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Top Ten Tips for Renting an Airbnb

Top Ten Tips for Renting an Airbnb

For the past year, I have rented out a small cottage on my property via Airbnb. It’s been a journey full of highs (disposable income — yay!) and lows (COVID-19 cancellations). I’ve learned a lot as an Airbnb host, but what I’ve also learned is how to be a better guest. Here are my top tips for renting an Airbnb — how you can be a great guest and how to get the most out of your experience in a home stay.

(For my tips on how to find the best Airbnb to meet your travel needs, check out my article: A Tale of Two Airbnb Stays)

1. Read the Listing & Look at the Pictures

Seriously. Read the listing in its entirety at least once and preferably twice. Expand the descriptions and really absorb what they say – don’t just skim through. Make sure the rental includes all of the amenities you want (free parking on premises, wifi, cable television, etc.). If you think something might be included, but it doesn’t say so, send the host a message to ask. If you will need something during your stay that isn’t listed, ask the host if they can make it available for you. A little communication will go a long way toward preventing misunderstandings and disappointments.

There’s one gloriously romantic treehouse on Airbnb (which I included in my Airbnb North American Bucket List) that rents for nearly $400 per night. If you don’t read the description, you might not realize that it is entirely open to the elements and you will be at the mercy of the weather.

tips for renting an airbnb - make sure you look at the photos and read the descriptions in the listing very carefully

If you don’t read the description on this listing, you might not realize that the bathroom is in an entirely different building. Imagine having to go for a pee in the middle of the night, climbing down from a treehouse and traipsing across an unfamiliar yard to enter another building.

I ultimately decided that this property didn’t belong on my personal bucket list, but I left it in the article because readers with younger bladders and/or a higher tolerance for heat/humidity may appreciate its charm.

Also, you need to really scrutinize the photos in an Airbnb listing. Don’t be so enamored with the throw pillows’ pop of color that you overlook the fact that there’s no television. Or that the chairs don’t look at all comfortable. Don’t look at the table set for two and get romantic notions without realizing that there is no microwave or coffee pot.

2. Follow the Instructions You’re Given

tips for renting an airbnb - read the instructions from your host, which will include important information like where you can park.

Prior to check-in, you should receive from your host some basic but important instructions. This should include, at a minimum, critical information like where to park your car and how to get inside the rental. Please follow these instructions carefully. Even if it seems like the host’s request doesn’t make sense, they are asking you to do it for a specific reason. This bears repeating, as it’s one of the most important tips for renting an Airbnb: follow your host’s instructions

One host recently shared that she had a guest whom she told to notify her 30 minutes prior to his arrival. He arrived without doing so, attempted to get into the lodging, and because she didn’t the advance notice she requested to set the door unlock code for him, he set off the alarms.

I had a guest who hadn’t read our instructions about where to park. Rather than point out the obvious when he arrived at 10:00 pm, we moved our cars to the guest parking and let him park in our driveway. The next morning, when he got up he moved his car to the spot where he should have parked the night before… and in doing so, blocked my daughter’s car so she couldn’t leave for work when she needed to.

Likewise, follow your host’s instructions for checkout procedures. Failure to do so may result in being assessed a fee.

3. Notify host of pets/service animals and/or guests

tips for renting an airbnb - if you are traveling with a pet or service animal, make sure you let the host know.

One of the best things about staying at an Airbnb property is that many of them are pet friendly. If you are traveling with a pet or service animal, please be courteous and let the host know. Yes, even if they have stated in the listing that they allow pets. It’s just common courtesy.

Likewise (and I may come under fire for this one), if you have a service animal, please don’t book a property that doesn’t allow pets. I know that service animals are not the same as pets and the same rules don’t apply to them, but these are private residences, and hosts may have allergies to certain types of animals. There are plenty of properties on Airbnb to choose from that allow pets; be considerate and choose one of them instead.

Finally, on the subject of extra guests. If you will be entertaining visitors at the Airbnb property, please let your host know, and ask if there are any special instructions. At no time should the number of guests exceed the property’s maximum occupancy. Also, if you will have visitors, you will need to find out from the host where they should park, if the guests have to depart by a certain time, and any other special rules.

4. The Airbnb is NOT a grocery store

A good host will provide certain amenities to make your stay more comfortable. This may include coffee/cream/sugar, travel-size toiletries, and/or bottled water and snacks. These items are provided for you to enjoy while you are staying at the property. They are not provided so you can fill your suitcase with free goodies to take home.

If that seems unreasonable, try to remember that many, if not most, Airbnbs are operated by individuals as a small side business to make a little bit of extra money. You are not staying at a hotel owned by a major corporation with a staff of housekeepers and maintenance workers. You are staying in someone’s home. Appreciate the fact that they have provided these items for you, but don’t be greedy.

