Hostel dorms are great if you’re a solo traveller on a shoestring. You may want to socialise and maybe find some new pals to explore the city with, especially if you don’t mind the lack of space and privacy. But if you’re a couple (get a room!) or travelling in a group, an Airbnb may make more economical sense.
I used Airbnb for the first time three years ago for my stay in Paris. I couldn’t find a hostel that had good reviews for a price I was comfortable paying, and strangely enough, a room I found on Airbnb was cheaper than a bed in a hostel dorm. My host gave me insider’s tips on some cool spots to check out, and I got to hang out with her cute cat.
I’ve since used Airbnb a few more times on my recent Eurotrip, and I haven’t had a bad experience. And no, this isn’t a sponsored post.
If you want to start using Airbnb but you’re not sure how to, here’s a beginner’s guide you can follow.
STEP 1: FILTER BY PRICE
After you’ve selected your arrival and departure dates, decide on the price range you’re comfortable with.
STEP 2: TAKE NOTE OF THE LOCATION
Don’t decide on a room just because it’s cheaper than others that are closer to the city centre or major attractions. It usually means spending more time and money on public transport to get to where you want to go to. It could end up costing you more when you do the math.
Here’s an example: I booked a room for me and my friends in the centre of Pag in Croatia, when the festival we were going to was in Novalja, which is in the north, a 30-minute bus ride away from the Airbnb. What we should’ve done is book an accommodation in Novalja instead, which could’ve saved us 300kn (€7) a day, or 2100kn (€35) for the five days to and from Novalja. Rookie mistake, but we live and learn.
Do some research on the locations of the rooms/apartments and check if they’re near any metro lines or bus stops, and how long it takes to get to the city centre.
STEP 3: LOOK AT THE LIST OF AMENITIES
It’s 2016. An apartment without Internet isn’t one worth booking, IMO. A washer is important if you’re packing light. In the summer, you can’t wear the same clothes twice in a row without stinking. If eating out is expensive where you’ll be, find a place that allows you to use the kitchen for cooking. This may sound cheap, but make the most of the amenities available since you’ve paid for them, but be a good guest. Don’t trash the place.
STEP 4: CHECK THE REVIEWS
This is a no-brainer. If you check reviews for hostels, you should check reviews for Airbnb hosts too. If it’s an old listing or a host who’s been on the site for a while, with loads of negative reviews, don’t even bother. Shortlist a few decent places, weigh your options, discuss with your travel buddies, and then decide. Sometimes, you’ll come across a new listing with a good price in a good location. But even a new Airbnb host has to get their first booking for anyone to leave a review. Let it be you, if you’re a risk taker.