You don't need to be an avid traveler to have heard of AirBnB, "a trusted community marketplace for people to list, discover, and book unique accommodations around the world." And since Jimmy and I have used AirBnB as both renters and rentees, we can safely say that AirBnB is an excellent option for booking accommodation as well as renting your space out while you are away - as long as you know these tips and tricks!
Using AirBnB To Find Accommodation
AirBnB is one of the easiest ways to find an authentic stay anywhere in the world. Some listings are of vacant apartments and houses that people otherwise live in, while others are actual bed & breakfasts or hotels. With an abundance of options from thousands of people it is important to remember the following when booking through AirBnb .
Narrow your searches Make your search queries on AirBnb as specific as possible to avoid having to sort through thousands of unwanted or irrelevant listings. Be specific as to whether you'd like a private room or would prefer an entire home, number of guests, and specific dates. This is especially important when searching in large metro areas such as New York City.
Read Reviews When searching for accommodation on AirBnb, especially for the first few times, I highly recommend staying only in listing that have had previous guests with positive reviews overall. Read these reviews thoroughly to make sure there aren't any "dealbreakers" for you, but also understand that what one person might have found unpleasant may in fact be suitable for you, and vice versa.
It is worth mentioning that if you are looking for a sweet deal on a baller pad and are willing to take risks, staying at a new listing without any reviews is a great way to do so. New listings are often listed for much less than usual in order to attract guests. Just make sure your host is verified and communicate with your host as much as possible beforehand - and don't be afraid to cancel if anything smells a bit fishy to you.
Contact your host What's very comforting about AirBnb is the ability to contact the host directly to learn more information before and after booking your stay. This can help you clarify any information that isn't transparent in the listing description or even learn more about transportation, food, and fun options in the neighborhood you'll be staying in.
Treat it like your home When staying at an AirBnb remember that your host opened up their doors for you and trusted you to stay in their home! So treat it like one. Be courteous, clean up after yourself, and if you do manage to damage or break something, tell them. Remember that just as you can review your host, your host can review you, and a negative review may prevent you from staying at future Airbnbs in the future.
Renting out your home with AirBnB
As Part-time New Yorkers, part-time backpackers, we often use AirBnB to rent out part of our apartment while we're away.* With that being said, there are a number of things to note before you decide to list your home or room out to strangers on the internet.
Knows the laws If you're considering renting out your pad on AirBnb, it's extremely important that you know the laws in your area regarding short-term rentals. In some places, such as New York, there are laws restricting entire home listings on AirBnb and they can impose hefty fines on those who disobey.
Know the preparation involved Understand that renting your dwelling out on AirBnb isn't as simple as throwing up a few photos and waiting for people to book. I could honestly write an entire article on the amount of prep work involved in getting a home ready for guests. The amount of preparation will differ depending on whether you are renting out an entire home or just a room with other roommates at home.
Put Your Stuff Away If you are renting your apartment, you will have to store all personal items and assume that anything left behind can and will be touched or potentially broken or stolen by guests. While AirBnb does have a $1mil insurance policy for guests, it does not negate the amount of hassle and potential devastation that could be involved if something personal of yours is destroyed or stolen.
Know If It's Worth It We've rented our place out on AirBnB a number of times, but have cut down a bit after realizing that it can be a bit of a hassle to prepare for guests if you aren't going away for an extended period of time. I recommend only listing your apartment if you're going to be away for more than a week, otherwise the amount of time and effort you'll need to put into prepping, cleaning, and storing your personal items rarely seems worth it.
Find a trusted co-host If you're renting out your place on AirBnb while you're away, it's important to have a trusted co-host that will be local to answer any questions or put out any fires while your guests are staying there. Not only will it put you at ease, but your guests as well. This could also come in handy if you need someone to meet your guests to exchange keys. I recommend seeing if you can find a friend who lives nearby, and use the additional maintenance/housekeeping fee you charge guests to pay your co-host for their efforts.
Be Transparent When listing your home on AirBnb always be incredibly transparent in your listing. If you have roommates, say so. If you have pets (even if they won't be there), let the guests know in case they have allergies. Let guests know how readily available you will be and give them contact information for yourself and your co-host. Let guests know the house rules upfront so there's no surprises. This will keep you and your guests happy!
Make a Welcome Sheet When Jimmy and I list our apartment on AirBnb we always leave an extensive "Welcome sheet" in our apartment so guests have any information they need at their fingertips. On this sheet we include vital information like contact info, wifi passwords, and house rules, but we also help guests feel right at home by detailing restaurant, cafe, bar and entertainment recommendations as well as transportation information so they know how to take the subway into the city or to the airport. It's the little things that guests will remember!
Following these tips on AirBnB will make sure you and your guests have an awesome AirBnB experience!
Have some questions? Comment below and we'll do our best to get back to you!
*Please note that rental laws in your area may vary - consult your local laws before listing your apartment to avoid hefty fines!