5. Be honest but kind when leaving reviews

tips for renting an airbnb - be honest but kind when leaving reviews.

Most people who stay in an Airbnb aren’t aware that the site’s 5-star rating system is incredibly tough on hosts. In order to have a listing be highly visible when travelers search in a host’s area, they need to maintain a minimum average rating of 4.8 stars.

At a five star hotel, you might expect the most luxurious bed linens, perfect blackout drapes, turndown service with a mint on the pillow, a friendly concierge, a minibar, a safe for your valuables, impeccable decor, and so on. It may include a complimentary breakfast, a soft robe and slippers for you to use, and pillow spray to freshen your linens.

At a five star Airbnb, your host will communicate with you promptly and clearly, provide you with a clean & safe place to stay, give you some coffee for your morning wakeup, have reasonable expectations of you, and (if on site) will give you a warm welcome when you arrive.

These five stars are not the same at all! Please don’t rate your Airbnb as if it were a hotel.

Additionally, the Airbnb rating system has specific areas that it wants you to rate, and then provide an overall rating. If you rate every area five stars, don’t give it an overall rating of four or less.

6. If you move it, put it back

This tip for renting an Airbnb is part common courtesy, part common sense. If you have moved things around during your stay, please make every effort to put them back where you found them before you leave.

I can’t tell you how many times I have had to ask a guest where the remote control might be because they didn’t put it back on the coffee table (or in another logical spot like on top of the TV). I’ve had guests put the toaster inside a kitchen cabinet and move all sorts of things around. I personally don’t mind that they got moved… I just don’t like the initial panic of thinking that something has been lost/stolen/destroyed.

7. Make sure you have the Airbnb app on your phone

Tips for renting an airbnb - use the Airbnb app to communicate with your hosts

Having the app (and enabling notifications once logged in) will help facilitate communication between you and your host. This is the preferred way for Airbnb guests and hosts to communicate since it keeps a record of your communications in the event that a dispute should arise.

If you don’t want to use the app, provide your host with your phone number and ask for theirs so you can contact each other if necessary. Phone numbers are typically available through Airbnb anyway, but it’s best to address the issue of how to communicate with each other at the beginning of your stay.

8. Paying a cleaning fee is no excuse for living like a slob

tips for renting an airbnb - clean up after yourself the way you would at a friend's house

Your rental almost certainly includes a cleaning fee. Paying for someone to clean the property after you’re gone does not excuse you from having to clean up after yourself. Uneaten food, for instance, should be disposed of, not left sitting out in the open, uncovered, attracting pests. Bloody bandages should not be left any place where someone else has to pick them up.

I once had a guest who knocked a lamp off the dresser. The light bulb shattered when it happened. The guest put the lamp back where it belonged, but left the pieces of broken light bulb on the floor! I had to wonder if they would do that in their home.

The cleaning fee covers vacuuming, dusting, and laundry. It generally does not cover removal of feces/urine/vomit (animal or human), disposal of half-eaten foods, dish washing, and/or picking up hazardous materials left by the guests.

If you wouldn’t do it at a friend’s home, don’t do it at an Airbnb.

9. If you smoke…

Please don’t rent a non-smoking Airbnb if you are a smoker, even if you will refrain from smoking inside the property.

Most hosts who have a no smoking rule don’t want any smoking inside their property. But they also don’t want butts on the ground outside their property. And they really don’t want you to bring extinguished butts in and drop them in the kitchen trash can.

Just be respectful. And if you have spotted an ideal property that happens to have a no smoking rule, ask the hosts if they permit smoking outside. Chances are they will say yes and give you instructions for disposal of cigarette butts. If you can follow the instructions, you’re golden.

10. Make sure you take everything with you when you leave

tips for renting an airbnb - make sure you don't leave any items behind.

Before you leave to head home, make sure you look in every drawer, closet, and cabinet where you might have put something. Check the shower and the refrigerator too. If you are purposely leaving behind items (such as refrigerated foods that you can’t keep cold), let your host know. If you realize after you’ve gone that you accidentally left something important behind, contact your host as soon as possible. Let them know what you’re missing and where you think you may have left it. If you want the host to mail you your items, offer to pay for postage.

One family who stayed here left behind their child’s tooth, which I mailed to them so the tooth fairy could visit. A young couple left a condom (unused, thankfully). One guest left behind his Speedo, but he didn’t remember where he had put it. I was unable to find it for two weeks — it had fallen down behind the dehumidifier.

