5 tips for using Airbnb

23 Sep

The internet has done a lot of great things to give people more options, and giving people options while travelling is no exception. Airbnb is a great option for travelers looking for a budget accommodation as well as a more authentic picture of housing in their destination. Whether you are staying in an apartment in a big building in South Korea, or a suburban home in Colorado (I’ve stayed at both those types of places), airbnb is one of the best things to happen to travel in the past 5 years. But, like with any travel website, it is still possible to make mistakes using airbnb, and there are important things you should be aware of when choosing a place to stay. Here are five tips for using airbnb.

1) Staying far away from the city center won’t always save you money

This goes beyond Airbnb. A lot of travelers make the mistake of staying at the cheapest accommodation possible, even if its a 40 minute bus or train ride into the city center. When transport costs add up, this can remove any savings you had from staying in a cheaper, further away place. Transit can be infrequent too, with buses in America sometimes plying their routes every 1.5 hours, rather than ever 0.5 hours. Also, consider that many suburbs are spread out, especially in the US, and what you need may not be within walking distance. Going to the downtown area is not the only transportation you may need. Sometimes, even the nearest decent restaurant will be a bus ride away. And if you’re done with your sightseeing late at night, and don’t feel safe taking the bus, the taxi ride will really eat up your budget too.

2) Know and write down the address ahead of time and location ahead of time

Don’t assume that where you’re going is easy to find. I once made the mistake of arriving in Gyeongju, South Korea, when I hadn’t wrote down the address of where I was staying. My smartphone was out of battery, so in order to find out where I was staying, I had to go into a coffee shop, pay for a coffee (expensive in South Korea), sit down and use the wifi. And all I wanted was to put my huge backpack down ASAP, and be able to enjoy where I was staying. But figuring out the address of the guesthouse took up more time and money.

3) Be a polite guest

This should be a no brainer anywhere you go, but being a polite guest is especially important on Airbnb. It’s not just you who writes a review of your host, it’s also the host who writes a review of you as a guest. It’s very important that you keep your room clean and that you are friendly to your hosts. Otherwise, they may write a bad review of you, and you will lose potential future hosts.

4) Know what you’re getting

An Airbnb listing is not a hotel. Don’t assume it will have everything you need, such as a kitchen for guests, or a coffee maker in the room. If you end up having to eat out every meal or go to the nearest convenience store or cafe every time you want a coffee, you won’t be saving much money simply be staying at the cheapest possible place. Be aware of this.

5) Hosts may be late or mess things up somehow. Be forgiving

Hosts are people too. Don’t expect everything to go smoothly and perfectly. I’ve had hosts be very late, or give me “guest information” pamphlets that are not properly translated into English. Know that an Airbnb home is not a hotel or hostel. Don’t give people bad reviews, or be a rude guest simply because of these mistakes. Give your host a chance, even if they are late and this leaves a bad first impression.

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