Top Tips On Using AirBnB For Local, Domestic & International Stays
AirBnB has honestly changed the way I travel. When I was first recommended the site back in 2012 during a last minute panic that I couldn’t find affordable accommodation in NYC, I didn’t really know what it was all about: staying in someone’s house back then was a foreign concept (quite literally) and seemed like a right old faff compared to the ease of checking in and out of a hotel. But what you get with an AirBnB booking is often a more authentic, relaxed and affordable solution that makes travel and discovery all the more enjoyable. Over the last twelve months alone I’ve booked trips to everywhere from Bournemouth to Bruges, with a tropical visit to Tenerife and more local stay in the Cotswolds thrown in for good measure – it’s become my go-to every time we want to escape for a long weekend, or want to plan a longer getaway somewhere more exotic. I’d thoroughly recommend it to anyone who loves to travel or wants to explore, but if it sounds a bit overwhelming or scary here are my top tips for finding and booking the best AirBnBs and ensuring a great trip every time…
BROWSE TOP SUGGESTIONS
It can be overwhelming if you’re not 100% sure what you’re looking for or where you want to visit, but AirBnB themselves have a number of different ways to browse their top picks – whether they’re specific trends or events (I love the fact they highlight places near festivals!) or just the style of property (i.e. country homes or seaside retreats.) They also have their SuperHosts and hot picks, so you can discover apartments that are firm favourites of the AirBnB community, as well as luxe experiences if you’re looking for something a little more indulgent. My tip is to spend some time browsing and looking for inspiration, because you never know where you may get a sudden urge to visit!
EMBRACE THE FILTERS
If you’re set on a specific destination (we use AirBnB for family events and weddings all the time, as it’s far cheaper than three hotel rooms!) then the filters can offer a great way of nailing down your search. Make sure you put in specific dates so you don’t waste time looking at unavailable spots (many of the popular places fill up super fast,) as well as the number of people / bedrooms and any specific amenities; I love the fact you can even search for places with a pool or hot tub! The more you filter, the easier it is to find your perfect next destination.
SAVE BY LOCATION
One of my favourite AirBnB features is the ability to save your favourite apartments, rooms and cabins to boards that aren’t dissimilar to Pinterest. So if you plan on visiting Paris, New York or Marbella any time soon you can fill a board full of inspiration and refer back to it later – even sharing with your friends or inviting other people to your trip so you can decide together what most floats your boat. I love using this for when I’m just daydreaming, looking for cute places to stay or arranging a big event like a hen do; it makes the process so much easier, while saving places I love the look of for future reference.
TRAVEL OFF PEAK
Like with hotels, the majority of AirBnBs change price depending upon the time of year; our apartment in Tenerife doubled in price from one week to the next because of the school holiday, so it’s well worth putting in different dates to see if you get a different price. It’s also worth considering a weekday escapade too, as prices Mon-Thurs are often a lot more affordable than Fri-Sun (and don’t come with a two night minimum.) My top tip? Be flexible!
CHECK OUT REVIEWS
The AirBnB community is focused very much on reviews and feedback from previous guests, so it’s always worth reading what other people thought after they stayed and taking note of when the last review was posted. Hosts can choose not to display reviews if they don’t leave one for the guest, meaning it can be easy for them to avoid showing anything negative on their profile; I’ve stayed in a couple of dodgy places in the past (photos taken about 5 years prior!) and my honest feedback never saw the light of day. Guest reviews are the secret to finding those little gems!
READ ALL THE DETAILS & INSTRUCTIONS
Some locations have a live-in host who will meet you to run you through everything, while others will have a lock-box with a code so you can let yourself in; some will offer facilities such as a kitchen, while others won’t have anything more than a kettle; some will allow you early or late check in, while others will be very strict on timings. I’d definitely recommend reading the details of the property thoroughly before committing, especially as most will ask for a deposit up front and retain a fee if you cancel. It’s also worth having a chat to your host, as they tend to offer local recommendations or provide advice, and asking specific questions if you have them – just don’t ever come off the AirBnB platform as they could be a scammer. (It’s happened to more people than you’d probably imagine.)
Are you a fan of AirBnBs? Let me know your fave finds below!
Where we stayed: Cotswold Cosy Garden Cottage
Use my AirBnB coupon here to get 10% off your trip (up to £309 if you’re booking somewhere big and fancy!)