It’s time for another post in my #MMTravelDiaries series. In this post, I am going to share with you my experience with airbnb.com along with some basic tips to book your own accommodation. To begin with, Airbnb s an vacation rental service that lets you book unique, fun, interesting & safe (verified) accommodations all over the world (including India)! You can book an extra room in someone’s house or an entire apartment- whatever works for you and your budget. From living in igloos to finding a luxurious apartment no less than any 5 star hotel in terms of it’s services, Airbnb truly caters to all travelers. Since I lived in airbnb accommodations, I thought it would be helpful for all of you who want to travel using their services, especially if you’re on a budget.
Location, location, location
I don’t know about you but location is key for me! When it comes to cities such as Rome or Paris, I would try finding an accommodation as central as possible to the sites I want to explore. No point living so far away in the pursuit of saving money that you end up spending much more on transportation. However, when it comes to hill stations, the further away from the main city, the better it is! So, when you’re booking an accommodation, the first thing you need to do is google the places that you really want to visit. Figure out their locations and write them on a piece of paper. When you open the airbnb site and are scouting for accommodations, use the locaton filter to narrow down your accommodation list. Here’s where you initial research comes handy. If you don’t know where a particular accommodation is located, just open google maps on your phone type the area of where you would ideally want to live from the area the apartment you like is located! I got really lucky with all my accommodations as I stayed in the heart of the city- the most lively areas! In Rome, my accommodation was literally a 2 mins walk from the Spanish Steps so I could go in an out of the apartment multiple times rather than getting exhausted from a 15 hr long day!
Ofcourse this is one of the most important points. As I mentioned earlier, airbnb works for every sort of traveler. So if you are traveling alone or just with a friend and need a room to crash (even if it’s in someone’s house like a paying guest) you have that option. On the other hand, you also have the option of an entire apartment at your disposal. Budgets will of course vary with the number of rooms you want, the location of the apartment and the facilities it has.
Always check the facilities
Now that you have narrowed down on the location, check out all the facilities that the apartment is providing. I did make a silly error while booking one of my accommodations since I didn’t check out the facilities in detail. I read the word “Heating” and made an assumption that the apartment has “Cooling”- AC too but it didn’t! Heating and cooling are two different services so please do keep things like this in mind. The apartments can also be located on a higher floor since as the 3rd or 4th floor and you should ideally see if “Lift” is mentioned in the facilities offered( that’s if you want a lift!). If nothing is mentioned, simply talk to your host.
Guest policy (additional people)
If you’re traveling to a city where you already have friends living and they may want to crash the night with you- check the guest policy. It varies for every accommodation. Some hosts are really chill with an extra guest at no additional charge and some may charge you a hefty amount.
Always talk to your host before hand
When it comes to airbnb its definetly more personalized. So when you book an accommodation, the host would contact you and you can have a nice little chat! You can ask your host about the exact location of the apartment, places to visit nearby etc. My host in Rome was honestly the best person ever! Once I booked the accommodation, she asked me for my email address and send me an entire booklet with tons of info- how to reach the apartment, airport/train transfers, places to eat breakfast, lunch, dinner in Rome (all categorized by budget), places to visit, laundry, dry cleaners, gorcers- you name it and her little booklet was a life saver. Not all hosts may go through the pain to do that much but if you ask them for details, they will surely help you.
This is a tricky one. ALWAYS check the cancellation policy for each accommodation you book. Just remember that if one host is willing to give you the full refund in case of cancellation doesn’t mean that another host in the same city/different city will do the same. It’s a personal choice on behalf of the host.
Now that you have a rough idea of how airbnb works, I would just want to see that give it a shot! It can be a little scary at first cause unlike a hotel chain that has standardized services, you may never know what’s coming your way. Having said that, if you have carefully noted down all your requirements, checked out every single thing the apartment and host offers, it’s nearly impossible to go wrong. PS: the pictures that are uploaded on every host’s site are EXACTLY the same as how the apartment looks in real life. All apartments are verified so the pictures are the real deal!
Photos below are from my stay in Rome and Florence (Pictures are by airbnb)