Airbnb for dummies

What is Airbnb? How does it work? Why should you use it for travel? And why should you become a host?

I’m not implying that anyone who doesn’t know the wonderful word of Airbnb is a dummy. Its just the catchiest title I could think of while preparing this blog post.

Here I’m going to break it down for you simply and to be honest, make your travel life a whole lot better than it already is.

I’m sure my friends are completely sick of me harping on about how wonderful Airbnb is so I thought I’d also ram it down as many peoples throats as possible online 😉

WHAT IS AIRBNB?

Airbnb is basically a booking system where you book rooms & apartments online, except that instead of it being a hotel, its someones home. People all over the world are renting out a room, apartment, mansion, treehouse, boat, castle, plane, chalet, island or even just a couch to travellers wanting a bargain and different travel experience.

To put it simply; I have a 2 bedroom apartment in Cairns. I live in one room and I rent the other room on Airbnb for a nightly rate. Or sometimes I go and stay at my boyfriends house and I rent the whole apartment.

WHY SHOULD YOU TRAVEL WITH AIRBNB?

Money

The most obvious reason for choosing Airbnb over a hotel is the price. Generally people renting a room on Airbnb have much lower overhead costs than hotels meaning they can rent their space for cheaper. For example they don’t need to hire full time reception staff, night watchmen, professional cleaners etc. Meaning that often a room worth $150 per night in a hotel might be priced at just $100 per night (for example.)

2 of my best bargain Airbnbs were; the villa in the south of France with an infinity pool overlooking the ocean. For a group of 6 we paid a quarter of what we would have paid to stay in a dorm in a hostel with no view. And the Airbnb I have booked for this years Christmas in Vermont, USA. Hotel rooms were going for around $500 per night, but we scored a 2 bedroom apartment with a kitchen for $300 per night. Hooray for not having to share a room with both my boyfriend and sister!

Experience

The other main reason to travel with Airbnb is for the experience. People do it to live like the locals or with the locals. To have expert local advice that isn’t biased by what hotel staff are told to recommend to you. To experience culture and see how people live in the part of the world you are visiting. Imagine this; you are staying in a private room in an Airbnb in Spain hosted by a couple of Spanish students. You see how they socialise, what they eat & cook, hear their stories, find out firsthand where they eat and what gigs they go to on a Friday night. That’s a whole experience in itself!

My best experiences staying in Airbnbs to date are; Staying with a Belgian expat living in Malta in a beautiful, central apartment. By day we would explore the country and by night we would sit with John on his balcony and share wine & cheese and he even went as far as taking us to his favourite local nightclubs on our last night. And secondly was in the Solomon Islands where our host Kelly went above & beyond in helping us book our onward travel, answering our million questions and making sure we were safe. Plus her husband and friends invited us for a night of drinking in their restaurant where we learned all we needed to know about the Solomons!

Unique Stays 

And lastly, you will find places to stay on Airbnb you will never find on a hotel booking website. For example; boats docked in a city marina, treehouses in the rainforest, a decked out old plane, castles or mansions by the sea.

I have stayed in whole apartments, villas, private rooms, bed & breakfasts, sharehouses & more. Whatever your budget and style, Airbnb has it!

WHY SHOULD YOU HOST ON AIRBNB?

Money

4 months ago I quit my job to start a business with a friend. Anyone in business knows how much time & dedication it takes to start from scratch and that having a job while you do this just prolongs the income you are set out to make. So instead of working part time during this start up I simply hosted on Airbnb. I stayed at my boyfriends when I rented the whole apartment or I would stay in one room and rent the other. Some weeks I made a profit, some weeks I covered my mortgage & bills. So for 4 months I have not put my hand in my pocket once for my living expenses. Need a cash injection? Airbnb. Going on holidays and don’t want to pay your rent/mortgage while you’re away? Airbnb.

Frequent Roomies

The second reason I started hosting on Airbnb was because I was sick of renting to long term sub-letters who got too comfortable and didn’t give a shit. If someone from Airbnb is making a mess in your kitchen or not respecting your space, guess what? They’ll be gone in a few days! Having long term renters is another story. Have a pain in the arse Airbnb guest? Again, they’ll be gone in a few days!

