How To Use AirBnB Like A Pro

In the past five months, we've stayed at six AirBnB apartments. Sometimes for beach weekends, sometimes for Euro city breaks, sometimes to live.

Add that to our annual balance, and we've stayed in an AirBnB for what would work out to be the equivalent of one a month for the past twelve months. 

You could say we're fans of the service.

We're all familiar with AirBnB, its competitors, and the way they work. But after the year we've had, staying in ten AirBnBs in five countries, I would almost (almost) call us experts.

Our AirBnB stays have not taken place in incredible villas or penthouses. There have been no infinity pools, castles, mansions, or teepees in our travels. But we have figured out a formula that works for us when choosing accomodations for travel, as well as a few principles that will apply to all travelers regardless of interest, destination, and general level of pickiness.

Whether you're a shared economy newbie or are a tried and true AirBnB junkie just looking to improve your experience, here are a few things to consider when gearing up for your next stay:

Know what you want out of the experience

When it comes to travel accomodations, it's (really) important to know and understand your preferences well before you even think about searching for accomodation. Think about what you consider to be important when it comes to travel – are you willing to sacrifice certain parts of your experience to improve on others? 

For example, both D and I are pretty low key, but there are certain things that we're not willing to sacrifice. Location is one, and we're willing to bypass some frills if it means improving the location of our AirBnB while staying in budget. Otherwise, all we really want out of an AirBnB experience is a clean, quiet, private space that feels safe, a host that's easy to reach (more on that below), and solid, reliable Wi-Fi. Knowing these priorities upfront has helped us choose properties that we've always been happy with. Actually, I don't think we've had a bad experience – and that's saying something.


Finalize a budget before you begin looking

AirBnB, VRBO, onefinestay and the like can be crazy overwhelming. Before you even start searching, I would recommend setting a budget and sticking to it. That way you can set a cap on your search and filter out any of those dreamy teepee or penthouse-type places that may be out of reach. Cut the excess results, and your accomodation search will become much easier.

Note: When searching for travel accomodations on AirBnB or a competitor's site, make sure you search for the exact dates you plan to stay, and keep in mind that there will be a few fees tacked on to the final price (a service charge from AirBnB, other potentials charges for cleaning, etc.).

Paris, France

Barcelona, Spain

Location, location, location

As with budget, you should go into any accomodation search knowing exactly where you want to stay. If you're headed to a big city, search by the specific neighborhood you want to stay in if at all possible. This will make your searching experience much easier and less overwhelming overall. Pro tip – staying sane when planning a trip tends to be helpful.


Communicate, yo

Put yourself in the shoes of the owner. How would you feel if you were renting out your property to a total stranger? I owe the success of our AirBnB stays to clear, regular communication – you need to be available and quick to respond. Being friendly doesn't hurt either, in this case or ever. After all these are people just like you who are a part of the same community, and there's something about that that's kind of cool, don't you think? (It certainly helped when we were temporarily homeless in London.) 

Treat the owner and their property with respect, and they'll do the same for you.

East Sussex, England

Don't get me wrong – I still love a good hotel stay. You can't beat the experience of staying at a hotel – the crisp sheets, room service, and the pure luxury of it all. But when it come to regular travel, AirBnB just feels like a better fit. I like being able to make coffee at home and get recommendations for restaurants from hosts and those who have stayed before me. It's cool seeing old European apartment buildings and understanding how people really live in the city you're visiting. It also tends to get you more bang for your travel accomodation buck, which is something I think we can all appreciate.

That's my experience, but what about yours? Any horror stories, or 'best practice' tips you've learned in this shared economy of ours? I'd love to hear!


All photos by D. Watterson III

P.S. – Yeah, so what if I used an affiliate link in this post? Other than that, this post is not sponsored by AirBnB in any way – like, at all. AirBnB doesn't even know I'm alive. Instead, I just genuinely like the service and use it far too often. That's pretty much it.