How to Choose the Right Airbnb for Your Next Trip

Airbnb has become a great resource for travelers, who started using it as a way to ensure cheaper accommodations, and now rely on it for their amazing, crowd-sourced city guides.

Although the idea of staying in someone’s home doesn’t appeal to some people, Airbnb actually has a ton of different options for travel accommodations, many of which are completely private. It’s a great way for people to connect with other travelers, get away from boring, uninspired hotels and hostels, and explore areas that they would have never visited otherwise. The next time you’re on a vacation, or even if you have to travel for work, give it a shot.

Here are some tips for choosing the right Airbnb for your next getaway.

Pick the right neighborhood

When you first log on to Airbnb, you’ll be asked to put in the city or region that you’re traveling to, and your listings will immediately be sorted to show only the ones near that area. It’s important to then input your dates, so that you don’t get attached to rentals that are unavailable during your trip. Next, toggle to the map view so you can see the location of each rental; it should appear on the right, while the listings remain on the left-hand side of the screen.

Once you can see the map, figure out what neighborhood you’d like to stay in. Major sights will appear on the map, but you should do your own research to figure out which area works for your group.

Figure out how many bedrooms you’ll need

Once you’ve pinpointed a few preferred areas where you’d like to stay, the next step is figuring out how many bedrooms or sleeping areas you’ll need.

You can narrow your search by number of guests at the top of the Airbnb webpage. Sleeping arrangements become much more flexible if you’ve chosen to rent a whole house, rather than an individual room, but every Airbnb will specify how many guests are permitted, and what types of sleeping arrangements are allowed. Make sure you check this carefully. A house that sleeps two may offer a single bed and a pull-out couch, rather than two individual beds. You should never go beyond the maximum guest allowance without talking to your host first.

Decide on your preferred level of interaction with your host

Some people use Airbnb because they want to meet new people and are thrilled to be able to hang out with their host, while others are attracted to the site primarily because of the price and want to protect their privacy. When you search through the site, you can specify whether you would like an entire home or apartment, private room, or shared space.

Private homes are generally more expensive but offer a level of privacy not available to those staying in private or shared rooms. However, even listings for rooms specify how much interaction the guests should expect from the host, and which areas of the home they’ll be able to access. Make note of this and keep your expectations in line with your host’s stated preference.

Make a list of must-haves

Many people still gravitate to hotels over Airbnbs because the expectations of hotels are very set in stone. People know what amenities and services to expect. However, you can get the same level of service out of an Airbnb. You just have to know what to look for.

Every Airbnb listing will carefully note the amenities offered, including services like self-check-in, so you just need to make sure that whichever accommodation you choose has the amenities that you need. Make a list of amenities that you absolutely require, and if there’s any doubt, get in touch with the host and ask. Even if they don’t offer what you’re looking for, they may be able to suggest alternatives.

Know your ideal price

One of the hardest aspects of picking out an Airbnb is regretfully excluding all the beautiful apartments and homes that don’t fit your budget. It’s a good idea to make a budget first, then start your search. However, it’s important to be realistic.

Airbnbs are generally cheaper than hotel rooms, but if you’re looking for an Airbnb during a busy time of year or in a popular vacation destination, you may struggle to find something in your budget. Search early to avoid disappointment. If you can’t find anything in your preferred neighborhood in your price range, you may have to expand your search.

Read the rules carefully

Airbnbs differ from hotels because their rules vary from listing to listing. Once you’ve picked a listing that you like, make sure that you read and understand all of their rules thoroughly, including the cancellation policy. Hosts can ask you to agree to a whole list of rules — even if they’re unreasonable — and if you’ve paid and signified your agreement, you’re bound to the contract.

If your travel plans may change, you should book an Airbnb with a flexible cancellation policy. Most insist on at least seven days’ notice in order to get a full refund.

Talk to your hosts before you arrive

One of the very best things that you can do is talk openly with your host before your arrival. If you have questions about the place, they’re the best people to answer you. If you think you’re going to arrive late or if you’ll need some assistance, be honest and let them know. The worst thing that they can say is no, and if that happens, figuring out that it’s a bad fit early on allows you to get your money back and book alternate accommodations.

Most hosts are extremely welcoming and genuinely want you to enjoy yourself. Even if you’re staying in a non-English-speaking country, Airbnb has you covered. Their messaging system uses a built-in translation feature to ensure that both of you understand each other completely.

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