Top Tips For Using Airbnb

In case you’ve been living under a rock for the past couple of years, airbnb is a site that allows hosts to rent out their homes and travellers to book accommodation worldwide.  For me, airbnb has revolutionised the way I travel with my family.  Instead of cramming into one hotel room, for the same price I can often find a multi bedroom property with a living room, kitchen and outdoor space.  Of course there are still times that I prefer a hotel e.g. when I’m looking for a resort with a nice pool. But more and more (especially in cities), I turn to airbnb as an affordable accommodation option.

I have only had great experiences on airbnb from a luxury Ibiza villa rental to an all american dream house in Denver, Colorado.  Some houses are professional rentals and others are literally people’s homes. We have had such cool experiences through airbnb.  We stayed in a small cabin in Louisiana that was adjacent to the owner’s house. He let us fish in the pond on his property and also let the girls go horseriding the next morning.  

In Madison, Wisconsin we stayed in a beautiful country home that was surrounded by miles of cornfields and had a beautiful garden with play set, BBQ and fire pit.

We are over halfway through our US roadtrip and I thought I would share some of the airbnb tips I have picked up along the way.


  • Make sure you have a friendly airbnb profile picture, especially if you are starting out. It’s always good to start a friendly dialogue with your host, especially as they are often full of useful local knowledge!
  • I only book places with at least 5 reviews (ideally they would have 20+) and those reviews must be 5*.  In case you haven’t used airbnb yet, it is like any other search engine.  Type in the criteria you are looking for, e.g. whole property, number of bedrooms, price.  For some properties you can book instantly. For others, you need to send a reservation request to the host. Once the host accepts your request, or if you book a reservation with Instant Book, your payment method will be charged for the entire amount at that time. Payment is held until 24 hours after check-in before giving it to the host (to make sure everything is ok for both parties).
  • Double check all the amenities offered e.g. linens, laundry facilities, kitchen gadgets
  • Verify the parking situation. Perhaps there isn’t any parking offered with the property which may change whether you want to stay there

Before you arrive

  • Download the airbnb app, it’s a really useful way to message your host and keep track of your itineraries
  • Approximately 24 hours in advance, your host will message you with details on how to access the property.  For nearly all of our rentals, we have been sent a lockbox code.  If you are arriving at night, make sure you have a torch (could be on your iPhone) as we have struggled with typing in the number in the dark before!  Print off the access instructions in case you can’t get wifi or lose your phone.
  • Always add your hosts phone number to your contacts in case you can’t get in to the property. Don’t really on being able to access wifi!
  • If you are a nut about sleeping in the dark, pack black bin liners and sellotape. Certain airbnb rentals I’ve stayed in have had dismal curtains so it’s worth having a back up plan, especially if you are traveling with a baby.
  • Keep your host updated of your arrival time where possible

When you arrive

  • Immediately remove any breakables before your kids decide to play hide and seek around the property
  • The host will leave a ‘house manual’. Have a read through to get acquainted with the property and the rules. There is usually a departure checklist so it’s always useful to know what is expected of you.
  • Often there is a ‘guest book’. Have a read through to glean tips from where to eat to where to visit.
  • Bit of a random one but we have been caught out by this… if there is an alarm clock, check it doesn’t have a preset alarm!

During your stay

  • Keep your host updated of any issues. Whilst you may not get instant hotel service, your host is there to assist you and meet your expectations during your stay.

After you leave

  • Go through the departure checklist and make sure you have done everything correctly. Some properties require nothing but a key returned to the lockbox. For others you may need to strip the beds, was the dishes and put the garbage out.
  • Don’t forget to rate your host and share any tips you think may improve the property. Remember both hosts and guests are rated so you want to leave a good impression on departure!  I think this works really well in incentivising you have a good stay from both sides.  


Have you used airbnb before? Have you ever had a bad experience? What tips do you have?





  1. Victoria Fernandes

    Brilliant idea with the bin bag- totally doing this!!

  2. MummyTravels

    I love AirBNB – I hadn’t used it before my daughter came along but it’s a revelation with kids, makes such a difference. We’ve never had a terrible one though a few only OK but most have been great and the host’s local knowledge is amazing.

  3. Jenny (The Liitle Adventurer)

    Great tip about the bin liners! I totally hadn’t considered that!

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