Airbnb- Love it, Book it, But Read This First

AirBnb Key

 Your Keys To The Best Airbnb Ever!

We love to stay at Airbnbs.
So before you book, read these insider tips first!  
The KEY is in the reservation.
Oh yeah, and we'll tell you about Airbnb experiences too!

So here's the your Airbnb guide....

Why We Love To Stay At An Airbnb

It's cheap!
Okay, they are not ALL cheap, castles, views, extravagance will cost more, but overall for the unique experience, it is soooo worth it. Here's a few other reasons.  

  • Get into "local ville" ! Sometimes, the best part! When you meet the host, 99% of the time he lives at the house or close by--instant insider tips!   
  • Always a different experience--Whether it's good/ bad /just okay, at least it isn't a "cookie cutter" room. Sometimes, you get donuts.  Sometimes chocolate. Sometimes danish.  Sometimes nothing, zero-zip.  This is what keeps it interesting, you never know.   We had one host who dropped fresh baked pastry outside the door each morning. 
Sweet Dreams
  • A Kitchen! Many Airbnb's will have full kitchens and if you choose an "entire place", it is nice to have the option of staying in and cooking dinner or breakfast in privacy, while you plan your day!   
  • Get out of the city Maybe this appeals to you. Our Yurt experience (below) was exceptional! Even if the host isn't around, you will still get personal attention and inside information. 
Yurt View


BONUS: If you decide on staying in a yurt, check out my Yurt guide AND more information on this yurt in Colorado. Click: YURT

Here is another "out of the city" experience! We recently stayed just outside Otavalo Ecuador. The lovely cabin was surrounded by mountains, farms and it was a special treat to meet their dogs and llamas. 


Below is the link to this Airbnb just outside Otavalo Ecuador. You will enjoy hiking, biking and shopping in town of Otavalo and Cotacachi. AirbnbInfoHere

About That Airbnb Profile

The hosts DO look at you. Use a picture that is natural and clear.
Smile, or just grin if you have bad teeth.
They need to decide whether they want you in their house.
If you travel as a couple ( or at least most of the time ), make sure the photo is fairly recent.

No Glamour Shots from the 80s!
If you need an example of Glamour Shots, check this out: Scary Hair 

Reserving Your Palace-"The Basics"

This is the MOST important Airbnb feature--and they finally moved this section to the forefront of the site. Here's where you pick the "type" of accommodation you want. 
Do this first. 

Airbnb Selection Filter

Entire place. Pretty clear, what you get is privacy.
Private room tripped us up a bit. You might have a private bathroom or you may be sharing one. If this is not clear on the listing, definitely contact the host and ask.

**We have decided to only select Airbnb's with private bathrooms, only because of scheduling. If you are catching a plane or heading to a tour, you might have to wait for the bathroom.**

Hotel room/Shared room. Just make sure it's crystal clear what will be shared and how large the area is. If you have any questions, always contact the host. 

Okay, below are the rest of the basics for reserving your Airbnb "palace", then go to my "Q&A section-for everyone" for the nitty-gritty low down of making that stay memorable- in a good way!   

  • After you have selected type of home, plug in your dates, that way the homes that are available will remain on your screen. Next move to "more filters". Here, you can choose preferences. We always choose Super Host. Super hosts have excellent reviews, zero cancellations and have reserved at least 100 nights at their place. You will see a badge on their profile picture.
  • Read reviews! We read a minimum of 8 reviews AND take a look at the star ratings also. Sometimes guests are hesitant to leave anything negative, but may leave a review in the form of rating stars. If it is not a Super Host, check to make sure the host has not cancelled on anyone. 
  • Ask what level it is located on. This is not usually listed on the description. So important! In older buildings, there might not be an elevator AND the stairways are often "skinny".  If you are hauling a big suitcase or one with rollers, you might consider this. Also, older buildings with wood floors, can be noisy. Bring ear plugs.  
Lisbon AirBNB


