Airbnb has become the go-to app for booking vacation rentals around the world. In this article, I share my best pro tips every guest should know before booking an Airbnb stay. Both experts and beginners will find valuable insider secrets to improve their next Airbnb vacation or short-term rental experience.
Disclaimer: This article is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to constitute professional advice. Deskless Nomad makes no representations, warranties, or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete, or up to date. Please see the full Deskless Nomad Disclaimer.
Airbnb isn’t the only game in town
While Airbnb has become the largest and arguably the most well-known vacation rental platform, there are several alternatives to Airbnb offering quality, verified stays. My personal favorite is PlumGuide.com with its hand-picked properties and excellent customer service.
I’ve written an article about more than 30 alternative large and small alternative vacation rental booking platforms with the pros and cons of each to help you choose the best one for your trip.
Many vacation rental properties are simultaneously listed on multiple sites. You may find your favorite property listed for a lower price on another rental platform. Check to see if your desired property is listed elsewhere by doing a google image search.
To do a google image search, right-click on the image in the Airbnb listing, copy its URL and paste in the box at images.google.com. If you are using google chrome you can simply right-click on the image and then select “search google for image” to be taken to a new window with the search results.
Airbnb doesn’t just offer vacation condos, apartments, and houses
Airbnb is constantly expanding its collection and range of accommodation types. You can find plenty of novel and unusual places to stay like glamping tents, tiny houses, campers, tree houses, and houseboats. Give your next holiday an exciting twist with a unique stay.
The longer you stay at an Airbnb, the more you save
Airbnb now encourages hosts to give weekly discounts for stays of 7 or more nights and monthly discounts for reservations of 28 nights or more. Since longer stays mean less turnover and less work for hosts there is an incentive for them to offer these discounts. Try extending your booking to 7 or 28 nights to see how much you can save. If the host doesn’t yet offer a discount for longer stays you can try contacting them to negotiate a discount for an extended stay.
Let Airbnb be your inspirational travel guide
Not sure where you want to go but know you want to be on the beach? Or near the ski slopes? Use Airbnb’s “I’m flexible” feature and then narrow your search by themes like beachfront, amazing pools, desert, ski in ski out, or islands, etc. to be inspired. You can then narrow down your search by dates or price and see where your next adventure will take you.
Read reviews carefully (and take them with a grain of salt)
Only guests who have completed a verified stay at an Airbnb property can leave a review. The “grain of salt” is that any guest who has an ongoing dispute with a host over security deposits or other issues can’t leave a review after 14 days. If a guest booked an Airbnb but arrived and found the property to be a scam and non-existent, they are not able to leave a review if they immediately cancel because they did not complete a verified stay. Because of the review limitations, guests may miss out on some warning signs of shady hosts.
Know how to protect yourself from Airbnb scams
While Airbnb scams are rare they do still happen. Unlike with hotels, you need to do a little more due diligence to protect your money and vacation time. Getting your money back from Airbnb can be tricky so it’s best to arm yourself in advance. Before booking your next stay learn about the types of Airbnb scams and how to avoid Airbnb scams.
Always communicate with an Airbnb host (and make payments) through the app
Communicating via the Airbnb platform protects you from fraud and security issues and saves written evidence in case you have to dispute anything with the Airbnb company. Start communicating with a host before you ever book to make sure the host and property are right for you.
Paying through their secure app also protects your money since any payments outside the app are not covered by Airbnb policies. In fact, paying outside of the Airbnb platform is explicitly against Airbnb policy and can get you kicked off the app.
You can negotiate a discount with an Airbnb host
Airbnb properties are owned and hosted primarily by individuals. That means you can contact the host directly to negotiate a discount if it is mutually beneficial. For example, if you are booking in the low season or plan to stay an extended period of time you may be able to negotiate with a host for a discount. Read my article to learn the best strategies for a successful discount negotiation with an Airbnb host.