Tips for Renting an Airbnb: In a Nutshell

So this was a top ten list, but there are just two underlying principles: communication and courtesy. If you maintain good communication with your host and show respect for both them and their property, you’ll have a great experience and they will be ready to welcome you back for future visits.

Feel free to leave a comment with any Airbnb tips you may have that aren’t included here!

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top ten tips for renting an airbnb - Pinterest graphic
Great Prime Day Deals for Travelers!

Great Prime Day Deals for Travelers!

Every year it’s bigger and better than it was before. With so many deals, how do you even know where to start looking? Have no fear, intrepid travelers! I have scouted out the site (starting at 4:30 this morning… yawn) and have curated this list of Prime Day deals for travelers. Remember, Prime Day is July 15 & 16 – so you get two days of shopping fun!

If you don’t have an Amazon Prime membership, why on earth not? It is seriously the best thing going! Not only do you get free two day shipping (and in some cases, it’s even free overnight shipping!), you also get free streaming services (movies, TV shows, music) and 5 GB of free photo storage/backup!

Additionally, you can keep that Prime Day feeling all year round if you own an Echo (Alexa). Just ask, “Alexa, what are your deals?” and she will give you a list of special deals available exclusively for Prime members.

Best of all, you can try Prime FREE for the first thirty days. Click here to sign up!

1. Passport/Document Holder for the One in Charge

Are you the family pack horse and/or organizer? I know I am! Which inevitably means I am not just responsible for my passport, I’m responsible for everyone else’s too. This nifty organizer not only holds all of your important papers/documents and cards, it also protects them from RFID thieves. It can hold up to four passports and five credit cards. Also features a large pocket for cash and a pen slot as well as a removable keychain. 

Regular price: $17.99 Prime day price: $11.69

2. Universal Travel Adapter

This all-in-one universal power adapter makes world travel so much easier! You don’t have to change out pieces on this one. It truly is all in one! The adapter covers over 200 countries with its US/UK/EU/AUS plugs and four USB ports. Just slide out whichever one you need and slide it back in when done.

Regular price: $19.98 Prime day price: $14.98

3. Mini Travel Umbrella

Like it or not, bad weather happens. But the last t hing you want to do when you’re traveling is use up a lot of space in your luggage for wet weather gear. And you certainly don’t want to carry an umbrella with you everywhere you go. But with this tiny umbrella, you can easily take it everywhere with minimal extra weight or space. It’s in the top five products on Amazon’s list of the best folding umbrellas, and it comes in over 20 different colors/patterns!

Regular price: $16.99 Prime day price: $13.59

4. A Neck Pillow That Actually Keeps Your Head Up

There are few things more aggravating than falling asleep and constantly being awaken by the feeling of your head lolling forward… except maybe the stiff neck you have afterwards. In the “What took y’all so long to invent this?” category of travel accessories, we have this chin supporting travel pillow. Because there is also cushioning under the chin, your head stays fairly upright no matter how hard you’re sleeping. It’s about time!

5. Wrinkle Releaser, Stain Remover, and Fabric Refresher

Three TSA-approved bottles of fashion emergency-averting sprays. The stain remover will get rid of most stains, ever stubborn ones that are hard to clean. The fabric refresher will make your clothes smell great and remove any unwanted musty odors. And the wrinkle releaser? Friends, if you have never tried a wrinkle releaser, do yourself a favor and get some. All you do is spray it on your wrinkled garments, give the fabric a good snap, and the wrinkles literally fall right out. No ironing!

Best of all, the sprays are blended with biodegradable, natural ingredients, making them products safe choices for kids and adults with sensitive skin.

Regular price: $20.00 Prime day price: $16.00

6. Packing Cubes

I bought this set of packing cubes last year on Prime Day, and tried them out on my recent trip to Paris. I was very skeptical because I just didn’t understand how packing shirts inside a pouch that went into the suitcase was more efficient than packing them in the suitcase. Oddly enough, though, it is! I had all of my tops in one cube, my bottoms in another, my underwear and pajamas in a third, etc. Any time I was looking for something, I was able to find it quickly and without messing up my other belongings. Highly recommend!

And as an additional Prime Day promotion, you may be eligible for additional discounts from Gonex when you spend $29 or more. See listing for details.

Regular price: $18.99 Prime day price: $15.19

7. Travel Journal with Writing Prompts

If you love the idea of keeping a travel journal but just don’t know how to start, this is the travel journal for you! Not only is it beautiful, but it includes writing prompts that will get you started writing about your experiences. Perfect for scrapbookers, travel bloggers (ahem) or anyone who wants to capture their travel experiences real time to re,liven remember them later.

