There are so many factors as you plan for an upcoming trip. Flights, activities, restaurants, coordinating schedules, and travel companions are just a few of the things I typically think about when planning. One of the most difficult has to be choosing accommodations. When you travel as often as I do (16 countries in 2016!), you start to focus on how to appropriately budget yourself, rather than planning luxurious trips that blow all of your life savings in one week's time. Granted, I'm still on a college student budget and fund my travels entirely from many part-time jobs. If you're wondering how I afford to travel everywhere I do, I have one answer for you: AirBnB. My first time using this lifesaving site was the Fall of 2016. I set out for my first semester abroad and knew that I had lots of places on my European bucket list. Over the course of a year, I have used this service in over twenty countries, interacted with incredible hosts, and seen unique neighborhoods in each of those places. Knowing how to choose the best AirBnB comes with experience, so I'm here to share a few tips with you...
Are you willing to be a bit outside of the touristy areas in order to have a local experience? This is what I always prefer. I have found the best cafés, shops, and restaurants by staying off the main streets and in local pockets of a city.
If you're not interested in this, be sure to make a list of everything you definitely want to do and focus on staying in those areas to save on transportation costs. When I stayed in an AirBnB in Rome, we picked a place close to the Vatican, but not to center city Rome. We found this to be a bit annoying as we wanted to spend most of our time closer to the touristy parts. (View Italy Guide)
You definitely have to pick and choose your battles. Sometimes you just might get a "happy medium." Share the links to your favorite AirBnBs in the comment below!
Know what you are willing to compromise with when it comes to AirBnB amenities. Some people want the full shebang...breakfast, coffee, drinks, toiletries, room service, private pool. Yes, there actually are AirBnBs that offer all of those things.
One thing that I absolutely 100% will not compromise with is wifi. This is a necessity while I travel because there are places where I do not have data while I'm out and about. This means I do all my mapping out and planning in the AirBnB. I see my rental as a "home base," where I strategize my travel plans. Without wifi, my trip could not function. Also, some of us (definitely me!) have to work on the road. My tasks definitely require access to my email and Google. In addition, I always appreciate some sort of desk or table that I can work at while staying. This isn't a make or break for me, but I know people who absolutely require a work space in their AirBnBs.
Know what you're willing to live without before booking.
- Host Flexibility
Sometimes your flight does not line up with the strict check in or check out time. I've run across this issue more than once and didn't realized it could be such an issue. Before you book an AirBnB, it's important that you communicate with the host your arrival and departure time. Sometimes they are more than accommodating with the timing if it does not line up. Other times hosts are not so understanding. If you're renting from a host that has a few properties or lives nearby, often times they will store your luggage if you arrive early or want to stay in the city after your check out time. That can be the biggest blessing of all because it saves you from a logistical nightmare. Be as transparent with your host from the beginning to save the issue later. Plus, no one wants a bad review on the website for something so easily avoidable.
Private Room, Shared Room, or Whole House?
Did you know that you can rent several kinds of AirBnBs? There are options to rent a room from someone who has an extra one in the place they currently reside. There are also options to rent beds in a room that might have other travelers staying. This is most closely associated with hostels. Lastly, you can rent full apartments or homes. This of course, is the goal. There are countries with very low rental averages, which means you can get a whole apartment or house for the cost of just a room in other places. Be sure to check out the availabilities when you're scouting out the options.
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AirBnB has made each of my trips unique. I much prefer to stay in a local neighborhood and pay a reasonable amount per night while I'm still young. I'd never turn down a luxury hotel, but you just don't have the opportunity to connect with locals the same way.
The AirBnBs that I've stayed in and enjoyed!
I would never recommend an AirBnb that I didn't enjoy, so I'll spare you. Here's the good stuff!
You can read exactly why I liked each place by visiting the itineraries here. Read up!