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After living in Airbnb’s with our family for most of our gap year of travel, I’ve learned a thing or two about what makes a great Airbnb stay and what makes a horrible one.
And guess what? They both come down to the same thing – COMMUNICATION!
Want to know our top 10 important questions you should consider asking your Airbnb host before you book?
First, before you contact an Airbnb Host, make sure you do this:
1. Read the entire listing.
Your host has hopefully done their job thoroughly and written out a good description of their property and what to expect. This is your best resource to getting questions answered. I usually read the listing twice and make sure to go over all the details to see if it’s a good fit for us before I ever message a host.
2. Read the reviews
If there are any exceptional or horrible things about the property (or the host), they’ll usually show up here. Take a bit if time to read through them and you’ll have a pretty good idea of what to expect.
3. Check the price and cancelation policy
When you book with Airbnb there are fees that will be added onto your nightly stay (service fee and cleaning fee). If you look closely at your booking, you’ll know what the final price you’ll end up paying is going to be. Also, before you click that BOOK NOW button, make sure you know what the cancelation policy is. While some listings will allow cancelations until right before your stay, others don’t allow any at all, so make sure you know what you’re committing to.
If you want more suggestions on how to save on your next Airbnb rental, we wrote another article all about that HERE.
4. Look at all the pictures.
I know that this seems like common sense, but so many people DON’T. Most hosts will do their best to photograph important features of their house. If there are things you see that you have questions about or want to double check, ask the host.
Before you bombard a host with a million questions, make sure to really read the listing well since it will answer a lot of your questions. When you are communicating with them, it’s a good idea to clarify things you have questions about from the listing and to double check on things that are important to you “I noticed that you said that you have baby gear available. I wanted to double check and see if this includes a crib or a high chair.” If you approach things this way, the host will know that you’ve done your homework by reading their listing well AND that you’re being thorough in your booking. If you appear overly needy, there’s a chance they won’t book you, so remember to be friendly and polite in all your communication. Remember, a host is letting you stay in their HOME so they are looking for someone who will be a great guest, so make sure to present yourself that way.
What to ask an Airbnb Host before you book
Ask The Host About The Internet
Most Airbnb listings will share that they have WiFi, but we all know that all wifi isn’t created equal. When we are traveling, both my husband and myself have to have GOOD INTERNET to work. If you’re in that situation, make sure to ask the host what their internet speeds are AND ask them if there is a limit on usage. If you need the internet for work, explain that to the host. We usually say something like “my husband and I will both be needing to do some work while we are there, and my have need for the occasional video call. Can you let me know what your internet speeds are and if there are any limits? We just want to check and make sure that the internet will work for our situation beforehand so we don’t have to bother you after we arrive.” This is a pretty good way to weed out any stays with weak internet or places that will be a problem.
Our worst internet problem was in the island of Bali. We had asked the host about the internet speeds but that was all. Turns out they were using prepaid internet cards in small amounts and we used all their data EVERY SINGLE DAY. It was a major pain and we had to get the host there daily to fix the internet (and we weren’t even using much data at all…mostly just some data entry and email!)
Ask The Host About What’s Around
If there’s an amazing sandwich shop around the corner, or a cute boutique down the road, your host will be able to tell you about them. As travelers, we always learn SO MUCH MORE from locals than we do from the internet or a guidebook, and your host is your perfect connection. While you don’t want to be calling them a few times a day asking for suggestions, check-in is a perfect time to pick their brain for a few minutes!
Ask The Host About The Kitchen
If there’s something that you really need, but didn’t see it in the photos or the listing, make sure to ask about it. Maybe you’re a bit obsessed with your morning smoothie, or your group is hoping to grill one evening. Check with the host to see what they have available.
Ask The Host About What They Have For Kids
Traveling with kids is always a little more complicated, and thankfully many hosts are picking up on that to make stays for families more pleasant. If you have specific needs, make sure to ask about that (maybe a baby bed or a gate for the stairs). Otherwise, just ask if they have any things for kids at the house. We’ve had hosts provide everything from board games and puzzles, to book collections and toys, and even had one host that had bikes for the kids to ride and a whole pile of beach and sand toys for us to use. Knowing this ahead of time not only simplifies your packing, but it also gives the kids something new to look forward to!
Ask your Airbnb host if they have more than 1 set of keys
This is kind of a no brainer, but having more keys will simplify your life. Typically 2 sets should work well, but just make sure to ask so you know what to expect.
Ask about the neighbors
Let’s face it – when you’re traveling, the last thing you want to worry about is someone else’s neighbors. Ask your host what their neighbors are like so you know what to expect. If their neighbors are always throwing loud night parties or if a family of 10 kids lives above them, you’ll want to know about it. Or better yet, book a full house with a yard so you don’t have to worry much about noise from them (or being too noisy for them).
Read the House Rules and Ask Questions about them
Most hosts have some sort of house rules stated in their listing. Make sure to read them well and clarify anything you’re not sure about. This is a great way to make sure that you and your host are on the same page from the beginning.
Ask what floor the listing is on and if there’s an elevator.
If you are booking an apartment on the 8th floor, knowing that there is no elevator will probably encourage you to pack light. Or, if you have a baby and a stroller, you’ll know that an elevator to an apartment can quickly become a deal breaker. Ask upfront!
Are there any basic necessities that you provide?
This might seem like a no brainer, but the range of things hosts provide is huge. We’ve stayed at homes that only had one roll of toilet paper and that’s ALL and others that leave travel sized toiletries as well as dish and laundry soap and have some fruit and snacks for us on arrival. Knowing what to expect beforehand can make your stay so much smoother.
Are there any extra fees?
With Airbnb becoming more mainstream, extra fees are becoming more and more common. Most of these come in the form of city taxes and fees, but it’s always good to double check. In Thailand where we stayed for 6 weeks, electricity was really expensive so none of the places we looked at had the electrical bill included (we paid the meter rate when we checked out). It’s good to know these sort of things ahead of time so you aren’t caught be surprise with lots of extra fees (and in our case, we were much more conservative with our A/C usage!)
Any other questions you think are important to ask before you book an Airbnb rental? I’d love to hear them in the comments!
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