I have gotten a lot of requests to do a topic that I was actually asked to possibly teach a class on- places to stay when you travel. Don’t get me wrong: thank you so much for the offer to teach it, but I am totally new to all of this!
However, I will say one particular engine has saved my life: Airbnb.
Airbnb is a website where you can find a place to stay by exploring renters, and seeing if theirs is the one for you. Locations are endless and the variety of renters is astounding- nearly every area in Europe you could want to travel to have an Airbnb (well for me at least 😉 ), and it’s a fraction of hotels’ costs, along with the perks of a personal touch.
So, you’re probably wondering why Airbnb is more of a “foreign” concept, and why am I not mentioning America?
- I am currently in Germany
- Airbnb locations are typically other people’s houses
Yes, I repeat: Airbnb places are typically other people’s living property area.
I’m not going to lie to you and say as an American, I immediately thought of stranger danger. However, after living here for nearly 8 months, I have realized that Europeans are actually more trusting in nature and don’t commit as many crazy crimes. People here say hello to you and strike a conversation easily, and the standard of living is much cheaper. I am essentially saying I have not left my good ole Kentucky home in many ways.
Now, back to on topic:
How to Airbnb
- Pick a location
Airbnb is very simple to establish. First, log onto Airbnb and make an account. You can connect it to your Facebook to save you some time. The following is my own link to Airbnb, that it gave me to help newbies like you: www.airbnb.com/c/michaelac18?s=8
After building your Airbnb account, click on the upper left corner, and tell them where you want to go under “Where to?” There are other options to add the amount in your party and dates, but you don’t have to add it. If you know your trip time and party, I would calculate those factors, because it will narrow down your renting options.
- Scope out the merchandise
The best way to figure out who you want to see as your “renter” is to narrow down your choices. You’ll have three: entire apartment/home, private room, shared room.
The entire home/apartment option is you and traveling group will have the building to yourselves. If you have a bigger party, I recommend this, just because many Airbnb’s are in smaller homes/apartments, and that’s inconvenient for all involved. If you are weirded out by being around a total stranger, I would opt for this. You’ll be on your own , but will meet the renter first. I happened to have this in Austria and it worked out wonderfully. My biggest tip in this situation is take the time to talk to the renter and get their contact information, since you’ll be separate from them. It happens to be the most expensive option, but you get your own privacy and freedoms.
A private room is staying in someone’s home/apartment, but having your own space. For the majority of our trips, they were private rooms, but we were given our own set of keys and had our own space. We were still in someone else’s pad, but it worked wonders for us. Our very first trip was in France in a private room and I absolutely loved it. Our host was an amazing woman, and gave us the French daily experience. These renting situations are the best if you’re wanting to learn about the country you’re visiting, because you see someone of that nationality frequently. A private room does not always mean the owner lives there, either. For example, in Italy, we happened to stumble on our place in Venice, and two other couples stayed in the same apartment as us. We all had our own keys and personal rooms, with our renter having an office there as well.
Now, I have not tried the shared room option, but I am assuming it is as it claims. I think this would be the most personalized experience, while also being the creepiest for some. After looking through for y’all, this reminds me of a hostel situation. It is very cheap to do, and will save you a lot of money. However, I would personally look further into this before deciding to do this style.
Click on each tag with the prices, and it will take you to a separate tab and the host’s place. The ones with lighting bolts mean you can book your place without speaking to the host first 🙂
- READ THE FINE DETAILS
Okay, so you know the differences in the Airbnb layouts- what’s next? Study the hell out of those details from the host. Each host has their own preferences and rules- read them carefully. I have denied hosts before and they have denied me. You want to treat this like a dating app- go for the host(s) that are the most compatible with you and your traveling wants. Personally, I go for the hosts who don’t require a security deposit or a strict cancellation fee/will give some money back.
To me, the security deposit is pointless when once they are paid, they are good to go. Also, unless your trip is set in stone, try to avoid the strict cancellation policies, because they are more likely to not work with you. That’s my own two cents, but do as you please.
After reading through your host’s list of rules and info, talk to them, before you agree you want to be at their place. The reason I suggest this is for two reasons; the first is Airbnb gives you the perk of speaking to hosts before paying for the rooms. To me, that is a nice change of pace and gives you even better vibes on who you’re going to stay with. You will get a sense of who they are and what your stay will be like if you choose them. The other reason I like doing this is since I’m traveling and the tourist, I want to see how knowledgeable the person I’m staying with is. This actually made me change hosts in France, because Genevieve knew much more than the other set. Agree to pay and stay with someone who is willing to assist and give you great information. For a warning, the one drawback is the host can actually request information from you and deny you as well! Be sure to read through their information and make sure you follow their preferences and rules, or you’ll get the boot!
Airbnb is very dummy proof when it comes to their payments. After you butter up your host and figure who you want to take as your preference, pay for your purchase. The nice thing about this site is they will break down your costs and allow you to see the figures before the payment. Cleaning and service fees are standard, and not too steep. Remember to put in the time frame you will be staying somewhere for this part, because you’ll need an accurate measurement for payments and availability to stay at your chosen spot. I can say we’ve saved hundreds just by going with Airbnb’s, because they don’t charge you for as much. Yes, many times, the location spot and time frame you’re staying with will increase the price but overall, the renters/hosts are extremely fair. A warning for y’all, again: many cities require a tax to be paid, after you leave. For example, the city of Venice has a tourist tax of 2.50 Euros a night, per person. After leaving, we paid 15 Euros. Make sure you allot your funds appropriately!
Now, I hope this helps y’all! Again, here is my link to help you guys out to establish an account!