Airbnb.com is more than an amazing site that lets anybody put their spare couch, room, or house up for rent-it's a game. The goal for hosts: to rise through the search rankings, allowing them to get bookings, meet great people from all over the world, and swim in cash. For guests: to stay at amazing and unique places for a fraction of the price of a hotel room. Here's what you need to know to win.
One thing to consistently love about Airbnb, though, is how you can stay in fantastical structures for a night. Check out a few of our favorites below. If you find any of your own, let us know in the comments, but be warned that our out-of-office message might be on; that treehouse looks pretty tempting.
How To Get An Airbnb Discount
Send a message to the host before booking.
Airbnb does try to keep the blue “Contact host” button quite hidden, it does exist and is usually right there on each listing page, just under the property description. So all I do is click that “Contact host” link and write my message.
In my message, I simply ask for a discount. This really does work and it works even better if your arrival date is less than a month away. Why? At this point, the host will naturally be more motivated to rent out their place for fear of not renting it at all during that period of time.
Provide some details about yourself so that the host feels more confident in me as a renter
I’ll include something like “we’re clean, laid-back, we work from home and we don’t party or cause any issues.”
Basically, the idea is to explain to the host that they don’t have to worry at all about you or their apartment/house, making the deal even better for them.
What happens next is that I’ll usually receive a reply from the host followed by a “Special Offer” email from Airbnb. These emails come in when a host has changed the listed price and is offering you a stay at a discounted rate.
Stay with a live-in host if you want to live like a local
Airbnb has an enormous database of places to stay, with hosts offering everything from a spare couch, to a guest room, to an entire apartment or house, to a wedding-friendly castle. Some hosts rent out their entire place, while others live on-site and offer something closer to a roommate experience. If you're travelling alone and want a feel for how the locals live, staying with a live-in Airbnb host can give you easy access to a tour guide, and possibly even a temporary friend.Read the entire listing before messaging
As a host, I can't tell you how many potential guests ask me questions that are answered plainly in my listing ("Is there a kitchen?" "What does it cost to stay?") You aren't just wasting the host's time by asking questions with readily available answers, you also make yourself seem like an undesirable and inattentive guest, and are far more likely to have your booking request rejected.
11 Airbnb Tips for the Expert Traveler
Read the reviews
I'd avoid Airbnb's with no reviews or less than stellar ratings. The host may be new to the Airbnb scene and you never know what you'll get. Also, make sure to actually read the reviews. Mrs. TT and I recently stayed at a beautiful Airbnb in the Scottish countryside. The property was great, but we had no idea it was located next to a large oil storage facility (yikes). We would have known if we had dug a little deeper into the reviews.
Travel with a group
Airbnb is great for solo travelers, but you can really save some coin if you're traveling with a group. It's easy to find apartments or houses for 7-10 people. Dividing an apartment or house with a group cuts your lodging costs significantly.
Bring your own shampoo and body wash
Having the shower essentials is hit or miss with most Airbnb's. Always bring your own shampoo and soap. We always bring carry-on sized bottles from previous hotel stays.
Washer & dryer
Find an Airbnb with a washer and dryer. This will help you pack lighter, which makes a big difference if you're going to be covering a lot of ground. We typically do laundry at least once during a trip.
If you have an issue or are running late, always let your host know. Most will respond quickly to any concerns. Always ask for local restaurant recommendations as well. Hosts are a great local resource.
Always travel with your carry-on luggage, not some giant bag. Ditch that unnecessary weight and make traveling easier on yourself. It's likely you'll have to climb some stairs with your bag and you don't want to lug around a heavy bag. Many Airbnb's also have a washer and dryer so there's no need to bring your whole wardrobe along. You'll save on checked bag fees at the airport as well!
Gotta have WiFi
You probably won't be spending much time at your Airbnb, but it's important to have WiFi to pre-book certain attractions (skip the lines), and of course, show off those photos on social media. Make sure to download Google Maps for offline use and do the same for Google Trips. This way you won't need data once you leave the Airbnb.
Cook your own meals
Mrs. TT is a much better cook than I, but I still love to check out the local grocery stores when traveling abroad. We typically eat breakfast back at the Airbnb and save some coin. Breakfast culture in some countries is a little different than back home, and it may be tough to find a filling morning meal on the cheap.
Hotel or Airbnb?
Depending on the city, it may make more sense to stay at a hotel. This rarely happens, but it's worth crunching the numbers and comparing the costs.
Grab that Sign-up Bonus
If you're new to Airbnb, you can easily earn $40 off your first stay. Mrs. TT and I each have accounts and we've earned the bonus on each one.
It is not a hotel
That means you should have some basic courtesy when it comes to cleaning up after yourself and making noise. And while it may be awkward, ask the host first before bringing guests back to the place. Remember: It's still their home.
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