How to Save Money Using AirBnB
You guys, AirBnB is basically the best thing to happen to budget travel accommodation since the birth of budget travel (I’m not sure exactly how far back that goes, but I assume even the cavemen were looking for some awesome mud hut deals as they followed their food).
For the uninitiated, here’s a rundown of what the site is, the benefits for budget travelers and how to save money using AirBnB.
What is AirBnB?
If you haven’t heard of AirBnB, you are in for a treat. When I first moved to the UK in 2012, AirBnB was all the rage in Europe and had already become a popular means of travel. From what I can remember, it wasn’t quite as big in the US yet, but now it’s EVERYWHERE (except in certain cities where AirBnB hosts can run into major legal issues if not done properly).
It’s a bit like a dating website, but instead of matching single people, it matches people who have space to stay with people who need a space to stay. You can browse the listings using different criteria (location, price, amenities) and then once you find a place you’re interested in, you request to book. The AirBnb host then takes a look at your profile, (hopefully) approves you, and then you’re done.
AirBnB for Budget Travelers
AirBnB shines for anyone on a budget because you can often find a place to stay for so much cheaper than the local hotel rooms, AND you often get more space. You can search for private rooms in people’s homes and apartments that are occupied while you’re there, or you can search for a private place that will be all yours during your stay.
For instance, check out central London. Here’s an example of a typical hotel around the area (3 stars, so not crazy fancy), with the price per night. It is not at all budget-friendly, and the amenities are kept to a minimum.
Instead of splurging for the so-so hotel room, you can find many AirBnB listings for way less per night, plenty of them in nice apartments with shared kitchens and some even with self-help breakfast provided in the morning.
Over the years, I’ve used AirBnB to stay at an apartment under a soup kitchen in Copenhagen, a private room in a German firefighter’s apartment in Hamburg, a private apartment not too far from Las Ramblas in Barcelona and a private room in a family home in Bristol.
How to Save Money Using AirBnB
There are a few tricks of the trade when trying to save money using AirBnB.
Use an AirBnB Voucher Code
The number one rule of AirBnB is to never sign up for your first time without a voucher code! Actually this is just the number one rule in life.
Opt for a Private Room rather than an Entire Apartment/House
If you’re traveling with just one other person and don’t plan on being in the AirBnB very long (because you’re too busy exploring the city you’re in, duh) – don’t be afraid to stay in a private room in someone’s occupied place rather than opting for a private apartment or house. Read the reviews thoroughly to confirm that other travelers have had good experiences, and then go for it! You’ll save money and might meet a new friend in the city.
Check Out the Extra Fees
If you’re comparing apartments with very similar base prices, be sure to take note of the extra fees and if there is any security deposit required. These fees can really add up, and you might find that this is the final criteria that pushes one apartment over the other.
Be Mindful of Location
It’s not surprising that AirBnBs further outside the city center are going to be less expensive. But don’t lose your savvy budgeting skills when getting excited about lower prices. Do a quick search to see what the transportation options are like and if there is good public transport from the accommodation to the attractions you’re most interested in. It’s no use staying somewhere cheap if transportation is going to push you over your budget anyway.
Travel during Off-Peak Times
AirBnB hosts can change the rates of staying with them based on the day and what events are going on. Peak season is usually common sense based on the location (ie, a beach house is going to go for more in the summer and a ski chalet is probably most popular during the ski season rather than in the middle of July). But there are also localized events to keep in mind like concerts and conferences that may mean an increased amount of people looking for accommodation in the area. If your travel dates are flexible, compare a few different options on AirBnB’s handy calendar tool to make sure you’re getting the best deal.
Have you ever used AirBnB for savings? Share your stories in the comments!