Staying at an AirBnb for the First Time: A Survival Guide
So, you wanna stay at an AirBnb?
Of course, that’s why you’re here. If you’re anything like I was, you’re anxious and have tons of questions. But if you’re a seasoned traveler, or just really brave, perhaps you’re diving in head first!
And that’s good—though I promise you at some point you will be nervous.
Likely as you climb out of that taxi, Uber, or tuk-tuk that you took to get there. You may have thoughts similar to the ones I had:
What if the space is absolutely nothing like advertised? What if I have to find another place to stay last minute? What if the place gets broken into? Or worse, the AirBnb owner is a psycho? What if they’re just plain non-responsive? What if the key doesn’t work? What if I open the door and there’s a pack of stray dogs in there??
Not joking, all of these thoughts ran through my head, LOL.
Before my Puerto Rico trip last week I’d heard of AirBnb of course, but I didn’t know what it stood for (Air Bed n’ Breakfast, FYI) or really how it worked. As a newbie I had a lot of worries, and had heard enough good and bad reviews to be perfectly boggled.
But now, as a proud AirBnb veteran, I’m ready to share with you my tips on how to survive your first AirBnb experience (hint: it’s not as hard as it seems)!
Before your trip:
Do your research. Duh. Read the reviews on AirBnb, they’re usually pretty spot on! Also make sure you know exactly what you’re getting yourself into. If it’s your first time staying at an AirBnb make sure you’ll be comfortable, whether that means choosing an AirBnb where the host still lives there, where you’ll be alone, or one that’s in a busy part of the city!
Get in contact with your host. Establish a relationship! Email or text them before you even go to the AirBnb. Remember, they’re humans too. They’re probably just as cautious as you are, thinking you’re a psycho too!
This is also a good time to ask any clarifying questions you had about your stay. Is there a microwave? A laundry room? Oh, by “has laundry area”, she meant she has a bucket outside you can wash your clothes in? Those little details are definitely the things you should find out before you arrive!
Have a Plan B. Things happen. And crazy things happen when you travel! It’s always good to have the contact of a friend in the area, or have another accommodation ready in case things go awry.
So now you have it all planned out! You’ve talked to your host, your check-in and check-out times are agreed upon, and they agreed to put extra towels in the bathroom (God bless). You’re set! You get the key out of the mailbox like they told you too, and now:
When you arrive:
Scope it out. This is easy, because the place will either be a cesspool that looks absolutely nothing like the pictures and you’ll run, or it’ll be even better than you imagined and you’ll heave a huge sigh of relief. May the odds be ever in your favor.
If all is well, greet your host warmly if they’re there. You’re a guest in their home/rental property! Also, check and make sure everything that was listed in the AirBnb site is all there and you’re getting what you paid for.
If all is… not well, evasive maneuvers! Call up your Plan B as you race to catch your taxi before he drives off. Alright, well, maybe not that dramatic. If you’re unsatisfied and can talk to your host, do so. If it’s already past the point of no return, refer to previously stated evasive maneuvers and contact AirBnb. Get your money back, and save the next traveler the hassle!
If you’re at this point you’ve chosen the scenario where all is well. Fantastic! With an estimated 500,000 AirBnb stays every night of the year, you can rest assured yours is likely to go very smoothly. Now that you’re there:
During your stay:
Keep communication up. If you’re still a Nervous Nelly, don’t be afraid to ask small questions to your AirBnb host. They’re (likely) locals, and can give you advice about the area—and you may even become good friends with them. It’ awesome when that happens!
Always keep your keys with you. Don’t let Murphey’s Law get the best of your first AirBnb stay! Always keep your keys in a zipped pouch, your wallet, your bra, etc. something where they won’t get lost or fall out.
You do not want to be waking your AirBnb host up at 3am after an hour of ringing the door bell, because you just came back from Senor Frogs and don’t know where the key went. Also, cha-ching $100 to replace those locks!
Keep a travel lock on your bags. Okay, fine maybe I’m the Nervous Nelly. I’m not a distrustful person, I just know Murphey and his laws wayyy too well. So I always keep suitcase locks on any bags I leave in an AirBnb: my backpacks, my suitcase, my travel diary (no peeking!). Just to deter curious hands. Head here for some more general safety tips to keep you safe on your travels!
Aw, your trip is over! You’ve spent way too much money, you’re tired, and you’ve gotten the text saying your dog has torn up your mom’s couch pillow one too many times. It’s time to go! So:
When you leave:
Clean up. Come on, don’t be that guy. Yes, you know what guy I’m talking about. I don’t care if you paid a cleaning fee, atleast collect all your beer cans and snack bags into the trash and make it look relatively clean. Always be respectful.
Leave an honest review on AirBnb. Help the next traveler, again, we’re all one family! Was it exactly as it was described? Was it is even better? Get yourself some good karma and leave a quick review.
And yes, on my first AirBnb stay I had a great stay with Cindy, a host who was very communicative and helpful. Almost perfect in all ways!
Do you hear AirBnb horror stories? Of course. Do you hear surfing horror stories? Of course. Do people still surf? Of course. Should you still give AirBnB a try? You tell me! 😉
Also, from one traveler to another, here’s $30USD off of your first AirBnB stay, on me!