Just an unrelated picture from some friends in Lisbon
In my previous post on 4 things I loved about using Airbnb, I talked about the stand outs for me as I travelled across Europe using this service. In this post, I’d like to focus on at least 4 things to consider/remember while using this service.
(1) Read. Everything. Or Else. Here are the most important things to consider before making that initial booking (beyond location/price). Make sure you at least look for these:
- Cancellation Policy: Essentially, Airbnb gives hosts a wide variety of options in terms of the length of cancellation policy. I forgot about this before booking extra nights in Bologna before cancelling my nights in Florence. I lost money. I wasn’t upset over that one but it pays to know when those deadlines are. Mark cancellation deadlines in your calendar so you know when it’s still okay to get out of your booking. Remember the service fee is non-refundable as well (I believe).
- Charge for extra people: Check to see if the host allows extra guests and for what charge. If you meet others abroad that want to join you and you have the room, it pays to know the costs ahead of time.
- Cleaning Fees: Not all hosts charge cleaning fees, but many do. Really think about how much they are charging for your stay. If it’s an extra 30-40 on top of your nightly fees they are either screwing you or they hire professional cleaners (so read the reviews).
- DO THEY EVEN HAVE WIFI, BRO?
- Read about/ask about transportation to the place before you book.
- Lastly, read reviews on the host. Especially if you are only renting a room and the host will be there. The room may score good reviews, but the host can still be off. Check to see how smoothly check-ins work as well.
(2) Referral Credits:
While I haven’t referred anyone to Airbnb for their advertised credit, I have heard many complaints from travellers (even Nomadic Matt) saying Airbnb hasn’t been giving the full amount they promised after a referral, or they aren’t acknowledging it at all. That’s something I have actually started to monitor and will test out myself to see if it’s more common than I thought. Stay tuned… Has it worked for you?
(3) Refund Policy:
As someone who has worked in tourism, it pays to know a companies refund policy (or lack of in some cases). I think Airbnb’s refund policy is pretty air tight. And there are obviously some more escalated instances (like terrorism threats) that they DO NOT cover (which is fair). Just know what you are able to get refunds for before you leave for your trip. If you are having issues with your room or your host you must DOCUMENT EVERYTHING YOU CAN.
- Take pictures of that dirty room
- Send complaints in ASAP, even before you formally ask for compensation
- Basically, document and try to photograph anything that is affecting your stay
I’ll talk more about going through their refund process in my next post. I’ll even take it one step further by showing you how I got a major refund after my host rejected my request.
(4) What Are My Goals?
Are you a solo traveller who wants a break from hostels? Are you a couple that wants the privacy of a hotel but more affordable? Does this place have a location that hostels and hotels cannot beat? Then the Airbnb route is right for you. Just make sure you think about why you want to use Airbnb for this location above all the other options. In smaller towns, I think it is beneficial to use this service. In cities like Lisbon, I believe you’d be missing out on some of the best hostels in the world. Do your research on your location. Once you decide on what kind of travel will suit that location best, then you can decide whether Airbnb is best for you. For example..
- Frankfurt: I used both Airbnb and hostels. I found hostels better because there wasn’t as much for me to see.
- Cinque Terre: Airbnb lists some of the most amazing spots in the small villages. Skip the overpriced hotels.
- Lisbon/Porto: GO TO A HOSTEL. They have so many options for party people, loungers, and families.
- Venice: Depends on when you are there. There are a few good Airbnb’s (location wise). Otherwise, you get steamy hostels and expensive hotels to choose from (IMO).
- Dublin/Galway: Hostels. No doubt in my mind. Unless you find someone on Couchsurfing. Irish people are really nice.
Anyway, these are 4 things that I found were important to consider/remember when using Airbnb. I plan to write posts on their referral program and refund policy later…