9 Tips for Making the Most of an Airbnb Trip

9 Tips for Making the Most of an Airbnb Trip
You can use Airbnb on the web or on your phone. (Image: Airbnb)

There are a lot of different factors that combine to make a successful Airbnb trip, from scouting the most suitable location, to finding the lowest price, to ensuring everything is smoothly set up for your trip. We’ve got a few suggestions for tweaking every part of your Airbnb booking and travel process, so you can have the best time possible.

Even if you’re a seasoned Airbnb traveller, there should be something here that you haven’t considered for a while — or never knew about to begin with. The more time you can devote to trip booking and preparation, the better. But even if you’re finding and travelling to a destination in a rush, you can do it smartly.

1) Use all the filters you need

The filters can quickly narrow down your options. (Screenshot: Airbnb)The filters can quickly narrow down your options. (Screenshot: Airbnb)

Fire up the Airbnb website, start looking for somewhere to stay, and you’ll see a Filters button above the results — ensure you make full use of this feature, especially in dense, built-up areas where there are a lot of Airbnbs to pick from.

Among the filters you can use, you’ve got price range, bedrooms, amenities like wifi and car parking, and even the languages that the host speaks (very handy if you’re going abroad and don’t want there to be any potential problems with a language barrier).

Even if you’ve used these filters before, you might not have realised just how many of them there are. You can also look for places with free cancellation, or that are run by a Superhost, or that meet a higher Airbnb Plus standard for quality and design.

2) Read all of the reviews

Read as many reviews as you have the time for. (Screenshot: Airbnb)Read as many reviews as you have the time for. (Screenshot: Airbnb)

We’re assuming that you give the reviews at least a cursory glance before booking a place on Airbnb, but we’d encourage you to read as many of them as you have time for, while you’re still choosing where to spend your money.

Reviews give you the real experiences of the people who’ve stayed at a location, rather than the promotional blurb from the owners who want you to make a booking. Find out how fast the wifi really is, for example, or exactly how big (or small) the third bedroom is.

Reviews can also turn up positives or negatives about a place that you haven’t considered or seen in the property listing — everything from the high quality of the food in the bar next door, to the level of noise you can expect in the evenings at the weekend.

At the same time, not every guest leaves a review. Be cautious of overly positive reviews that might be coming from untrustworthy sources looking to fluff up a reputation, or overly negative ones that might come from someone who had an unusually unpleasant stay that wouldn’t accurately represent yours.

3) Adjust the map

Use the map as a way of discovering new destinations. (Screenshot: Airbnb)Use the map as a way of discovering new destinations. (Screenshot: Airbnb)

The map area that you see on the right of the screen when you’re searching for listings on Airbnb is a really useful way of finding places that you wouldn’t otherwise spot — especially if you can be fairly flexible when it comes to location.

As you adjust the map by panning and zooming, you should get an ever-changing list of properties on the left. Zoom out to see areas where the listings are clustered, and then zoom in to make sure you’re not missing any of the options.

Every listing is marked with its nightly rate, which means you can quickly head out to the cheaper areas of town if you need to — and you might stumble across somewhere suitable, close to your destination, that you wouldn’t otherwise have discovered.

4) Be flexible with your destinations

Tell Airbnb you're flexible and see where it takes you. (Screenshot: Airbnb)Tell Airbnb you’re flexible and see where it takes you. (Screenshot: Airbnb)

Flexible Destinations is an official Airbnb feature that is useful if you’re after a more out-of-the-ordinary vacation experience — think yurts, treehouses and the like. It’s worth trying if the type of place is more important to you than the geographical location.

When you’re searching for somewhere to stay, pick I’m flexible as the destination, then fill out the dates and the number of guests as normal. Airbnb will start with places closer to your location, but you can search further afield if you want to.

Along the top of the results screen, you’ll see categories including Barns, Tiny homes, National parks and even Caves. Even in the more obscure categories, there are usually plenty of options to explore.

5) Get in touch with hosts

Most hosts will be quick and helpful in responding. (Screenshot: Airbnb)Most hosts will be quick and helpful in responding. (Screenshot: Airbnb)

Hosts are usually chatty — a fast response rate looks good on their profiles, after all, and it’s in their best interests to be communicative if they want to attract as many bookings as possible. You’ll find a Contact host button on every Airbnb listing.

If there’s anything that you’re not sure of, from the way that you gain entry to the property to the distance you’ll have to travel to restaurants and shops, ask the host directly. Almost all of the time, they’re going to be happy to help out.

Getting in touch with hosts is another helpful way of choosing between places you’d like to stay, too — it’s usually the case that the friendlier and more responsive the host, the better your Airbnb experience is likely to be overall.

6) Know all of the things to know

Things to know include the time you can check in from. (Screenshot: Airbnb)Things to know include the time you can check in from. (Screenshot: Airbnb)

The final ‘Things to know’ section at the bottom of every Airbnb listing is likely to be one of the least viewed parts of the page — way behind the description, and the photos, and the reviews — but it’s important to check through these details too.

If you’re struggling to pick between several properties in the same area, then these things to know could well push you towards or away from a particular listing. You can see the times you can arrive and leave, what the policy towards pets is, and the health and safety information (including details about locks and smoke alarms).

This part of the page can be more useful than you might think when it comes to picking a place, and it’s particularly worth reading through the list of house rules to make sure you’re not planning on doing anything that might break them.

7) Look out for split stays

Split stays can give you more potential places to stay. (Screenshot: Airbnb)Split stays can give you more potential places to stay. (Screenshot: Airbnb)

When you’re searching for places to stay on Airbnb, you might see the option of a split stay — either when you’re spending a longer time in one location, or you’re searching by category (so camping, surfing, or whatever it is).

You can’t turn the split stays option on or off, but you can look out for it in the search results when you’re booking your trip. The advantage of the split stay is that it makes more properties available to you (an average of 40 per cent more, Airbnb says).

The Airbnb site or app will guide you through booking a split stay step by step, so you can easily manage both places — you’ll even get a map animation showing the distance between the two spots that you’ve chosen.

8) Check for anything suspicious

Properties can use security cameras, but they must be declared. (Screenshot: Airbnb)Properties can use security cameras, but they must be declared. (Screenshot: Airbnb)

As with anywhere outside your home where you rest your head, there’s always a risk that you’re being recorded without your knowledge — though staying with well established, highly rated hosts should go a long way to reducing that risk.

Hosts can use security cameras to protect their property, but they must be declared. Hidden cameras and mics are against the Airbnb rules, but a careful inspection of your surroundings should always be carried out: Look for gadgets that appear unusual or oddly placed, or cut outs and holes that shouldn’t be where they are.

Sweeping a flashlight around a room in the dark can sometimes be an effective way of finding hidden camera lenses — you’ll see the lens reflect back — and it’s quick and easy to do, even if it’s not going to necessarily pick up everything.

9) See what you can see ahead of time

Check out turnings and entrances on Street View. (Screenshot: Google)Check out turnings and entrances on Street View. (Screenshot: Google)

Once you’ve confirmed a booking on Airbnb, you get access to the address of the property: At that point, it’s time to head to Google Street View for a closer look at where you’re heading (and the roads around it).

Get a heads up on tight turns or blind corners ahead of time, and make sure you’re not going to zoom straight past the narrow path that you need to turn down and start going in completely the wrong direction.

This can be particularly helpful for out-of-the-way places that aren’t well signposted or that are a long way away from civilisation. A few minutes of scouting out the place ahead of time can save you a lot of trouble on the first day of your trip.