Looking to rent an Airbnb or VRBO property for the first time and need some VRBO / Airbnb tips, tricks and hacks?
Well look no further, we’ve created the Best Airbnb Checklist for you. After travelling around the world for 1 year we’ve stayed in VRBO/Airbnb for over 200+ nights in many different countries to be able to help you have your best stay at a vacation rental Airbnb.
Learn from our travel experiences to help your next VRBO/Airbnb booking run smoother. Save money, have your rental meet your expectations and enjoy your holiday more!
What You'll Find in This Post
Why Book a VRBO / Airbnb?
VRBO and Airbnb are changing the way people book their travel accommodations. They allow people to somewhat immerse themselves in the destination they are visiting. They can shop at the local stores, be away from the tourist spots if they want to, and feel what it is like to live in the place.
With the changes in travel since COVID-19, people are looking to stay in dedicated apartments, condos, houses and rentals to feel safer. Have the ability to stay with just their bubbles and feel safer. Many Airbnb hosts are leaving extra days in-between booking to help their guests feel more confident in the cleanliness of their property.
Airbnb properties are especially functional for families that need more than one bed and prefer to have their own kitchen. Or a great idea for multi-generational trips or planning for larger family vacations so you can all stay in the same place.
We have learned a few tricks and tips to ensure we are limiting the number of surprises we get in our Airbnb rentals.
When we started our world journey we had never used Airbnb before, but for cost and balance, it was the best option for many of our accommodations that we were booking. We would be able to get more space, a kitchen, and be somewhat immersed into “typical” life in the spots we were visiting.
We love staying at Airbnbs as a family and hopefully, you can learn a few hacks to help you enjoy your next Airbnb stay.
1) Airbnb Area Research
- Before you even go to book with Airbnb, do a Google search for a blog post with:
- “Best areas to stay in <insert city> for families” OR
- “Best neighbourhoods to stay in <insert place> with kids”
- Typically, the best ones I find are towards the end of the 1st page or page 2 to get fewer advertised sites. I prefer to look for recommendations from other bloggers and from real people and families.
- Then narrow down and learn about the areas you prefer as your target spot to stay.
- This will help you target where you want to stay and learn about the different areas before booking the Airbnb
2) How to Choose the Best Airbnb
- Use the filters on Airbnb to help narrow down your options that align with what you want
- Check-In Date & Check-Out Date. Include if you are flexible with the dates +/- 1, 3 or 7 may save you some money!
- Use the Area or Neighbourhood as the Location. Ex. CBD Melbourne or District V Budapest. This will help focus your search to only those areas.
- Include pets toggle so you only search for places that take pets if you are bringing your furry friend.
- If you want a certain number of bedrooms, baths or beds include that in the more filters.
- Are there certain Amenities that you need? Ex. washer, dryer, air conditioning, wifi, etc.
- If you are looking for a Unique stay they have options for camper/RV, tiny house, yurt, etc so check those off if that is something you really want.
- Our Airbnb search typically uses the neighbourhood, 2 Adults, 2 Children, Wi-Fi, air conditioning (in summer months), and our max budget per night for accommodations. If we are in need of a washer/dryer for it then that is also one we used when travelling long term.
- I book using the Map feature and then focus on just those areas. Even though you don’t get the exact address, I’ve been overall happy with the general area of where the property is from the Airbnb indicators.
- Look within the circle of the location of it and decide if it will work for what you need. Ex. Is it close to transportation -train, ferry, airport, etc. Or by parks or by bars/cafes. Whatever you are thinking about doing in that location.
- I sometimes look on Google maps or Google earth to get a really good idea of the location areas.
- Look closely at the pictures for the Airbnb property. Does it have want you for sleeping arrangements or for kitchen equipment that you can see (ex. Coffee machine, toaster, laundry drying racks, etc.) Really look close to the attention to detail in the pictures.
- Read the reviews for any tips or comments to consider. Ex. I’ve read a few about lots of stairs to go up, or traffic is busy but noise levels are ok. This will at least help set expectations and not let you be disappointed. You are informed.
- Read the description carefully. Ie. Does it included linen, towels, etc.
- Look carefully at the refund timelines, each Airbnb host can be different so choose the one that works best for your situation. Look at the cancellation policy and watch for an extra cost, cleaning fee, or other costs.
