Most people know me as Bria, some people know me as Queen of Vacay, however even more people know me as the queen of Airbnb. I love Airbnb and really everything it stands for. This isn’t sponsored so I’m not going to gush about how awesome it is. It is awesome though and I do recommend for those wanting a different type of experience from a standard hotel.

This post is for those with questions and concerns in regard to Airbnb. I did do a small section on Airbnb in my first eBook, which you can purchase here for $7 but this post is going to go deeper and answer some questions people have posed to me in regards to Airbnb!

What is Airbnb?

Pulling directly from the Airbnb website, they describe it as a “A community built on sharing”. And I think that’ sums it up very well. It is essentially people renting out their spaces, whatever their space may be, to others who need somewhere to stay. People can rent out single rooms, houses, guest houses, pool houses etc. Airbnb also has an experience function where locals offer curated things to do in their city.

Now let’s stop right here. People get kind of weirded out about staying in people’s homes. I’ve heard all kinds of concerns regarding this and honestly, I don’t find it weird at all. I’ve rented entire places as well as just a single room and so far, it has never been strange or alarming. All the hosts I’ve had have been wonderful and kind people so shout out to them. But for every 25 positive stories, there’s a horror story and I have for sure heard horror stories when it comes to Airbnbs. The only thing you can do to avoid horror stories really is your best to pick good places with positive reviews. 

How does Airbnb work?

Basically, you go to their website or their app, Airbnb.com or Airbnb in the app store. If you’ve never used Airbnb, you can use my sign up link to save up to $55 off your stay and experience! Then you use their search feature to search for an appropriate place to stay. There are tons of different filters you can use to whittle down the options to find your perfect home away from home. Once you select a home, then you can book it directly through the site and either be instantly booked or wait to be approved by the host. I’ll show you what I mean below and do a little basic walk through of the process after getting onto the website:

So after you get your filters how you’d like you can search through the options that fit your filtered criteria & find a place you like:

After finding a place you like: READ THE REVIEWS. 

If everything looks good, proceed to book:

That’s all! After booking, you will receive a confirmation email! Pretty easy stuff.

Paying for your stay:

When you go to book an accommodation, Airbnb first shows you the price per night (and total for all you nights as well. You can also see a price breakdown from here if you hit the little question mark to the right). Once you hit the listing and go to the actual listing page, it shows you a price breakdown and this will include any discounts you may have!

Here is a breakdown of what each fee means:

Base price: The price charged by the host (charges for extra guests included and may change based on adding/removing guests depending on host policy)

Cleaning fee: The price charged by hosts to cover cleaning costs.  Some spaces have this, some don’t.

Service fee: A fee charged by Airbnb to use Airbnb.

Occupancy fee: a fee collected by Airbnb on behalf of the hosts to pay the local taxes for the area (not in every area but don’t be alarmed if you see this).

Total price: all the fees added + the base price x how many nights (+ any local city taxes) – any discounts.

Payment is handled directly thru Airbnb and you can use major credit/debit cards as well as Paypal, which is very convenient! Airbnb also recently introduced a “pay less up front” option which is sort of like a lay-away type thing. You pay half at the time of booking and then another half closer to your booking date. They give you the exact day the other half will be charged and it will be charged to the same payment method. For this option, the booking has to be at least 2 weeks in advance and has to be at least $250. Not bad!

Another big question is in regards to a security deposit. A lot of listings have security deposits and will state so in their “About” sections. This security deposit is only if something goes wrong at the listing such as damages, stolen property, noise complaints etc etc. You aren’t charged this beforehand and you aren’t charged this UNLESS something is broken, stolen, or for some other reason stated by the host.

Must know things before booking your first Airbnb:

Reviews: please read the reviews and not only that, pay attention to the language and date of the review. The same process for any hotel should be applied. One thing I’ve learned is a large number of people do not properly review, either because they don’t know how or because they’re trying to be too nice or they feel slighted and want to be spiteful. However I think looking at the most, most recent reviews will leave you with a good idea of the place. A  nice thing about Airbnb’s review system is you’re able to search for keywords like “bugs” “dirty” etc. These are words I search for to ensure that I’m staying in a clean home. When you’re asked to leave a review, be honest and don’t worry about retaliation. The host cannot see your review until they give you one!

Filter your search: They have a ton of filters you should definitely use to make searching more efficient. I HIGHLY recommend using the price filter and starting low then going high based on the averages for the area and the results you’re getting. On a more expensive area, it’ll start at $100 and go up or down based on the results I get like LA. If its a cheaper area I’ll go even lower to around $80 and see what that gets me. If its an even more budget destination, I’ll start around $40-$50. All airbnbs are not created equally so definitely be mindful of your budget and what to expect based on a given area! Airbnb shows you the average prices for where you’re searching  and this average changes based on neighborhood as well! My fave filters are the price, the home type, and neighborhood. I always research where I’m going to see the best area to stay in and then use the filters for those areas and surrounding!

Find you a super: a super host, that is. A Superhost, as defined by Airbnb, “is an experienced host who provide a shining example for other hosts, and extraordinary experiences for their guests. Once a host reaches Superhost status, a badge will automatically appear on their listing and profile to help you identify them.” These are the cream of the crop. These hosts have to maintain very high ratings, have low cancellation rates, and excellent response rates!

Contact the host: A good way to gauge if a place is worth it or not is to send the host a courtesy message. Ask them a question, let them know you’re looking to book and why. A great host is going to be responsive, polite and helpful to a potential guest. It’s good to learn this before you book instead of after in case you run into an issue and your host goes ghost.

Photos: the photos are a huge part of an Airbnb listing. Be sure to pay attention to the photos the host is using and watch for any red flags. I always watch for old appliances, scratched up floors and doorways, specifically leaving out a room, closed shower curtains or toilets etc. I want to get a GOOD look at where I’ll be staying and paying money to be so I want it to be up to my standards.

Rules: every host has rules, some more than others. But be sure to read the rules and adhere to them. If you don’t like the rules, don’t stay at the property!

Cancellation policies: Pay attention to the type of policy the listing you are wanting to book has. Airbnb has a few different types of policies:

Flexible: Full refund within limited period (at least a day in advance)

Moderate: Full refund within limited period (at least 5 days in advance)

Strict: Full refund if cancellation is within 48 hours of booking (and 2 weeks in advance)

That’s the main part to remember and you can read the more in depth description for cancellation policies here: AIRBNB cancellation policies.

Just be mindful of the listings’ policy, you can find it at the very bottom of the listing after the reviews and neighborhood map!

Host cancellation: You should know that a host can cancel at any time as well; you will get your money back. Hosts can receive penalties for frequent cancellations. If you have a good host however they will let you know why they have to cancel.

Things to make note of before you book:

– A lot of times I notice people leave bad reviews and its for things that are clearly stated and they just didn’t read well or look for. This happens, A LOT. These are just things to keep in mind when looking for a place:

-Amenities you’d like such as washer/dryer, wifi, iron etc.

-How to check in (are you meeting the host, is it a lockbox down the block, is it a keypad etc)

That’s basically it. The biggest take away here is read listings well and understand what you’re paying for. Be watchful for too good to be true listings, they probably are. But for the most part, Airbnb is an awesome platform and can save you thousands while traveling & also lead to worldwide connections Look into it and see if its right for you.