We absolutely love staying in AirBnbs, and my soul dies a little every time I have to pay for a hotel now. For months now, we have lived fulltime in AirBnbs across several countries and continents. The shared economy is exploding, and AirBnb is one of the best tools available today.
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AirBnb is a lot like “Hotwire” or “Expedia.” You search for the city that you’d like to stay in, specify your dates of travel and price range, and you are presented with dozens of available homes with customer reviews.
How does it work?
Private owners list their properties available for short-term rental on the site. These owners are referred to as “Hosts.” It is becoming increasingly common for people to co-host now, and there will be multiple staff managing the listing. We have found several hosts that manage 3-10 different listings as what appears to be a full-time job.
The best hosts are called “Superhosts,” and if you are nervous, you can limit your search to these hosts only. Each host determines their own “house rules,” so be sure to read these carefully before requesting to book.
While some properties are available to “book instantly,” most listings require that you “request to book.” With this, you send a short message to the host (and you may include any questions that you might have), and they will review your profile and “approve” you to book the AirBnb.
The check-in and check-out process is determined by your host, so there can be some variation. Typically though, you’ll pick up the key either from a mailbox, a lock box, or the host will meet you. For check-out, you typically leave the key in the apartment. Easy and simple.
Cheaper than a Hotel
We have saved at least 50% compared to staying in hotels everywhere we have travelled, and the AirBnbs are more comfortable than your typical hotel. You usually have a fridge, a dining table, a kitchen, a washing machine, and many other conveniences that feel more like “home” than a hotel room.
The location is also away from the busy, crowded tourist parts of the city. Not only do you get to experience a more authentic part of the city, but you also save money on food and other essentials. In most cities, the same food was again 50% cheaper near our AirBnb than restaurants in downtown.
How to find an amazing AirBnb
There are many variations between AirBnbs, and you can find everything from a luxury apartment in France to a bamboo hut in Thailand. The powerful search and filter tools on AirBnb make it easy to find the home perfect for you.
Since we are living abroad and often staying for more than a month, we typically look for an “entire home/apartment” with a kitchen, wireless internet (for work and school), and a washing machine whenever possible (it is a PAIN to find a laundromat or laundry service in many places). We also require air conditioning when the environment is hot (in places like France and Greece, nobody has air conditioning).
The key to finding a stellar AirBnb is in the reviews. Only choose places with lots of reviews (the more the better, but typically our minimum is 20+ reviews). Use the “search reviews” feature to look for specific comments on things like internet speed and cleanliness. Also, be sure to look at the dates of the reviews carefully to ensure that there are some reviews posted recently (some listings have lots of positive reviews, but they are several years old and this can be a problem).
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