Booking an Airbnb for your next trip? Whether it’s your first one or you’ve done it a few times before, this list of mistakes you should avoid when booking your Airbnb will help you find cheaper and better Airbnbs for your trip. So let’s get started with the best Airbnb tips!
1. Little or No Reviews
The first thing you need to be looking for in an Airbnb is GOOD REVIEWS! This might seem obvious, but some places can definitely tempt you with amazing pictures and a cheap price. If it has no reviews, it is a new listing.
Since you’re most likely not going to be in a place for very long, it is not worth it to take the risk that this listing is not as good as it seems. Let someone else take the risk to help that listing start getting their first reviews, meanwhile, you should stay in a place that has been vetted by many other renters.
Read this post for an in-depth look at Airbnbs without reviews and whether you should book or not.
2. A “Cancellation” Review
While scanning the reviews, you might notice a review that looks like this:
This means that the host had originally accepted someone’s booking but then canceled before they could stay there. The review above is pretty far in advance (257 days) but I’ve seen them with 1-3 days before as well.
As soon as Jake and I see a cancellation review, we steer clear.
Why? Because we spend SO much time looking through listings, pictures, reviews, and messaging hosts! It would be a complete waste of our time if we had to go back and start all over.
Plus, you know that when you’re looking through bookings and listings at first you have everything fresh in your head, but once you choose a place you tend to forget all the important things like “How far away is this listing from the main tourist sites?” or “Is there a subway in this area?”
You don’t want to be scrambling last minute to find a new Airbnb.
Not only because it will stress you out, but also because looking last-minute almost ALWAYS costs more money. Especially if it’s during the high season or in a popular city like Paris or London.
3. Only Choose the Amenities You Can’t Live Without
While looking at the list of amenities on Airbnb, you might be tempted to check a bunch of them! Shampoo, dryer, breakfast?!
It sounds amazing, but the truth is that if you check all of those you might not find a place that is in your budget. Or even worse, you might not find one at all!
Why is that? One reason is that the cheaper Airbnbs usually don’t list all of their amenities. They might have a couple of the things on the list, but they might not think to check it when they’re making the listing.
Or… You just may not need all of those things for just a short stay!
Even for longer stays, the ONLY amenities I ever check are Kitchen, Air Conditioning & Wifi.
So you hop on Airbnb, check those three amenities, put in your dates, and move your price range to where you like it (mine is $25 per night, but I’m aiming for $22!), and then see what you get.
If the number of listings is still pretty low or way above your price range, then look at the number of days you are going to be there. If it is a pretty short amount of time (2-4 days) then leave off the “Kitchen” amenity.
I love having a kitchen because it saves us tons of money on food when we’re traveling. (I wrote out 5 tips guaranteed to save you money in Europe and this was one of them!)
If you have to sacrifice the kitchen in order to save money on your Airbnb, just make sure you calculate how much that will cost you in food to see if the extra cost isn’t worth it.
Or, plan to eat sandwiches or baguettes with jam for breakfast/lunch. You can make that without a kitchen and then go out for dinner.
The next amenity you could get rid of to find a cheaper Airbnb is “Air Conditioning.”
Now, I LOVE my air conditioning. This is the one thing that I just can’t seem to let go of, especially after over a year of living in Southeast Asia.
But, if you’re traveling during the winter and could crack open a window, this could save you a lot of money. Especially in Europe, where a lot of the Airbnbs don’t even have air conditioning! (GASP!)
Just try to figure out what you can’t live without. You’ll be surprised how cheap your trip can be if you stick to the basic amenities on Airbnb.
4. Pay Attention to Transportation Costs
Okay, this one is for those of us who really like to save money (ME!! That’s ME!) So, if you don’t like doing a little extra research or whipping out your calculator for a sec, then you can probably skip this one.
I think the best way to explain this one is by using an example, so here we go:
Say you’re planning a trip to London, one of the most expensive cities in Europe, and you KNOW that transportation costs are going to be seriously OUT. OF. CONTROL.
