I like to book via Airbnb while I’m traveling because it helps me to save some money. As well it makes me feel like at home. For example, if I stay in a flat I can cook there and do other things that I usually can’t do in the hostels, guest houses. Also you can find some authentic places to stay, be a bit closer to a local culture. Here you can check more my pros and cons about staying or renting through Airbnb.
If you are new with Airbnb, I suggest to try it at least once and see by yourself if it suitable for you. But before booking via Airbnb you should pay attention in some things that I learned during my experience. I believe that these tips can save you a bit money and will help you avoid surprises.
How to start use Airbnb?
Sing up. You can get discount for your first booking via Airbnb by using Airbnb code.
Create informative profile and verify it. Some hosts may not accept you’re booking if you don’t have a verified profile. You want to book a place with host who tells more about himself? Host wants to know more about people which he will let inside his home as well.
TIP: you can check places in Airbnb (see the prices, free days in calendar and etc.) without signing in, but some of the functions you won’t be able to use.
You sign in. What’s next?
Write your destination, how many days you want to stay and how many people will be (in search box that appears in the Airbnb landing page). You will get all results that suit your search request.
Now you can mark, choose, use all filters to get only those results that fit exact your needs: choose room type, price range that you want to pay for a stay. Click “More filters” and check all boxes that are important for you. Then click “Apply filters”. You will get all results in the list that suits your search. Also all those places will be marked in the map on the right side of the list. So you can easily see which place is in which part of the city/island and etc.
TIP: in the right-bottom of the page you can change the currency and language. All search result information will be given by currency, language you want.
What you should pay attention first before booking via Airbnb?
When you will get all list that match your detailed search, choose some hosts that you like.
Check the pictures of the place – is it exactly what you are searching for?
Read the reviews about the place – but be objective reading them. People’s understanding of cleanliness, distance and etc. can be different from yours. But those reviews can give you general impression of the place. As well what I like in Airbnb – reviews appears only when both sides (guest and host) write them. So if guest wrote bad review, host don’t know it till he will write review about guest – there can’t be “revenge” – you wrote bad, I read and I will write bad about you as well.
Check the profile of the host – you will find there information that host provides about himself, picture, guests reviews and list of other places that he rents (can be that host have several different apartments or renting more rooms in the same house but with different conditions). I had experience in Oslo, when the couple was renting 2 their rooms – one was bigger and more expensive, other – smaller and cheaper. I didn’t know that because I didn’t check the listing of the host, so I booked bigger one when the smaller was free as well. At that time I could save a bit more money. But it’s my lesson that I learned for next Airbnb booking.
TIP: if you like several places add them to wish-list (button under the calendar – see the picture above). If during booking via Airbnb process something won’t work out with your choose place, you won’t need to start the new search and spend again your time. You can pick the places from your wish-list and contact those hosts.
Places that you picked match your needs? Check other important things
Till you won’t make booking via Airbnb you won’t see exact address but it will be shown rough area where it is. Usually the host in the place description writes distances till main tourist objects. If not, sometimes you can find this information in guests reviews.
Check carefully host information about the place. What is the place rules, check-in, check-out time, booking cancellation policy (different hosts can have different cancellation rules), is it easy to get to the place with local transportation, what kind of equipment host provides and everything else that is written
You should know that host can put different prices depending on the dates. For example on weekend or holidays the price can be higher than on low season. When in the first search step you add dates you want to stay, the prices already shown of those dates. But if you will decide to change the dates, the price can be different. As well Airbnb take some service fee – it can be different amount depends on duration of your stay, the booking price. Some hosts as well put extra fee for cleaning, extra bed and etc. (even if you selected that will be 1 guest and later change your mind – will come 2 people, the price can be not exactly just double, but even more). Sometimes depends on some countries rules, can be added even special tax fee. So final sum can be a bit different that was shown in the beginning.
Not a member yet? Try Airbnb and save $20 on your 1st trip through this link.
Some hosts allow you to book the place instant (please, check the first photo, I marked it near the price). In this case you don’t need to get any approval from host. You like the place, rules and etc. you just book it.
If the place doesn’t have instant booking, after you will make reservation, the host during 24 hours can accept it or reject. Yes, sometimes even if you choose free dates in calendar host can cancel booking without any explanation (maybe he doesn’t find information in your profile, maybe he didn’t update calendar and those dates already booked).