Airbnb has coupons for first-time users and business travelers
First-time users of the platform can get a discount on their first booking. If someone in your party has never booked an Airbnb before then consider having them make the reservation to take advantage of the discount.
Business travelers can get a $25 coupon if they add their work email to their existing account details. To get this coupon, go to your account settings page, click on “Travel for work,” and enter your work email. Next, confirm your email with the link sent to your email inbox. Once you have booked a stay that totals $250 or more, the coupon will be added to your Airbnb account. On your next stay, as you are confirming your booking details make sure to click “Traveling for work?” in order to have the coupon applied to your bill.
There are lots of travel hacks for saving money on Airbnb rentals
In addition to the coupon for first-time users and business travelers, there are several other tips, tricks, and travel hacks for saving money on Airbnb. Some require a little knowledge of travel hacking but for travelers hungry for a discount or people who frequently stay at Airbnbs these tips can provide substantial savings. Mix and match the best strategies for your situation and travel plans.
Understand Airbnb’s cancellation policies (Read the fine print!)
Each host selects one of Airbnb’s tiered cancellation policies for their rental. It is very important that you read and understand the cancellation policy for the specific property you plan to book. During the pandemic, travel has become increasingly unpredictable so prepare yourself for any last-minute changes by understanding the cancellation rules prior to making any potentially non-refundable payments.
You can earn rewards points on Airbnb bookings in multiple ways
I recommend always using a travel rewards credit card when making bookings on Airbnb to earn travel rewards. Read TPG’s article on the best travel credit cards to learn more.
While Airbnb doesn’t offer its own loyalty program you can still earn additional rewards by booking through special Airline partner portal websites. The price for any individual property is identical to what you would pay if you booked directly on the Airbnb website. Airbnb partners with Delta, Qantas, ANA, and British Airways to give you more ways to earn rewards on travel.
- Delta Airbnb portal – Earn 1 Delta mile per dollar
- Qantas Airbnb portal – Earn 1 Qantas point per dollar
- British Airways Airbnb portal – Earn 2 British Airways Avios points per dollar on Airbnb accommodation bookings (6 points per dollar if it is your first Airbnb booking). You can also earn 3 Avios per dollar on Airbnb experience bookings.
- ANA Airbnb portal – Earn 1 mile for every JPY 200 spent (1 mile per around $1.76 spent)
For more information on the best travel hacks to maximize the points and miles you can earn on your Airbnb bookings check out my article on How to Earn Miles When Booking an Airbnb.
Airbnb now encourages hosts to verify wifi speed
If you plan to work remotely from your Airbnb rental it may be essential for you to have a reliable and fast internet connection. Even if you are just on vacation, having excellent wifi to watch your favorite streaming services can be an essential amenity. Airbnb hosts can verify their wifi speed through the Airbnb app to help guests plan ahead.
If the Wifi speed is not available on a listing, message the host and ask them to follow the instructions for verifying the property’s internet speed on the Airbnb website.
Airbnb offers lots of pet-friendly rentals
It is easy to filter for pet-friendly rentals. Simply add your pet under the “Who” section at the top. Even if the listing does not say “pets allowed” under the House Rules section you can still message the host to see if they will make an exception.
Learn more about bringing pets to an Airbnb in Deskless Nomad’s Complete Guide to Bringing Your Dog or Other Pet to an Airbnb.
Always take photos at the beginning and end of your Airbnb stay
Unfortunately, there are hosts who will try to take advantage of security deposits for false claims of damages. While the security deposit is important to protect hosts from the costs of damages caused by guests it can also be abused. Stories abound online of hosts withholding unreasonable amounts of the security deposit for “damages” that guests claim were not true. To protect yourself take photos of the property with a timestamp both when you arrive. Do the same before you leave (after you have tidied up) so you have evidence in case a host tries to claim damages.
I hope you enjoyed learning my must-know tips before reserving and staying at an Airbnb. If you’d like to learn more travel tips for flights, vacation rentals, long-term travel, travel hacking, or living the digital nomad lifestyle check out my home page for my most recent articles.