When planning my Divorce World Tour, I knew I wanted to use vacation rentals. I've used Airbnb rentals for years so they were my first choice when planning my recent trip. (psst… use my link to book your first Airbnb and get $40 off!) Read along my Airbnb Guide and learn how I use them to feel like a local when I travel!
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Vacation rentals help you feel more like a local in your destination. Often they give you a better price than a hotel in the same area. And usually more space!
Who should use a vacation rental?
When renting an Airbnb, travelers have the option of staying in a shared room, private room, or booking an entire place. I prefer booking an entire place, but if you’re on a budget, a shared or private room is a great option.
Users can also filter on number of beds, bedrooms, and bathrooms. Amenities like a kitchen, washer and dryer, wifi and a crib are all available to be searched by.
Airbnb even has the ability to search by property type and for unique homes like a camper, barn, boat, a CAVE?! (wouldn’t that be cool!) and a ton of other home types. And if you want to bring Fido, you can find a property that will let you bring him along.
Vacation rentals are great for virtually any type of traveler in any location. I much prefer staying in them over hotels most of the time. Even as a solo lady traveler, I love finding unique and centrally-located Airbnb rentals in places I’m visiting.
Families can benefit from the extra space full-house rentals can provide.
Getting the Details
The reviews give users a good idea of the reality of the place, location, noise level, and other important details. Each place has a rating along with the host. Travelers have the option of commenting to give more detail as well.
It’s a good idea to read the comments to get the truth about a place. Users may mention that the place is up several flights of stairs, or located in busy, noisy downtown area.
The things mentioned in the reviews may not be negatives to those writing the reviews, but might be important for you to consider for your stay. I stayed in a flat in Edinburgh that was up several flights of stairs and located in a busy, downtown area. I use a noise machine to sleep at night and stairs don’t bother me, but for users with children or light sleepers, this would be crucial information.
I enjoyed the place immensely and so gave it high reviews, and it had high reviews when I chose it. Several reviewers mentioned the stairs and the noise so I was prepared, and I also mentioned them in my review.
Airbnb gives the chance to both the host and the guest to leave public and private feedback. This allows user to let the host know about anything that was amiss (but not a big enough issue to reach out during the reservation).
How to Book
Once I decide where I want to travel, I look at a variety of booking options. Airbnb is usually one of the first, but I price shop between that and hotel rooms in the area to make sure I’m getting the best deal.
If the rentals in the area are a similar price to the hotel rooms, or even a little higher, I’ll usually go with the Airbnb rental.
Users can see the availability of a place. Depending on the time of year and if there are any special events the coincide with your visit, prices can vary for the same place. If you know your travel dates, it’s a good idea to enter them for your search to get the most accurate information.
Depending on your country, you will most likely need a credit card to book. Airbnb also has a new option of splitting the cost of reservations over $250. You’ll pay part of the reservation when you book, and Airbnb will automatically charge the remaining balance later.
The host has the option of using Instant Book. This means as long as the user has specific identifying information filled out, the reservation is automatically approved. If the host is not using Instant Book, they can approve or deny the reservation request within 24 hours. If they don’t respond, the request automatically expires.
I’ve only rarely had a host not respond in time. Most of the time they want you to book as much as you want to book!
What if I have to cancel?
Each host has the ability to set their own cancellation policy:
- Flexible - full refund up to 24 hours before the start of the reservation
- Moderate - full refund up to 5 days before the start of the reservation
- Strict (grace period) - full refund if you cancel within 48 hours of making the booking and at least 14 days prior to check-in. 50% refund if you cancel at least 7 days prior to the start of the reservation.
- Strict - 50% refund if you cancel at least 7 days prior to the start of the reservation.
- Super Strict 30 Days - 50% refund if you cancel at least 30 days prior to the start of the reservation.
- Super Strict 60 Days - 50% refund if you cancel at least 60 days prior to the start of the reservation.
- Long Term - for reservations of at least 28 nights, the first month is not refundable.
Airbnb also has an extenuating circumstances claim policy in case something happens that’s out of your control. It only covers very specific situations, so make sure you review it carefully. And double check the cancellation policies for each host - don't use this Airbnb guide as your end-all, be-all for cancellation.
I usually go for Flexible or Moderate cancellation policies. Sometimes I can be indecisive and plans can always change.
When I first booked my Divorce World Tour, I ended up having to postpone from my original dates due to finances. Because I had booked places with Flexible cancellation policies, I was able to get my money back, minus any fees. This allowed me to rebook once I was in a better place financially.
Airbnb also now provides Experiences and Restaurants in locations all over the world.
While staying in Amsterdam, I booked an early morning canal cruise. If you’ve ever been to Amsterdam, you’ll know that there are a million and one options for canal cruises. I took part in two - the private one booked through Airbnb and a large corporate version.
The one booked through Airbnb was incredible. We were able to sneak down small canals to the back streets of Amsterdam early in the morning. It was an amazing opportunity to see the city with a local and one I’ll never forget.
They have horseback riding, photoshoots, museum visits, walks, nightlife, concerts… the list goes on! Pretty much any niche or experience you want to have, Airbnb has a local willing to show you around town.
I’ve used Airbnb as both a traveler and a host. I felt compelled to write this Airbnb guide to answer a lot of the questions I had when I first started using it. I’ve had great and slightly less-than-great experiences.
My ex-husband and I rented an adorable cottage in Port Aransas, Texas for Labor Day weekend a few years ago. The place was just as pictured in the photos and super convenient to the beach.
However, while we were there we discovered some non paying guests in the kitchen: ants! We immediately notified the host. She came over right away (even with a sleeping toddler in the car!) to deliver a treatment to get rid of them. We didn’t have a problem the rest of the stay.
With Airbnb, they encourage users to try to resolve any issues themselves before they get involved. They will help with issue resolution if the host and guest can’t come to an agreement, but I’ve never had it get that far.
Most of the other places I’ve stayed have been excellent. One rental I had in York in the UK was less than stellar, but I was honest in my review and in my feedback to the host. And it was definitely not bad enough to prevent me from using the service in the future.
Hopefully they have taken that feedback to heart and made some improvements.
I hope my AirBnB Guide was helpful for you! Have you ever used Airbnb? Do you prefer hotels? Let me know in the comments!
Use my code and you’ll receive $40 off your first stay with Airbnb. Once you sign up, the coupon will be automatically applied to your account and used on your next stay over $75.