How To Use Airbnb For The Best Experience
In many years of travelling alone as a woman, I have been exploring different budget accommodation types to suit my needs as a woman travelling alone.
My first stay with Airbnb was in Rome in 2012, and I loved it. Since then, I have been using it dozens of times, especially in those cities where hotels are expensive like Paris, Rome, Prague, and Australia and always had a great experience.
I love to stay with Airbnb hosts because I meet the locals, who make me feel at home.
Because I like the concept, I have become an affiliate, which means if you will sign-up and create your profile with my link, you get 25 Euro or 30 USD or 25 AUD off your first booking with Airbnb. I also get 15 Euro as a reward.
How to use Airbnb for your first stay
In the beginning, it took me lots of patience and time to figure out how to find suitable places to stay with Airbnb. After many years, I can quickly identify the right Airbnb hosts that match my needs and my safety requirements.
These tips will help you go through the entire procedure, from creating an Airbnb profile to searching on the platform to contacting potential Airbnb hosts and making a successful booking.
Create a verified Airbnb profile
When you set up your profile, make sure you add compelling text for your bio and a good photo of you. Next to an email address and phone number, let Airbnb verify your profile, online and offline. It is essential because many Airbnb hosts prefer renting a room for guests with verified profiles. Some may not accept your booking if you don’t have a verified profile.
Secondly, a profile with random information does not catch the attention of a host. Moreover, when a host reviews you as a guest, their comment will appear on your profile too. Excellent guest reviews stand out among the crowd.
So, the chances are that hosts will prefer guests with good reviews rather than those with the average or bad review. I also use my excellent Airbnb reviews whenever I apply for housesitting assignments.
Get an Airbnb Coupon Code
As mentioned before, you can use my Airbnb Coupon Code to get 45 AUD, or the same amount in a different currency, off your first booking. You can get it by clicking on the link below.
How to start a search for a place on Airbnb
I tend to prefer to stay in rural areas of Australia. While there are various budget accommodation options in most Australian cities, in the outskirts, it’s almost impossible to find excellent value accommodation.
Hotels are way too expensive, and B&B is nearly as expensive as hotels in Australia. So Airbnb in Australia is ideal when travelling alone, going on road trips and touring remote regions.
When you have mapped out the places for your ideal stay, follow these simple steps to create an Airbnb Account. It’s very similar to Social Media; you sign up either with your email address (recommended), or if you prefer, you can also sign up via your Facebook.
- On the Airbnb website, preset language and currency you wish to use.
- Enter the location and the dates you want to travel.
- On room, type selects a private room or an entire apartment. If you want to stay in a private home with the hosts, then choose a private room.
- Set the price range by using the red bar to narrow down the results listing. So if you set it between 35-90 Australian dollars, everything outside this price range will not be delivered in the search results.
- Click on the “more filters” box. A window opens up with “More Amenities”: scroll the list and pick whatever vital to you.
- On the more features checkbox, pick the most relevant for your stay. It can be “wireless internet” and the use of the kitchen or a private bathroom.
- Host language, English. If you prefer having results delivered in another style, select it to get it translated.
- Click on “show listings” and go through the search results.
- Save the places you like into a Favourite List. Besides each place, click on the heart-shaped icon, a window opens up and asks you to create one listing. Name it with the name of the city, and you are done.
What to do before booking your Airbnb Stay
Now that you have got your selection of favourite listings for your next trip, go through every single place and narrow the list down to make your final choice, do the following:
- View all photos of the place
A 10 seconds impression usually counts and makes you dig deeper to see if the location meets your needs.
- Where is the location
Do you want to pick a home centrally located, or are you happy with a house in a suburban area? Airbnb doesn’t always show the exact location until you have booked the room/apartment. A red circle usually highlighted the place to give you an idea of where it is.
- Go through the property reviews
Check if the place has at least 75% good reviews, with 4-5 stars. I wouldn’t consider those with 2-3 stars as an overall rating.
