This is a guest post by Techboomers.com. One of the advantages of getting a little older is that you finally have more time to travel. But how do you balance having a rich getaway experience with being practical and economical?
Sometimes, staying at a hotel or resort won’t be the best option for a number of reasons. Maybe they’re too far away from the area where you’re going to be doing most of your activities; getting around can be difficult, so why make it harder on yourself?
Maybe they’re out of your price range; expenses for resorts and hotels close to popular tourist areas do tend to pile up! Or maybe just the idea of sharing a space with dozens or hundreds of other strangers isn’t attractive to you and you would prefer someplace quiet and out of the way.
A way to fix this dilemma of staying at the place you want at a price you can afford is by looking into rental properties, such as studio apartments, cottages, and bed and breakfasts.
You can use the Internet to find these places quickly by using a website called Airbnb. Airbnb is a travel booking website with a twist: the only accommodations that it books are rental properties from private individuals. That means there’s no corporate advertising and sponsorship pressure for you to pick one big-name brand over another.
You get to choose where you want to stay based on the things that matter to you, like whether or not it has the features that you want, where it is, and how good the host’s reputation is within the community. Check out this article for more information about how Airbnb works.
The main draw of Airbnb is that it’s built on the principle that, despite not knowing each other all that well, hosts and guests should be able to trust each other. That’s why Airbnb offers the ability for both hosts and guests to register verifiable personal information about themselves, so that Airbnb and everyone who uses it will know that person is exactly who they say they are.
In addition, hosts and guests can only rate and review each other once both a booking and a stay are complete, so there’s very little chance of fakery. Whether someone has a great or poor reputation on Airbnb, chances are that they deserve it.
If you’re still not sure, you can talk to another Airbnb user, or even a host themselves, via a private message. The more you get involved with the social aspect of Airbnb by asking questions, requesting advice, and being honest, the more the Airbnb community will help you, and the easier it will be to find a great property to rent, with a great host, at a great price.
Still, there are things to be aware of when using the website. One is that hosts ultimately get to decide whether you can book their property or stay at it, so make sure you read and follow both their house rules and their cancellation policies carefully to avoid having a stay cut short. Also, be sure to carefully check a property’s specifications and photos, its ratings and reviews, and its host’s profile, so that you can make an informed decision on whether you’re getting exactly what you want (though hopefully, if you aren’t, someone else will have noticed and spread the word).
Here are some of our personal tips for getting the most out of this website:
For example, if you like your privacy, look for listings that offer the “Entire Place” or a “Private Room”. Doing this is a good way to avoid having to share your rental property with other people whom you might not know, or at least have a place to be by yourself. Hopefully, any other guests that book through Airbnb won’t be annoying or dangerous (or else the host wouldn’t book them anyway), but if you really want to skip the guessing game altogether, this is an option.
Or, if you’re the type who’s looking to get out there and make friends among fellow travellers, try looking for listings that say “Shared Space”. You might end up rooming with a person or group of people whom you really like, and have tons of fun on your trip with your newfound friends!
Check out this tutorial for more information on how to search Airbnb listings.
Usually, you’ll have to wait for a host to manually approve your booking of their rental property, but the Instant Booking feature can speed up the process a bit. For certain properties, if you meet the criteria that the host wants in a guest for that property, the host will automatically approve your booking when you complete it. Just look for the lightning bolt icon! Check out this article for more about Instant Booking and How to Book on Airbnb.
Airbnb has tools that let you introduce yourself to the person who is letting you borrow their property, so use them! Ask your host about the house rules, their hosting policies, the property’s features, if any other guests will be staying in the same place, and what to expect from the neighborhood.
The best hosts will be able to put your mind at ease by answering any questions that you may have, and will often have recommendations on places you should go nearby, such as trendy restaurants, must-see tourist attractions, and popular local entertainment venues.
You might also want to look at the host’s profile and reviews, and maybe ask them some questions about these things, too. If you’re worried that this will be seen as a little too forward and nosy, instead ask a user who has rented the property before about the host. The idea behind all of this is both to know what’s expected of you while renting the property, as well as to make sure that any surprises you get are nice, not nasty.
One is to buy some affordable travel insurance, in case anything goes wrong with your trip. Another is to never book with a host who asks you to pay them outside of Airbnb. At best, they’re trying to avoid paying Airbnb fees for processing your booking payment, and at worst, they’re trying to scam you. You might also want to report them to Airbnb, since this breaks Airbnb’s rules.
Be courteous to your host when asking about the property by telling them a little about yourself first, including letting them know in advance if there will be any potential problems or any special accommodations that you may need. When you’re at the property, follow the house rules, respect the neighbours, and visit some of the local hotspots that your host recommends.
The better you behave, the more likely your host will give you a high rating, which makes it more likely that someone else on Airbnb would love to have you stay!
To learn how to use Airbnb and all its features, check out these Airbnb Tutorials on Techboomers.com.
Have you every stayed with Airbnb? What was your experience like? Do you have any tips for the other women in the Sixty and Me community about how to use Airbnb? Please join the discussion below.