A Nomad Couple’s guide to Airbnb

We have found Airbnb to be an incredibly useful site. It is a great way for digital nomads or for anyone else who is wanting to travel.

In this article we will explain a bit more about what Airbnb is and give you some tips for booking your next trip. If you use this link from us you can get £14 / €18 / $20 off your first booking.

What is Airbnb?

Airbnb is a site where you can rent either rooms or whole apartments for either short or long stays. It operates in more than 190 countries and its model has really disrupted the hotel industry. You can read reviews from other travellers on the site before you book a property and the type of places offered can range from a basic room in a flat the owner also lives in, to a castle.

Advantages of using Airbnb

There are a number of advantages of staying in an Airbnb property rather than in a conventional hotel or guest house.

The first one is price: if you research properly you can get some real bargains.

The second one is experience: while top hotels are situated in amazing locations, they can’t normally compete with the uniqueness of private homes. Some examples of some incredible looking places are herehere and here and there are a whole list of unique accommodation ideas available on Airbnb here.

This listing might be a step too far for most people!

A Nomad Couple’s guide to Airbnb

A gift from our host in Las Palmas, Gran Canaria

Another advantage of Airbnb is flexibility. Unless you are a Hollywood film star (or Alan Patridge) it is unlikely that you will live for months in a hotel. However many Airbnb properties offer discounted monthly rates. In addition, Airbnb allows travellers to invest money into the local community rather than fill the pockets of faceless hotel chains.

Hosts are also likely to be able to provide a more personal touch than hotels. On our wedding anniversary we stayed in a beautiful cottage in Bath where the host left us pain au chocolat and decent coffee as a little extra and told us the perfect route for exploring the city centre. In Las Palmas our host gave us a gift of amazing Spanish ham, coffee and beer!

Disadvantages of using Airbnb

Disadvantages of Airbnb include the fact that your accommodation is likely to be less ‘standard’ so there will be the odd time that you are unpleasantly surprised by what you find, the fact that the quality of your stay is likely to be in the hands of one host (rather than in a hotel where if say the restaurant staff are rude, maybe the desk manager and cleaners are friendly!), safety (in a variety of ways) as Airbnb properties are not able to be regulated and monitored in the same way a hotel would. One other small disadvantage is that some locations still have few or no properties listed on Airbnb, hopefully that will change in the future.

Here are 5 things to look for in both short and long-stay Airbnb rentals which will help you make best use of the site:

What you need to look for in a short-stay Airbnb rental:

  • Location– Firstly, if you don’t have very long in a place you don’t want to be spending most of your time travelling from the accommodation to the things you want to visit. This is especially important if there are not good public transport links. Secondly, you might want to consider staying somewhere based on being able to soak up the unique atmosphere of the location. If you are going to a vibrant city but the place you are renting is in a gloomy suburb, it might be a real shame
  • Reviews– Focus on what the host is like as a person. For example, if the reviews suggest that the host is very hands on and gives their guests tours of the town and you want to be left alone, consider booking somewhere else.
  • Facilities– While facilities probably don’t matter so much for a short as for a long stay, they can really make a difference to how much you enjoy your time in a property. If you love your morning coffee and you know a coffee-maker is available, that can be a big tick. Also, having good facilities will mean that you have to spend less time trying to sort things while you are there (an example might be having an iron for your shirt if you are in a location for a conference)
  • Check in/out times– Are they convenient to you? It might not matter much when you book but if you are knackered on your last morning and your host is banging on your door at the crack of dawn, it may well matter then.
  • Room or whole place?– This should be very clear in the advert but it is a big consideration whether you are happy to just rent a room- meaning you may have a shared shower/bump into the host in the kitchen etc- or whether it is important for you to have more privacy and a place that is completely yours for the duration of your visit.

What you need to think about for a long-stay Airbnb rental:

  • Location– as important as for the short-stay rental, but for different reasons. Think carefully about the type of things that matter most to you and why you are living somewhere in the first place. To give our own example, when we moved to Las Palmas we ideally wanted to be in a place not more than ten minutes from the beach because that was one of the things we were most looking forward to enjoying. It turned out that we managed to find somewhere in budget, perhaps three minutes from the beach!
  • Internet access– You probably want this to either be very good (because you want to get some work done) or no access at all (so you are forced to switch off). If you want it to be very good, unless the host advertises the internet speed, ask them to test it before you book. You can ask them to use something like this. Knowing the internet speed can be especially useful if you are trying to choose between a number of properties that are broadly similar.
  • Reviews– Focus on what the host is like at dealing with problems. The reason this matters is because, if you are somewhere for any length of time it is likely there will be some problems. If your electricity blows or your roof develops a leak, you want to know your host will be responsive.
  • Discount– Typically on Airbnb it is a lot cheaper to rent for a longer period of time. Check the discounts offered, you might be able to negotiate something better than advertised.
  • Noise– This is not something that is easy to be sure about before you arrive as noise for one person is different to another. However, you can try to work out if the property is near a main road/a nightclub/a heavy metal training academy. Plus of course you can ask the owner. Noise will make a huge difference to your stay as it could impact both your quality of sleep and your quality of work.

We hope those tips are useful. Remember, use this link from us and you will get a bit of a discount for your first stay! Happy travelling!

  1. We used AirBnb a lot until now and had just extremely positive experiences with the hosts – and just one place turned out to be worse than we imagined (but that was our fault as the photos were not misleading or anything). I believe that as long as you check out the reviews and they’re all good, you can go for it and you get a better value than any hotel, especially if you need a kitchen and we usually do 🙂

    • Thanks for the nice comment and pleased to hear you are a fan of the site. Good point about the kitchen- also I think there are cultural differences when it comes to what is considered standard within a kitchen. My experience so far is that sometimes I have been a bit confused when things are lacking and at the same time very pleased to find extra things I didn’t expect!

  2. Thanks for your useful post! We’re travelling for seven months and we’ve been staying in Airbnb properties for much of our travels. They are a great alternative to hotels. We got to spend Chinese New Year with a local family, stayed in a cosy apartment in Hong Kong when hotels were super-expensive and are currently staying in a family-run place in Bali!

    We’ve also put our place in London on Airbnb whilst we’re travelling so it’s great to be hosts and to be hosted!

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