A while back I showed you a dozen ways you can save even more money on Airbnb accommodations and it was a hit! I love it when others get excited about awesome frugal hacks like I do.
Well, I realized that in that long post full of money-saving tips and tricks I didn’t walk you through the step-by-step of searching for or booking an Airbnb rental.
For millennials who have grown up with Airbnb in the past 8 years of its existence, this is a no-brainer, but for the… ahem… more experienced folks among us, I figured a tutorial would be helpful. After all, it’s a little bit more involved than just calling up and making a reservation at the Super 8.
That’s a good thing though, because “more involved” means more options and more opportunities for saving and getting to stay at awesome unique places across the globe!
Here’s what you need to know to find a great place on Airbnb:
1- Set up an Airbnb account
Setting up an account is simple. In fact, if you’re new to Airbnb you will even get a $40 off coupon saved to your account that will be applied to your first booking (and it doesn’t expire!).
You can connect through your Facebook account or just use your email address and a password. You’ll be able to choose a profile picture and personalize your account a bit.
2- Gather your trip details
Before you start browsing, it’s helpful to get all of the pertinent information together for your upcoming trip (or you might just be tempted to run off to a cute beach house in Maui).
- What nights are you planning to stay?
- How many guests will there be?
- Will there be pets?
- What amenities are you looking for? (WiFi, pool, kitchen, etc)
- How open are you as far as location goes (will you have transportation or do you want to stay close to the action)?
- How large of a space do you want? Just a room in a house or the entire place to yourself?
3- Start by casting a broad net
If your trip dates aren’t solidified, don’t put them in just yet. This will give you a wider range of possibilities that may influence your travel dates.
As a minimum, you’ll want a location and number of people to do your search, as well as any other “must haves.”
You can enter this information by searching for a location in the search bar at the top of the screen. Once you have chosen the location, you will see a calendar drop down to choose travel dates. You can skip this and just hit search if your dates have some flexibility.
One thing to note when searching without dates is that the prices for some stays change depending on the day of the week or travel season. If you are searching without dates, the price shown is the base price for that location. When you’re in a specific listing, you can hover over the calendar to see the price on specific dates.
Also, some places charge for additional people. If you haven’t entered the number of people, your price may change.
4- Add in details
With your broad search you’ll get a wide array of options. At this point I start by narrowing down the price range to what I have budgeted.
You can do this by clicking the “price range” tab located under the search bar (see the picture below) and then sliding the top end of the range down to your budgeted range.
You will also want to narrow down your search results by the type of space: entire home, private room, or shared room. If you’re traveling with a larger group (which I usually am), you don’t have to worry about this because there aren’t usually any private rooms for a group of 6+! A group of our size pretty much requires an entire home.
What other “nice-to-have” amenities do you want to add in? Now is the time to add those in to help narrow down your options.
Click “more filters” at the top to give you the choice of amenities, neighborhoods, beds, and more.
5- Deciding factors
If you have entered the exact dates and number of guests, all of the potential additional costs will show up on the right-hand side of the page under the calendar.
If you don’t have the dates put in, you can hover over the calendar to see the prices on different nights.
You can see under “prices” on the listing if there are charges for additional guests, if there is a cleaning fee, or if there is a deposit. Also, be aware that some places require a minimum stay of a certain number of nights.
Taking the cleaning fee (if there is one) into consideration, as well as the cost for additional guests will help you compare prices and make your final selection.
6- Contact the host with any questions or concerns
Airbnb makes it super simple to contact the host before booking (or after) to ask any questions. Usually between the listings, the photos, and the reviews, you can get a pretty good idea of what to expect, but if you have any questions you can ask before you book to make sure the place is right for you.
For example, you might want to contact the host to ask about the specific kitchen appliances and cookware available so you’ll know what to bring.
Listings that have a lightning bolt next to the price can be booked immediately without approval from the host. Other listings require you to request to book, which allows the host a chance to double check that the place will still be available for you on those dates.
The Airbnb community is very friendly and personable, so it’s a good idea to introduce yourself to the host in a short note when you request a booking. In my experience, the hosts are quick to get back to you.
Use the map to zoom in or out of an area, which will give you more or fewer results.
Move the price slider to the maximum amount you would want to pay so you don’t have to even look at the listings that are out of your price range.
You can see my whole list of money-saving Airbnb tips here.
Whether you’re ready to book now or you’re just considering the possibility in the future, go ahead and grab the $40 coupon if you’re new to Airbnb. It doesn’t expire, so it will just wait around in your account until you’re ready to book!
Airbnb is not just for travelers
Today I’m focusing on how to save money by booking an Airbnb rental, but I should also mention that if you’re looking to earn some extra money and you have some extra space at home (or you’ll be out of town), you can create a listing and rent out your space to earn some extra cash.
Whether you just have a spare bedroom, a “mother-in-law” unit, or an entire house, you can set up a listing and start hosting. Think outside of the box here, too. How about renting your home only occasionally when you’re out of town? That would be a nice way to help pay for whatever trip or vacation you’ll be taking!
In May I’ll be sharing how you can rent your space with Airbnb and some tips for getting started, but if you’re raring to go, you can at least go set up your profile set up (and get a $40 discount added to your account while it’s available. You can use it whenever you want. It won’t even expire!).
Now you’re ready!
Now that you’re an expert at searching and booking, check out my post of 12 ways to save even more with Airbnb. Then you can get started booking for your upcoming summer vacation or holiday travel!