For those of you out there planning this years travel, considering a trip or considering using Airbnb but aren’t too sure, this post is for you!
Airbnb is such a great accommodation tool now and has gained more popularity. For those you haven’t tried it yet or want to find out more information, here is my list. I’ve stayed at approximately 10 different Airbnb properties in 10 different towns so here is what I’ve learnt from those experiences.
- Bargain prices to be found: Let’s face it, travelling can be expensive especially if you’re travelling as a family. You will need to compare against hotel/hostel prices in places where you’re travelling to but from my experience, I have found that Airbnb is either cheaper or a better deal. By this I mean, if i paid a few more dollars- I could have an entire apartment with a kitchen which would then save on food costs. So it’s worth checking out even if you’ve never used it before.
- Living with a local: If you’re travelling somewhere where you’ve been before and want an “insider” tip to the city, booking a private room in a house or an apartment could be a good option. Not only are your hosts there to offer you a place, there is a local expert in the house! You can ask them for their favourite restaurants, shops or events to truly get a local feel of a place.
- Use of shared equipment: One of the biggest pro’s I find is the ability to use their kitchen and washing machine. Food and washing are just added expenses to your trip so if you can find a way around it, then I would be all for it. Of course, some places might charge you to do laundry but this should be stated on the accommodation listing so keep an eye out for it. Or else, you have the option of asking before booking.
- Reviews: I love love love that you get the chance to review your host and the place as well as being reviewed. I have found through experience that it is a good idea to read every single review incase there is something hidden or just to get the jist of the place and host. I have also been annoyed at other guests not leaving helpful reviews so I urge you to write one after your stay to help out fellow travellers.
- Cancelling comes with a price: There may be times when plans fall through or you’ve changed your mind. It’s super easy to cancel a booking and you do get your money back (depending on how many days you’ve cancelled in advance, check this!) but you won’t be getting back the Airbnb admin fee. Things happen but this sucks. This is in comparison to hotel and hostel cancelling fees (especially when booked through bookings.com) where for some, cancelling is free.
- Untruthful hosts: This is why it is so important to read and leave good reviews! We like to believe the best in people but sadly, the best of people isn’t always there. Always always read the whole listing description and feel free to ask questions. Even then, as I have learnt, you might still be surprised by things not seeming as they should be.
- No fence-sitter: If you were staying at a hostel or hotel and had a problem, you could easily see reception to get your problem fixed. However, when you’re staying in someone else’s place, well….they have their own best interests and you have yours. There is no immediate mediator (apart from Airbnb) and raising an issue could make the rest of your stay awkward. This is obviously different from person to person (maybe you would raise the issue) but I would feel awkward if something didn’t turn out as listed and I brought it up but still lived in their place.
So all in all, I guess you can’t really know until you go! I have mostly had brilliant hosts and places were mostly as listed (and if not, I have written reviews saying so). Also remember that someone else is offering up their home to a complete stranger so the uncomfortable non-trusting feelings run on both sides.
If you have used Airbnb, what do you think of my list? Would you add anything else? If you haven’t used Airbnb, what are the things that are stopping you from using it? I’d love to discuss in the comments so leave one there!
Obviously when you’re travelling, you need a place to stay but aside from the hotel, where else can you stay and save?
One of my favourite websites to use for accommodation bookings is bookings.com. It’s easy to use, you just plug in your dates of travel, number of guests and town and hit search. It brings up a whole list of hotels/hostels/B&Bs so you can compare prices, reviews from other people and compare features between each place. Things I keep an eye out for are air conditioning and wifi as not all places have these included in the price or at all. I also like to book rooms that have $0 cancellation costs incase you find a better place to stay or want to change your dates. I also really like the review feature which lets you browse through to see what other people’s experiences were like and make sure you leave your own for the next travellers.
If these prices are still too expensive or I want a place with a kitchen to stay at, I will look at Airbnb. You get to pick whether you want a whole apartment to yourself or a private room within someone else’s home. The benefit of this is a more personalised type of accommodation and someone to ask questions to about local things. The downside is not having the chance to stay around other guests (although some places do rent out all their rooms so you can expect to bump into someone else) or have the safety back-up of a “hotel or hostel corporation” like structure to smooth out any issues right away (although AirBnB does have legal say in things to protect hosts). Just another tip, a service fee is involved in each booking that goes straight to AirBnB and you don’t get this back if you need to cancel. I’ve used Airbnb before and will be giving it some more goes but it’s very dependent on individual experiences both with the place and with the hosts so goodluck!
Another option is to use couchsurfing. This isn’t just free accommodation (but yay free) but more of a community exchange. For the free stay, you should at least make a meal for or take your host/s out for a meal to say thanks. On the couchsurfing website, there are reviews of both hosts and guests so have a look through this thoroughly as not so good things have happened. You can message past guests to ask about the host. I haven’t used couchsurfing yet but maybe I will soon.
Hope I’ve given you an insight of my booking ways. If you wish to leave a comment, let me know what you think and what sites you use.