One of my friends recently said this;
“Dude I’ve stopped staying at hotels during foreign vacations.”
Surprised? Well he went on to say that he only uses Airbnb now. Not the first time in the recent past I’ve heard this.
Airbnb is a very popular concept in the western world and lot of travellers use it regularly.
While many of us Indians are aware of it, how many of us have used it for a vacation stay in a foreign land? Not many as far as I know.
I am sure many of you will have questions in your mind, such as:
What is Airbnb. How exactly does it work? Is it safe and reliable?
What is so great about it that it forces travellers to abandon hotels entirely?
Well I too had the same questions when I heard of the concept of Airbnb the first time.
Read on to know everything about using Airbnb for a Perfect Stay during your next foreign vacation.
We will explore the following topics in this guide:
Chapter 1: What is Airbnb?
Lets assume that you are living in Goa and you have an spare room in your apartment. You could very well choose to rent this out to guests and earn an income.
But how do you find these guests. Airbnb is a place to do just that.
For the uninitiated, Airbnb is an International platform which facilitates renting of living spaces. Ordinary Houses, Apartments and rooms rented out by owners for a price.
A person who rents out a space is known as a Host while a person who rents the space is termed a Guest
So how does it work?
You take a few nice pictures of your room, and make a list of all the facilities in the house.
You now register at Airbnb.com as a host, and put up the above details as a listing for accommodation. You also state the availability and price per night for the room.
Prospective Guests will visit your listing and if they are happy with the price and the facilities, will send you a request for stay. You can choose to accept of reject the booking.
Now look at it from the point of view of the guests.
You as a tourist visiting a foreign land is able to find a place to stay at a local house.
And guess what?
The listings are not just for rooms, you will find that entire houses are listed too.
Which means you can rent an entire house (no the host wont be staying with you) for a couple of days in a foreign land, that too at the same of even lower that the price of a hotel room.
Talk about home away from home.
But there is more.
These houses usually come with all facilities like a full fledged kitchen, a refrigerator, washing machine etc.
Look at it this way. You wont have the feeling of having stayed in a commercial hotel, but at the same-time, you will enjoy the privacy and facilities that a hotel cant provide.
Moreover most Airbnbs are located in residential neighborhoods, which adds a non-touristy touch.
The added bonus is that you can take the help of the host with respect to planning your tour in the destination.
Who better to advise you on things to do, stuff to see and local travel hacks, than a local.
And that is what makes Airbnb stand out among the crowd.
Most of the hosts are not commercial business people. They are ordinary people like you and me who are happy to welcome travelers into their houses for a side income.
No other option can give you such personalized experiences if you ask me.
Airbnb has also recently started offering experiences (things to do, see etc.). However, in this article, we will stick to accommodation only.
I am sure that by now you are at least willing to consider to Airbnb for your next Foreign trip.
Lets explore the whole booking process together, and that brings us to chapter 2: Signing up with Airbnb.
Chapter 2: Signing up with Airbnb.
Hit Airbnb.com on your browser and click on signup. You can use your google account, your facebook account or your email address for signing up.
Once you enter the basic information like name, date of birth etc., Airbnb will ask you to upload your photo.
This is important. Airbnb needs to know that you are a genuine person. Airbnb is very particular that the photo is recent and that your face is clearly visible.
Almost no guest is going to let you into their homes, if your send them a request without a photo in your profile. It paints a bad picture.
The next step is to verify your phone number. This too is important for the purpose of credibility.
Once you have filled in this basic stuff, your account is all set. Now go to account settings to edit your profile. Make sure that all your details are entered here.
There is one particular part you have to pay attention to and i.e your bio (below)
Be sure to fill this up. This is how people get to know you. Your bio and your photo are what hosts will look at when you send them a request for accommodation.
The next step is for you to add a personal ID. This is again for Airbnb to verify your genuinity. Also some hosts do not accept booking from unverified profiles.
The ID is usually a government approved documents like Passport, Driving Licence etc.
As an additional measure of genuineness, you can also connect your Facebook and Google account with Airbnb. Each of these verifications improve your credibility in the eyes of the Airbnb community.
Now you are all set to make your bookings.
Over to Chapter 3.
Chapter 3: Booking your stay.
When it comes to booking a place, the key things to look for is the Location/ Neighborhood. Research about the area online. Pick a nice safe neighborhood based on online reviews.
Once you have finalized your neigbourhood of stay, Log into Airbnb and input your location and dates of stay.
You will be presented with multiple listings falling under the following three broad categories.
An entire apartment or house that is available for you exclusively. The most private option. Ideal for families and group of friends. Imagine chilling with your friends/ Family in the living room of your own beach house in Thailand. A pretty picture, is it not?
