How to Get The Most out of Airbnb during Your Free Catalyst Week

So you’ve booked your flight, and you’re ready to begin your adventure of a lifetime. But where are you going to stay during your free travel week during The Catalyst? Maybe you’ll want a break from living in a hostel during your free week. If so, you’re in luck! Because you are a modern traveler, you have a host of options regarding places to stay. In fact, one of the best budget-friendly options is staring you straight in the face:

Airbnb

Airbnb can be as inexpensive or as luxurious as you like. However, your wallet is probably already aching after your recent plane-ticket purchase. Here are five tips you’ll need to be aware of in order to get the most of out your Airbnb booking.

1. Save Your Cash, and Click “Private Room”

You don’t want to stay in a hostel, but you wouldn’t mind sleeping in your very own private room while sharing amenities such as a bathroom or a kitchen with other guests. If this description applies to you, click “private room” when searching through Airbnb’s vast website. By being flexible and willing to share with others, you can extend the length and quality of your trip using all the money that you saved on accommodations. However, if you want to keep your options open, click both “private room” and “entire place” to compare the prices between the two options. Sometimes booking an “entire place” can be cheaper than a private room. It never hurts to keep your eyes open for a hidden gem!

2. Pay Attention to Airbnb’s “The Neighborhood” Feature

Airbnb can be tricky if you’re not careful. I know people who booked the seemingly-perfect Airbnb only to find out later that their booking was located on the outskirts of or outside their destination. If you would be unhappy with such a situation, there is a simple way to avoid a trip-ruining mistake. When searching for your own Airbnb, pay close attention to the little, almost unnoticeable, map below the “Reviews” portion of the booking’s page. The Airbnb website will not give you the booking’s exact address until you book and pay for it. However, the site provides the Airbnb’s approximate location. “The Neighborhood” map features a small blue circle that represents the booking’s location. Therefore, users are able to view the neighborhood that they may be staying in. Before you book, do some research on the best neighborhoods in your intended city, and pay close attention to the map. You won’t regret it when you are just a stone’s throw away from all your favorite activities.

3. Book with Friends

On my last trip to Europe, I cut costs by splitting the price of my Airbnb with my travel buddies. As a result, I rented a private Paris Airbnb in a prime location for only $25 a night. In addition, sharing an Airbnb with friends means that you’ll have the ability to book a bigger, more centrally-located place. Airbnb now makes it easy to split payments as well, so you won’t have to Venmo your pals for every booking you make. Instead, you can send a payment link to your friends to avoid money-related mixups (never an ideal situation). A word of caution: when searching for your perfect Airbnb, be sure to enter the number of guests who will be staying in the accommodation under the “Guests” tab. The listed prices will change according to the number of guests you enter!

4. Beware of the Airbnb Host’s Extra Fees

I can’t count the number of times I thought I had found the ideal Airbnb only to be bombarded by “cleaning” and “service” fees. Airbnb allows hosts to charge guests fees for cleaning, cancellations, payment processing, etc. For instance, an apartment that Airbnb lists for $130 per night may look like a steal for your group. However, when you click “book,” you find that the cleaning fee is $108 and the service fee is $30. That’s more than the “per night” rate! Don’t freak out yet; not all Airbnb hosts charge fees like these. The moral of the story is to do your research and not to set your heart on an Airbnb before you research the fees associated with the booking.

5. Study the Reviews

This tip may seem like a no-brainer (everyone’s a Yelp expert, right?), but “review analysis” has become an essential step in booking on Airbnb. Observe the number of reviews for a listing. Are there only three reviews? The place may be unsafe or a scam, a rare situation, but one that any smart traveler should keep an eye out for. Are there hundreds of reviews? You may miss important information in a sea of reviews reading “Lovely host! Great location!” Although those reviews bode well for the booking, keep in mind that some Airbnb hosts solicit reviews from guests in-person or via text to increase booking levels. In addition, taking care to read reviews is essential because many reviewers provide crucial information regarding the quality of a booking’s location, amenities, and access to public transportation. In today’s world, reviews are often more important when a person makes a purchase than the information that comes directly from the seller.

Airbnb is a fantastic resource for budget travelers that offers higher levels of comfort and accessibility than say, a hostel might. Through using Airbnb’s services, you can save your hard-earned cash to use on experiences, not material things. Bare in mind the previously-listed tips for cheap, high-quality accommodation on your next backpacking trip!