I am sure you’ve heard of Airbnb either from direct experience or from a friend. If not, you should know that it is an online platform that offers users the possibility to rent apartments, for short term, all over the world.
Why is Airbnb a great alternative to a hotel? Well, I honestly like more the idea of meeting the locals and experiencing the place from a different level. I also like the level of privacy it offers. If you stay in a hotel, you will have to deal with both staff and other people staying at the same hotel. So it’s a bit of a lottery – if you’re lucky, and you have silent neighbors, then great. But, have you ever tried working close to a deadline while the kids in the other room are climbing the walls?
How Does Airbnb Work?
Airbnb is an online platform where hosts (people who own a room or apartment they want to rent) can post their offer with price and pictures. The great thing about this platform is the variety of offers you can get. The company was founded in 2008 and is growing ever since, with a powerful presence in 35,000 cities in over 200 countries all over the world. So, you may actually have the amazing possibility of renting a room in London or Paris at an affordable price.
The process is super-simple – as someone looking for a place to stay, you simply access the site and search for available properties for the time period you need. Of course, you also have to introduce your destination and number of people in your party. Once everything is set, hit search and browse through results.
As you will see, you can rent an entire home or apartment or one room. Each offer is well-detailed and there are usually pictures so you’ll get a better idea of the place. In the description are listed all the benefits you’ll get – I know I’m always checking for Internet availability first. There is also your host’s profile and reviews from former tenants.
Get to Know Your Host
One of the features I like most about Airbnb is that you can actually talk with your host. If something isn’t clear in the description, or you simply want to learn more about the surrounding area, you have the possibility to send the owner a message. This way you establish a connection and you can make an idea of the person you will be dealing with. And who knows? Maybe you’ll even make some new friends!
Airbnb and other experienced users recommend getting to know the host before getting there. It’s an important step that will save you from getting unpleasant surprises.
Is Airbnb Safe?
As I already mentioned before, there are some risks for both the guest and the host. As a guest, you may have the unpleasant surprise of finding a totally different place than what was presented. Or worst, the host is uncooperative and makes you uncomfortable.
This is why you should take it with a grain of salt. Yes, Airbnb is a great way to avoid crowded hostels and expensive hotels but you must open your eyes when making the reservation. Here are a few rules to follow for your own safety:
- Never accept an offer outside Airbnb
- Always read reviews from other users about the place and the host
- Always try to get in touch with your future host and make sure you get a good read of the person
- Try to travel with friends the first few times – actually, I always like to travel with friends since it’s a lot safer and a lot more fun (why not?).
Is It Worth It?
Even though everything sounds peachy, there are some risks you need to consider. One of the most popular complaints is that the host is different than expected. Still, this happens because the users didn’t make the time to have a chat with the owner. So, especially if you will be staying in the same house as the host, please make sure you know who you will be dealing with.
Of course, as a host you also risk a bit opening your home to strangers. Still, I believe it is completely worth it. The experience is very personal and, in many cases, you will meet amazing people. As a digital nomad, you will also have the perk of privacy which is extremely valuable if you want to work.
One other feature I like about Airbnb is the fact that it is cheaper, especially if you travel in groups. For instance, you can rent an entire villa with your friends and enjoy a fantastic weekend in an exotic location. It will be a lot cheaper than if you would’ve chosen a hotel.
And finally, I like Airbnb because I can work regardless of location. As a digital nomad, you tend to take work wherever you go and there is only so much money you can spend on coffee and croissants at the coffee shop on your street. Not to mention the waiter who will bother you every 30 minutes asking if you don’t want to order anything else.
How to submit your choice and make the payment?
Once you identify a great location and chat with the owner, it is time to submit your reservation. For this, you will have to give Airbnb your payment information and, once the host accepts you as their guest, the money will be collected. If something goes wrong and the host doesn’t accept your request, no money will be withdrawn from your account.
As a safety measure, Airbnb keeps the money until 24h after you arrive at the destination. So, if something is wrong when you get there, you can report the host to Airbnb and get your money back. Of course, both the host and the guest will be charged a fee that will be withdrawn from the deposited amount.
If you are still not sure, Airbnb has a really good offer to encourage you to try their services: $25 to start. You don’t get that deal when you sign up directly through their home page. To get the deal, you need to click this affiliate link. Once you use it, you will also get $25 every time you recommend the system to another person – it can be a great way to significantly reduce the cost of your accommodations.