Tips for booking via Airbnb: save money & avoid misunderstandings

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?

It’s easy!

  • Sing up.
  • 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.

How to use Airbnb
I marked places where you can find information, change settings and select what you need

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.

Airbnb guide
Check information about the host, reviews about him, other places that he rents
Places that you picked match your needs? Check other important things

LOCATION

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.

DESCRIPTION, RULES

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

PRICE

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.

BOOKING PROCESS

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).

BOOKING CANCELLATION

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.

Tips for using Airbnb
Read carefully rules, description, contact host if needed before you will decide to book the place
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.
Using Airbnb
One of places that you can book via Airbnb in Bali

What else you should know about booking via Airbnb?

Booking via Airbnb pinterest
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  • 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, Hotelscombine 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).
  • 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 in Bali

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.

1. Shared room, shared bathroom in villa (South Kuta)

1 guest 9 EUR/per night, 2 guests – 19 EUR/per night.  Service fee – extra 3 EUR. In total for 2 people will cost 22 EUR/per night.

Airbnb booking

  • Instant booking – so can take it if you want straight now.
  • Flexible cancellation policy. But charges extra for extra people.
  • 24 hours check-in, pets allowed, kids/family friendly.
  • 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.

2. Kenari guest house (Ubud)

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.

Booking through Airbnb

  • 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).

3. NauHere Capsule Beds (Kuta), but Seminyak, Legian beaches are more closer than Kuta beach

1 guest 9 EUR/per night. Service fee – extra 1 EUR. In total 1 night per person will cost 10 EUR. But prices are different depends on the dates.

How to book via Airbnb

It’s a dormitory with check-in/check-out time, breakfast, air condition, strict cancellation policy.

I found this dormitory in other websites as well. In Agoda you can get bed for the same dates for 8,15 EUR/per night. In TripAdvisor you can see other prices from different websites as well.

 

4. Bamboo birds-nest rice field (Ubud)

The place offers to stay in 5 meters up with  traditional Balinese shower and toilet. Could be interesting experience?

1 guest 15 EUR/per night (2 guests, the same). Service fee – extra 3 EUR. In total 1 night for 2 people will cost 18 EUR/per night. But prices are different depends on the dates.

Tips for booking in Airbnb

  • Has chek-in/chek-out time, breakfast, strict cancellation policy
  • Don’t provide any amenities.
  • 21 review with 95% recommendation.
  • The host has 531 reviews in total and 10 different listing in Ubud.

 

 

Now you see how different can be conditions and why it’s important to check everything before booking via Airbnb.

Do you have other tips and hints for booking via Airbnb? Maybe some stories that other people could learn from? Please, share in the comments.


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Vietnam visa on arrival – easier way to enter Vietnam

Vietnam is one of Southeast Asia countries which I really want to visit again. I was there only for 2 weeks but I easily felt in love with Vietnam. I believe you will be in love with this country as well.

But before starting to enjoy time in Vietnam, you first of all need to take care of your Vietnam visa. This is what you need to know:

Who need Vietnam visa?

Many countries travelers need a visa for Vietnam. Only under bilateral or unilateral visa exemption agreements granted by the Vietnam government don’t need it.

Under bilateral visa exemption agreement citizens of:

  • Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia – has free 30 days visa exemption;
  • Philippines – has free 21 days visa exemption;
  • Brunei and Myanmar – has free 14 days visa exemption.

Under unilateral visa exemption agreement citizens of:

  • Japan, South Korea, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Russia, UK, France, Germany, Spain, Italy and Belarus – has free 15 days visa exemption.

The difference between bilateral visa exemption agreement and the unilateral one is that those under the former one can always visit Vietnam with visa exemption provided that their stay in the country is no longer than their exempted duration.

Citizens from the countries not mentioned in the list above, can visit Vietnam with visa exemption if their arrival date does not fall within 30 days from exit date of their last visit to the country.

If you are not from the country listed above. What should you do?

You need to obtain the visa for Vietnam. There are 2 ways:

  1. Get visa via Vietnam embassy in your country or nearest country that has Vietnam embassy;
  2. Get a Vietnam visa on arrival (VOA).

Which visa is better? I will give a brief guide for you.

