When planning a trip, one of my favorite things to do is scour AirBnb to find the perfect place for us to stay. As budget travelers, we love the fact that we can find an AirBnb for significantly cheaper than hotels. We also love the additional flexibility and options staying at an AirBnb can offer.
We stayed at an international AirBnb for the first time in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico a few years ago. It was one of the nicest places we’ve ever stayed, and we commited then and there that AirBnbs would be part of our travel plans from there on out. We’ve since used AirBnbs in Guatemala, Colombia, Panama, and throughout the United States.
We love using AirBnb for a more authentic travel experience. Getting to “live” in a local neighborhood, even for a few days, provides a more rich and meaningful travel experience than staying at a resort or a hotel provides. It’s also nice to have the extra amenities available – many AirBnbs offer laundry machines and kitchens, to name a few.
Choosing an AirBnb can be intimidating, especially if you’re heading to a foreign country for the first time. Looking for advice on choosing an AirBnb for your next international trip? Look no farther than these 5 tips.
Read the listing carefully
Read all the details of the listing carefully. Don’t assume anything – if something isn’t listed, even something you may consider a given such as heating or air conditioning, reach out to the host and ask before booking if it’s important to you. Knowing exactly what will be available to you up front may prevent disappointment or discomfort upon your arrival.
We always opt for the “entire place” option when booking an AirBnb. I’m an introvert, and we like the privacy of not having to interact with a host. We can come and go as we please, without having to worry about bothering anyone else.
If you prefer getting to know new people when you travel, and want to save a little money, you can also look for shared accommodations on AirBnb. As I mentioned, we haven’t ever chosen this so I can’t offer much advice other than suggesting that you read the reviews extremely closely.
Read the reviews
Never choose an AirBnb that doesn’t have plenty of (positive) reviews. I recommend this not just so you have peace of mind that the accommodations are actually as described, but your safety as well. If you’re staying in someone’s home in a foreign country, it’s important to know that other travelers have stayed there safely as well.
There will almost always be a few negative reviews. Don’t let a bad review or two sour a listing for you, especially if there’s 1 negative for every 150 glowing reviews.
Research the area
Do some research about the area an AirBnb is located before booking it. Know whether or not it’s a safe area for tourists, and figure out if it is anywhere close to the things you plan to do on your trip. It would be extremely frustrating to arrive and find out you’re an hour taxi ride away from everything you planned to do!
AirBnb doesn’t give you the exact address until after you’ve booked, but you should be able to see a rough idea of where the listing is located.
Don’t book the first place you find
When we start putting the pieces together to book a trip, I start an AirBnb wishlist. I look through several listings and save my favorites to the list. When our dates are set in stone, I choose the dates for our trip and see which of my favorite listings are available for those dates and go from there.
I have been pleasantly surprised with the number of amazing AirBnbs I’ve seen everywhere we have traveled. However, if I had booked the first nice one I saw, we would have missed out on some truly amazing places.
Know how you’ll get there
This is a big one, especially in a foreign country. Ask the host if they provide any sort of airport pick up (likely for an additional charge), or if they can provide advice on how to best get there. Most of the time, we’ve been given very specific instructions – which specific type of cabs to look for, what to tell them, and approximately how much it should cost.
Since you’re headed someplace new and unfamiliar, it’s best to have a plan beforehand.