As a digital nomad, Airbnb is my go-to for affordable, high quality stays all over the world. Traditional hotel stays are often overpriced and, in my opinion, not very cozy. Airbnbs have a home away from home atmosphere that you just can’t get anywhere else.
Over the past 5 years, I’ve discovered how to get the best bang for my buck when booking on Airbnb. Keep reading to learn how to book like a pro, even if it’s your first stay!
My top 7 hacks to booking like a pro on Airbnb:
1. Negotiate, negotiate, negotiate
There are three instances where I love to negotiate deals on my Airbnb stays: 1) When you’re traveling off season and the host is less likely to book guests, 2) when it’s last minute, and 3) when you’re planning a long-term stay (usually a month or longer).
The trick to negotiation is creating a win-win situation for all involved. You’re more likely to get a yes to a lower price when hosts aren’t certain they’ll get another booking. Not everyone will say yes of course, but usually at least one will!
All you have to do is reach out to 3-4 potential hosts, let them know how much you love their space, and ask if they’d be willing to lower the price. I usually give them a number that’s about 25% lower than what’s listed.
I’ve snagged some incredible deals simply because I was willing to negotiate. Besides, the worst anyone can say is no!
2. Create wish lists
If you find a place you love while searching through listings, you can add it to your wish list. All you have to do is click the heart button on the listing’s main photo. You can create a wish list for each city you plan on visiting, making it easier to compare between potential stays once you’re ready to book.
You can also view popular lists others have created to find fun, unique places to stay all over the world. For example, if you’ve always wanted to stay on a houseboat you can easily search for this type of listing. Plus it’s fun to just browse and see what’s out there!
3. Read the reviews carefully
I always look for specific things while reading through reviews. Keeping an eye out for details about safety of the area, bed comfort, ease of transport, etc. can make or break your experience.
Make sure to check both the positive and negative reviews to get the full picture of what to expect. I can’t tell you how many times I thought I’d found the perfect place only to discover from the reviews that the neighborhood felt unsafe or the bed was super uncomfortable, etc. Pictures never tell the full story!
4. Be someone’s first guest
This somewhat goes against my last recommendation, but for a very good reason. Many first-time hosts are willing to give you a special discount for choosing to book with them. They recognize the risk you’re taking by not having access to previous reviews.
One time I scored a month-long stay in a gorgeous beach house steps away from the sea in Split, Croatia. I paid about $600 as the first guest, and the current rate is now $2000/month!
Keep an eye out for brand new listings that are well-located and well-furnished, and you may just find yourself a similar steal of a deal!
5. Pay less up front
Airbnb used to require full payment at the time of booking, making it difficult for travelers on a budget to plan ahead and/or book longer term stays.
As of January 2018, you can now opt to pay in two installments as long as your booking is made at least 14 days ahead of check-in and the total cost is at least $250. Normally the first installment is 50% due up front and the remaining payment is due closer to your stay.
This has been a game changer for me personally, because now I no longer have to gamble on losing the opportunity to book where I really want to stay. This especially applies to those of us who book longer term. Paying for a three month stay up front can be overwhelming to your wallet to say the least!
6. Easily find high-quality listings
If you prefer to book stays with higher quality furnishings and amenities, you’ll definitely want to check out the Airbnb Plus section of the website. Listings in this section must meet certain criteria to be included, and sometimes you’d be amazed at what you can find there even at a moderate price point.
I love that there are multiple photos taken from different angles of each room so you really know what you’re walking into beforehand. Hosts also tend to go above and beyond for these stays, which is always appreciated!
7. Make extra money as a referral partner
If you’ve never travelled with Airbnb before, you’ll definitely want to sign up with a referral code. Click here and you’ll receive a $40 credit that can be used on a stay of $75 or more. You’ll also get a $15 credit to use on Airbnb Experiences. This is another area of the site you must check out for unique, affordable activities hosted by locals.
Once your signed up, you can share your code with friends and family to snag referral credit for your next stay! It’s a win win for everyone!
Another tip: If I’m traveling with a friend or family member who has never used Airbnb before I’ll send them my referral code. We will use that discount on our shared stay and then I’ll also receive credit to use on my next trip. It’s a totally legal way to double dip on credits, and who doesn’t love to save money?
After reading through this list of hacks, you can totally understand my obsession with Airbnb, right? You really can find a great place to stay for less if you’re willing to be a bit creative, and honestly once you get the hang of it these hacks begin to feel like second nature.
I’d love to know: Which hack do you plan on using for your next trip?