Vietnam embassy visa 

This option will provide you a full visa beforehand. The issuing authority in this case is the Vietnam embassy.

Required documents: Normally, you will need to submit your original passport and a copy of completed application form. The form you need to download from the embassy to which you will submit your documents. Some embassies can also ask you to submit flight ticket, and other documents. So, you should contact them in advance for details.

How to submit: The embassy may accept application documents submitted in person, by post or by a third party with letter of authorization. But not all act in these ways. So, you are once more recommended to contact them for details.

Processing time: Normally, visa will be processed by the embassy during 5-7 working days. Sometimes, you may get it expedited faster paying extra amount of money.

The advantage and disadvantage of Vietnam embassy visa

Advantage:

  • Having visa already stamped onto your passport before your departure to Vietnam.
  • Applicable to travelers to Vietnam by any means of transport.
  • Making one-time payment for visa fee at Vietnam embassy.

Disadvantage:

  • Parting with your original passport.
  • Having to drive to the nearest embassy or send documents by post.
  • Dealing directly with Vietnam embassies.
  • Various visa fees and procedures at different Vietnam embassies.
  • Taking up to 3 days to get response for your emails.

Making visa to Vietnam via Vietnam embassy I suggest for those who are traveling to Vietnam through borders crossing and have enough time to wait till visa will be made. While for those traveling to Vietnam by air, I recommend Vietnam visa on arrival.

Vietnam visa on arrival (VOA)

In my opinion, this option is much more convenient, but for air travelers only. If you travel to land or cruise, you need to get visa from Vietnam embassy.

Unlike with Vietnam embassy visa, with visa on arrival, you will not get the full visa beforehand. You will get only the visa approval letter (it will be issued by the Vietnam Immigration Department via a travel agent), which will let you board the flight and get visa stamped upon arrival at Vietnam airport. But REMEMBER you need to get the Vietnam visa approval letter before departure as without it, in airport you can’t continue processing Vietnam visa on arrival.

Required documents: None at all for application.

How to submit: With Vietnam visa on arrival VOA, you only need to fill out an online form for visa approval letter. You can submit an online form for visa approval letter. This whole process is completed online. You just need fill travel and contact information an pay issuing fee with your debit/credit card. Don’t forget to fill this form at least week before you are planning to enter Vietnam.

Processing time: Within 2 working days from your submission of application form and payment of service fee, you will get the visa approval letter processed and sent to our email. You will need to print it before going to Vietnam and bring it to immigration office in airport. And then you will need approximately 15-30 minutes at Vietnam airport to get visa stamped into passport.

You can speed up processing of visa approval letter (even within 2-4 working hours) with a bit more money.

The advantage and disadvantage of Vietnam visa on arrival

Advantage:

  • No need to send your original passport away.
  • A complete online process – short time for Vietnam visa application.
  • No dealing with immigration agency. Agents deal with them on your behalf.
  • Especially convenient for those who are currently staying far away.
  • You know how much you pay at once.
  • You get prompt response and help online.

Disadvantage:

  • Queuing in front of Immigration counter at arrival airports in Vietnam to get visa stamp.
  • Possibly having names of other people on your approval letter.
  • Foreigners can’t apply for Vietnam visa on arrival themselves, the application must go through authorized travel agencies in Vietnam or organizations.

 

If you decided to make Vietnam visa on arrival and looking for further assistance, I recommend to check vietnam-visa.com with whom I have partnered preparing this post. This company already working more than 10 years providing Vietnam visa on arrival service, has only positive feedback and can be reached by hotline 24/7.

Vietnam visa on arrival - easier way to enter Vietnam - lifeinbigtent.com
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SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS

  • Have you ever made any visa online? What was your experience?
  • Is Vietnam in your bucketlist? What you would like to see, do or try there?
  • Is this post useful for you to share it?

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First time in Indonesia

I think Indonesia is a country of adventures and opportunities. Just you need to open eyes and heart, have a will to see, taste, discover, try new things, get out from your comfort zone and be curious.

I found out that during my stay in Indonesia some of the things I did or some of them happened first time in my life. No matter what, but all of them gave me new colors in my daily life. So, here is my list of things “first time in life – in Indonesia”:

First of all – Indonesia is the first Asian country which I visited in my life

And being in Indonesia gives me more opportunities to travel in Asia. Other Asian countries now are much closer than if I would travel from Europe.