Experience

And lastly, to meet fucking cool people! I live & breathe travel. So when I’m not traveling I still want to be surrounded by new & different people. I absolutely love sharing my space with people, hearing their stories, learning about their culture or way of life. Some people retreat to their room the minute they check in until the minute they leave. Fine! Some people want to follow me around talking and learning and annoying the shit out of me. Also fine. I have had young, old, married, single, families, weirdos, the lot! If you’re open to sharing your space and meeting new people then Airbnb is for you.

TOP TIPS FOR TRAVELLING WITH AIRBNB

You must remember that when renting an Airbnb it is not a hotel. The person hosting you is not a full time receptionist with only your schedule in mind. One of the reasons it is cheap is because its not a hotel, so respect that.

  • Communicate! Your Airbnb host has a life. Whether its going to the supermarket as they please or meeting some friends for a drink. You must communicate your arrival time so they can plan their day around you. And if you say you are on your way to checking in or an approximate time, don’t dawdle around the city for 2 hours before you make it there to be checked in. I once sat in the scorching heat outside my apartment gates for an hour for a couple that said they were on their way but had no phone to call me on their arrival, only to be told they were busy shopping in town. FACEPALM.
  • Be respectful of the space. This is pretty simple, but a gentle reminder that you are in someone elses home. So clean up after yourself, turn off the air-con when you leave the house, don’t do 17 loads of washing on a one night stay & don’t expect your host to be your slave.
  • Make yourself at home. If you are staying in an Airbnb property it means your host is open and accepting of having strangers in their house. You don’t need to hide in your room or make sure you are out 90% of your stay. Make yourself comfortable, cook a meal in the kitchen, switch on the TV, play some music. Just do it within reason of what you’d like guests to do at your house.
  • Don’t expect a hotel! Remember this is NOT a hotel and the price reflects that. So don’t expect a hairdryer when you’re paying $50 for a beautiful private room. Complaints about not having a hand towel to dry your hands on are ridiculous and expecting chocolates on your pillow is being unreasonable.

TOP TIPS FOR HOSTING ON AIRBNB

Whatever space you’re offering, you have the choice of your level of interaction with guests and what you provide. You can opt for guests to have to bring their own linen (I’ve experienced this at an Airbnb in France), you can opt to provide towels, soap and sheets. Or you can go the whole hog and include things such as a hairdryer, a bottle of wine on arrival, whatever fancy touch you want to include. You can choose to be around every night to chat with guests, plan shared dinners, go out for drinks or you can check them in and leave them to it.

  • Be open. Remember that you are hosting travellers from all walks of life, cultures and backgrounds. So be open to their requests, questions and strange ways.
  • Don’t be afraid. The most common hesitance for Airbnb hosting I hear from my friends is worrying about their “stuff.” “What if my stuff gets stolen?” “What if they break my stuff?” 9 times out of 10 the people who get robbed travelling are the ones who are paranoid about it. The same goes for Airbnb. Have I had stuff go missing? Yes! A towel or tupperware here & there, but I am adamant its never been intentionally and also adamant the same would happen if I was leasing a room to a long term renter. Relax! You also have the choice as a host to take a bond from your guests in case of these things happening. Just like in a hotel.
  • Imagine it were you travelling. You’re on holidays, you are staying in an Airbnb. Would you want your host to be friendly and welcoming? Of course. Would you want to hear your host having a fight with her boyfriend in the middle of the night? Of course not. Would you want to be woken at 6am by a blender making a smoothie? Of course not. Respect your guests as much as you want them to respect you.
  • Think like a guest. What would you need from a host if you were staying in a foreign city out of your comfort zone? A map of the city, some food recommendations, some instructions on how to use things/enter apartments etc. I have a table in my apartment complete with maps, an information booklet including the Wifi password, restaurant recommendations, rules of my complex etc. plus brochures for local tours & activities.
  • Communicate! As much as its important for your guests to communicate, its also the key of hosting. Communicate check in details/instructions clearly to make it as hassle-free as possible for your guests. Be available during their stay if they text or call you with a question or issue. Even before their stay you should answer a guests messages promptly.

Thinking about traveling or hosting with Airbnb? Use my referral link so we BOTH make instant MONEY 🙂

Click here for Host Referral Link

Click here for Travel Referral Link

Still not convinced its for you? Have a question? Ask me! I’d be happy to help 🙂

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