So before you even start looking for a place on Airbnb, start researching how much it is going to cost you to get around the city.
For London, the city is divided into “Zones” and the prices vary by a lot depending on what zone you stay in.
Depending on how much you like to walk, you can calculate which pass you plan to buy and how much that will cost you daily. (Definitely buy an Oyster pass, which covers all travel for a certain amount of days within the zones that you choose, but that’s for another post!)
So back to our scenario. You know that most of the things to do in London are in Zones 1 & 2. You hop on Airbnb and see that you could stay in Zone 3 for $20 cheaper.
Normally, you would just get the cheapest Airbnb you could, but when you factor in how much extra it will cost you in transportation costs to get from Zone 3 to Zone 1, you realize that Zone 3 Airbnb is actually much more expensive than the Airbnbs inside Zones 1 & 2.
If you hadn’t researched the transportation in advance you wouldn’t have realized that you were actually spending more money than if you just booked a more expensive Airbnb closer to the places you want to see.
5. Stay for a Week or Longer
Although it’s a bit counterintuitive: staying LONGER in one place will actually save you MORE money (this is why Jake and I traveled long-term as digital nomads). We paid less in Airbnb payments than in rent in the USA. Can you believe that?
That’s a huge reason why I started this blog in the first place. I had NO IDEA that travel could be this cheap.
Our whole lives we’re trained to believe that travel is a “once-in-a-lifetime” experience and that we need to stay in super nice hotels and eat at the best restaurants to really enjoy a place.
But that couldn’t be further from the truth! Even in Europe, you could easily only spend $35 per person per day INCLUDING your accommodation. Seriously, I even wrote a book to prove it!
Anyway, back to Airbnb fees! So when you put in your dates once you are on a specific listing page (not on the general search page, you have to click on a specific listing first and then you can see whether they have a discount), you should first put in 7 days.
After you put in one week, you can look to see if a discount pops up. For one week, it’s usually about 10-15%.
But if for any reason you feel like traveling long term (which you should, it’s the best!) then try putting in 28 days instead.
I have to warn you that not every listing has discounts for weekly or monthly bookings, so if you put in the 7 or 28 days and don’t see anything then go ahead and check a different listing (unless that one is a great price even without a discount! or maybe you counted the days wrong, try that again just in case, I do that all the time!)
For 28 days, I have seen all kinds of amazing discounts! You can get up to 60-70% depending on the listing and area. So for a place that would cost 100 a night you could get for only $840 for a whole month!
Keep your eye out for deals like that on Airbnb because who wouldn’t mind spending a whole month in France instead of just a few days? (It’s even better if you have a remote job like VIPKID to fund your trip WHILE you are on your trip!)
6. Ask for the ACTUAL Address, Not the Airbnb One
Once you’ve booked your perfect Airbnb (okay, some of them may not be perfect, but think: the cheaper the place the more trips you can go on in the future!!) now what?
You need to make sure to ask your Airbnb host for the ACTUAL address, don’t just use the one listed on Airbnb.
This has happened to us one too many times so now this is a FIXED rule for us whenever we book an Airbnb (which is a lot lol, we’ve stayed at over 50 so far).
After you finish booking your Airbnb, you can go back into the “Trips” tab and find more information about your booking including the address.
HOWEVER, this address is NOT the actual address that your host typed in when they made the listing. A lot of times, Airbnb changes it for some reason and it’s just a little off. Okay, sometimes it’s a LOT off.
I’ve messaged many Airbnb hosts about this, and it really is the case. But some of them may not be aware (they might be too new or no one has pointed it out to them yet) so you need to be aware.
Message your Airbnb host asking for their EXACT address, including the apartment number and if there’s any code to get in.
After they give you the address, mark (use the sav button) the actual address on Google Maps while you have wifi and BEFORE you leave on your trip. You never know if there will be service/wifi and you don’t want to be stranded.
7. Get the Internet Speeds
If the Internet speed is important to you (you need to work or maybe you don’t have a cell phone plan where you’re going) make sure to ask in advance what the wifi speed is.