I met eye to eye orangutans in Borneo island (Kalimantan)

Couple days in a jungle, living in a boat, meeting wild monkeys, birds, other animals and of course orangutans – was experience that I will never forget.

I took selfie (never before I did that)

It was on motorbike, when I was bringing mattress on my back to first home in Yogyakarta, Java island.

First time in Indonesia - selfie
Friend Otong helped me to take mattress to a new home

I learned how to drive automatic scooter

Driving scooter in Indonesia it means – I can drive now scooter anywhere in the world.

I tried trekking to a volcanoes

Even if mount Merapi defeated me  but at least I tried. But the second time was more successful. I went to Mt. Batur in Bali for sunrise. And even if in the trek beginning I was thinking why I do it, in the end I was happy that reached the top.

Batur sunrise trek in Bali

 

I was a “model” for the Yogyakarta sketchers community members

They wanted to practice and not every time it’s easy to find people who would like to spend their time doing nothing, just pose for a while.

First time in Indonesia - "model"

took a bath” under the waterfall and was walking in the volcano crater

It was in Dieng Plateau, Java island. Never before I saw the waterfall and volcano crater in real. What to say about bathing under the waterfall? It was a powerful feeling.

First time in Indonesia

I tried sandboarding in “grey” sand beach Parangtritis

Never before I try snowboarding, so experience with sandboarding was amazing. Just sand in the mouth when you felt down doesn’t “taste” so nice as snow. I got this opportunity while I was shooting in a video.

I celebrated New Year in October with Javanese Royal family members

New year in the middle of autumn? Something new, especially when you are invited to do that with Javanese Royal family members and have the honor to walk in a parade through the city with traditional Javanese clothes.

Javanese New Year

I eat fruits which I never tried before

Even I didn’t know that such fruits exist: “salak”(“snake fruit”), “jambu” (“guava”), “buah naga” (“dragon fruit”), soursop (“sirsak”) and many others.

First time in Indonesia - fruits

I try scuba diving first time ever

I really scared to be in deep water places so this experience was one of the biggest challenges for me but I faced my fears in Bali.

I was a witness of Ramadhan and Lebaran celebrations

I heard before a bit about Muslim main celebrations Ramadhan, Lebaran but never knew how it looks like in real. But only staying in Indonesia I had this opportunity.

 

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I eat cobra meat and I liked it

I tried “Burger cobra”, “Sate cobra bakar”, ”Steak cobra saus cina” and drink “Ramuan empedu cobra” (traditional medicine from cobra gall and marrow). I was celebrating 6 months living in Indonesia anniversary.

First time in Indonesia - cobra meat

I was bitten by a bee

Never in my life before nowhere I was bitten. Probably it was Indonesian style of “farewell” before my trip to Vietnam.

First time in Indonesia - bitten by bees

I drink the most expensive coffee in the world – Kopi Luwak

First time in Indonesia - kopi luwak

I got a first job offer – to be a guide in Vietnam

I have never been a tour guide before, but probably my organizational skills can be used in any area. I liked it, that’s why till now I accompany people during their trips to Indonesia as well.

I was walking on the black sand beach

First I saw the grey sand beach in Yogyakarta, Parangtritis beach but soft black sand I enjoyed in Bali, Tulamben beach. When all my life I saw only yellow beaches, see black – something unreal.

I try rafting

I’m quite scared of all water activities but I wanted to try rafting. I did it in Bali when the rainy season started. And it wasn’t so dangerous, even more, easier than I thought.

Rafting in Bali

I had the unique experience

I participate in Balinese sacred purification ritual which aimed to purify a human body and soul in order to prevent havoc, bad luck and sickness (also achieve self-purification).

Hindu purification

One of my dreams come true

I always wanted to see dolphins in their natural surrounding and I did it, in Lovina, Bali.

I started to write articles and blogging

I would never believe that one day I will start to write and blogging. But it happen exactly in Indonesia.

I’m willing to add more things in the future to this “first time in life – in Indonesia” list.

First time in Indonesia
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SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS

  • Have you tried something for the first time in Indonesia?
  • Maybe you tried something for the first time in other Asian countries?
  • What you would like to try in Indonesia?

 

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