself a wishlist. Even if you don’t go, you’ll have a catalogue of beautiful spaces you can rent when you finally do take the plunge and head out there!
Can’t seem to narrow it down? Do a 180° and widen the search with one of Airbnb’s curated wish lists! Airbnb Wishlist “Around The World In 15 Listings”
Check the Neighbourhood
Once you’ve picked a city/town to visit, the next step in a tight Airbnb game is to research the crap out of it. Yeah, I know, doesn’t sound too adventurous. But trust me on this, it will definitely make your stay! Neighbourhood is the place to start because it’ll be your home base. What do you consider when you choose to live somewhere? I usually consider safety, entertainment, and proximity to transit. These all apply abroad as well: you have to feel safe leaving your belongings in your rental and also when you stumble home after a few too many glasses of wine/vodka tonic with a twist/[pick your poison], and if there’s a metro/train/tram/bus stop closeby, the city is your oyster. Remember, Airbnb aims to make you feel like a local, so go where you are likely to feel comfortable sleeping, getting around, and (of course) frolicking.
Travel tip: When searching for my ideal neighbourhood, I usually mix it up between a guidebook and a Google search. Not gonna lie, I default on Lonely Planet because of the pictures but also the pretty detailed and honest detailing of pockets around the city. Airbnb protip: You can (and should) check the street view option in the listing. Not only will it give you an approximate view of the listing on the map (exact addresses are given after booking for obvious reasons), but you can also see what the streets look like around the spot you want to rent! Street view not an option? I usually head to Google Maps and try to locate the area on the Airbnb map myself, and then street view all around the streets.
Interact with the Host
Once you’ve found an area and explored some listings, it’s time to contact the host! On Airbnb, there are two different ways to book: the Instant Book, and the Request to Book. They’re pretty self-explanatory, but to sum it up, the former allows you to book (based on availability) at your leisure, while the latter requires you to submit your dates to the host(s) and they approve (or sometimes reject!) your request. This obviously gives the host(s) a chance to check you out, because let’s be honest, it’s important to know who’s going to occupy or share your place (bad things can happen to good people as we’ve sadly heard). It’s not just about introducing yourself to the host(s) though, it’s also about getting a feel for what you’re stepping into as well. Everybody wins! Most of the time, it’s worked as an ice breaker before meeting the hosts I’ve rented from. Some friendly words, and occasionally rock solid banter, make that first meet and greet a pretty smooth transition into the Airbnb renter – *especially* if you’re staying with your host(s)!
Read the Reviews!(!!)
This one is a big (and quite possibly very obvious) one! Pretty much everything has a review online these days, and when you will be staying in a space or with an Airbnb host, it’s important to know the facts before buying all in. In the reviews, I’ve found advice that warned me of the noisy street (bring earplugs), the steep gravel access road to the treehouse (rent a 4×4), and doorless bathrooms (go alone or with someone you’re VERY comfortable with!). If there’s a problem with the space (dirty, lack of amenities, uncool hosts), the reviews are where you’ll find it! I’ve also mined the reviews to get an idea of what’s closeby, how the transit situation is, and how the hosts are. That way you get the whole picture before booking the spot. The place below is not only beautiful but highly rated as well… who wouldn’t want to rent this beauty in the heart of London’s cool Shoreditch ‘hood.
P.S. If you’re reading (and reaping the benefits of) reviews, leave one at the end of your stay to help the next traveller out! Also, you get reviewed by the host too, so keep that in mind and leave the guitar smashing for another (life)time! (Let’s take a short break to enjoy the actual stay at your Airbnb rental)
Optional: Leave a little token of your appreciation
After a (usually) amazing stay, I sadly pack up my stuff while scheming of ways I can extend my fun. As I roll my suitcase to the front door (moping along the way), I stop at the kitchen counter to leave a little gift I usually pick up from Canada on my way there. This step is completely optional, but in line with the tradition of presenting your hosts with a gift as a way to show you appreciate them letting you stay at their house. Most of the time, it ends up being chocolates with oozy maple syrup centers, because… Canada. Sometimes it’s something I’ve picked up locally. It doesn’t have to be big, it doesn’t even have to be at all. It’s just my way of saying “your place was great and I had an awesome time!” I’d love to tell you that it’s taken years and many Airbnb rentals to hone the craft of being the ultimate Airbnb guest, but I’d be lying. It’s so easy to have a great time, just follow the steps above (and common sense – always), manage your expectations with reviews, pics, and and you’re almost guaranteed to have an incredible stay.
This is (still) not a sponsored post. I (still) really (really) love Airbnb. (But if you haven’t joined the Airbnb revolution yet, what are you waiting for? Click this link and get a discount on your first booking!)