7 Airbnb Tips for First-Time Guests
After staying in a traditional bed-and-breakfast in London, then an all-inclusive resort in Mexico, I was craving an Airbnb experience for my next adventure. When the hubby and I decided to visit Edinburgh and Dublin, Airbnb was the only accommodation option I considered. Plus, I was a little late to the Airbnb game. I was an Airbnb virgin, so it was time.
I enjoyed it so much that I can see myself using Airbnb exclusively from now on. With that being said, it’s important to do Airbnb right so you won’t be disappointed or, in the worst-case scenario, feel unsafe.
Here are a few tips I learned from my own first-time Airbnb experience.
Take Your Time on the Airbnb Website/App
Airbnb is easy to use, so even if you’re new to the site, you won’t have a tough time booking a rental. Enter your destination city, the dates you plan to stay, and the number of guests. From there, you can narrow down the listings based on the type of room (we wanted the entire place to ourselves), your price range, and must-have features like Wi-Fi and other amenities.
Since we were spending a full week in each city, I knew we needed a washer/dryer and a kitchen, so those were my only two criteria.
Use the Map View
While you can scroll through the list of rental options, I highly recommend viewing them on the map. Not only does the map display the rental prices, but it gives you a better idea of where each place is located. This makes it easier to stay near those must-see attractions!
I also like to look at the Google Street View around the property’s general area to make sure it’s a safe location. Any Airbnb rentals situated in nice residential or tourist areas are going to be on the safer side. You’ll want to do additional research on your destination city for any areas deemed unsafe for tourists.
Read the Airbnb Property & Host Reviews
Airbnb’s review system allows potential guests to see how the property rates in terms of listing accuracy, host communication, cleanliness, location, ease of check-in, and value. When you find a place you’d like to rent, read the reviews first.
Airbnb’s internal review system encourages honest reviews because neither the guest nor the host can see a review until the other person has completed theirs. Both the guest and host can also leave private feedback for one another, encouraging improvement without damaging the individual’s reputation on Airbnb.
For example, the apartment we stayed at in Dublin wasn’t up to snuff like the one we’d experienced in Edinburgh. There were dust bunnies in a forgotten corner of the bathroom, which were obvious for anyone using the facilities but maybe not so obvious to the person cleaning the apartment. A few other issues like that led me to leave 5 stars across the board, minus one star in the cleanliness department. Rather than making that point an issue on the public review, I let the host know in private where he could improve.
Create a Wish List
Once you’ve found a property you like, Airbnb allows you to save it to your Wish List. When you click “Save to Wish List,” you’re given the option to create a new wish list.
Since I was browsing properties for two different cities, I made two wish lists: “Edinburgh” and “Dublin.” You can also use the website’s default list: “Vacation Places.” Either way, saving your favorites to a wish list helps you plan your trip better and compare your options.
Book in Advance
The most reputable Airbnb properties tend to fill up fast, so try booking months in advance, if possible. We booked both Airbnbs at least six months out, which not only gave us access to great rentals, but also helped us in the financial department.
With Airbnb, you’re charged when you book and the host accepts your reservation request. This was nice because we had several months to save up again for the actual trip (food, souvenirs, day trips, etc.). You know there won’t be any surprises.
Communicate with your Host
After booking, a good host will reach out to you via email and/or Airbnb’s messaging system. Take the time to say hi and introduce yourself and whoever will be traveling with you.
At this point, I’d recommend downloading the Airbnb app. It makes it easier to respond to host communications while you’re traveling. For example, I had previously told my Edinburgh host we would be arriving an hour earlier than we actually did, so I shot her a quick message via the app from our layover airport. She responded right away and said she’d meet us at the new time. No problem.
I also had to message our Dublin host for clearer bus directions. If I hadn’t have had the app on my phone, it would have been a lot more difficult to reach out when I needed to.
As a guest, you’ll also be publicly reviewed for all potential hosts to see, so if you plan on using Airbnb again in the future (or even if you don’t), be a considerate guest. Leave the rental as clean and tidy as possible. Adhere to the house rules (which are unique to each host), and be a kind neighbor.
Our first host required us to take out the trash while our second one didn’t. We would have gladly done it at both, but since it wasn’t clear at the second property how to deal with the trash, we figured we weren’t expected to take it out. Make a note of these house rules and ask your host for clarification, if necessary. They love it when you’re communicative.
No two Airbnb experiences are the same. In fact, our rental properties were like night and day. We still enjoyed both stays, even if I’d only return to one of them in the future. Airbnb is worth the experience if you’re looking to save a few bucks, find a great central location, don’t mind cleaning up after yourself, and enjoy a homier atmosphere than any hotel can offer.