airbnb travel tips
I cannot rave enough about Airbnb. If you haven't heard of it (first of all, get out from under that rock!) let me give you a glimpse into the wonderful world of home sharing. (You will also find a $35 discount code to book your Airbnb travel at the end of this post ;) Airbnb is a magical world where people can either list their extra bedrooms, homes, + spaces for travelers to stay in, or find a home (not just a hotel) in a place you are traveling. The truly magical part of Airbnb is that it helps to create a more personal, often more local, travel experience for the globe-trotters, while simultaneously making thousands of people instant small business owners. Here is my review of what Airbnb has to offer, as well as some tips for getting the most out of your travel + hosting.
Check this out for a tour of our Airbnb space :)
We have stayed in Airbnbs around the world. Tyler and I booked a place in Budapest that was so fantastic, it became one of the most romantic weeks of our lives. Tyler has stayed at the base of the Eiffel Tower for pennies on the dollar compared to what hotels in Paris can cost. He even found a small cottage Airbnb in Edinburgh, Scotland with the sweetest older couple that helped him feel at home. One of my favorite Airbnb memories was at this quintessential farm house in Vermont. We travelled there intending to snowboard, but the weather became so cold, we had to spend the three day weekend inside with our hosts. They made us breakfast every morning (we're talking the full spread), chatted with us, and became sweet new friends. We left with new Facebook friends, new breakfast recipes, tips on organic farming and WOOFing, and a jar of honey butter from their bee farm. Our latest Airbnb adventure brought us to Cape Cod with our neighbor friends. You can see our oceanside home away from home, and read about our adventures here.
- Know your travel style:
Are you the planner or the spontaneous get away type? Airbnb is great for all shades of traveler. If you are the spontaneous type (like Tyler & I) you probably find yourself scrambling while en route to a destination trying to find a place to stay. I recommend only using "instant book" listings on airbnb, as well as selecting the "Flexible" cancellation policy in your search. We never have time to mess with whether or not a space is available, and often end up needing to change our plans last second (don't want to get a fee for that!)
- Know what you want from a trip:
Are you in the mood to relax and be alone? Do you want to meet new people and have a more local experience? Do you just need a bed for a night? All of these factors play into the type of room you want to select on Airbnb. You can tell from the hosts profile + reviews how "around" the hosts will be. If you think it might be weirded out by sharing the home of someone else - let me try and convince you otherwise. Airbnb has become so memorable to us because of the interesting people we meet. Whether we share a meal or build a fire on the beach, locals help you make memories you just can't in a stiff hotel room. Though the bedroom might not be as clean, and the linens probably won't be crisp and white... you will share conversations that can help you really experience the place you're traveling, rather than just see some cool sights and read wikipedia pages.
- Be Flexible & Open:
You are staying in other people's homes, which does carry a certain amount of "guest-ness." While you may need to tiptoe to the bathroom at 1am in the morning, I find that I leave my Airbnb experiences not with a feeling of being put out by the lack of amenities or comforts, but rather impressed with the glimpse I got at another person life.
If you find yourself with the fortunate problem of having too many bedrooms, or one too many apartments on your hands, you should seriously consider turning that excess square footage into cash monay$$$. Tyler and I moved into our two bedroom apartment in Brooklyn with the intent to rent out our extra bedroom, AND have a space for our big families to come visit us! It took us a few months to assemble our new married life, let alone furnish a second bedroom. We got resourceful and called my dad. Lucky for us, my dad had held onto my old high school bedroom set: bed frame and mattresses, dresser and mirror, and nightstand - all kept in pristine condition. Though the set doesn't match my style preferences now, we didn't hesitate to accept when my dad offered to drive the whole lot out to us. I still marvel that the bed I giggled on when I got my first kiss, stayed up late with friends, and slept heavy after every bball practice is now put to work making us hundreds of dollars a month! Repurposing you know?
We predicted we would host a few guests a month, and make a little supplemental income. However, we were pleasantly suprised when we began booking many guests! We watched as our calendar filled up, and our room cycled through guest after guest. Eventually, we raised our prices little by little, and began to make adjustments as we learned. Our guests were sweet and fun and very international! We keep a giant map in the Airbnb room where our guests can mark their hometown. I get sentimental when I see a hundred pins across every continent (except Antarctica, but do we count that?) What we thought would provide some extra spending money, has become a huge supplement to our rent, allowing us to feel guilt free about living in one of the most expensive cities in the world ;)
If you are considering starting up your own Airbnb business here are some honest pros and cons for you to consider.
Sharing your space. Maybe obvious, but do consider how "private" you want your home life to be. Tyler and I do sacrifice things like being loud whenever we want, using our shared bathroom (even when it's an emergency! haha) or having someone make meals in our kitchen or sit down to watch the morning news in the living room. Yes, all this is a risk, but I will add that 80% of our guests come and go and we hardly know they're staying with us. Maybe some of that has to do with being in a tourist friendly city- people want to get out and see, rather than stay in.
Communication. You have to literally always be available to message and communicate with your guests (current, future, or past) through Airbnb messaging. Now, I go days and don't need to send any messages, then we'll have an evening where we sit down and respond to inquiries for 15 minutes. Not a huge inconvenience, just something to be aware of.
Earn Money in your Sleep. Seriously... the amount of work input exchanged for money in bank account output is staggering. Once you've got a system down, it works like clockwork. Our room is booked almost every single night of the year. We have clock work systems that make it run smoothly. Heck, our Airbnb even ran itself over Christmas Break when we were traveling. We had a guest who needed to stay longer move into our bedroom and welcome guests and keep the place clean for the next three guests.
Meet Intriguing People. Netflix actor, a poet, marathon runner with stage 4 cancer, computer hacker, Australian backpackers, old British people who wish we had a tea kettle, aspiring broadway actors, romantic weekenders, and lots of adorable Asians who always cook me a bowl of noodles. To name a few. To be a host in New York is to open your doors to the whole world. I love chatting with our guests (or having partial conversations supplemented by hand gestures in the case of some). We've had guests leave us the sweetest notes, send Christmas cards, and leave candy/food/items from their home countries.
Learn Small Business Skills. This has been an evolving process that has only recently become the "clockwork" I mentioned above. We've had to deliberate pricing, maintain a website, take care of customers and send and receive reviews. We get to reflect on success and make changes to run the business more smoothly and help people really enjoy their time with us.
Overall my experience with Airbnb has been stellar. The Airbnb ad campaign "Is Mankind?" has always stuck with me. I answer a resounding YES, and would add that they're terrifically interesting too.
CHECK IT OUT:
Because Tyler & I are hosts, we got this handy dandy offer to give to friends and family. If you are interested in trying Airbnb (or already have an account and would like a discount) check the link below for a rad offer. Airbnb will give you $35 in travel credit when you either sign up or login. To put it into perspective, many great airbnb places rent out for under 70 bucks - so you're getting a 50% discount! Can I get a woot woot?
Get it while its hot! JK this should last a while ;)