6 February 2018

Top Tips for using Airbnb & My experience


Bondi Beach

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’ll know that I recently took a few months travelling around south east Asia and Oceania. It’s fair to say that I stayed in a variety of different places, some good and some… not so good (Cold, showers grimy floors and yes, some sort of religious cult living upstairs). Although I can’t say I’m particularly glad I stayed at a few places, mentally scarred might be the better word, I can say that it has taught me how to   choose the right accommodation and, more importantly, the safe options. In this post I’m going to mainly focus on the use of Airbnb, the benefits, disadvantages and, how to stay safe.


My experience using Airbnb:

Before my travels, Airbnb was very much unfamiliar territory for me. In my mind it was just another site like TriVaGo or booking.com, but with entire homes instead of hotels. I had no idea that Airbnb came in levels, for example, you could just rent a bed (hostel style) in a house. Upon further research I found you could also rent a whole room with shared spaces, an ensuite or the full house/apartment. Initially I was shocked, was it really safe to just stay in a stranger’s house with them!? It was only after actually staying in an Airbnb that I started to fully understand and feel comfortable with the idea.

I first started using Airbnb during the Australian phase of my trip. At the time I was travelling with someone and we actually found it cheaper to book an Airbnb room than a hostel. Gone were the days of ridiculously cheap Asian hostels and homestays. We went in expecting very little, and came out excited for our next Airbnb! The apartment, although small, was very clean and tidy, and well exceeded our expectations. Not only did it have a lovely balcony with breakfast included, but it was only a 15-minute walk to the city centre! The thing that really made the whole experience for me though were the people, a couple and their two friends. They were all extremely welcoming and kind, and as locals, were very helpful when it came to making plans! I think the first night we stayed up till 1am just talking!

Over the next few weeks, as we travelled from Cairns to Sydney, we stayed in around 6 Airbnb's and met some of the nicest people. We stayed with the very old, this little old lady in Cairns who insisted on driving us everywhere AND doing a 2 hour hike with us, to the very young, this hippie family in Byron Bay who had four kids, I’m pretty sure were high on weed, and lent us their car. I can quite confidently say that I had the best experience, and in some ways being able to stay in local houses really enhanced it.

Since my trip I have continued to use Airbnb and have *mostly* loved It.

Brisbane Botanic Gardens

My top tips for using Airbnb:

1.       Read reviews: This is probably the most important tip I can give you. It’s not like staying in a hotel where reading reviews is an addition rather than a necessity, with Airbnb it’s important to know as much as you can about the place you’re going. I personally like to see at least 5 reviews before choosing the Airbnb. Look out for comments about cleanliness and what the hosts are like. If the hosts were friendly, guests will most likely put this in their reviews. I once stayed in an Airbnb without looking at reviews and, while the lady was lovely, the apartment absolutely stunk of dog pee! It was an interesting experience...

2.        Ask Questions: Airbnb requires you to write a little message to your hosts before you arrive. Make sure you use this to introduce yourself and also ask anything you may be a little nervous about. Remember that they are also trusting you, so make sure you make them feel comfortable as well. Be sure to ask about arrival times, parking, internet… before you arrive so hosts know when you are coming and what you are expecting! For example, in one Airbnb we arrived when the owner was not at home, he very kindly gave the keys to a friend to pass it on to us, so we wouldn’t have to wait around. Hosts may write a certain arrival time on their page, but we found that they were usually very flexible with timings.

3.       Know what you’re looking for: In our first Airbnb we chose the shared bathroom option, however we later decided that we would rather have our own ensuite. It may take a couple of tries to know what you want, but when you do Airbnb makes it very easy to filter your preferences. Make sure you know whether you want luxury or just a simple room too. Although we usually went for simple, we did end up in a beautiful glass outhouse in Byron Bay! Searching around can mean you get the best of both worlds, beautiful and affordable!

