We’ve been using Airbnb for 7 years now and have booked over 30 properties, more recently we’ve relied heavily on the site since we started our location independent living lifestyle. It’s not only a super useful resource for digital nomads, but for anyone who travels.
What is Airbnb?
Airbnb is an online booking platform, where people can find or list accommodation options; including vacation rentals, apartment rentals, homestays, hostel beds, or hotel rooms for short or long term. It has over 3,000,000 lodging listings in 65,000 cities and 191 countries.
The Pros – Why is Airbnb Better Than a Hotel?
- More cost effective – great rates for long-term (up to 50% off monthly rates) and short term during peak periods or major holiday periods such as Carnival in Rio, Summer holidays in Tulum, Ultra Music Festival in Miami or Solar Eclipse in Nashville, Christmas in Cuba.
- Home away from home – most options include home like features such as living room, kitchen, laundry, better amenities, more space and generally well-equipped for long-term stays.
- Airbnb hosts rely on their good reviews, so their service is above and beyond most hotel staff and more personalised.
- Airbnb is ideal for digital nomads for all of the above reasons.
The Cons – Why a Hotel is Better Than Airbnb?
- There really aren’t that many cons, because the pros outweigh them. Some minor ones:
- No 24 hour face to face assistance you get with hotel reception, however the majority of our hosts have been available 24 hours via Whatsapp, mobile or Airbnb.
- No daily housekeeping, cleaning frequency will depend on the host – some offer weekly, some offer none. This isn’t a big deal for us, because we find it’s more of hassle dealing with a cleaner while trying to work and rather do it ourselves.
How Airbnb Works?
It’s as simple as booking a hotel online:
1. Sign up with email address, Google login or Facebook login – If you sign up using this link you’ll get $50 AUD ($35 USD) off your first stay. The Airbnb coupon code will automatically be applied to your account so all you have to do is a book a place to stay (the minimum spend for the coupon is $100).
2. Create profile with photo and description – Airbnb is a community that relies on trust, so make sure you complete your profile with a nice photo and description about yourself. You’ll also need to provide valid contact details, payment information and government-issued ID and also agree to any house rules f the host.
3. Search property – Filter by price, location, reviews, room type (shared room, private room, entire home), amenities, and facilities. When considering your options, read reviews and descriptions, house rules, and amenities, and check photos and ratings for each place to see if it’s the right fit.
4. Contact host – If there is anything you’re unsure of or need more information, contact the host. We always ask:
- What is your wifi speed? Is it reliable for working online conditions?
- What is the walking distance to supermarkets and restaurants? Airbnb won’t allow you to see the exact location of a certain rental property until you book it. Also, we’ve asked in the past for the address without any problems to gauge the neighbourhood.
- What discounts are provided for bookings over 1 month? Some owners don’t advertise their monthly discounts, so it’s worth asking. In the majority of cases, we’ve received 50% off for one month bookings.
5. Book it – There are 3 ways to book depending on the host’s’ preference. Airbnb receives a percentage service fees from both guests and hosts in with every booking. Guests pay a service fee between 5% to 15% which can be seen on the checkout page before submitting booking.
- Instantly Book – button on listing with this option.
- Request to Book – made via the calendar where you’ll need to provide reservation and payment details. The host has 24 hours to accept your booking and confirm.
- Pre-approvals and Special Offers – When you contact the host before booking, the host may respond with a pre-approval or special offer. This will appear in your message inbox and will be valid for 24 hours.
6. Confirm address and arrival time – The majority of the time, the host will message you with the address and request the time of your arrival. The address is not advertised until the reservation is booked. We also like to ask if there are any specific directions or instructions.
7. Pack your bags!
8. Don’t forget to leave a review after your stay.
Is Airbnb Safe?
Out of our 30 + Airbnb properties, we’ve never felt unsafe and we have only experience one minor issue when we booked a room in Cuba. After the booking was made, our host messaged us to say they were overbooked, but there was a room at their friend’s house. We didn’t feel comfortable with this, so we contacted Airbnb support. Airbnb dealt with our issue in a timely manner and cancelled our booking, so we were refunded.
Here are some tips you can follow:
- Check reviews – Look for properties with several 4-5 star reviews, read the reviews to identify any potential red flags. It’s also a good idea to check if the owner has other properties with reviews.
- Check the host’s profile page – Here you will find how long they’ve been an Airbnb member, verification of ID, total number of reviews and if they’ve been rated as an outstanding host with a Superhost badge.
- Contact the host – Having an interaction with the host before making a booking will give you a chance to gauge the the host and offer some peace of mind. Also, don’t be afraid to ask questions.
- For any issues during your stay, your first point of contact should be your host. If you are unable to get a resolution, then you can contact Airbnb Support via messaging them through the website or app.