A User’s Guide: Airbnb

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I think it is safe to say I am obsessed with Airbnb. Like OBSESSED. While I may not use this accommodation option every time I travel, I’ve found that every Airbnb rental I’ve experienced has consistently provided incredible value for money, privacy, space and a great home-from-home environment while travelling / on holiday. The sure-fire way to feel like a local and truly experience a location is by living where the locals live — you’ll struggle to find this authentic experience in a hostel or a hotel. Staying in an apartment (or house) allows you to easily shop neighbourhood stores and markets, dine away from tourists, and feel much more connected to the environment. Hosts can choose to offer anything from an entire apartment or home, to just a guest room or sofa. Personally I’ve only ever experienced renting an entire apartment, but budget travellers can save a lot of money by choosing one of the latter options.

If you’ve been on the fence when considering Airbnb, don’t be. I guarantee it will be a positive experience (this says a lot coming from me, a self-diagnosed OCD clean freak). It’s understandable that some people would be a little wary about renting an apartment from a stranger who lives across the globe, but Airbnb has done a great job of making it as safe and reliable as possible. First, they require that each host submits official IDs, phone numbers, photos and other safeguards to ensure everything is clear cut and above board. Secondly, by sending out their own in-house photographers to photograph the accommodation, Airbnb ensure prospective visitors have an accurate representation of where they may choose to stay through the ‘verified photos’ feature.

I’m now a massive fan of apartment rentals since using Airbnb throughout my travels in Sydney, Melbourne and Portugal, to name a few. I love having my own private space to relax and settle into a new neighbourhood – exploring its cafes, shops, bars and hidden corners. This travel option can also save you money, especially if you’re happy to opt for self-catering or are travelling within a group. The only difficulty can be finding where to start looking for the perfect place, and then narrowing it down from the hundreds of options to your ideal spot. Airbnb is the largest site for accommodation rental bookings, so the options are endless! This past year I thoroughly put them to the test with five stays in a number of locations around Australia and Europe, none of which disappointed. Check out my top tips I have gathered along the way, should you be thinking about losing your Airbnb virginity:

You can search by location, with or without specific dates and filter the results by whether they are an entire place, a private room in someone’s home or even a shared room.
Read the guest reviews carefully – especially if you are going to be sharing your accommodation with the owner during your stay.
If you have any questions that aren’t answered in the listing, contact the owner via the Airbnb secure messaging platform.
Beware that prices per night in the search listings include neither the cleaning fee nor the Airbnb service fee, which will add about an extra 20% on top of your quote (these final costs are displayed when you are directed through to the individual listing profiles).
Booking is generally on request (though some listings have ‘immediate booking’ in place), so I usually find three or four possible places then contact the host in order of preference. If you’re short on time however it’s worth contacting a couple at a time. The host’s profile will give you an indication of what their response time usually is.
See below for links to a few of my most memorable Airbnb accommodations, including my all-time favourite place in the world, Byron Bay. If you are considering choosing Airbnb, go for it, I promise you won’t be disappointed and if you happen to be in Byron Bay, Zoe’s slice of Airbnb heaven is a must.

Albufeira, Portugal https://www.airbnb.co.uk/rooms/12557443

Coogee, Sydney, NSW https://www.airbnb.co.uk/rooms/14166263

Coogee, Sydney, NSW https://www.airbnb.co.uk/rooms/11831572

Byron Bay, NSW https://www.airbnb.co.uk/rooms/13034845

Melbourne, Victoria https://www.airbnb.co.uk/rooms/5664782

Corrina Conlon, Contributor (IG @ilovelately)

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