I am a big fan of Airbnb. I love the whole concept of actually living like a local, being able to embrace the culture and make new friends.
It’s economical, you have more control over the type of accommodation you have (single room, whole unit, house, mansion, cave, treehouse) and you often get great tips about where you are staying from people who know what they are talking about and not working on commission.
Besides, how many other ways could you find accommodation in the middle of London with less than 48hours notice for less than $90 a night simply by using a phone app?? There was one crisis easily averted.
It is easy to see why most of my friends and even a fair few businesses are now using it. As of September 2015, there were over 50million users registered on the site with listings in over 57,000 cities across the globe (expendedramblings.com, 2015).
When using a service like this, security is always going to be a concern. However considering the statistical likelihood of security issues in conventional accommodation and Airbnb’s policy on handling issues, the argument that it is comparatively dangerous seems a little void. If things don’t seem right, call Airbnb and they will go out of their way to correct the situation ASAP. For more information on how seriously airbnb take safety, you can visit https://www.airbnb.com/trust.
Admittedly, I am probably more inclined to use the service in Western countries due to the relative inexpensive and service offered at hotels and homestays in non-Western countries, like Vietnam. However, I still tend to look around at all of my options whenever choosing where to stay.
Like choosing any accommodation, knowing exactly what you are doing makes a huge difference. So here are my top tips that I have developed over my time using the service.
1. Read the reviews. The first one sounds obvious, but Airbnb work on reviews for a reason. Make sure you take the time to scroll down and see what people are writing about their experiences and about the hosts themselves (by clicking on their individual profiles). Trust your instincts about what looks good and what you want. I would not stay anywhere with at least 3 reviews that are all positive.
2. Look at the facilities that are available. I like to have kitchen facilities available to me when travelling so that I can buy local produce and make my own breakfast and sometimes even a late dinner. It saves so much money, hustle and time first thing in the morning and getting back to your accommodation late at night. I also like places at some point in my trip where I can use a washing machines. If you have a car, check for parking facilities.
3. Check the extra costs section. I tend to avoid ones with excessive cleaning fees and massive security deposits.
4. Once you have chosen a place, get in contact with the hosts. Write a friendly message with a little bit about yourself explaining broadly what you are doing there. Especially if you have never used AirBNB before and have not been reviewed, you want your potential hosts to accept you. Once you have been accepted, communication is absolutely critical to a smooth transition and check in to your accommodation. It is also good for your own safety to talk to them beforehand.
5. If you are staying in a house at the same time as your hosts, embrace the knowledge that they have about their city or town. You can learn so much about different cultures, great places to visit and things to do just by chatting. Who knows, you might even make new friends.
I know I have.