- Before you book you can email and ask any questions if you are unsure of anything.
- Pay attention to the type of arrangement – room, own place, etc.
- Also, keep in mind that the hosts will be reviewing your profile, so complete your profile and get verified before you book.
- If you are planning on staying for a longer duration, email the host BEFORE you book to see about a discount. When we stayed at this Airbnb in Bali for 1 month, our host was open to a discounted price. Less cleaning fees, maintenance and work for them so they may consider it. We also negotiated for when we stayed 2 weeks in Malta at this Airbnb. This money can add up and save you lots of cash!
- We do use instabooking when we can unless we are trying for a discount for longer durations. This just allows us to know for sure we have a place booked without waiting.
3) After Airbnb is Booked
- Ask any questions to your Airbnb host if you want in advance if you want to do some pre-planning for the area.
- Ex. Do they have any local restaurants they recommend, is there a certain train stop to get off at or the best way to get to Airbnb (bus, taxi, train), where is the closest laundry facility, etc.
- Message the person and arrange how you will acquire the keys. Most are contactless entry or they have a lockbox at the location.
- If I have booked it far in advance I usually message them a day or two before and just verify the meeting time and be courteous about looking forward to our visit.
- Take a picture of the Airbnb address and Airbnb host contact information before you leave for your trip.
- Sometimes your data may not work or no Wi-Fi when arriving at airports so this will help with contacting your Airbnb host.
- If the address is in another language this is extremely helpful to showing taxi drivers the address in their local language!
- This tip has saved me many times!
4) After you arrive at Airbnb
- Check Wi-Fi is working.
- Usually, Airbnb hosts will have a binder with information that is helpful – restaurants, market/grocery stores, playgrounds and other things close by.
- Make sure the washing machine, air conditioning, stove, fridge and other items are working as expected.
- Check to see if locks and door work.
- Known where to return keys
- Take picture of the electrical/circuit panel. This tip has saved me a few times when we have flipped a breaker and needed to know which ones to turn back on.
- Know where to take out the garbage and recycling.
- Ask what they expect for cleanup at checkout or an Airbnb checklist for cleaning. We leave the place as we got it, if not better. But sometimes hosts want all bed sheets striped, towels in the bathtub, start a load of laundry, or dishwasher.
- If something is not working or broken when you arrive, message the Airbnb host right away.
- This is key to letting them know and ensuring you are not charged for something that is broken.
- Many times the Airbnb hosts don’t live in these places and any time we’ve shared this the hosts have been really grateful that we have brought it to their attention.
Our best advice though is to go with the flow. Part of experiencing private residences is to get a feel of how others live in the area. Experiencing what is different from how you usually live. So if it is clean and has what was described in the listing then just enjoy your time there.
5) Apartment Recommendations from Us
- Where we stayed in Dubrovnik, Croatia
- Where we stayed in Split, Croatia
- Where we stayed in Plitvice National Park, Croatia
- Where we stayed in Dubai, UAE
- Where we stayed in Budapest, Hungary
- Where we stayed in Vienna, Austria
- Where we stayed in Prague, Czech Republic
- Where we stayed in Karon, Phuket, Thailand
Note: Some no longer are on either Airbnb or VRBO so we’ve shared the same ones on Booking.com which also have options for apartment rentals too!
6) After your Airbnb Stay
- Write a review about your experience so others can know about this accommodation.
- Be cautious about negative comments – if you have not reached out to the owner about an issue while you were there then it is not the place to write it. Ie. if something is not working or broken try to work with the owner to get it fixed while you are there in private messages.
- Also, think about what you found valuable about the place (ie. was it clean, is there a playground close by, market or food close by, other amenities, etc). Sometimes this doesn’t seem obvious to the owners to put on their description but is very valuable to other families or people thinking about renting it.
- If you write a review on the host you will also be able to see the review that the host wrote on you as a guest. These reviews on yourself also help for future Airbnb rentals that you request and can be seen by other hosts on your profile.
- Refer a friend and get credit for your next Airbnb to stay or Airbnb experience.
Looking for Other Travel Tips
- Packing Checklist
- Beach Packing Checklist
- How to Save Money for Travel
- Things to do before Travelling
- Best Family Travel Insurance
Please Note: I am an Airbnb Associate, so if you decide to use any of the links in this post and subsequently book anything with Airbnb I will earn a commission.