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With plenty of experience staying in Airbnb’s * we have provided this list of Pros and Cons of airbnb’s for family travel and things to watch out for. So far, we have had a range of experiences and believe that it is best to be well prepared.
Pros of Staying In An Airbnb
1. Large size/ lots of room
There are all types of accommodation on Airbnb! One of the benefits is that we often travel as a multi-generational family meaning that we need 2 or 3 bedrooms. With a range of personalities (and ages) in the group, it’s important that people “have their own space” while not being isolated from the whole family. We look for places that have bedrooms plus a common room like a lounge room that means that kids have space to play and everyone stays in good humor.
2. A Fully Equipped Kitchen
One of the best ways to save money while traveling is to self-cater. Out of all the pros and cons of airbnb’s this is an amazing pro. Having your own kitchen also means that you can prepare kids food that they like and at the times that suits them. Having this kind of routine while away from home keeps them comfortable (and therefore better behaved) In addition self -catering saves our sanity as eating out in the evenings with tired kids can be draining on everyone!
3. Location, Location
We’ve often got apartments in downtown areas of cities where hotels or apartment hotels are 3 times the cost. (It pays to do your research to get a good, yet safe location.)
4. Connection with the local people
By staying in a home or apartment you get to see how the local people live. You meet them in the lifts or in the carpark. We have found that people are very friendly and will often chat (or vice versa). This connection with local people is a wonderful insight into people’s lives and a perfect fit for our travel style.
There is a whole range of prices with Airbnb, but often you find that the price is significantly less than paying for a number of rooms in an inner city hotel (for example).
Even though there are many pros and cons of airbnb’s, in our opinion, the pros of staying in an Airbnb outweigh the cons by far.
Cons of Staying In An Airbnb
But… there are con’s! At the end of the post we will share a few tips to minimize these potential issues.
1. Dealing with the Owners.
Staying in an Airbnb is a more personal relationship than if you stay in a hotel which has policies and procedures. We have had some absolutely lovely hosts that feel more like friends; we have had some less pleasant experiences as well. These incidences do leave you with a ‘sour taste’ in your mouth. Even if your host is lovely there are moments where you can feel a little uncomfortable – say, you can’t find the bath plug for the kid’s bath at 11pm? Do you contact the owner or not?
2. Cleanliness Standards are Different.
Airbnb’s are sometimes not professionally cleaned. Actually, sometimes their cleanliness standards are lax… as long as its sloppy vs really dirty we haven’t said anything but again, it leaves you with a slightly awkward feeling. (There are others that are most definitely professionally cleaned – it is a mixed bag!)
3. Things can be broken
Airbnb’s are not seamless hotels where you are paying for a certain standard of accommodation. In most places we have needed to hunt around for certain things, or in others been surprised when something doesn’t seem to work properly.
4. Sometimes the situation is so laughable you need to just chalk it down to experience
Arriving at a place on a 40 degree Celsius day amidst a flurry of messages from the owner to say that the air-conditioning hadn’t been fixed. Or in another case, the bath flooding the whole bathroom floor. We shake our heads at this one: The mother of the owner turning up on the final day to do an inspection and accusing us of taking the spare sheets!!!
Pros and Cons of Airbnb’s For Family Travel – How To Avoid Issues
- Read the reviews. Sometimes if you are going to get a ‘gem’ it might not have the recommended 10 reviews. But read them and try to figure out whether there are any common trends or if someone is excessively glowing or negative. If they are negative, did they have unrealistic expectations? We would still rent a place with less than 10 reviews if we liked it.
- Write to the owner, and ask questions. This is not fail-safe: but ask a few questions and see if you get a rapport with the owner. If things are not feeling “right” via messages or email then we would take that as a message not to rent the place!
- Research the area. Look at google maps, even post on forums if you must… there is someone out there who is likely to know if you are booking for an area you shouldn’t (as in somewhere unsafe or unsavory)
- When you arrive, take good note of any damage. Take photos IMMEDIATELY. This is a MUST! We have been sent bills after our stay for things we supposedly broke. We were able to show photos and thus avoid paying for things that weren’t our responsibility. Of all the pros and cons of airbnb’s this can be one of the biggest cons. This is definitely a reason why staying in Airbnb’s can be less than perfect.
- Linked to #4, put any communication in writing/ text, especially in regard to damage that you have found. We had a particular owner tell us things via phone, but then send us a bill via Airbnb. We were able to produce our messages where we had reported the damage.
- Insist on a check-out procedure with someone in person. Again, you can go through any issues then and there, just like you would at a hotel. Airbnb’s ARE different from hotels, you need to act responsibly or ethically – ‘fess up if you broke something!!! (Or think of the next person that might come and stay!)
After writing the pros and cons of airbnb’s, it seems like we are focusing on the negative – but more just providing you with some ideas of how to get the best out of your Airbnb experience. They are a bit of a gamble, but they have mostly paid off for us!
*In this post we use the term “Airbnb” but are referring to all sites –and private options like Airbnb. For example; Flip Key, VRBO, or Home Away. Tripping.com also provides a search engine of all rentals.
More Family Travel Resources:
We’ve got a voucher for AU $50 when you sign up to AirBNB. Take the opportunity here!
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