Air BnB is great.
No, not great, it is incredible. It added so much to our trip and all for no extra cost.
Here is a little guide as to how we used Air Bnb and why this should become part of everybody’s trip-planning repertoire.
Firstly, do not be scared of staying in a stranger’s house – weird advice when out of context I know, but trust me…
To setup a profile there are plenty of security hoops to jump through, these only take around 10 minutes but really improve security, plus it is totally up to the host whether they accept you to stay or not. My advice; to upload a friendly picture and include a little paragraph about yourself when applying to stay at a place. After your stay both host and guest rate each other too, therefore offering honest feedback for the next stay!
The whole ethos of Air BnB encourages you to ‘live like a local’ wherever you may be travelling to. They even go so far as to request that the homeowners who list their space write a personal list of recommendations for the surrounding area.
What’s more, we managed to get a lot more bang for our buck in comparison to the usual dinghy, over-crowded hostels. This isn’t to say that apps such as Hostelworld are redundant; in fact this saved us many times and also gave us a clear idea of what we should be expecting to pay as we moved between towns and countries!
My point is, with Air BnB you have the opportunity to maximise your value for money – this can happen through a number of ways e.g. providing bikes, free breakfast, having access to a swimming pool or (if you like your host) a local tour guide and friend.
The apartment we stayed in whilst in Cancun even gave us a welcome bottle of wine, use of their Netflix and even offered to VIP cinema tickets to the enormous complex down the road (which unfortunately we didn’t have enough time to use).
Whilst not all places can offer such luxuries, a key attraction for us of renting an Air BnB room is that we got to escape the tourist crowds – this also meant that we had full use of a clean, well-equipped home kitchen (as opposed to the nightmares you find in some hostels) and we had privacy (which sounds boring but when meeting new people every day for 4 months it is a small luxury not to be asked your name, age and nationality every 5 minutes…)
My top tips for getting the best out of Air Bnb;
Make the most of their loyalty/recommendation schemes – when you recommend a friend (ideally your travel buddy) you receive a discount of $25 off your next booking when they start up an account. Moreover, they offer you $75 off if you list a space to rent.
Use the app – for some reason it is way easier and simpler than the website! Also then you have it on you wherever you go to check for any messages or updates.
Utilise the epic filter system when searching – you can search for almost anything from properties with a fireplace to those who have a swimming pool or Jacuzzi to places which include a doorman!
Be open to going off the beaten track – you never know what you might find!
Our one annoyance;
Unfortunately we did have one problem with Air BnB, the site has really strict privacy settings (which is brilliant when both host and guest are strangers) but this did mean that at one point, when we had to confirm our identity (for no apparent reason as we had used it a number of times already) and the only option was to do it via a phone call we had a few troubles.
- we knew it would cost a lot to answer a phone call in Mexico on a UK number
- there was no alternative other than using a mobile
- we couldn’t proceed with a booking until it had been overcome even though we had successfully had Air BnB stays before
We thought that a site for people travelling (often abroad) should be entirely tailored for easy use in any part of the world!
Besides this, Air BnB was a great tool – stay tuned for more travel tips!