In many years of solo travels, I have been exploring different types of budget accommodation to suit my needs as a woman travelling alone. My first stay with Airbnb was in Rome, in 2012, and I simply loved it. Since then, I have been using it dozens of times, especially in those cities where hotels are expensive like Paris, Rome, Prague, but also in Australia and always had a great experience.
I love to stay with Airbnb hosts because I meet the locals, who make me feel at home.
Because I like the concept, I have become an affiliate, which means if you will sign-up and create your profile with my link, you get 25 Euro or 30 USD or 25 AUD off your first booking and I also get 15 Euro as a reward.
How to use Airbnb for your first stay
In the beginning, it took me lots of patience and time to figure out how to find suitable places to stay with Airbnb. Now, after many years, I can quickly identify the right Airbnb hosts that match my needs and my safety requirements too.
These tips will help you go through the entire procedure, from creating an Airbnb profile to searching on the platform to contacting potential Airbnb hosts and making a successful booking.
Create a verified Airbnb profile
When you set up your profile make sure you add a compelling text for your bio and a good photo of you. Next to an email address and phone number, let Airbnb verify your profile, online and offline. It is essential because many Airbnb hosts prefer renting a room for guests with verified profiles. Some may not accept your booking if you don't have a verified profile.
Secondly, a profile with random information does not catch the attention of a host. Moreover, when a host reviews you as a guest, their comment will appear on your profile too. Excellent guest reviews stand out among the crowd. So, the chances are that hosts will prefer guests with good reviews rather than those with the average or bad review. I also use my excellent Airbnb reviews whenever I apply for housesitting assignments.
Get an Airbnb Coupon Code
As mentioned before, you can use my Airbnb Coupon Code to get 30 USD, or the same amount in a different currency, off your first booking. You can get it here.
How to start a search for a place on Airbnb
I tend to prefer to stay in rural areas of Australia. While in most Australian cities there are various budget accommodation options, in the outskirts it's almost impossible to find excellent value accommodation. Hotels are way too expensive, and B&B is nearly as expensive as hotels in Australia. So Airbnb in Australia is ideal when travelling alone, going on road trips and touring remote regions.
When you have mapped out the places for your ideal stay, then follow these simple steps to create an Airbnb Account. It's very similar to Social Media; you sign up either with your email address (recommended) or if you prefer you can also sign up via your Facebook.
- On the Airbnb website preset language and currency you wish to use.
- Enter the location and the dates you want to travel.
- On room, type selects a private room or an entire apartment. If you want to stay in a private home with the hosts, then choose a private room.
- Set the price range, by using the red bar, to narrow down the results listing. So if you set it between 35-90 Australian dollars, everything outside this price range will not be delivered in the search results.
- Click on the “more filters” box. A window opens up with “More Amenities”: scroll the list and pick whatever vital to you.
- On the more features checkbox, pick the most relevant for your stay. It can be “wireless internet” and the use of the kitchen, or a private bathroom.
- Host language, English. If you prefer having results delivered in another style, select it to get it translated.
- Click on “show listings” and go through the search results.
- Save the places you like into a Favourite List. Besides each place click on the heart-shaped icon, a window opens up and ask you to create one listing. Name it with the name of the city and you are done.
What to do before booking with Airbnb
Now that you have got your selection of favourite listings for your next trip, go through every single place and narrow the list down to make your final choice, do the following:
View all photos of the place
A 10 seconds impression usually is what counts and makes you dig deeper to see if the location meets your needs.
Where is the location
Do you want to pick a home centrally located or are you happy with a house in a suburban area? Airbnb doesn't always show the exact location until you have booked the room/apartment, a red circle usually highlighted the place to give you an idea of where it is.
Go through the property reviews
Check if the place has at least 75% good reviews, with 4-5 stars. I wouldn't consider those with 2-3 stars as an overall rating.
Learn about your host
Carefully check the host details, photo, phone numbers and read through the host profile, that shows you also if the host is renting more properties or rooms in the same home/apartment. Sometimes hosts only list one place on the Airbnb site and more on another website, so it's a good idea to ask about it.
Contact the host
I recommend contacting the host via the Airbnb messaging app, it allows you to an inquiry about the availability and get updated information about the desired dates, and also get additional information
Where to pay attention before booking your Airbnb Stay
Reviews bear the major weight on the final decision when booking with Airbnb. Reviews by fellow guests tell you about their experience. Only read reviews with 4-5 stars. I wouldn't book a place that shows most reviews with 2-3 stars, as these are not good reviews. Likewise, don't be intimidated by 1-star-reviews. If a site has one or two bad reviews among 20-30 good reviews, that's fine. Some picky people like to complain about anything so that I wouldn't give much importance to those. An important metric is an average of 80-95% of good-to-very-good reviews.
Check the location of your home rental
While Airbnb doesn't show the exact location of your place, you can click on the view location and get a rough idea of where the house is. You will know the precise address only when you pay.