Regular price: $22.99 Prime day price: $18.39

8. Backpacker Magazine Subscription

At 87% off the cover price, you should get this subscription for yourself and as a gift for anyone you know who enjoys backpacking travel! For just $7.00, you get a year’s worth of issues that cover the best places, gear and information for all kinds of hiking and camping trips with fold-out maps and stunning color photography. 

Cover price: $53.91 Prime day price: $7.00

9. Scratch Off World Map

This scratch off world map is such a fun idea! Scratch off the places you have visited. Then it’s time to start dreaming. Where will your next adventure take you? The Bucket List at the bottom of your travel poster gives you exciting goals. This world map comes with everything you’ll need to easily track your travels: scratch tool, push pins, stickers & more.

Regular price: $29.97 Prime day price: $19.78

10. Hard Sided Spinner Luggage 20″ Carry On Size

This compact, 20 inch carry-on offers secure, reliable storage with a spacious dual-chamber interior and multiple compartments.  The luggage features 360-degree spinner wheels that pivot effortlessly and a rugged, hard shell exterior with a center section that’s expandable. And as I’ve already stated, carry on is definitely the best way to travel! Bon voyage!

Regular price: $69.99 Prime day price: $48.99

So, what are you waiting for? Go get those deals!!

The Galeries Lafayette Glasswalk

The Galeries Lafayette Glasswalk

When poring through the 2019 edition of Rick Steves’ Paris guide book in preparation for my trip, I came across the mention of a shopping center called Galeries Lafayette. He said that Galeries Lafayette’s stained glass dome ceiling was a must-see. I’ve seen stained glass ceilings before, but never a dome. So I made it a point to go to Galeries Lafayette in my free time.

Upon entering the store from the street, I immediately realized I was out of my depth as far as the shopping was concerned. Luxury brands like Chanel and Yves St Laurent surrounded me. And I was only in the cosmetics section of the store! So I decided to head up to the Starbucks on the third floor, where Rick Steves promised I would find seats with a view. I ordered a Frappuccino to help me energize and cool off. Alas, all of the seats were taken, but I had snapped some photos while in line, so I was good.

But wait, there’s more…

Then I noticed a small flurry of activity and went to investigate. What Rick didn’t tell me was that there was a sign (and, of course, a queue) for something called Glasswalk. Like so many other places that offer you the opportunity to look at something from above with a transparent floor, the Galeries Lafayette Glasswalk offers visitors the chance to walk out under the dome… three floors up.

Galeries Lafayette's stained glass dome ceiling can best be viewed from the end of the Glasswalk platform.

I got in the line and waited for my turn. Remarkably, when I got to the front of the line, I discovered that there was no charge to go out on the Glasswalk. I pink-puffy-heart love free things! I sashayed out on the glass like I owned the joint.

A quick picture of my feet (and the glass beneath them) was a must. How else could I prove to my family that I actually had done this? (When they’re with me, I usually leave anything height-related to them while staying on terra firma to photograph them. I guess having to conquer my fear of heights is another down side of solo travel.)

(Yes, I wear flip flops even when walking all over a city like Paris. Believe it or not, they have arch supports built in and are the most comfortable shoes I own!)

Then, I took it all in. and all I can say is WOW…

Beyond the Galeries Lafayette Glasswalk

Reluctantly, I left the Glasswalk proceded to go up to the sixth floor, where Rick suggested they would have good Paris souvenirs. After a lot of deliberation and checking my list more than Santa does, I bought macarons to bring home as well as a few to enjoy there.

All in all, I really enjoyed my trip to Galeries Lafayette (even though I couldn’t do any serious shopping there). The Glasswalk was an amazing (free!) experience, and I highly recommend that you check it out when you visit Paris. It really is the best way to see and photograph Galeries Lafayette’s stained glass dome ceiling.

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#galerieslafayette #glasswalk #underthedome
Coming Soon!

Coming Soon!

Well, friends, I was working on a post last week that I hoped to publish before I left for my Paris vacation.

Unfortunately, my blog was experiencing technical difficulties and I was unable to finish it.

I will be publishing it soon after I return, and will have lots of new material from this trip as well! Bonjour!

Stay tuned…

Stay tuned…

Dear friends, I have just returned from the most amazing trip to Iceland, and I absolutely cannot wait to share it with you. Unfortunately, on the flight home I developed a cough which rapidly escalated into a full fledged case of the flu. I’m on the mend now, but it will still take a few days to sort through photos and gather my thoughts. In the meantime, please follow my Instagram account, where I am sharing some of the photos I took.

While I’m Away

While I’m Away

Hello friends!  I’m winding up an adventurous trip in South America at the moment, which I can’t wait to share with you!  In the mean time, please check out my guest post “15 Best Things to Do in Washington DC” on A Passion and a Passport.