As you know from my previous journals or instagram posts, I’ve been quite a loyal AirBnb user. It has many times saved me from unnecessary hotel splurge whenever I travel, especially on longer period of stay. I still stick to hotels on a one or two night trips (because of the efficiency, 24 hours check-in and hotel amenities), but for any trip longer than three nights, AirBnb is a better and more economical choice. Today I’m going to tell you why.

First of all. What is AirBnb? It’s a website that enables people to lease or rent short-term lodging ranging. You can find everything based on your budget, ranging from a shared bedroom to a whole luxurious villa. You might remember my post about the beautiful JungleRoom eco villa in Canggu, Bali. It’s one of many hidden treasures in AirBnb.

Jungleroom Bali

Why staying in AirBnb? Well, my main reason are as follows:

  1. It’s more economical for longer term stays. For the price of a small hotel room, you might get a wayyy much bigger apartment space or even a house for your money. Most listing also offer a discount on longer stays.
  2. It’s also way much cheaper for group travels. Instead of booking two or three rooms, you can rent the whole apartment.
  3. Also for longer term stays, I like to be able to wash my clothes, prepare my food, etc. You know how bad the daily dining out can do to your wallet? Baaaaaad. Most of the AirBnb apartments have washing machine, kitchen with fridge, stove and microwave.
  4. I make new friends! Most of the hosts who share their house with me are wonderful people.

Vera’s beautiful two bedrooms apartment in Prague was where I and a group of six were staying earlier this year.

For you who has doubts or is even a bit paranoid about AirBnb, I wouldn’t blame you. With so many horror stories online from both the guests’ and hosts side, controversial news (building with no leasing permits, the infamous Airbnb ignorant customer reviews, the safety concerns, etc), it might put off the first timers. I admit I was abit scared as well before deciding to rent my first AirBnb. The idea of staying in some stranger’s apartment kinda intimidated me at first. But after 20+ experiences staying with AirBnb without ever having to leave any negative review, I think it’s safe to say that it has become an inseparable part of my traveling life.

My own experiences so far have always been basically ranging from fine to extra wonderful. Some apartments have been better than others, for sure, but none has ever struck me as bad or nightmarish. Was I lucky? Maybe. But probably also because I’m being cautious before I book. Afterall, these are still some strangers’ homes I would be staying at, hence doing a dedicated research beforehand is a must.

Below I’ll share some guides to keep you safe and happy during your stay:

1. Use the filter search, for all the obvious reasons. AirBnb has tens of thousands of listings that might confuse first timers. It’ll be a lot better if you know the area you’d like to stay in (example: Putting “Shinjuku” instead of “Tokyo”, or “Louvre” instead of “Paris”). Completely new to the city and have no single idea about the right area to stay in? Google is your friend.
The next filters would be the price range and your vacation dates (saves you from a lot of heartbreak if the place you’re in love with is either way beyond your budget or not available on your preferred dates.)

My beautiful AirBnb in Marrakech

2. Next filter is the type of home you prefer to stay in. A shared room, normally the most economical one, is a room you’ll share with other people. This is good if you’re the kind of traveler who likes to look for new friends and a budget-friendly stay (although obviously the privacy would be in bare minimum). Private rooms are great for when you prefer a little privacy, but still value a local connection. You’ll have a bedroom to yourself, but will share some spaces with others like the living room, kitchen or bathroom. The Entire Home is basically… the entire home. The entire home can range from a small studio to the whole villa. All for yourself!

The gorgeous living room inside Arsène’s apartment in Paris 2e.

3. You can also filter by amenities, here’s what I always tick: Wi-fi (obviously), Washing machine, Heater (on winter trips), Elevator in Building. Please don’t be like me, a naive traveller who thinks elevator exists in every building in Paris (though the 4 times daily climbing up and going down the six flights of stairs did pretty well on my legs. Also countless stupid moments when I finally reached ground floor and realised that I forgot my phone upstairs.)

4. If you’re traveling with a group, look at the photos of each listing closely. A home for four person might mean one bed and one couch. If you see five pictures at different angles of one room, there is just one room. Also, photographers might use wide angle lens to make a tight space seem way larger.