Choose wisely your host
I personally only book my rooms with hosts who are living in the place or next door. I think this is what Airbnb is all about. But nowadays Airbnb has significantly changed and developed more into a property rental site rather than a sharing economy. In my recent bookings, they all turned out to be a small B&B owned by a private family.
Check the House Rules
Read carefully what the host requires. They clearly state if the place is not for party family-friendly and if small children are allowed, some may allow pets, and smokers. But most don't. Some hosts charge for cleaning fee and also a late arrival fee. If something doesn't make sense to you, ask questions via the Airbnb message. Make sure you have all your important points in the first contact message, before booking your stay.
This is a long list of don'ts from a host, that caught my attention. While these seem to be strict, and exaggerated rules, you must make sure you are aware of all the do's and don'ts that the hosts expect you to accept.
What's included in the rent price
Go through the list of what the amount consists of and ask if something not listed. Sometimes they may forget to tick a box, like essentials, like towels, soap, toilet paper etc. Also the use of the kitchen to prepare your breakfast or the use of the laundry not be included. Instead, some may offer a small breakfast included in the price.
Don't rely on the calendar
I prefer not the instant booking feature, so I never click on “Request to book”. If you do so, you end up paying for your booking without being 100% sure if the room is available. Wait for the go-ahead from the potential host before booking your stay. When you have it confirmed, I would then book. You will receive an immediate confirmation from Airbnb via email with a text message.
You will have access to the exact address of your booked accommodation along with a contact phone number. At this stage, it is wise to send an email to your host with any additional questions you may have about your trip and the place while confirming your arrival time. You will receive a few reminders from Airbnb a few weeks and days before your arrival with a full itinerary of your booked stay. Once you have clicked, you can cancel your booking, but make sure you have checked the cancellation policy first.
Cancellation Policies with Airbnb Hosts
Usually, there are three levels of cancellation. Strict, moderate and flexible. Here below you see a chart with what the flexible cancellation means. By average it is usually one week, and “strict” is 30 days. But they may vary from property to property. If you are 100% sure of your dates, I wouldn't mind a strict or moderate cancellation policy. Beware that hosts can cancel too. Although it's rare to happen, there are cases in which you may get a cancellation within the last 24-48 hours.
Before booking get detailed charges
Before booking your private stay, you will get the full detail of the costs, like the service fee (average 12% to 15%), a cleaning fee may also appear if requested by the host. A deposit may be required by the host to cover potential incidents caused by you. They can charge that only if real damage due to your carelessness. Moreover, if you have gained travel credits, Airbnb will deduct that amount of money from your next booking.
What to do after your stay with Airbnb
Airbnb is not for everyone and you must be sure that you are going to enjoy your stay, no matter the type of rental you have picked. Here are my tips.
Enjoy your home experience
I think the main reason for the private stay is to meet a local, have interaction and enjoy the place as if it were your home. Indeed there are significant benefits in choosing private accommodation.
Write a review about your stay and your host
Writing a review soon after your stay is crucial. An Airbnb rule is the mutual review, which means you will not be able to read your review unless the host has reviewed you as a guest too. Testimonials, in most cases, are reliable and helpful to other travellers. They provide first-hand information about the place, the host and the overall experience. By leaving a review, you are helping guests make their choice, as well as hosts, know more about their guests! Always write a review of your stay. You have 14 days to write Airbnb reviews; you can easily do it from your profile.
Once you have created your profile, you can start inviting your friends to join the Airbnb community too.
More Tips for using Airbnb as a guest
While I encourage to book private accommodation and stay with the Airbnb host, many people prefer to rent an entire apartment or home. The issue here is that on their platform they do not only list private homes where hosts are living but also list agencies with a large number of properties. This over the years has to lead to a considerable increase in home rentals damaging the locals, who are forced to leave city centre areas and live in the neighbourhood. So if you want to support the locals, you should be careful where you book your stay.
Here are my best tips to help you make a great experience:
- Only book a place in a safe city or neighbourhood
Never stay in dodgy areas with a low-security level, the risk of getting to a dodgy site is high too.
- Prefer staying in a place where the host is living or living close nearby
This not only allows you to have a great experience with a local, but you are also supporting the local community which is the real purpose of the sharing economy. Moreover, it enhances safety.
- Trust your feelings: like the place and the host too
If you are uncertain about a place and don't have an overall good impression, stay away, even if the rental home is cheap and looks nice.
- Study the place and the hosts carefully
Check all things that are important to you. But also ask your host before booking. This is the only way to build trust and even get a real picture of where and who is behind the advertised property.
- Book with Airbnb for a short stay only
The average booking on Airbnb is 1-2 nights, but 3-4 days are okay. One week is the maximum I would book. The reasons are many, first of all, you can change the location and move to a different place. Secondly, the longer you stay, the higher the Airbnb service fee, which is 12%-15%.
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Useful articles about my experience with Airbnb
Here below links to the blog posts about a few private homestays in Australia on my solo trips in Australia:
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