Most hosts don’t actually know their wifi speeds or have any idea how to test that. Unfortunately, you can’t send URLs through Airbnb messages. It will block it out.
But you can ask them to look up “Internet Speedtest by Ookla” and see if they will send you the numbers (they also can’t send pictures through Airbnb messages).
Some hosts just aren’t willing to test the speed for you. This is fine if you don’t plan to work, but if you do then chances are that listing won’t be a good fit for you.
8. Check the URL & Login
If you do have an Airbnb account, I suggest that you ALWAYS login to your account before searching for accommodation.
The reason for that is that some people have been scammed by booking an “Airbnb” through a URL that isn’t correct.
Some very bad people have made fake Airbnb sites that look almost identical to the original except for one thing: the URL.
So if you don’t use Airbnb often, make sure to check the URL and avoid sending money to a random person online and never seeing that money again.
9. Never Message the Host Outside of Airbnb
Always, always, always, no matter what, only message the host through Airbnb. This is to protect you in case anything goes wrong.
For example, if you message your host privately before you book (which you should do as well if you have any questions about the place!) and the host promises you that the wifi is fast or that you have a private entrance or something like that, but then when you get there that isn’t the case… You have proof that the host said that.
When and if anything goes wrong, Airbnb can see all of the messages that you have exchanged and can hold the host to what they said. If you private message them through WhatsApp or through text messages, then Airbnb cannot use that as evidence that they promised you anything.
This exact scenario has happened to us before. We were promised (through Airbnb messages) that the wifi speed was great and they even sent specific numbers.
P.S. if wifi is super important to you like it is to us, get SPECIFIC numbers like ping, upload & download. Not only will it usually help you book the right place in the first place, but it will also give you further proof that your host was lying about their wifi speeds.
Sorry, wifi rant over, back to the story: When we went to the Airbnb THEY DIDN’T EVEN HAVE THE WIFI SET UP. I seriously couldn’t believe it.
Luckily, since we had the proof in the messages as well as screenshots of the ACTUAL wifi speed (plus, I had literally seen a rat in our room) Airbnb gave us the money back and we were able to leave.
10. If Anything Goes Wrong, Get Evidence & Call
If anything is not right with your Airbnb, take Pictures and Videos and contact Airbnb as soon as possible. We’ve never had an issue with getting our money back with Airbnb.
Although it doesn’t happen very often, we have had times where we needed to leave an Airbnb early. In Bali and Mexico we had that problem and both times Airbnb gave us our money back for the nights that we didn’t stay.
In the story I mentioned earlier about the nonexistent wifi and the rat, I made sure to call Airbnb as soon as possible to explain the situation.
I had already tried to fix things with the host (who turned into the Devil himself now that he had my money and my booking already) and he did NOT want to fix anything.
Airbnb had our backs in that terrible situation. We had never had an experience like that on Airbnb in our 3 years of using it and I don’t think we ever will again.
They even had the nerve to leave us our first and only bad review on Airbnb after they had to give us our money back:
But honestly, there are so many “horror stories” online about Airbnb and if I believed those things and let them scare me out of using it, I wouldn’t have traveled as much as my husband and I have.
Airbnb has opened the door to cheap travel all over the world and living abroad has become so much easier and more accessible now because of them. Just make sure you avoid these Airbnb mistakes and you’ll have an amazing trip!
Did this help you book your Airbnb? Book through this portal or through any Airbnb links on my blog and you can help me make a little money at no extra cost to you! Thank you! (:
Read More About Airbnb:
- Is it Safe to Book an Airbnb with No Reviews?
- 24 Winter Wonderland Cabins on Airbnb (USA Edition)
- How to Travel the World Long-Term
- Airbnb Reviews
Dayna Brockbank is a travel and language-learning blogger who has lived around the world but has now settled in Nice, France. She speaks 3 languages at varying levels of fluency: Spanish, Italian, and French, and graduated with a Bachelor’s in Spanish Education. She and her husband focus on making travel part of life by living cheaply and traveling on a budget.