airbnb experience & tips

As I’ve mentioned in many previous posts, traveling has always been the best way for me to feel refreshed and ready to tackle new challenges. So after every set of finals, hubs and I try to take a trip – even if it’s only overnight. It allows us to spend some much needed time together and just get out of our routines and explore. One of my favorite things about traveling is how wonderful it feels to come home. Being away can really make you appreciate the routine and mundanity of home.

Because I only had a couple days off and we had several family commitments that same weekend, we decided to stay local and head to Pasadena. At first I looked into hotels but because we were booking really last minute, all the rates were really expensive. Then I remembered that Airbnb exists and started looking on there!

For those who don’t know, Airbnb is a website in which people host visitors in their home in several cities all around the world. You can either rent out a shared room, a private room, or an entire home or apartment. I think it’s really great because it allows people to travel without having to pay an arm and leg and allows people all over the world to make a little money on the side. We had a really great experience with our first stay in Pasadena and I’m looking forward to using this website for all our future travels!

Here are a few tips on how to use Airbnb to ensure a great stay:

  • Cost. When you search a specific city on the website, several options pop up with the price marked in the bottom left corner. However, this includes just the cost of staying at the location. In addition to that, hosts may include cleaning and service fees and even a security deposit. Make sure to click on each location you’re interested in and check what the total cost will be including all the fees!
  • Reviews. When you search the city you’re interested in staying in, first check out the hosts/homes with the most reviews. Just as when you’re buying objects online, the reviews from other customers are typically most representative of what your experience will be. That being said, some people are just never happy with their experiences so take everything with a grain of salt.
  • Parking! Especially in large cities, this can be a big issue. If you click the ‘Amenities’ tab, you’ll see the ‘free parking’ either highlighted or crossed out. In either case, contact the host of any location you’re interested in staying at and ask about the parking situation.
  • Location. Especially if you’re visiting a more touristy area, see what public transportation is available in the area. Ask hosts about use of Uber/Lyft to avoid driving in the area, especially if you’re planning on drinking. I prefer to walk everywhere while on vacation so I usually check how close the locations are to the places I’m interested in visiting.
  • Length of stay. Some hosts have a ‘minimum stay’ requirement so make sure you check on that. If you’re planning a longer stay, some hosts have weekly and monthly discounts so look for those.
  • Access to room. If you’re the type of person who doesn’t want to interact with the hosts too much, check if there’s a separate guest access for the room/home you’ll be staying in. There’s also a section for ‘interaction with guest’ and the hosts usually say if they’re local (or if this is a second property they own and are just renting out). They also indicate if they are more interactive with guests or more hands off.
  • Last minute stays. If you’re planning a trip last minute, it may be a good idea to filter for ‘instant booking’ option. These hosts have set it so that you don’t need to request to stay at their location (as with all non-instant bookings). Although, I don’t think this is always necessary because in my experience hosts are usually really quick about getting back to you when you do request a stay.

Below are some photos from our last Airbnb stay. I’m planning on booking another really short trip for April, possibly somewhere near the beach!


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