  • Check the amenities list.  Airbnb's are not like hotels, therefore you have to check for Wifi, TV's, parking etc. whatever is important to you, most will be listed in this section. Check out my "Q&A section-for everyone" for more tips and missing amenities you assume will be there. 
  • Communication.  Download the Airbnb app. OMG, yes, it's user friendly and the most direct way to communicate with your host.  Get it at the Google Play Store. Available for both Iphone and Android. This is will keep you in contact before, during and after your stay. 
  • Fees--Eyeball These!  Another item we missed the first time out. These include: cleaning, possible taxes such at VAT or occupancy taxes that the state may require, extra guests, service and pet fees. To find these fees, go to the box just right of the host picture. Select the red book button ( don't worry, you won't be booked ). Select some random dates that are available in the future, then the fees will pop up. As a couple renting a room or small place, we never pay over $50 for cleaning--too much!  
  •  Check-in/Check-out/Luggage Drop  Make a point to look for check-in/ check-out times. If you are heading there from the airport and the times don't "click" with your schedule, ask about a luggage drop. We actually pass on rooms where the check-in's are 4 or 5 in the afternoon. If you there no information, just contact the host 
  • Parking can be an adventure in itself   There may be parking available, but unless it says "at the property" & "free", I would get more information. The free parking could be a mile away. If they have a space in a parking garage, ask about location and size. If you have rented a SUV, size matters! If the space it in a corner, it can be Parking Hell.     
  • Where the heck IS this property- there is NO address! For security reasons, the hosts are not going to give you the exact address before you book. We usually contact the host and at least ask for the neighborhood, that way you can get an idea of proximity to restaurants, tourist attractions etc.  

Q & A's For Everyone, Here's The Dirt !

Below are some questions you might not know to ask! There are no two Airbnbs alike, so look at the listing carefully, and consider these questions and answers below. 


Q:  Any problems with getting a the key or meeting my host?      

A: Sometimes. The very best scenario is a lock box or key pad. We had a problem with "I am leaving it with a friend". Twice. "Friends" need to be home and not in an area where you can't find parking.

If it is a lock box, make sure it is clearly identified. We arrived at one location and there were 10 lock boxes and no identification.


Q: What should I look for in the host's pictures?
Most of these photos have been taken by Airbnb's pro photographers, giving you the very best angles.

A: For example, look at the bed. Does it have a headboard or are you laying up against a brick wall?

If the bed is slammed up against the corner, it makes it damn hard for one person to get out. I wouldn't advise moving furniture around too much, just say-in.
Whatever works for you. Check out the reviews, beds are "hot" topics.

The kitchen will almost always looks pretty, head to the amenity section of the listing to see what you actually get during your stay.

Q: Will there always be a clock in the house or room.

A: Nope! Always bring a travel clock or use your phone.

Q: Do we get breakfast?

A: As mentioned above, you may get a few goodies, but never assume a breakfast unless it's listed. We always inquire about a coffee maker, we bring our own coffee, but don't hesitate to ask if there will be sugar or creamer available.

Q: Can we do laundry?

A: This is rare unless it is an extended stay. Washer and dryers may be available, but keep in mind the dryer may be wooden racks outside your window. Best to find a laundromat if you really need to do laundry.

Q: What if something goes H-o-r-r-i-b-l-y wrong?

Scary Door

A: Call your host first unless your safety is being jeopardized. Airbnb wants you to do this also.

If you need to contact Airbnb, here is the link. Airbnb Contact
They are available 24/7. Document and capture photos with your phone.

You have 24 hours to file a formal complaint.
They will try to solve a problem promptly, but for reimbursements, you need that documentation.

Here is the information about refund policies: Get My Money
We have not had a bad experience, and hopefully you won't either. Most hosts are absolutely wonderful!

Q: Who is holding my money $ ?

A: Once you book, your credit card will be charged and held by Airbnb.

They will not release it to the host until 24 hours after you check in.

Q: After I book, what is the best way to find the property?

A: Google Maps and the hosts directions. I suggest that if you are coming in at night ask a few more questions.
Will there be a light on the address? Can I see the lock box in the dark? Review the instructions, make sure they make sense to you before you go.

Q: What else should I ask about after I book?

Location of the WiFi password. Does wifi work in all areas of the house?
✷ If you are not renting a car, what is the best transportation mode to get to their place from the airport? Taxi, bus, maybe Uber?
Can we drink the water in the kitchen? We are not into bottled water
($+eco reasons) or do they recycle? If so, is it clearly marked?
Best restaurants, bars, points of interest near the property?
How far is it to walk to public transportation?

This has not happened to us, but it happens....
If you are booking at a destination where there is a popular event coming up, make sure you book with a SuperHost. Hosts can cancel at the last minute. They might not tell you why, but it could be that they can get more money because of the demand.
It won't matter how far in advance you book-they can cancel.
To avoid being "left out in the cold" -literally, book with a Superhost or find a hotel. 

Airbnb Experiences

We love these too! These are activities and tours lead by locals! You can book the tours as easy as the homes. They may include walking tours, street art, bike tours, food tours, hands on crafting and much more!
Organized and easy. Located on the main page. Select "experiences" then plug in your destination.

Check Out Our Airbnb In Lisbon, Portugal HERE

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