As we’ve been traveling throughout the world, friends and family often ask us questions about lodging. More specifically, since we usually use Airbnbs, we often end up providing Airbnb tips for guests to our friends and family who are interested in traveling the way we do.
Airbnb is a great option for families who want to travel long term. The types of accommodations available on Airbnb tend to be more comfortable for families. And the cost of staying at an Airbnb tends to be more affordable than hotels. Essentially, staying at an Airbnb truly makes us feel like we’re at home, no matter where we are in the world.
This post was updated on May 20, 2020.
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Making a case for Airbnb
In case you didn’t know, Airbnb has been around since 2008. It initially started as a way for travelers to find solutions for hotel room shortages. Rather than search for a hotel, travelers can book an Airbnb room offered by a local. It’s a win-win for the traveler and the property owner!
Since then, Airbnb has grown into a multi-million dollar company, with over 5 million listing in over 190 countries. With the growth of the company, Airbnb prices have also soared. And while you can still find some affordable Airbnb properties if you look hard enough, you’re more likely to find Airbnb homes that are comparable to hotel rooms in the cities you visit.
Airbnb has been getting a lot of attention in the media lately. Negative coverage of Airbnb has focused mainly on placing Airbnb responsible for the rising cost of rent in cities around the world, and pushing locals out of popular tourist destinations. Some of this controversy is outlined in the book, The Airbnb Story.
My opinion is that increased tourism, and an influx of newcomers, is the actual cause of rising prices. It’s not so much purely due to the presence of Airbnb. Whatever your take on the issue, clearly Airbnb has succeeded in disrupting the monopoly that hotels have enjoyed in the tourism industry for years.
Airbnb tips for guests in popular tourist destinations
As I mentioned, gone are the days when you can easily find a cheap Airbnb. These days, when you look up Airbnb properties for popular destinations like Paris or New York City or Bali, you’re more likely to find Airbnb prices in the hundreds. For a family of four, you may not always find an affordable Airbnb in the city center, even if you use all the best Airbnb tips for guests for finding cheap accommodation.
Airbnb prices in popular tourist destinations are often dictated by market prices. And rightfully so. As the law of economics posits, if there’s an increase in demand, without a corresponding increase in supply, prices will rise. And so it goes with Airbnb prices.
One of my Airbnb tips for guests wishing to use Airbnb when they visit popular tourist destinations is to use your best judgement. Sometimes you might luck out and find a cheap Airbnb in the center of town. But more likely, the Airbnbs within your budget will be just outside the town center. Do your research about the neighborhoods that the Airbnb is located. And make sure that it feels safe for you and your family.
Cost saving Airbnb tips for guests with kids
In our years of using Airbnb, we’ve found that booking longer stays have helped to keep costs low. Airbnb properties usually offer discounts for week long stays, and even bigger discounts for stays of 28 nights or longer. This has worked to our advantage on our trips, as we tend to stay in cities for longer stays anyway.
Even if you’re only visiting a city for a few days, it may end up cheaper to book a week stay. For example, if you’re planning to stay at an Airbnb for five nights at $150, and the property offers a 30-40% discount for a week stay, you might as well book the whole week and save a few dollars. Just check with the host ahead of time if it’s okay to check out early.
Another one of the Airbnb tips for guests we’ve discovered is that you can try negotiating with the host for a better deal. In Mexico, we’ve tried this in Guanajuato and Puerto Escondido, and have had success in getting lower Airbnb prices. Obviously this tip may not always work. If the property is in high demand, or you’re only staying for a short stay, you may not always have the leverage to negotiate. But if you’re planning a longer stay, or visiting a destination during low season, then it doesn’t hurt to ask for a lower price.
How to book Airbnb for your trip
If you’re new to Airbnb, and not sure how to book Airbnb for your trip, don’t worry. It’s actually really easy. Once you create an account with Airbnb, you can search for properties in your destination. Airbnb will provide listings of Homes and Experiences. If you’re interested in trying out local activities, you can look through the Experiences selections. We have not yet booked any Airbnb Experiences, so I can’t speak for the quality or value of these. If you’re just looking for Airbnb properties, then click on Homes.
When you select the dates for your stay, Airbnb will show you the Airbnb prices for each specific day. This is really helpful as you can see what days are the popular days for that property. You will also need to identify how many people will be staying with you, as this will also affect the Airbnb prices for that property. When searching for the right place, we usually choose the Entire Place option. Since we work remotely, we also choose the WiFi option under filters. And because we are on a budget, we usually put a filter on the prices.
Additional Airbnb tips for guests
My other two Airbnb tips for guests is to always read the reviews. When you find a property that seems like a fit for you, look at the reviews to see how other people have liked or disliked the property. We never book an Airbnb property if it does not have reviews.
Another tip for booking an Airbnb is to always contact the host before you book. This gives you an opportunity to ask questions about the neighborhood, the WiFi speed (especially important for us), and negotiate the price.
Since we’re a family, we usually mention to the host that we have kids. This gives the host a chance to let us know whether the property is suitable for families or not. Sometimes properties may have steep stairs, or ledges without railings, which make it unsuitable for young kids. As parents, we want to know those kinds of things before we book. At the end of the day, you’re staying in a home, and you want to make sure that home is a place that you will feel comfortable in.
Making Airbnb part of your family travel experience
In our travels, we’ve always enjoyed using Airbnb. We were early adopters of Airbnb, and stayed in our very first one in 2009. What we’ve loved about Airbnb is that it gives us an opportunity to stay in some very unique places. We’ve stayed in a tiny house, a deluxe camper, and even a converted garage. Airbnb family travel has allowed us to stay in some very cute neighborhoods and experience life like a local, rather than a tourist.
People give Airbnb a hard time, for having rowdy guests and increasing housing prices. But at the end of the day, it’s the responsibility of the traveler to behave respectfully. And increasing housing prices is an economic phenomenon that is far more complex than just one simple reason. To me, Airbnb has helped to democratize travel, making it easier for everyday people, not just the privileged few, to explore new places. And that is a good thing!
If you’re new to Airbnb, use my Airbnb code to book your first property and get a discount. You’ll get $55 off your first trip. Let me know how your Airbnb stay was!
Have you stayed at Airbnbs with your family? Share your Airbnb tips for guests in the comments!
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