In my transformation from a travel-averse to a travel-embracing man, Airbnb is one significant contributor. It provides great accommodation coupled with great local experience but with a steeply discounted price tag compared to hotels (better in providing accommodation than local experience) and homestays. Here are some personal tips and stories to help you make the most of your Airbnb reservation so you’ll have better trips.
One of the questions experienced travelers ask me would be: What about Couchsurfing? I use Couchsurfing too, but only to meet people, not for my accommodation. Using Couchsurfing for accommodation just doesn’t suit my travel style well. I’ll explain it later in another article.
Search. To make the most of your Airbnb stay, make sure you search extensively according to your travel preferences. Airbnb provides great comprehensive tool for this.
Combine several search options, add & remove your options to see what kind of listings would come up. When you find listings you like, add them to your wish list, so later you can compare with your other favorite listings side by side.
Confirm. When you’re narrowing down your options you can start comparing your favorite options side by side. Make sure they have all the factors you’re looking for, e.g. private rooms, laundry, accessible elevator, breakfast, etc.
I found that sometimes I got too excited in browsing from page to page that I also browsed listings beyond my search preference & they would find their way into my top 3 – I even once made a reservation to a place that didn’t match my search profile & didn’t realize it until I checked in!
Superhost. Whenever possible, I will stay with a superhost. That just saves you from many potential headaches. Be careful: a 5-star rate is not the same with a Superhost status. They host may be a brand new host and hasn’t had enough guest for the start rating to be effective.
Check also the host’s recommendations & other listings. From the recommendations & how the hosts respond to them we get to see a glimpse of the host’s personality. I kne stumbled upon a great looking listing, but with the host seems very argumentative & pugilious on the recommendation section, so I didn’t make a reservation there.
Misleading Information. Recently I found out that the way Airbnb structures the information on listing page can be misleading. I booked a listing that was claimed as “shared space” & “accommodates: 1”. I expected it to be a space I’d share with the host.
When I arrived, I found out there were five spots in the rented apartment: 3 on a triple-deck bed alongside 1 on a sofa in the common room; and 1 bed in a proper bed room. Among 5 spaces, 1 was occupied by the owner while the other 4 were sold on Airbnb. Then why the “accommodates: 1” information? I later found out all those spots had different price tags, and each was offered as different listing, all featuring “accommodates: 1”.
Communicate. I prefer not to use instant booking feature but instead communicate with the host first. One is the things I love about Airbnb is staying with a local family and experiencing liver with them – even as simple as sharing meals with them. In my earlier days of using Airbnb I didn’t realize that some hosts are actually landlords and hostel owners looking for people just to fill in their empty rooms. I’ve since managed to avoid these kinds of listings.
Price. Airbnb can offer great price, but be wary of price tags that are way too cheap. I once stayed in a tiny room in Seoul during winter without any warmer. In such a case when you have very limited budget, you might better use Couchsurfing rather than ruining your trip by staying at a terrible place.
All in all, Airbnb has provided me great and affordable experience. I hope you’ll have the same rewarding experience.