How do you use Airbnb?
I’m sure many of you have used this app at least once in the past couple years. If you haven’t used it to book a home (or recently an experience), then you’ve probably just looked at the most expensive/luxurious ones and drooled over the photos. Check out the ones in Greece…they’re beautiful.
Anyways, the app seems extremely simple to use right? You just need to have some important information about your upcoming trip: dates, location, number of guests, and price range.
We prefer Airbnb over any other travel apps like TripAdvisor, Agoda, Booking.com, etc. because it offers a different experience. When you travel, Airbnb is the way to go. Although it might seem strange to live in another person’s home, it’s really like moving into a fully furnished escape from your own.
Our first place in Bangkok was G Feel Studios. It was $33/night…only $16.50/person…it is practically impossible to find a place like this in the US.
This is the beauty and sustainability of traveling as a couple or with a friend you don’t mind sharing a bed with. I’d rather spend the extra $5 for an entire apartment, three pools, and a comfortable bed vs a 16 bed dorm room. That hostel you could find for $10-12/night, possibly less in Khao San Road, will include that one loud snorer that sleeps through earthquakes plus some toast with jam for the “included breakfast”.
Pros of Airbnb
1. Simplicity. You can create an account and book a home within minutes. This was very useful for us as we sometimes booked homes/apartments a day in advance. Sometimes hours…
2. Price. Airbnb is by far the cheapest and most affordable option while traveling for any duration of time. When you book a hotel you’re paying for all the amenities and facilities that you rarely use: gym, pool, spa, laundry, and bathrobes (okay…you definitely use the bathrobes). With Airbnb, you pay for a service and cleaning fee. Just a heads up, many hosts have discounts: weekly, monthly, etc. I know most people don’t have the option of booking Airbnbs for months at a time but take advantage of the weekly discount if possible.
3. Reviews. You can read every single advantage and disadvantage of staying at the home from previous guests. If the host says you’re “5 minutes from the beach in a beautiful neighborhood”, you’ll read a review that says “A 10 minute trek to the beach and a little scary to walk around at night”. Use this information to weigh the pros and cons. If the location is perfect and the price is fair, decide if having public transportation or popular restaurants nearby is more important to you. If you find a place that seems too good to be true, don’t stress. The compilation of reviews, rating, and pictures will lead to an accurate depiction of the home.
4. Pictures. The pictures of the home are usually taken by the host. This means they likely don’t know how to take professional and enticing photos. You can assume, unlike TripAdvisor, Agoda, etc., that the home will look exactly the same or even better than the photos on the scroll display. When we booked a villa in Bali, the room was far more beautiful than the display!
5. Maps. USE THE MAPS! The most important map is the one in each separate listing. Although Airbnb doesn’t release the exact location of the home before you book it (which is smart), you can get a general idea by clicking on the map function. If the host’s description and guest’s reviews don’t mention a rough location, look at the map. The second map is located on the main listing screen (looks like a little green dot in a small circle) when you’ve set up your preliminary search. This allows you to see a range of available homes in a specific area.
6. The Experience. Airbnb creates relationships while traveling. Definitely not as many as hostels, there are no “take a shot for your country” options like many hostel bars advertise (some smart sales tactics there). At Airbnb listings, you can form a friendship with your host, travelers in your apartment building, or locals next door. Better yet, the locals like to show tourists around. During our 30 days in Bali we spent almost 20 nights at the Patra Homestay in Ubud…for $11/night we slept in a temple and ate omelettes on our porch every morning. By the end of our stay, we were referring to our host as “Mom” and played with her children whenever we returned home from the motorbike she lent us.
Wow, that was a lot. Now, onto the few cons.
– There were MULTIPLE occasions where we caught ourselves almost booking a home in the city next to our desired location…Airbnb, please fix this. The main issue occurred when we were looking for an apartment in Singapore but there were no listings that fit with our desired filters. So, Airbnb’s algorithm found us homes in the city next to Singapore…Johor Bharu. This city is not only far from Singapore, it’s in another country. Happy we caught that one! Remember, use the maps.
– Be wary of the room type: Entire place, Private Room, and Shared Room. The entire place option is preferred, unless you find a private room with superb reviews. Sometimes your budget will cause you to choose a private or shared room. We experienced this issue in Kualu Lampur and Singapore. For example, we showed up to our Airbnb in Singapore (with nine nights booked) and realized we would be living with a family of three in a tiny and extremely messy apartment in the middle of nowhere. Happy that this host had a generous refund policy!
There will be more future posts about tips and our experiences with Airbnb. This adventure would not have been possible without this app. It has saved us an extraordinary amount of money, created unforgettable memories, and helped us feel at home away from home.