Different hosts can choose different cancellation policy. Before booking via Airbnb be sure about your will to stay there, dates. If you will change your mind and the host has strict cancellation policy you will lose some of your money, if it’s flexible cancellation policy – only Airbnb won’t return their fee but other money will be refund to your account.
CONTACT THE HOST
If in place photo you saw that something is missing what you need or you didn’t find information in the description – before booking via Airbnb, contact the host and ask what is important for you. As well if you need something extra to be prepared for you, you can ask host if he can organize it. If it’s not written and you didn’t ask but expected that something will be – don’t be disappointed. The host provides all information that he thinks it’s important, but for you can be important something else.
People are different and different things matter for them, but I usually ask such things (if don’t find it it in description):
What is in the neighborhood? Who is living around? Is there are any noisy bars, busy streets around?
How far is the public transportation stop?
Will I have separate set of keys? Will my room where I will stay have a lock?
Is there is coffee, sugar that I could use?
Will be there any other guests during my stay (if I’m renting a room in several rooms apartment)?
TIPS: some hosts give discounts if you stay longer – for a week or month (it’s written in place description). I never tried but I know that you can contact the host and negotiate the price as well. Even if he don’t give the discount for longer stay – you can ask for it.
Time for booking!
Final step from your side – click the “Request to book” and booking process will start.
The booking should be accepted or rejected by host during 24 hours otherwise the system without host approval will reject it automatically. If it will happen – no worries – you still have other places that you liked in your wish-list.
When host will approve your booking you will get email with all information. The phone number of the host, most of the time the exact place address (if you won’t receive it – ask from host).
After booking is accepted your money won’t go straight to the host account. Airbnb will “keep” it till your end of the stay. So if something will be not exactly how was agreed and etc., you can claim for Airbnb, they will inspect the case and if you are right – they will return your money back.
Keep in touch with host – before coming agree the time and how you will meet, how you will get the keys and etc.
What else you should know about booking via Airbnb?
Not only local people rents their homes, sometimes you can find hostels, guest houses and etc. who suggest to stay in their place. If you find such – before booking via Airbnb, check their prices in other websites, for example Agoda, Booking, Hostelworld and etc. Maybe in these websites have extra discount or even better price (you can see below one of examples of different prices of the same place).
Sometimes it happens that the host cancels the booking even couple days before you arrive. Not nice, but no worries, try to contact other hosts from your wish-list.
If the host asks you to pay in cash or make a transfer straight to his account – never do it. If something will go wrong, Airbnb won’t protect you or refund your money. All renting through Airbnb should be done only by their system.
If you found amazing place, the price looks extremely cheap and there is no review yet, be vigilant, maybe something is not right. You can just save picture of the place on your desktop and add it to google search. If it’s not real place or the picture is stolen you will find it in google. In this case you can report Airbnb that somebody try to cheat.
Don’t book the place instead of your friends, because if something will happen you will take the responsibility for it (because you booked the place). Better after you will join Airbnb share the discount code and ask them to join as well – they will stay cheaper, you will get discount also and won’t need to worry about anything.
Using Airbnb doesn’t mean that the host will be all the time around. The host can help you as much as he can but don’t expect that he will become your guide.
After your stay don’t forget to leave the honest review that could be useful for future guests.
Let’s see quickly in practice how to choose the best place, for example inBali
In price range I choose the cheapest places (9-20 EUR/per night). The result – more than 300 offers. I pick randomly 4 of them.
No air condition, now parking (but if you want to reach this place you need to drive a motorbike).
This room by itself doesn’t have reviews yet, but host in general has 160 reviews.
If you click for host listing he offers 10 different rooms in the same villa just conditions are different. For example, other rooms have air condition, strict cancellation policy, check-in, check-out times, free parking and etc.
Even if the price written 9 EUR/per night, already in March all dates are with higher price. No matter 1 or 2 guests the price the same 10 EUR/per night. Service fee – extra 1 EUR. In total for 2 people will cost 11 EUR/per night.
Already from the name you see that it’s not a person’s home it’s guest house with breakfast, 24 hour check-in, but no WI-FI (just simple internet).