- Learn about your host
Carefully check the host details, photo, phone numbers and read through the host profile, which shows you also if the host is renting more properties or rooms in the same home/apartment. Sometimes hosts only list one place on the Airbnb site and more on another website, so it’s a good idea to ask about it.
- Contact the host
I recommend contacting the host via the Airbnb messaging app. It allows you to inquire about the availability, get updated information about the desired dates, and get additional information.
Important things to know before booking with Airbnb
Reviews bear the major weight on the final decision when booking with Airbnb. Reviews by fellow guests tell you about their experience. Only read reviews with 4-5 stars. I wouldn’t book a place that shows most reviews with 2-3 stars, as these are not good reviews.
Likewise, don’t be intimidated by 1-star-reviews. If a site has one or two bad reviews among 20-30 good reviews, that’s fine. Some picky people like to complain about anything so that I wouldn’t give much importance to those. An important metric is an average of 80-95% of good-to-very-good reviews.
Check the location of your home rental.
While Airbnb doesn’t show your place’s exact location, you can click on the view location and get a rough idea of where the house is. You will know the precise address only when you pay.
Choose wisely your host.
I personally only book my rooms with hosts who are living in the place or next door. I think this is what Airbnb is all about. But nowadays, Airbnb has significantly changed and developed more into a property rental site than a sharing economy. In my recent bookings, they all turned out to be a small B&B owned by a private family.
Check the House Rules
Read carefully what the host requires. They clearly state that if the place is not for party family-friendly and small children are allowed, some may allow pets and smokers. But most don’t. Some hosts charge for cleaning fee and also a late arrival fee.
If something doesn’t make sense to you, ask questions via the Airbnb message. Make sure you have all your important points in the first contact message before booking your stay.
This is a long list of don’ts from a host that caught my attention. While these seem to be strict and exaggerated rules, you must make sure you know all the do’s and don’ts that the hosts expect you to accept.
Know what’s included in the rent price
Go through the list of what the amount consists of and ask if something not listed. Sometimes they may forget to tick a box, like essentials, like towels, soap, toilet paper etc. Also, the kitchen’s use to prepare your breakfast or the use of the laundry not be included. Instead, some may offer a small breakfast included in the price.
Don’t rely on the Host Calendar.
I prefer not the instant booking feature, so I never click on “Book request”. If you do so, you end up paying for your booking without being 100% sure if the room is available. Wait for the go-ahead from the potential host before booking your stay. When you have it confirmed, I would then book. You will receive an immediate confirmation from Airbnb via email with a text message.
You will have access to the exact address of your booked accommodation along with a contact phone number. At this stage, it is wise to send an email to your host with any additional questions you may have about your trip and the place while confirming your arrival time.
You will receive a few reminders from Airbnb a few weeks and days before your arrival with a full itinerary of your booked stay. Once you have clicked, you can cancel your booking, but make sure you have checked the cancellation policy first.
Cancellation Policies with Airbnb Hosts
Usually, there are three levels of cancellation. Strict, moderate and flexible. Here below, you see a chart with what flexible cancellation means. On average, it is usually one week, and “strict” is 30 days. But they may vary from property to property.
If you are 100% sure of your dates, I wouldn’t mind a strict or moderate cancellation policy. Beware that hosts can cancel too. Although it’s rare to happen, there are cases in which you may get a cancellation within the last 24-48 hours.
- Get a detailed breakdown of all charges.
Before booking your private stay, you will get the full detail of the costs, like the service fee (average 12% to 15%), a cleaning fee may also appear if requested by the host. A deposit may be required by the host to cover potential incidents caused by you. They can charge that only if real damage due to your carelessness. Moreover, if you have gained travel credits, Airbnb will deduct that amount of money from your next booking.