4.       Food, food, food: When it comes to food, there is a whole variety of different options. Generally, breakfast is included, although this can range from a full cooked to simple access to milk and cereal. For example, the little old lady in Cairns got up at 8 and cooked us a full breakfast! Whereas in most of the other places we were provided with toast, milk and cereal. It usually just depends on the host, but I would recommend checking beforehand if this is important to you. As we were on a budget, we also wanted access to the kitchen to cook our meals, this was something that hosts usually put in ‘amenities’ section. Keep in mind that hosts may be happy for you to use the kitchen for simple food prep, but not full dinners. Again, if this is something you require it may be a good idea to check with the host first.

Byron Bay

5.       Check location: I always tend to search using the map tool, as it ensures I don’t pick places too far out of the centre. We didn’t have a car, so this was very important for us. If you’re just going by the km from centre section it can still be hard to gauge If you need a car or not. Using the map tool can also help locate what amenities/transport is around. If you’re cooking your own meals it may be helpful to have a supermarket nearby. Luckily, the one time we did find ourselves too far from the centre, the man lent us his car!

6.       Be open, kind and respectful: Remember that although you’re paying for a room, it is still somebody’s home. Airbnb works on a mutual trust basis, you expect the host to be friendly and welcoming, and in return they expect the same. Make them feel comfortable with you, as well as them making you feel comfortable. Be open to talking, making friends and sharing stories. (Also note that some people may not like guest interaction and this will be stated on their page) All the hosts we stayed with were extremely open and bubbly, and I can happily say I’ve stayed in contact with most of them.

7.       Get contact details: Ensure you take a mobile number as it can be hard to use the in-app messaging if you have no internet. Oh, the countless times I spent trying to find Wifi after forgetting to write down the address, or realising we were going to arrive late. It’s better to just be safe and go old style and write it down (I mean on your phone notes, pff I mean we’re not living in the dark ages!)

All in all, I found that using Airbnb enhanced my travelling experience. It really helped to know locals who knew all the best non-touristy places to go, and I really enjoyed the social interaction. I do, however, think it largely depends on your hosts. We were fortunate to get amazing people everywhere we went, but I can imagine this is not always the case. If you’re thinking of using Airbnb, I would recommend going first with a friend to familiarise yourself with it before going alone. Happy travels! 

Sydney

Have you ever used Airbnb? Leave your thoughts below!

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*Just a lil' sidenote. I am currently saving up to volunteer abroad as a teacher again, and have started a Ko-fi account where you may donate. All donations go towards buying supplies and helping the children. There will also be a blog post at the end so you can see exactly where your money has gone. I also have a full time min. wage job and run this blog. So, if you'd like to be involved you can find my Ko-Fi account in my sidebar or here. I really appreciate any help, but also please don't feel obliged to donate.*

  

35 comments so far

  1. I recently learned about air bnb and I thought about it but wasn’t really sure how I felt. My boyfriend and i want to make a trip to New York this year and I wasn’t sure how I felt about it. This sounds like some great tips tho and I may just have to give it a try!

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    1. Yeah I was exactly the same before I started using it. I think it's one of those things that you have to try once before really making a decision on it! I've heard people who hate it and also some who love it!

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  2. I really can’t wait and NEED to get out there and travel more! Reading your adventures and tales on travelling always get me excited. I like the sound of Airbnb, it’s nice to get to know people while on your broke millennial phase 😩😩 because let’s face it nothing beats a deal especially when travelling. I love all the tips you have, I think reviews are import for everything you do via the web. Great going and lovely pics beautiful! 💕

    xx Lena | https://lenadeexo.com

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    1. yess Lena do it!! I love reading other people's travel stories, it always gets me so excited to travel more too! And yeah Airbnb can be really good for cheap travel, expecially if you're travelling with someone! Thanks for reading x

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  3. I love using AirBnB - it's very easy to find places that suit my traveling style there. But your tips are so true: You need to know what you're looking for! Especially in recent years Airbnb has become a lot broader and the offers vary from really just a room attached to an appartment to places that have all the luxuries of hotels! Here in Korea, a lot of AirBnB offers are really luxurious private rentals, not the more improvised & personal places I've often found in Europe.

