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Hindy Weber’s Guide On How To Be AirBnB-Smart

The first thing to keep in mind when thinking about booking your accommodations via AirBnB is that it’s not for everyone. It's great if you like having at least one meal at home, don't mind having some of your host's personal belongings around, and you're willing to clean and tidy up before you leave. To me, the benefits far outweigh any negatives. We save a lot of money when we book through AirBnB, we have a lot more space than a hotel room, we don't need to tip anyone, we get to feel like locals even just for a week, and our kids don't feel so displaced because they have toys to tinker with, books to read and maybe even a garden to play in. Hotels serve their own purpose and sometimes we still stay at hotels, depending on what suits our needs at any given time. We just think it's great that now we have AirBnB as an alternative. Here are a few tips to better navigate the AirBnB world.   

 

 

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1. Choose your city, add your dates, then add filters such price and number of persons travelling.

2. Do not add your toddler or infant in the total number of persons. Most of the time, they are considered free,      especially if they share a bed with you. 

3. Immediately weed out anything that looks gross. And like or save those that attract you. 

4. Weed out anything that doesn't have a photo of every room, the bathroom and the kitchen. I also want photos of the exterior facade, views from the windows, as well as any outdoor spaces or nearby attractions.

5. Weed out those with dark, obscure photos. 

 

 

We love our cozy kitchen!

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6. Weed out those that only show you the nearby attractions, and little to no photos inside the home. 

7. Weed out those that are owned by companies, unless it's a legit apartelle you are renting.

8. Weed out those beyond your budget, however be realistic and know that peak seasons generate higher prices. I usually add about 30% to my budget so I can see what is available slightly beyond my reach. Dangerous practice, but it's so much more fun.

9. Now use your eagle eye and look for clutter, gross bedsheets, gross towels, messy bathrooms and too many exposed personal items. Personally, I avoid homes with too many personal photos, too many exposed clothes. If they're in the closets, then fine. Books, magazines and records, I don't mind being exposed. I also prefer homes with white linens and towels. However, the ultimate test is to see how they make and keep their beds and how their towels are folded. Major clue.

10. Once you've made a short list, check the individual reviews of each host. Weed out those with anything negative about them. Or if it's a negative you can tolerate based on your circumstances (For example: "no elevator/had to walk four flights of stairs"), you may choose to still keep it. 

 

 

11. Now, your list must be a lot shorter. It's time to check for exact locations and neighborhoods. Google the neighborhoods to learn more about each one and see if you would be a good fit to that neighborhood. Sometimes you will be led to the city's information site (For example: VisitCopenhagen.com or VisitNewZealand.com) from where you'll get a lot of good info on the different neighborhoods. We usually like hoods that are artsy, "hip" (I know, I wish they'd come up with another word), formerly gritty but have been gentrified. To us, they have more character than the ultra ritzy neighborhoods. They also tend to be more family-friendly, with quaint shops and parks within walking distance. Staying in the grittier hoods, while they have cheaper properties, is not ideal for us because we have young children, plus we don't want the added stress when it's our first time in a city. 

12. Now edit out those in neighborhoods you don't like. Once you have your preferred neighborhoods, make sure that public transportation is accessible from there. It's always good to know the easiest way to go around a city. Sometimes walking or biking is easier. Some cities do not have Uber. Or sometimes renting a car might even be a cheaper option when you're a big family like us. Let me emphasize that again: know how you're going to generally get around a city before you actually get there. You might have to download some apps or book some cars/vans in advance. 

13. Now, you have an even shorter list. It's time to check each property's amenities. These are what I find most useful: coffee machine, potable water, dishwasher, washer, dryer, blowdryer (especially helpful for cold countries!), wifi, TV, kitchen essentials like pots, pans, utensils, tableware, kitchen condiments. We have kids, so it's great if the home has books and toys. We've stayed in places with a rock climbing wall, zipline and wonderful outdoor playgrounds. Extra points for homes that give you toiletries (just like a hotel). I once had a host leave me with a full line of Aesop! Wow! Extra extra points for those that leave you gifts upon your arrival. I have received everything from a box of eggs to a loaf of yummy bread to chocolates to champagne to maps of the local city. But you won't know this until you arrive. 

14. Now that you have your really short list, it's time to contact your host. AirBnBhas an InstantBook option that I sometimes use if I super love a place. But don't rely on it as a confirmation. I like to have 2-3 properties to work on at the very least because—you never know—the host can suddenly cancel, or they could mess up their calendar. But don't worry. Even if you lose your “dream”AirBnB, I guarantee you it wasn't meant for you, and wherever you end up with will be just what you need. This has happened to us so many times. And we always end up saying, "Thank goodness that host cancelled because this one is perfect!"

15. Based on how your host responds, book your AirBnB. Some take longer to reply than others. Some aren't so warm. You'll be able to tell right away if they're the right host for you. You can also ask some hosts if they have special discounts for longer stays or if they can waive the additional person fee. 

 

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That's it! You're on your way. You'll get email reminders from AirBnB and you'll be so excited to receive them. A few more things to remember: Respect your host! Communicate. Reply to their messages promptly. Inform them that you've arrived, that you've left. Say thanks. I always leave a little gift from the Philippines. Something uniquely from our country is best—perhaps a tapestry, placemats, black heritage rice, etc. During our last Christmas stay, we gave our hosts carabao ornaments for their trees. They loved them. Also, don't be a slob. You're staying at someone's home. Treat it as you would yours, unless you're a slob, then treat it better. Tidy up and clean your mess. We fold all used towels and linens in a neat pile, we wash the dishes, and even give the kitchen and bathroom a swift do-over. Even if we pay for a cleaning fee. Why? Because it's one of our principles. We like leaving things as we found them. And it also helps keep our rating 5-star. We have always had glowing reviews because of how we leave the properties and how we communicate with the host. This makes it easier to bag the best properties when we travel again.