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In 2017 and 2018 our family hit the road to travel for a year. During that time we lived in 17 different countries with our family of 7, a majority of the time staying in Airbnb rentals. Sometimes we’d stay somewhere for a few days, and other times we’d stay a few months. Ultimately, living in Airbnb’s while we traveled saved us thousands of dollars and made our time traveling cheaper than living back in the US. (Read all our tips on how to save BIG on Airbnb Rentals here)
We learned a lot of things, and at this point, I know exactly what we need to do to find rentals all over the world that are just what we want. Here’s what we learned:
Staying longer in and Airbnb is always cheaper
Airbnb offers big discounts for longer stays. Almost all hosts have discounted rates for staying for a week and bigger discounts for a month. One time we stayed for a month and saved 65% off the nightly rate. Lesson? Even if you’re not staying for a month, it’s usually cheaper to rent the whole house out as if you were (even if that means it’s vacant for a few days or a week).
Communicate, Communicate, Communicate!
Airbnb has an option where you can contact the host, and you should use it EVERY TIME. We now never book somewhere unless we’ve been in communication with the host. Because we were working while we were traveling and this was our HOME, we quickly learned that it wasn’t sufficient to rely soley on the descriptions. Here are some great things to ask:
Is the A/C or Heater working properly
Is there internet available? If so what are the speeds and are there limits on usage?
Is there a washer and dryer? If not, how close is the nearest laundromat?
Do you have any baby supplies available (high chair, crib, plastic dishes, etc)?
What kinds of things are within walking distance of the house?
Is your house baby proof?
- True story, we showed up at one house WITHOUT asking this only to learn that there were only top rails on the balconies of the house and the kids could fall right through – we had a 10 month old crawler at the time! Yikes! Luckily the host rigged up a solution to keep things safe for us, but now we ALWAYS ASK!
What else should you ask? Check out our article on 10 things you should always ask your Airbnb host!
Obviously you don’t want to constantly pester hosts, but sending one email with all your questions is a great way to go.
Negotiate the Price with your Host (Politely)
In the world of Airbnb, it’s always a good idea to ask the hosts if they are willing to negotiate on the price. You’d be surprised how often they will give you a discount, but even if they say no, it never hurts to at least ask! We wrote a whole article on how to save money on Airbnb HERE, which has some great tips on negotiating a price.
Read Airbnb the reviews BEFORE you book
Reading the reviews of both the host and the property will give you a good idea of what you’re getting into. If the host is always amazing and bends over backwards to help the guests, you’ll immediately know it. On the flipside, if there are things that are broken or something wasn’t as it said it would be, the reviews will usually point those out as well.
Don’t be afraid to book and Airbnb with no reviews
I know that I just said that the reviews will help you know a lot about the property and the host, but just because a place is new doesn’t mean you need to avoid it. In fact, it gives you a great tool to negotiate with. Make sure to communicate with the host well before your stay and let them know that if they are willing to go down a little bit on the price, you will promise to leave an honest review so they can start getting more guests. Remember, don’t promise to leave a GOOD review, because we all know how important they are to helping other guests. Promise to leave an honest review and then remember it’s up to the host to help that review be a good one by how good their property and their service are.
Ask the Airbnb host if there’s anything YOU can do.
While I know that this is YOUR getaway, you have to remember, that it’s someone else’s HOUSE. Offering to take care of things while you’re there is a simple gesture that goes a long way. Maybe they have some house plants that need to be watered, or the garbage cans need to be taken to the curb on Thursdays. None of these will take much of your time, but will be a huge stress relief for your host AND will make them much more likely to leave you a good review in return!
If you’re traveling with kids, talk to your host about it
When we are on the road with our 5 kids, we certainly don’t need as much space as 7 grown men do. My kids are young and happy to share beds, and we always take a travel bed for our toddler. If we are having a hard time finding a place to fit all seven of us, I start searching for places that will sleep 5 or 6 and then contact the host and explain our situation to them. With young kids, most hosts are really accommodating realizing that it works just fine for a 4-year-old to sleep on the couch for the night or for you to put more than 2 kids in a king size bed.
Staying in Airbnb’s for most of the year, taught us some amazing lessons as a family. You can read all about them here.
As with all transactions on the internet, the bottom line is to remember to be smart about things. Don’t books somewhere if it looks shady, if a host doesn’t respond to your contacts it’s a bad sign, and NEVER pay for things outside of the Airbnb system…that’s a quick way to get ripped off!