airbnb for Around the World Travelers
When I first began planning this trip around the world for my son and I, a travel budget was among the first items that I developed. My ideal spend for each evening's stay was $75 a night. Not only did I want us to have a selection of safe and comfortable options, it was also important to me that we felt like we were "at home" in each country. I think living in a neighborhood for two weeks versus a hotel in a tourist area would give us an entirely different experience in each country.
Enter AirBnb.com. I had used the online booking system for a few trips prior, so I knew I could trust it to connect me with homeowners and property managers all over the world in order to find the perfect "homes" for Benjamin and I. If you aren't as familiar with using AirBnb, I've outlined a few tips below to better locate your perfect stay while reducing "surprises". I've also included some photos of the homes we will be staying in!
1. Specifying the location in a city is important. AirBnb has a very cool tool called "Search while I move the map" that allows you to drag and select areas of cities or towns that you would like to stay in, to ensure it's only searching in those areas. It's important to note, if you change any of the filters after you use this tool, the search widens again, so be sure to reassess it once you add filters, or add filters first.
2. Filters are fun! AirBnb has so many filter options to use. The most important among them are the price, dates, and room type.
Price: AirBnb allows you to use a slide ruler to secret a price range, while also reflecting the average price for your other parameters. Very cool!
Dates: This is an obvious selection for your travel dates.
Room Type: Very Important! Entire Home signifies that the entire property (even if it is just an entire apartment) is yours privately. Ben and I are staying in these types of properties for our safety. Private Room indicates that you have a private room possibly in an apartment shared with other renters or the property owner. Shared Room indicates that you will be sharing a bedroom with other travelers, similar to a hostel-type accommodation.
Other Filters: This can be specific to neighborhoods, bedroom or bed quantities, and other amenities. I always selected two beds (Benjamin kicks in his sleep!) and Wifi as we need this for homework. You can specify wether or not you would like a pool, elevator in the building (important in old cities if you don't like stairs!) and more.
3. Be sure to read the reviews! Although most AirBnb pictures have beautiful photos, be sure to read the traveler reviews for accurate representations of the property. They will give you tips on best ways to communicate with the host, comfort level and amenities in the apartment, and places to eat in the neighborhood. I only selected properties with four stars and above for our trip.
4. Communicate with the host. The property host is available through the AirBnb messaging system, phone or email. So connect! Ask questions that you may have about the space or proximity to places you are planning to visit. I've even used this system to find local babysitters through host recommendations.
5. City Hosts are now available on AirBnb. This is a beta program, but a very exciting tool! You can book experiences, tours, or just time with a city guide - a local who can take you on a themed tour of a city for a price. This really expands AirBnb's system from purely vacation home rentals to a travel agency tool. Benjamin and I haven't booked one of these tours yet, but I am playing with the idea of meeting with the Artisan of Ramen in Tokyo or creating my own scent with The Perfumer in Paris.
I do completely expect for a few of our bookings to go awry with this service such as challenging neighborhoods, smoke smell in apartments or uncomfortable beds. But isn't that part of the experience of traveling? Everything isn't perfect or comfortable, and therein lies the start of your adventure.