5. Once you find your candidates (on the right location and within your budget), read the description of the location and do your research. Take the time to google the area. “Near the city centre” might sometimes mean thirty minutes walking uphill through a dodgy, dark neighborhood. I always look for locations within 5 minutes walk from public transportation (which will save me from lots of hassle when I arrive with big suitcases… NOT a light packer here.)

By far, Bertrand’s apartment in Paris 2e is my most favorite apartment in Paris. Big plus is that it’s located in the middle of the ramen district!

6. Now here’s the homework: read the reviews. I mean ALL the reviews. If the host has 300+ reviews, take your time to read each of them! I once fell in love with an apartment which had mostly positive reviews on the first page, then proceeded to reveal the bad reviews on the second and third pages! Well, naturally everyone starts out with zero reviews and plenty of new Airbnb hosts are just as legitimate as the super hosts, but many positive reviews give you additional security. Also stay away when you see more than one automated message that say “The host canceled this booking x days before arrival.”

7. Read the Refund Policy. Airbnb has three different cancellation policies: flexible, moderate, and strict. The flexible cancellation policy allows you to receive a full refund (except fees) for cancelling as late as one day prior to your arrival. The moderate cancellation policy allows you to receive a full refund (except fees) for cancelling up to 5 days prior to your arrival. The strict policy allows you to receive a 50% refund up until 1 week prior to their arrival.

8. Once you finally narrowed down or even find your choice, message the host. For Instant Booking listing, you will be able to book directly without having to be approved by the host (keep in mind that with instant book you’ll be charged in full immediately). But for Request to Book listing, you will have to communicate with your host first. Tell the host who you are and why you’ll be in town (tourism, visiting family, study, or whatever else). Always be polite. Unlike a hotel, where you just call and ask for a room on specific dates, your potential host can accept or reject your request for any reason.

View from my balcony at Paris 2e.

10. Hotels are simple: You book it, arrive at anytime of the day, and sleep. On the other hand, not every AirBnb listing offer 24-hours check in. If you’re lucky, usually they keep the key or access card inside a locker that you can access via a guide he/she provide on the message prior to your arrival. But if there’s no 24 hours check in available, you’ll make an appointment with your host for the key handout; which will bring me to the next important tip:

11. ALWAYS, always get a working internet connection when you arrive in town, or else you’ll have trouble contacting your host. When traveling abroad, get a local sim card in the airport or set your number in international roaming mode. Locate your property on the map so you’ll know how long you’ll reach the destination. If you get lost or stuck in a traffic jam and take a longer time than expected, always notify your host.

12. Once again, this is not a hotel where you can call the front desk 24 hours a day for anything you might need. Don’t assume that there will be any food, coffee, shampoo or soap. However I’ve been lucky to stay in places with hosts that provide all of those, plus extra towels, extra toilet papers and detergents. Bring your own toothbrush/toothpaste (for the sake of a better environment, actually. Millions of plastic toothbrushes are going to waste every year so I am pretty much against those hotels’ disposable ones.)

Olivier’s place in Paris 2e was my calm sanctuary during my PFW job last summer.

13. Just like in every place, keeping yourself safe is a no brainer. Lock your doors properly and close the windows at night or when you’re out.

14. When you’re sharing your place with the host, respect their time, space and privacy. I once booked a private room with a host who lived in the next room. Not only he was very friendly but also respected my privacy as I very much respected his.

Deborah adorable villa in Seminyak.15. Respect the House Rules. If they say no party, no smoking or no pets, then don’t have any of them. Respect your neighbours by keeping your noise down. In hotels, house cleaning comes by each day. but in AirBnb, you are expected to keep the place at least not messy when you leave it. You don’t need to scrub the floors, that’s ridiculous; unless if you happen to be the person who finds peace in doing it. I usually leave the apartment the way I leave my own house: with all the trash bags out and all dishes washed.

16. Your and your hosts’ credibility is based on your track record and review system. Always leave a fair and honest review about the place, remember that your review will help the future travelers.

That’s it love! Hope these guides can help you in choosing your next home away from home. And here’s a gift for you: Sign up now and get free IDR 350.000 travel credit for your first stay! You’re welcome!

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