Airbnb Review: 5 essential ways to use Airbnb and what can go wrong

by May 4, 2017English, Travel

I’ve never been a fan of staying in hotels when traveling. It has always felt artificial, touristic and lacking in privacy.

So I decide to try out renting apartments on my travels (firstly in beautiful Lviv, Ukraine – photo above) and loved the differences: more local, more discreet and better value for money overall.

However, finding the apartments in new cities was a struggle and it required me to do quite a bit of research and contact multiple rental agents in my quest for a good fit for me.

Enter Airbnb into the short-term rental market and the process has been greatly simplified as I travel from country to country as I can now use the same platform for every country that I travel to.

So what is Airbnb? Why should you consider using this platform when traveling? And is there anything that can go wrong with such a service?

What is Airbnb?

Airbnb describes itself as “a trusted community marketplace for people to list, discover, and book unique accommodations around the world.”

“Whether an apartment for a night, a castle for a week, or a villa for a month, Airbnb connects people to unique travel experiences, at any price point, in more than 65,000 cities and 191 countries. And with world-class customer service and a growing community of users, Airbnb is the easiest way for people to monetize their extra space and showcase it to an audience of millions.”

So in short, Airbnb is a marketplace for those who would like to rent out their apartment or spare room on a short-term basis putting them in contact with people looking for such a solution.

Airbnb provides a system of safety mechanisms to users of the site, such as 24-hour customer support, reviews, insurance, secure payments, security deposits, verification of IDs and private instant messaging between hosts and guests.

Airbnb also offers travel guides for selected cities with a series of travel tips for dining, tourist attractions, nightlife, public transport and shopping.

How to use Airbnb better

In the video above from my channel on YouTube, you’ll learn my 5 essential tips for using Airbnb.

In summary, these are:

  1. Pay special attention to the photos for the listing
  2. Read the reviews for the property carefully
  3. Be aware of the cancellation terms (can be onerous)
  4. Research the location thoroughly
  5. Confirm that there are no extraordinary additional costs

These are the main things that I’ve learnt from using Airbnb over several years having used the platform on 4 continents.

Get your free starter credit for your first Airbnb stay by clicking on the photo and signing up for Airbnb!

What can go wrong?

After over 100 stays at Airbnb listed accommodations, I can say that I’ve had very few disappointing experiences. That said here are some of the things that have gone wrong:

  • On several occasions, I used the ‘instant book’ feature on short notice only to be subsequently notified that the apartment was not in fact available. Airbnb customer service did find me alternative accommodation and provide with some additional credit for use on the site as compensation. However, it still cost me a significant amount of additional time and energy.
  • Sometimes the apartments have not been properly cleaned prior to arrival and lacking standard amenities such as towels and toiletries. This tends to happen with inexperienced hosts who seldom rent out their apartments or rooms.
  • Occasionally, the wifi has not worked upon arrival which is a major issue for me as a digital nomad. However, in general I’ve found the wifi in apartments to be superior to that typically found in hotels and to be less complicated to log on to.

Would I recommend Airbnb?

In spite of the few lacklustre experiences that I’ve had renting on Airbnb, I still use the site as my default for accommodation when traveling.

In my experience, renting on Airbnb (and similar apartment sites) provides a superior more local and interesting experience at a lower price than staying in a hotel or hostel.

Often, my stay using Airbnb has been a lot more personal than at a hotel. Many hosts have provided me with excellent tips for things to do in their city, as well as, the hot spots in their neighborhood.

Most importantly, by staying in an apartment aware from tourists who frequent hotels/hostels, I have a lot more ‘local’ experience by meeting more people from the city and hanging out in less touristic places. This has given me a richer and more authentic view of life in the cities I’ve visited.

In fact, I’ve even become good friends with hosts in Brazil and Romania that I originally met through staying at their apartments on the site. 😀

Have you ever used Airbnb or another apartment rental service? Or perhaps you prefer staying in hotels over furnished apartments? I love reading about your adventures and experiences. 😀 Write them in the comments section below this article!

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