How To Use Airbnb – The 2017 Guide

Updated: October 23, 2016

Top 7 Tips for Using Airbnb

  • 1. Book Early!
  • 2. Be Flexible.
  • 3. Pay Attention to Location.
  • 4. Send a Message to the Owner.
  • 5. Read the Fine Print and Cancellation Policy.
  • 6. Expect the Unexpected.
  • 7. Confirm Directions.
Our first Airbnb rental in Sayulita, Mexico. All in all a good experience, though the host was 2 hours late meeting us.

Our first Airbnb rental in Sayulita, Mexico. A good experience even though the host was 2 hours late meeting us and the kitchen was completely lacking in utensils. All in all, lots of fun.

How To Book Airbnb – The Basics

  • 1. Go to Airbnb.com (there are no third party websites or booking sites) or install the Airbnb app on your phone or iPad.
  • 2. Enter your destination, dates, and number of guests (technically kids should be entered as guests but to start it’s best to only count adults or you might eliminate some rentals that would be perfect for a family of 4 but won’t show for a 4-adult search).
  • 3. Select whether you want an entire home, private room, or shared room. Then click “Filters” to finely tune your criteria (wifi, kitchen, number of beds, bathrooms, etc.)
  • 4. When you find a place you like click “Contact Host” to ask the owner a question, or “Request To Book” to start the booking process. Hosts need to approve you before the booking is finalized.
  • 5. If this is your first time using Airbnb you’ll be prompted to create an account before contacting or booking is allowed.

Things To Know About Using Airbnb

  • 1. Start your search and book early. – Unlike hotels that have multiple rooms of the same type, most Airbnb rentals have just 1 or 2 rentals and once these are booked they’re not coming back online.
  • 2. Be flexible. – Airbnb works best when you’re not on a set schedule and don’t need to be in a specific area.
  • 3. Pay attention to location – Use Google Maps and Street View to get a feel for where the rental is located and what’s nearby.
  • 4. Send a message to the owner – Even if you don’t have any specific questions, make something up, and send an enquiry with a few basic queries (what’s the neighborhood like? is there a grocery store nearby?) – the response will tell you a lot about his or her style, assumptions, and whether they’re a good fit for you. But don’t be too demanding. If you seem high-maintenance the host might just ignore your email.
  • 5. Read the fine print and cancellation policy. Really! – Unlike hotels, Airbnb hosts can have rules and stipulations far outside of your expectations. Don’t just look at the pictures and click “Book Now”.
  • 6. Expect the unexpected (for better and worse). If you like predictability, then Airbnb is not for you.
  • 7. Confirm directions to the property. It’s amazing how often the directions will be lousy, hard to follow, or just simply make no sense. Write the owner to directly confirm that the directions are accurate and ask if they have any tips for getting there (e.g. airport transportation, taking the bus or train, cost of a taxi, etc.).

See Also

2 questions and comments

  1. Airbnb, Booking.com, or Agoda for Bali

    We have a 2 week trip to Bali next summer (late July, early August). We would like to spend 3 to 4 nights in Jimbaran, Seminyak, Ubud, and somewhere in eastern Bali (yet to be determined). Is it better to use Booking.com (for hotel or villa) or Airbnb (house rental) for Bali?

    Thanks,
    Trev

    1. hotelsdave The Hotel Guy

      Airbnb does not have an overwhelming selection for Bali. And Airbnb works better for stays of a week or more. So, with that in mind I would go for booking a hotel or villa. Also, if location (especially on the beach) is important to you then hotels have most of the top spots in Bali. It’s hard to find an Airbnb rental with a beach-front location. That said – if you have the time, it never hurts to look.

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