- Use your discounted coupon code to save money
If you are new to Airbnb, you can get 45 AUD off your first booking if you sign up with them by using my Airbnb affiliate link, which you can find here below. Get your Airbnb discount code now! Full Disclosure: I get a small referral of 15 Eur on your first booking.
What to do after staying with Airbnb
Airbnb is not for everyone, and you must be sure that you will enjoy your stay, no matter the type of rental you have picked. Here are my tips.
Enjoy your home experience.
I think the private stay’s main reason is to meet a local, have interaction, and enjoy the place as if it were your home. Indeed there are significant benefits to choosing private accommodation.
Write a review about your stay and your host.
Writing a review soon after your stay is crucial. An Airbnb rule is the mutual review, which means you will not be able to read your review unless the host has reviewed you as a guest too. Testimonials, in most cases, are reliable and helpful to other travellers.
They provide first-hand information about the place, the host and the overall experience. By leaving a review, you are helping guests make their choice and hosts and know more about their guests! Always write a review of your stay. You have 14 days to write Airbnb reviews; you can easily do it from your profile.
Once you have created your profile, you can invite your friends to join the Airbnb community.
More Tips for using Airbnb as a guest
While I encourage you to book private accommodation and stay with the Airbnb host, many people prefer to rent an entire apartment or home.
On their platform, they do not only list private homes where hosts are living but also list agencies with a large number of properties.
This over the years has lead to a considerable increase in home rentals damaging the locals, who are forced to leave city centre areas and live in the neighbourhood. So if you want to support the locals, you should be careful where you book your stay.
Here are my best tips to help you have a great experience:
- Only book a place in a safe city or neighbourhood
Never stay in dodgy areas with a low-security level. The risk of getting to a dodgy site is high too.
- I prefer staying in a place where the host is living or living close nearby
This not only allows you to have a great experience with a local, but you are also supporting the local community, which is the real purpose of the sharing economy. Moreover, it enhances safety.
- Trust your feelings: like the place and the host too
If you are uncertain about a place and don’t have an overall good impression, stay away, even if the rental home is cheap and looks nice.
- Study the place and the hosts carefully
Check all things that are important to you. But also ask your host before booking. This is the only way to build trust and even get a real picture of where and who is behind the advertised property.
- Book with Airbnb for a short stay only
The average booking on Airbnb is 1-2 nights, but 3-4 days are okay. One week is the maximum I would book. First of all, the reasons are you can change the location and move to a different place. Secondly, the longer you stay, the higher the Airbnb service fee, which is 12%-15%.
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Articles about my experience with Airbnb in Australia
Here below links to the blog posts about a few private homestays in Australia on my solo trips in Australia:
Need help while planning your trip around Australia?
If you like to travel around Australia and create the perfect itinerary for your trip, you can get a copy of Your Australia Itinerary Book.
Jo of Say Cheesy Cake (@saycheesycake)s
February 1, 2015 @ 8:44 pm
I heard many good things about Airbnb but have never really booked through them. I need to check this out for my next destination.
February 1, 2015 @ 11:02 pm
Yes I definitely would have a go, Jo! Staying with an Airbnb host is a great way to make friends and discover the place through the eyes of a local! Thanks for stopping by! 😉
February 1, 2015 @ 11:21 pm
Hi Michela, I was interested to read this article on booking via Airbnb as I have a B&B room that I have listed with this website. From a host’s point of view I have had some fabulous people from all around the world stay at our house. It has been a wonderful experience meeting new and interesting people. I would not hesitate in using Airbnb when I travel. My B&B is on the Gold Coast in Queensland.
February 2, 2015 @ 10:29 am
Hi Kathy, thanks for sharing your Airbnb host’s point of view! I hope your link you shared is bringing some new leads and guests too! 😉
February 5, 2015 @ 4:09 am
Michaela great tips about reviews! People can help you cash in on their experience if you’ll just read and process their reviews. If 70% or more folks give some AirBnB spot glowing reviews it’s probably an awesome, awesome spot. If however you find a number of folks – like 30 to 40 percent – who trash a place you may be in for a terrible surprise if you go ahead with the booking. Be smart. Buy into a place with a ton of awesome reviews.