A room of your own in a house rented out with the hosts/other guests living in different rooms in the same house. The common spaces (if any) like kitchen and living room will be shared.
Anything from a shared bunk bed to couch in the living room. Just to be clear, you will not share your bed, just your room and the common spaces. The least private option.
Apart from these, each listing will also have other details such as:
Photos of the accommodation and the area.
Maximum number of guests admissible, Number of Rooms, No of beds (King, Queen, Twin Bed etc) and no of bathrooms (attached/ non-attached).
Details on the location of the place such as name of area, approx. distance to nearest bus stop and metro and also details of attractions, Supermarkets and dining options nearby.
Please note that Airbnb will give you the exact address of the place and the contact number/ email address of the host only after booking is completed. However, approx. location will be available before booking.
Amenities/ Facilities available such as Wi-Fi, Air-conditioning/ heating, Hot water, Parking, Elevator, Kitchen, Cooking Basics, Refrigerator, and Stove etc.
House Rules such as No smoking, No partying late night, Pets allowed etc.
Cancellation Policy (e.g. 50% Refund on cancellation within 7 days of booking)
Reviews of the accommodation and the host, by other guests who have stayed at the place.
Look for Superhosts.
They are experienced hosts who have hosted many guests and also have very good reviews by other guests.
The quality of the host is one of the most important things to look for when booking. Make sure that the host as a lot of reviews (20+ at least).
Read the reviews in detail. Email the host if required before booking. The quality of the response will say a lot about the host.
Filtering based on criteria
Filter out the listings based on your criteria. Look for things like essential facilities required by you such as Wi-Fi, Air Conditioning, Hot Water, number of guests permitted, number of rooms/beds available etc.
Check out each of the filtered listings in detail including photos of the listing, area and details of connectivity (distance to metro station, bus stop etc.). Also check out reviews of the accommodation and the host, written by other travellers.
Also guys, don’t fall for the photos in the beginning. Sort out all the other stuff like, amenities, host quality etc. first. You can look at the photos post that.
BorderTribe advises first time travellers to go for SuperHosts only, to avoid any hiccups and have a stress free trip.
Some stuff to watch out for before you confirm your booking.
The amount per night you mentioned in the listing is not the final amount you get charged. Airbnb adds a Service Fee and the Host might add a cleaning fee (one time – not per day). Check this before you book. You do not want to be surprised when you see your credit card statement.
Once you have made your choice, make your booking. AirBnb will charge you the final amount, take a commission and pass on the balance to the Host. Make sure you are cognizant of the cancellation policy of the accommodation before booking.
Some listings are confirmed immediately (Insta Book) while some need confirmation from the host. This might take up to 24 hours. You can filter out this option in your search.
After the booking
The exact address of the booking along with contact details of the host will be available to you only after the booking.
Most hosts will contact you after the booking via Phone/ email to confirm your booking and to and let you know the details of getting to the place . If not, email the host and find out everything you need to know.
Most hosts will also be happy to arrange transportation too (from airport, bus terminus etc.), for a price of course.
There is an option in the Airbnb mobile app to chat directly with the host ,however we urge you to establish direct communication lines through phone/ email.
Chapter 4: During and After your stay
Alright, your long awaited trip is here. You have completed your booking with Airbnb and are in touch with the host via email/ Phone.
Make sure you are carrying the phone number of the Host with you when you land at your destination.
Your host would have most likely agreed to meet you at the place of accommodation or at a prominent landmark nearby.
Meet the host, introduce yourself, exchange pleasantries, and let them show you to your place of stay.
Once at the place of stay, the host will explain to your the facilities available and the rules of the house.
In case you have doubts about anything at all ask. Better not to assume.
Is the wine in the fridge chargeable? Is hot water available 24/7?. ASK.
At the risk of sounding too obvious, let me remind you not to treat the host like a staff at a hotel. Hosts are ordinary people like you and me.
Use the opportunity to understand from the host the layout of the place and how you should plan your visit. Most hosts are more than happy to help.
Keep these in mind during your stay
Take care of the house like you would take care of your own. Try not to cause trouble to the neighbors. Basically don’t be a an *****.
Leave a good impression when you leave. It says something not just about you, but your country men as well.
During checkout, leave the place as it was left for you. Don’t forget to return the keys/ leave them as instructed by the Host.
One more thing. Make sure you write a review about the place and the host once you complete the stay. This is customary and expected.
Reviews will boost credibility of you as well as the host in the eyes of the Airbnb community. Meaning easier to book a place in the future as hosts know you are genuine hassle free guests.
Ok. So we are done here. We hope we have covered everything from the concept of Airbnb to booking and staying at an Airbnb accommodation abroad.
However if you still have some queries, please put them in the comments section below or even email us. We will be happy to help you.