Airbnb is my favorite website to find a place to stay while traveling. Airbnb rentals are unique, give you the opportunity to meet locals in the city you’re visiting, and are often much cheaper than hotels.
Many people have never used Airbnb before, and are interested but hesitant to book with them.
I’ll give you 5 tips to find the perfect Airbnb space, including how to ensure you get exactly what you want when you book.
1. Get familiar with how Airbnb works.
On Airbnb, regular people list either part or all of their home, apartment, or condo for rental. There are a few different options for types of spaces:
- You can rent a shared room, which would be similar to staying in a hostel with multiple people in the same room
- You can rent a private room, which means you have a room to yourself (the listing will specify if you share a bathroom or not)
- You can rent an entire place, which means you have the entire home/apartment to yourself
When you search on Airbnb, you have all the options below to narrow down your listing, including what room type you are looking for.
2. Start by narrowing down your location.
When you first starting looking for a rental on Airbnb, you are asked to specify a city you are visiting and on what dates you want to rent.
I recommend honing in on a specific area of town in which you want to stay, especially in a larger city. You can type in a specific address or landmark into Airbnb, and it will drop a pin so you can see how far listings are from that spot. For example, if you’re going to Nashville and know you’ll be going to a Predators game downtown, you can type in “Bridgestone Arena” to view listings close to that location.
You can also view metro locations on Airbnb’s maps, so if its important to you to be near a subway, you’ll be able to see that before booking.
In large cities, such as Boston, London, and Washington, D.C., you can search listings by neighborhood. You can even specify what type of neighborhood you’re looking for, such as “peace and quiet” or “walkability” to downtown locations.
When looking at listings, you are not able to see the actual address of the listing due to privacy reasons. However, you can view a radius of where the rental will be, so you’ll know within a few blocks where you’ll actually be staying.
3. Read up on the rental host.
Every listing on Airbnb has a host. The host is the person who is renting out the space on Airbnb. Typically, people who rent out their properties on Airbnb live in the home and have an extra room, or when they go out of town they rent their space. It is, however, becoming increasingly common for listers on Airbnb to purchase an additional home or apartment just to rent it out on Airbnb. Therefore, rentals are becoming nicer and nicer as time goes on, with added amenities.
Whenever you find a listing you’re interested in, read up on the host. If they have pets in their home, they will usually specify in their profile so you are aware in case you’re allergic.
This is the profile for the host I’m staying with in Austin in March. You can read reviews about your host before booking to make sure they’re the type of person you want to stay with, and to see what previous renters think about them.
When you view a host’s profile, you can also see all of the listings that they have on Airbnb on the left side of the page.
When you identify a property that you’re interested in, you can read more about specific details on the listing’s page. Each host specifies specific information, such as how many people can stay in the listing, the host’s cancellation policy, and any house rules there might be. Make sure to read these carefully so you don’t have any surprises.
Note that each host sets their own policies. Look extremely carefully at the cancellation policy; you can click on the policy on the listing for more details.
Here are the details and house rules for the same listing in Austin:
4. Read detailed reviews from past renters of the listing.
This is my biggest piece of advice for renting with Airbnb. When you create a profile on the site, you are asked to write a review of your host after every stay. Therefore, all reviews are guaranteed to be from people who have actually stayed at the listing.
Reading reviews will ensure that you stay in exactly the property that you want. Reviewers often talk about things like location, how friendly the host was, how the space was decorated, etc. Sometimes, pictures do not accurately portray a space, so take the reviews into account when making your selection.
Below is an example of reviews for a gameday property in Tuscaloosa:
5. Contact your host before booking.
You have the option to contact the host for the listing you want prior to booking. I recommend this; you have the opportunity to ask the host any questions you may have, and build a relationship before booking.
Make sure to note that when you find a listing you want and click “request to book,” you are not guaranteed that you have rented the listing. The host has to approve you as a renter before your booking is confirmed. Hosts can look at your profile and decide if they want to accept you or not, so make sure your profile is filled out and accurate.
If you stay at Airbnb frequently, ask hosts to write reviews about you as a guest (the site will prompt both you and the host to write reviews about each other automatically after your stay). The more reviews you get, the most likely a host is to approve you.
Lastly- when you request to book, you are prompted to put in your credit card information. The rental is not booked until the host approves you; however, if they do approve you, your card is charged automatically. Therefore, don’t request to book until you know you’re ready and interested. If the host does not approve you, your card won’t be charged.
I hope that this post was helpful- Airbnb is easy to use, but it takes time to navigate listings and feel comfortable if you’ve never used it before.
Please feel free to ask me any questions you may have- I’ve used Airbnb multiple times. I’ve absolutely loved every listing I’ve stayed at, and never had any problems with safety or weird hosts. Its truly my favorite way to travel.