Thanks Michaela for the helpful post!
February 5, 2015 @ 6:36 pm
Absolutely agree! Good Reviews are essential for any Airbnb stay. Even the most stunning photos wouldn’t me want to book a place, that has too many bad reviews!
February 5, 2015 @ 7:34 am
Great tips! I am yet to experience my first Airbnb stay. These suggestions should come handy whenever I choose my next stay. Thanks so much!
February 5, 2015 @ 6:31 pm
Thanks Renuka! You will love Airbnb, whenever you choose to go.If you want, you can make use of the link to the airbnb coupon code to get 25 USD discount on your first booking! 😉
February 6, 2015 @ 11:21 am
Very informative post! I have stayed in Airbnb a few times now and I love it! It is great for cities where hostels can be the same cost if not more!
February 6, 2015 @ 4:43 pm
Hi Sally, yes Airbnb is a great way of staying on a budget and while meeting locals. I think everyone who loves to travel alone should consider it in their solo adventures! 😉
February 7, 2015 @ 9:31 am
People are still thinking that Airbnb is like booking; searching for a private accomodation. But as you said, the coolest thing why we stay via airbnb is to meet new people! This was the main reason why I rent my apartment in Yangon on airbnb!
February 7, 2015 @ 11:16 am
Yes, Airbnb is all about staying with locals! However there are also house rental agents in the Airbnb listings, that’s wyh you need to make your research first to identify the suitable hosts, who are locals! 🙂
March 7, 2015 @ 4:44 pm
Hello Michela, I think most of these tips are within common sense but for instance, I’d have never thought about contacting the host first before paying for my reservation so that’s a great tip! Another thing I hadn’t thought about was getting in touch with the host to see if I could get a better deal or even double check we’re a good fit. I have an Airbnb account but I haven’t used it yet, I was looking for a place to crash in San Diego for an Internet Marketing conference that is happening there soon and even though I did find a few near by places, the majority were not that affordable. Pricing was really near to hotels in the area so I’m still looking around. Anyway, thanks for the great tips, I’ll have these in consideration whenever I decide to have my first Airbnb experience! Sergio Felix
March 7, 2015 @ 4:56 pm
Hi Sergio, that’s the great thing about Airbnb. You can interact with your potential host and see if it’s a good match and also handle the price, when travelling alone, you may get a better price. I have sent my invitation to join Airbnb if you haven’t used it yet, you get 25USD off your first booking! Best of luck with your Airbnb Stay and thanks for stopping by! 🙂
March 9, 2015 @ 4:54 am
Great post! I look forward to reading all your post with a caffe and learning new things! Thank you for sharing this amazing info which is difficult to find!
August 29, 2017 @ 3:24 pm
Loved your blog and couldn’t agree more with all your hints. Having spent 19 days Airbnb in Ireland all very different set ups I need to write about them soon. Nearly home to Australia! On return I have decided to list on site my luxury coastal retreat as feel Airbnb is definitely ok. I will keep other sites as well as they have been great for 6 years. Thanks for your encouragement of the system.
September 26, 2020 @ 12:09 am
Great post Michela. Mike here from Melbourne, Australia. We are an Airbnb Management Agency and operate many properties for investors that wish to be an Airbnb host, but don’t want to spend the time doing it themselves. I really like how you mention that this is a home experience. Many guests when searching for a place to stay are looking for this as an alternative to traditional Hotels. It’s also a great idea to reach out to your host when you find somewhere to stay to ask any questions. You will find most hosts friendly and have plenty of knowledge about their area that they can help you with during your stay. Such as, where is the best pizza place, what’s the easiest way to visit somewhere or even a place you should visit that you didn’t consider or know about.