How to Choose a Good (and Safe!) Airbnb

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How to Choose a Good (and Safe!) Airbnb

Million Mile SecretsHow to Choose a Good (and Safe!) AirbnbMillion Mile Secrets Team

We devote thousands of hours of research to help you get Big Travel with Small Money. You support us by signing-up for credit cards through partner links which earn us a commission. Here’s our full Advertising Policy.

Airbnb is a great choice for folks who prefer a local feel when they travel, or want to explore off the beaten (tourist) path.  It’s also ideal for longer stays, like a couple of weeks (or more!)

How To Choose A Good And Safe Airbnb
Find Airbnbs All Over the World! Here Are a Few Tips to Make Sure You Have an Even Better Stay

Folks might not like that some Airbnbs only have a few reviews, unlike the thousands of reviews you can find for hotels.

But there are still ways to find a great place where you’ll feel welcome and safe.  Here are my tips!

What’s Airbnb?

Link:   Sign-Up for Airbnb (Get $20 toward your 1st stay of $75+)

Airbnb lets folks rent out their home, or a room in their home, to guests.

How To Choose A Good And Safe Airbnb
Live Like a King or Queen! You Can Find Fun Accommodations, Like Castles and Igloos on Airbnb

You’ll also find listings for fun places like campers, castles, igloos, ranches, or retro trailers.  Airbnb goes beyond ordinary hotel stays to offer a wider range of prices and options.

How To Choose A Good And Safe Airbnb
Care to Stay Above the Arctic Circle With a View of a Glacier? Airbnb Has That Covered, Too!

Airbnb also has a presence in places where there simply aren’t hotels, like above the Arctic Circle in Norway.  If you’re planning to explore, or visit a place far from the normal tourist sites, check Airbnb to see what’s available!

How to Find an Airbnb

Get started on the Airbnb website.

How To Choose A Good And Safe Airbnb
Start by Entering Your Dates, Number of Guests, and Where You Want to Go

Airbnb makes it easy to jump right into listings.  Enter where you want to visit, your dates of travel, how many are in your party, and click “Search.”

How To Choose A Good And Safe Airbnb
From There, Use Filters to Find a Listing in Your Price Range, and Near Where You Want to Be

On the next page, you’ll see lots of listings (hopefully!).  For example, I searched for places to stay in Akureyri, Iceland, where there are not many hotel options.

But, I found 81 listings on Airbnb!  You might want to stop in Akureyri if you’re driving the Ring Road around Iceland, or if you want to visit Iceland’s “Capital of the North.”  It’s very close to the Arctic Circle, and there’s lots of culture and activities to enjoy!

How To Choose A Good And Safe Airbnb
Would You Stay in 1 of These Small Houses on the North Atlantic Ocean?

To find your spot:

  • Use the filters to choose from entire homes, private rooms, or shared rooms
  • Use the sliders to adjust your price range
  • Click around the map to find a place close to where you want to be (near the highway, near the water, close to a friend or family member, etc.)
  • See how many reviews the host has for the listing
How To Choose A Good And Safe Airbnb
What Are the Reviews Like? This Host Has an Average of All 5-Stars Across 68 Reviews. That’s a Very Good Sign!

Once you find a listing that meets your criteria, look at the reviews.  Read how other travelers describe the place.  Is it cozy?  Warm in winter, and cool in summer?  Is it close to attractions?  Do they mention difficulty finding the place, getting the Wi-Fi to work, etc.?

Most importantly, the reviews give you a chance to see that others have had safe visits, which gives you peace of mind.

But What If There Are No (Or Few) Reviews?

Don’t worry.  When hosts open up new listings, they need someone to take the 1st plunge!

As an incentive, they’ll sometimes price their rental far below market rates to gather positive reviews.  The host will want to make a good impression on you, so you’ll often get great service by being 1 of the 1st stays!

How To Choose A Good And Safe Airbnb
Does the Host Have Other Reviews? Click Their Picture to Check

Check if the host has reviews for other listings.  Click their picture to view their profile page.  If they have other listings with positive reviews, you are most likely in good hands.

But if the host is brand new to Airbnb, you might want to ask questions to clarify any concerns.

If the host is communicative and prompt, you might decide to accept a discounted stay to be the 1st (or among the 1st) to stay with the host.  See how you feel, and remember, don’t do anything you aren’t completely comfortable with!

Other Things to Consider

Airbnbs are NOT like hotels.  They are just like their name implies, BnB’s…bed and breakfasts!  Your only point of contact is your host, the person who put up the listing.

So you’ll want to make sure this person is fair, honest, and reputable.

You’ll also want to know the place you’re booking is a good fit for you.  So there are lots of things to consider or ask about, like:

  • Are there stairs, or an elevator?
  • Who should you call if something breaks, or needs service?
  • Are linens and towels included?
  • What else is – or isn’t – included?

