How to Choose an Airbnb That’s Right For You

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Hotels have been the long-time go-to for travelers, but over the last several years a new option has emerged: Airbnb. I know I was a bit wary of staying in a stranger’s house the first time I stayed at an Airbnb, but since then it’s become my favorite way to stay in a new city.

If you’re thinking about trying Airbnb for the first time, it’s important to vet your options and choose the house or room that’s right for you. There are so many options, how do you know which one you should book? Here’s a few things to keep in mind when picking an Airbnb for your trip.

Man shaking woman's hand at Airbnb
Airbnb hosts open their homes to travelers around the world | Courtesy: Airbnb

1. Home Type

Are you looking for a quiet getaway? Or do you want to make some unexpected friends? Depending on how sociable you’re feeling, you can choose to book an entire home, a private room or a shared space through Airbnb. Personally, I lean toward booking either an entire home or private room, but to each their own!

Entire homes are nice, because you get the pleasure of a private stay. The hosts won’t be anywhere inside the home, but they are always just a quick call away in case anything goes awry. At most Airbnb’s like this, there will either be a lockbox where you’ll find the key to the home, or it’ll have a keypad on the door and you’ll have the code to get in (lucky you). Although they’re called ‘entire homes’, not all of these are actual houses—many are apartments, guest houses or even tiny homes.

A private room offers a semi-private getaway for your vacay. Your bedroom will be a private area, but there are some spaces you’ll have to share, including the living room, kitchen space and sometimes bathroom. Some do offer a private entry and a private bathroom, but you’ll have to check the description for this info before booking. Private rooms are nice because your know the host is right there if you need them, but they’ll keep their distance if you ask them to. Or, if you want to make friends and get the local details about where you’re vacationing, they’re there for that too.

I’ve never stayed in a shared space, but I’m sure they offer great experiences too! These are unique because you’ll be staying in someone’s common area (like their living room) or a ‘dorm’-style space that usually has a bunk bed setup. This means you won’t have any ‘private’ space, but if you’re a fan of hostels and making new friends, this could be the choice for you.

Which Airbnb?

2. Location, Location, Location

When I look for Airbnbs, I tend to get swept up in the look and feel of the house where I’ll be staying instead of thinking about logistics. Although you should stay in an Airbnb that suits your style, it’s also important to think about where the house is located. Do you want to be by nature? Maybe you’d like to save gas and walk to downtown. Airbnb won’t show you the exact location of the house you’re looking at until after you book, but you can still see the general area and how far you’ll be from your ‘must-visit’ stops.

This is a real biggie if you’re not going to have a car wherever you’re staying. I’m not sure about you, but I haven’t yet crossed the magic 25-year-old threshold (AKA, I can’t rent a car without an extra fee). Since I’m not a big fan of spending money when I don’t have to, I skip the rental car route and try to find Airbnbs that are a short Uber distance away from the airport and local attractions. It’s even better if the area is walkable or has nearby bikes and scooters to rent!

3. Airbnb Plus

If you’re still unsure about this whole Airbnb thing, I’d suggest you take a look at the Airbnb Plus options on their site. These houses are the creme of the crop—they have top-notch hosts, special amenities and offer an overall awesome experience. Not only do these homes have exceptional reviews, but they’ve also been visited by Airbnb experts for a 100+ point quality inspection to ensure you have a great stay. They’re comfortable, well-equipped, well-maintained and thoughtfully designed with home-y character and personal touches.

Airbnb in Melbourne
Airbnb in Melbourne | Courtesy: Airbnb

That’s one of my favorite things about Airbnb—every time you book a stay, it’ll be different than the last. Each house has its own personality, and you get to see the town as “one of the locals” for a little while. Honestly, I think it’s my favorite way to travel! Three last pro tips for my Airbnb newbies:

  1. To avoid any potential bad experiences, READ THE REVIEWS. I’m serious, people! Airbnb-ers are very helpful when it comes to sharing the experiences they’ve had at these homes. Then when you’re done staying, leave a review to help out the next guy. Trust me, they’ll appreciate it!
  2. While you’re looking at the reviews, check and see if the host is a Superhost. These lovely people are known for treating guests to great stays at their Airbnb. It’s also fun to read the hosts bio to get to know them a bit more before booking a stay at their home.   
  3. If you do have a bad experience, try not to write Airbnb off the books. I’m on Airbnb #5 and haven’t had any troubles so far, but it’s important to remember that these are people’s homes (or guest houses) and aren’t run by a major corporation like your regular hotels. Every experience will be different! 

Do you have a favorite Airbnb memory or tips for picking the best Airbnb around? I’d love to hear ’em—Tell me in a comment below! Safe travels, friends. ?

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