Insider Secrets: Make Your Next Trip Amazing with Airbnb
We were in Tucson, Arizona staying at the JW Marriott since Jimmy was there for work. It was 7:15pm, the baby was asleep and I hear the faintest clang of dishes in the hall. Jimmy and I creept to the door, slowly open it (praying it didn't squeak too loud), and thanked the hotel staff who just brought us our room service meal. As we sat on the floor outside our room scarfing down delicious food and maybe a few beers/cocktails it dawned on me how drastically our travel accommodations have changed.
Many parents out there can understand what it’s like to stay in a studio style room with a baby or toddler (or multiple kids) who is used to sleeping in their own room. You creep around like you’re trying to rob the place and not get caught, texting each other instead of talking, quietly climbing in and out of bed just in case the bed squeaks, etc. We have done this so many times on our travels where our hotel was picked for us or where the options were limited. We can do it and we WILL do it if we need to….but we don’t always need to. Jimmy and I didn’t always go to Airbnb first for travel. As a matter of fact, we will still stay at Candlewood Suites if we don’t have another option. They are large studio style rooms with full kitchens, lots of space, they usually offer a complimentary breakfast, a decent workout facility, a “pantry” with food/toiletry items, and they have a killer military discount. (I believe it’s usually under $80 a night) The downfall is: we now have 2 toddlers and we don’t always want to go bed when they do --- at 7pm.
Our first experience with Airbnb was in November 2015 when we arrived in Florence, Italy. We arrived by train, wheeled our bags across the small city and called our Host. He spoke pretty decent English, met us at his restaurant and took us upstairs to the apartment. It was fantastic; 2 bedroom, kitchen/common area, washing machine (Critical when traveling Europe with a baby who has blow-outs), wi-fi, a small balcony, blow dryer, etc. He even had a table with easy Italian translation books, maps, tourist info. I had contacted the host prior to arriving and arranged to have a baby cot (pack-n-play) set up for us in advance which was already there waiting for us. The location of this particular Airbnb was INCREDIBLE. It was at the foot of the Ponte Vecchio….literally. When you walked out of the apartment building, you were standing at the foot of the bridge. We couldn’t have asked for a better spot! So, how much was it to stay here? Must have been outrageous right? No. I am so cheap. I did hotel cost comparisons before we booked and this was much cheaper than booking two hotel rooms. (my mom & step-dad were with us, so they needed their own room too) We ended up paying $367 total for two nights and we split the cost with my parents since they stayed with us, so $183.50 for each couple and only $91.75 per night. You won’t find a hotel in that location for that price where you can put your baby to bed, go into a kitchen eat dinner/drink wine/socialize AND do some laundry! It was a wonderful experience. This experience is what got us hooked on staying with Airbnb.
Since that first expdrience, we have stayed in 16 different Airbnb apartments across 9 countries. We love having the space, the ability to do laundry, & the chance to stay up past our kids.
So, what do you need to know about Airbnb?
- Is it safe? We think so! We have never felt unsafe or threatened staying at an Airbnb. Actually, quite the opposite. You can see how Airbnb protects guests here: https://www.airbnb.com/trust and here: https://www.airbnb.com/home-safety
- Is it cost effective? Yes. We have always paid less per night for an Airbnb than a hotel room would cost. As I said before, I am cheap and I like to travel on a budget. Airbnb has protected our budget and allowed us to stay in some great, convenient locations.
- Know the rules. Each Host has posted rules with their accommodation. Make sure you know and understand them, so you don’t get into a situation when you arrive. For instance, if a particular Airbnb host says they do not accept children and you show up with your kids, it could get awkward and your trip may get really expensive.
- You aren’t staying in a hotel. This is a private citizen’s home. Most Airbnbs do not offer 24/7 check in/check out, there is no room service or front desk, no parking garage, etc. Keep an open mind here.
- Try out Airbnb's NEW Family Option on their home page! You can search listings that are already deemed family friendly!
Tips from the Nomads:
- Choose “Entire Home”: You don’t have to settle for studio style hotel rooms and you never HAVE to stay at someone’s house while they are residing there. You can choose to have the “entire home” instead of a room in someone’s house.
- Use the “Size” option: If you have several couples/children/family members joining your trip, you can limit your search to only include however many bedrooms you would like. On our next trip to Europe we are booking only 3 bedroom apartments so we can accommodate our two kids, us, and my parents again. Sleep is vital to relaxing vacations, so don’t skimp here.
- Use the "Price" Budget to only see Apartments that are in your price range!
- Contact the Host before you book: You can (and should) contact the host of the accommodation you want. Give them some info about you/who’s traveling and ask them any questions you may have. Questions like: is the washing machine is still functioning, make sure the place is kid friendly, ask how convenient the place is to attractions or public transportation, etc.
- PRO TIP: I always ask if they have a pack-n-play available, most do -- this saves us from having to bring one!!
- For contacting international Airbnb Hosts we called Verizon and had one phone line turned international for one month. It cost us $40, but gave use the convenience of being able to call/contact international numbers. When we weren’t meeting up with locals, we would put our phone back on wi-fi only and not use our data.
- Enjoy the experience!! Airbnb is the BEST way for us to get to experience living the way locals do. We absolutely love going up to the apartments, looking out into the courtyards and seeing laundry on the line, hearing neighbors speak the local language, etc. It makes our trips feel more authentic and less touristy.
When you book your next trip – explore Airbnb’s website before you get a standard hotel. Find a great apartment or house to stay in, get your kids their own room to sleep in, meet some local people AND get $40 off your first stay when you use our link:
(You’re welcome in advance for the most authentic trip you’ve been on!)
We would love to hear about your Airbnb experiences!! Please leave a comment or send us your story!
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