You can book it instantly.
The prices changes to higher after April.
If you click for host listing, he offers 10 different places in Ubud. From guest houses to hotels and villas. I hope I won’t offend anyone but renting via Airbnb it’s this person business.
Like it’s guest house I found their offer in Booking. The same dates for 2 people there costs 12 EUR/per night. But they charge extra 2 EUR for breakfast. As well in booking.com written check-in/check-out times, in Airbnb it’s not mentioned. If you would like to rent this place – this time booking via Airbnb is cheaper (except if you have some discounts in Booking or rewards that you can use and get better price).
Agoda – I find here the most selection for low-budget accommodation in Asia.
Booking– is one of those resources that I can find low-budget accommodation outside of Asia.
Trivago – here you can find 1.3 million hotels deals all around the world!
Hotelscombined – even if I found some good place with good price, I always check once more here. Sometimes they have even better deals.
Couchsurfing – one of most popular platform to search local hosts. But it’s not just free accommodation during your trip – it’s sharing and giving as well.
Skyscanner – I love that I can choose “to” destination “flexible”. It helps me to find the cheapest destination from Europe to Asia (no matter Thailand, Malaysia or other, from there to go to Indonesia simpler).
Momondo – If my travel dates are flexible it’s great to see all prices in the chart by dates and choose the cheapest date to fly.
Nusatrip – here I find sometime cheapest flights inside Asia.
Tiket – one of the website that you can find as well cheapest flights tickets inside Asia. As well you can buy train tickets, rent a car, book the hotel in Indonesia.
Thorn Tree – many travel advice from local travelers and not only. I like that people most of the time gives exhaustive answers to questions.
Couchsurfing – people not only host you but share their experiences, advice. Often organize meetings with travelers and local people.
FB groups – you can find many travel groups by different regions, traveling types and etc.
Darmasiswa scholarship – possibility to study about Indonesian culture, live here for 6-12 months. I was selected to this program.
Internship in Indonesia– other possibility to stay in Indonesia and share your academic and cultural knowledge with Indonesian students.
Work away – voluntary program around the world and many possibilities for Asia as well. I already have several projects in my mind that would like to attend.
European voluntary service – possibility for youth to travel, learn and share their knowledges in many different projects. I was volunteer by this program in Greece.
GoAbroad– providing the most comprehensive international education and alternative travel resource. You can find study, internship, volunteering programs and more.
Easy book – largest booking website in SE Asia: bus, train, car, ferry and local tours in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and more. Often suggest discounts for the online tickets.
Klook – car with a drivers rental, pick up/drop off from airport and much more. All around Southeast Asia and other countries. Prices are really good.
Indonesian railway – trains timetables in Indonesia. Online ticket reservations (in Indonesian language).
Tiket – train tickets, car rentals in Indonesia. Easier to buy train tickets here.
Uber – easy and cheap way to get a ride by the car to needed destinations in more than 58 countries around the world. You can use this app in main cities of Asian countries as well. Get first FREE ride with this code.
Blue Bird taxi – official taxi in Indonesia that you can order in Jakarta, Bali, Bandung, Banten, Batam, Lombok, Manado, Medan, Padang, Pekanbaru, Palembang, Semarang, Solo, Surabaya, and Yogyakarta. Very easy to use their app “MyBlueBird” and if you will register via mobile, you can get discount on the first ride (or just use code “VPANOV”).
Viator– you can find local guides and see who is certificated, get quite full information about suggested routes, experiences.
Hendra Arkan – freelance certificated guide (as well driving guest in Yogyakarta, around), traveler, illustrator, good and helpful person.
Expats blog– uniting expat bloggers site, with expats latest blog posts, blog reviews, expat interviews & contests.
Culture plate – connects people who love cooking & hosting dinners with people who love eating authentic home cooked meals.
Mekar Bhuana – family based Balinese gamelan music and dance center in Denpasar, Bali. Offers workshops, lessons, making documentation, reconstruction of rare and lost Balinese gamelan instruments and dance art-forms, sells gamelan and dance products.
WhatssApp – app that use most of Asian people. It’s more popular than call or text SMS
Here maps – app that I use during my trips. I love that the map works even when it’s offline, as well you can get information how to get to the place with walking, using public transport and much more.