With vacay season right around the corner, we thought it would be useful to share some Airbnb tips for those of you that are not regular Airbnbers.
Though vacation rentals can falsely advertise and you run the risk of not knowing exactly what you’re getting, the possible benefits of saving money and having a more local experience make the gamble worth it for many. Here’s how to prevent some Airbnb aches and pains, with tips from frequent guests to help you read between the lines of listings.
Reading Descriptions for Red Flags
A good way to start is by searching for listings with four or five-star ratings and in-depth reviews about the property, host, neighborhood, etc. It also doesn’t hurt to look for experienced “superhosts,” who earn five-star reviews 80% of the time. If other guests have vouched for these hosts, you can feel more assured you’re getting something that meets your standards. After all, people rarely go out of their way to write positive reviews. You’ll find plenty of negative feedback on the bad ones, but if someone has an overwhelming amount of positive feedback, that’s a a pretty good indication you’ll be happy with what you pay for.
Apart from that, decoding the language of an Airbnb listing can require some experience. It’s important to know the kinds of phrases to watch for and the ones you want to avoid based on your preferences.
‘KEEP TO YOURSELF’
Not all hosts have approval from their landlord or homeowners associations to rent out their homes, condos or apartments. The tip-off about these listings might include a request for discretion or avoiding communication with building staff. If you miss these red flags, your stay may not go as planned.
Working with Self-Employed Buyers
Every city has varying regulations on short-term rentals, but per Airbnb’s terms of service, it is on a host to ensure they are complying with local laws that may “restrict their ability to host paying guests for short periods or provide certain host services.” Regardless of the amenities a listing may feature, think carefully about choosing an unauthorized rental for convenience or affordability. It could mean sacrificing peace of mind and the freedom to vacation on your own terms.
‘NEAR RESTAURANTS OR BARS’
If you’re a night traveler, a place close by restaurants and bars may be ideal. If you’re a not a late nighter and hoping to get some early morning travel experiences in, you might want to avoid close proximity to noise. Walkability sounds great, but what what are you traveling there for?
‘A QUICK UBER RIDE FROM THE CITY’
You might save a little money by staying farther away from your destination, but transportation costs could eat up your budget — especially if there isn’t a good public transportation system. You’ll want to gain an understanding of this before you book something further away and end up spending half your budget on Uber rides. Be on the lookout for language that suggests you might need a cab or a ride-share service.
‘THE HOST WAS REALLY FRIENDLY’
If most of a listing’s reviews focus on topics such as the host or the neighborhood instead of the property, that could be a clue that the rental might not be up to par. It might be difficult for some guests to write honest reviews about a house where the owner lives, especially if the host was friendly.
Searching for Details in Photos
Reading between the lines of reviews and listings but a picture is worth a thousand words. Photos will reveal even more about a space and knowing what to look for in photos supplies you with questions for a host.
Here are Suggestions Offered by Seasoned Travelers:
- If it’s not in the photo, don’t assume it’s there. If you’re not seeing chairs, a table, windows or other must-haves, they might not exist.
- Amenities in photos aren’t always accessible. Make sure the pool or gym isn’t off-limits. Just because it’s in the photo doesn’t mean you can use it whenever you’d like.
- Pictures of attractions and knickknacks might be a distraction. If a listing has more pictures of local attractions and close-ups of decor than photos of the rental itself, the space may be small or unsightly.
- Wide-angle shots can be misleading. Taking pictures with a wide-angle lens can make spaces look larger. If a picture has stretched corners or taken from above the corner of a room, you’ll want to ask about the rental’s size.
Asking the Right Questions
Make a list of your must-haves in a rental and consider whether what’s missing in the pictures, reviews, or listing could be a deal-breaker. Message the owner about things you’re booking that specific listing for. If they’re not willing and nice enough to answer a simple question before booking, then it might not be the best choice.
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