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    1. Yeah I Think it really depends where you're going, as to what kind of places are available. I always found that the places in the city were a lot more personal as the places were a lot smaller. Whereas out of the city the rooms tended to be self contained!

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  4. AirBnB is amazing! I use it everywhere I go travelling. It has a more homely feel than a hotel/hostel which is nice, and overall, they end up being much cheaper :) I've already booked my AirBnB's for my travels in March and I can't wait! I love your tips on using AirBnB! Thank you for sharing them💕

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    1. I totally agree! The one thing I loved most about airbnb was that more personal and homey feel. I think it's so important if you're travelling a lot, and sometimes it's just nice to have a bit more luxury. Ahh that's great! Would love to hear how it all goes and the types of places you're staying! x

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  5. I love AirBnB! I've used it a few times now and I've always had a good experience. I totally agree with all these tips, especially checking location and contact details! x

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    1. That's great! Thanks so much for reading x

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  6. I have never used airbnb but I could consider it since it's so cheap compared to hotels. I'll have my eyes open next time I travel. These were really informative and good tips!

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    1. Yeah it's so much cheaper than hotels! And in my experience, sometimes much nicer too. Glad I could help! x

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  7. Airbnb is one of my favourite ways! Although, I’ve not used them outside of the UK. Thanks for your tips and also, you own story! Great post too, it’s written really well!!

    Halfbloodpixie

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  8. This post is amazing! You’ve put so much detail and effort into it, and it is really helpful! I love the pictures you’ve included too! I’ve always felt a bit apprehensive about Air BnB’s but this makes me feel more confident about using them! Lovely post.

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    1. Thank you! Yeah I was definitely aprehensive before I started using it too ! It's one of those things that you just have to try first before making a decision! Thanks for reading x

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  9. Super indepth and great read! I've used Airbnb only once before and I was really happy with it! I hope you end up volunteering abroad!!

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    1. I'm glad you enjoyed it! I do too haha x

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  10. I've only heard about Airbnb before and never used it but your post is great and very informative! Good luck with your volunteering abroad!

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  11. Oh loving your post as its so comprehensive about staying at Airbnb, these are great tips.

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  12. Great tips! I've never used Airbnb and I've heard so many mixed things about it, but I kinda want to try it for myself. :) Thanks for a great article on it!

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    1. Yeah I would definitely recommend it! Just make sure to read up on the places and people first! Thanks for reading x

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  13. I have never used an Airbnb before as I've always been so skeptical but reading your experience actually makes me want to try it!

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    1. You definitely should! I found it's much more personal and homey than staying in a hostel/hotel. Can be a lot cheaper too!

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  14. So far AirBnB has been a more expensive option than a cheap hotel where I’ve been travelling to, but it’s great to read your tips for whenever I find a location that’s cheaper!
    Suffering Wanderlust

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    1. Yeah, I found that It was definitely the more expensive option when travelling in Asia! It only really started being cheaper in Aus and NZ when I was travelling with someone. It's definitely a different experience though!

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  15. I have not used Airbnb yet, mainly because the idea of living in someone else's house makes me a little uncomfortable. My sister and a cousin host on Airbnb and they both often talk about how much they like some of the guests who stay at their places. So I do want to try it out once and see how it goes.

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    1. Yeah, I definitely agree that the first experience is strange. But I found that I actually really enjoyed that personal homey feel, in comparison to a hostel/hotel. I also liked the fact that we were living with locals who always ended up being SO helpful! It's funny because although I have loved my Airbnb experiences so far, I'm still not sure I'd be able to be a host!

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  16. I used Airbnb when I visited Edinburgh and found the cutest little apartment, it's such a great site and has some really great deals!

    Here's my trip to Edinburgh if you'd like to have a read and see the apartment I said in xx
    http://www.simplychlo.co.uk/2018/02/09/edinburgh/

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    1. ooo I'm definitely going to take a look! I've never been to Edinburgh but would love to visit soon! xx

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  17. Thank you for sharing! Very helpful :)

    - www.youthofthesun.com XX

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  18. I've always been a bit nervous of using airbnb but after reading your post it's give me a little more confidence.

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