Also consider that locals might have a different view of certain things.  For example, if you want to know how fast the internet is, that’s relative.  Other countries don’t have the high-speeds of the US.  Ask for a screenshot of the internet service from speedtest.net if you must have fast internet service.

How To Choose A Good And Safe Airbnb
What’s Acceptable to You? Remember Other Countries Have Different Standards

If you’re going to a country without clean drinking water, ask if the host provides water, or if you need to get your own.  If there’s a pool, ask if they use chlorine in it.

Does the host offer airport pickup and drop-off?  If you’re going to a small airport, lots of hosts will be happy to meet you when you arrive.

For longer stays, ask what’s included in the kitchen.  Is there a microwave?  Are there pots and pans?  A fridge?

Be sure to look at the pictures carefully and closely and assume they are taken in the “best case” scenario.  Piece together the living area based on the photos, and pay close attention the bed or mattress to make sure it isn’t too thin.

If you’re allergic to animals, ask if there are pets on the property.  And if you’re allergic to scents or chemicals, ask what cleaning products are used, or if candles are burned in your room.

How To Choose A Good And Safe Airbnb
On the Listing Page, Click “More Filters” to Search for Certain Listings

You can find more filter options on the listing page by selecting “More Filters.”  There, you’ll see if there’s a washer and dryer, if you can smoke, if the place is wheelchair accessible, if it’s family friendly, has cable TV, etc.

Use the filters!  Find out exactly what’s included, and what is NOT.

And, if you have any questions, no matter how silly they might seem, send the host a message.  A good host will be happy to explain anything you don’t clearly understand.

It will also make you feel safer and more comfortable about the place you will potentially book.

Remember that both hosts and guests (especially hosts) go through a verification check of their IDs.  And those are kept on file.  It’s a huge measure that adds a lot of safety to the process.

Airbnb is a fun way to travel and explore new places!

Be sure to read my tips on how to negotiate a better price on Airbnb!

Pay With the Right Card

Remember to use a card that will earn you bonus points:

Card NameWhat It Earns
American Express® Gold Card
- Earn 3X American Express Membership Rewards points for airfare purchased directly from airlines

- $100 Airline fee credit. Up to $100 a year for incidental fees with your selected airline

- Terms apply
SimplyCash® Plus Business Credit Card from American Express
- 3% cash back on airfare purchased directly from airlines on the first $50,000 when you choose this as your 3% cash back category

- Here's my review of the card

- Terms apply
The Platinum Card® from American Express
- Earn 5X American Express Membership Rewards points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel

- $200 Airline Fee Credit. Up to $200 a year in baggage fees and more at 1 airline

- Here's my review of the card

- Terms apply
Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard- Earn 2 miles per $1 on all purchases

- Use miles for travel statement credits (minimum 10,000 miles for $100)

- Here's my review of the card
Chase Sapphire Reserve
- Earn 3 miles per $1 on travel and dining

- $300 statement credit for travel purchases per calendar year (including hotels, airfare, etc.)

- Here's my review of the card
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
- Earn 2X Chase Ultimate Rewards points on travel, including airfare

- Here's my review of the card
Citi Prestige® Card
- Earn 3X ThankYou points for airfare & hotels

- $250 statement credit for airfare & baggage fees each calendar year

Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card
InkBusinessPreferred
- Earn 3X Chase Ultimate Rewards points on the first $150,000 spent on travel, including airfare each year

- Here's my review of the card
Or pay with an airline credit card for specific perks!

And, if you have lots of AMEX Membership Rewards points, you can redeem them for Airbnb gift cards!

Bottom Line

Airbnb is a fantastic way to travel, especially to areas without hotels, places removed from tourist destinations, or for longer stays.

If you’re new to Airbnb, you can sign-up using my link to get $20 toward your 1st stay of $75+!  And before you book, be sure you ask your potential host questions so you feel comfortable and safe.  Always check the reviews to make sure there are no red flags.

Airbnb has a secure system in place, but as always, do what’s best for you.  If you’ve had an experience with Airbnb, please tell us about it in the comments!

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Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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After staying in several good and a couple very bad Airbnb and VRBO properties, I have learned to read between the lines of the reviews. If a review says “it could have been cleaner” or “we had a little street noise” it probably means it was very dirty and very noisy. Reviewers don’t like to leave strong negative comments, particularly if the hosts are nice people. I regard mildly negative comments as big warning signs.

We’ve stayed in AirBnBs and have started hosting other people too.

It’s a great way to meet travelers and earn a bit of money on the side. 🙂

You don’t have to commit to it full time – we just block out the calendar if we’re out of town, or if we have family/friends staying in our guest room, or we are not available to accept guests, it’s great!