How to book the best — and safest — Airbnb

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Airbnb
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If you’re looking for a more unique travel experience, Airbnb is the way to go. From bustling cities to remote destinations, Airbnb listings are great options to immerse yourself in local culture.

Plus, if you need a larger space, prefer to have your own cooking facilities, or if you plan to stay for more than a couple nights in a destination, you’ll often get a much better deal by renting an apartment, home or condo from a private owner.

Read more: AirBNB offers money-saving alternatives to hotel rooms

With more than three million listings worldwide, it can be intimidating to find the best deals. Here are a few tips to help you find the best — and safest — fit for your trip.

How to find the best fit for your trip on Airbnb

Get your renter profile up to snuff

You’ll get more positive responses from better quality hosts if your profile is up-to-date, so it’s best to take care of it before you start your search. You can also verify your identification in advance to ensure an even safer exchange with a host. If you don’t have many reviews, get a few references.

Read the reviews

The number of reviews and ratings on a property are extremely important. Kim Drobes, executive producer for The Clark Howard Show, recommends only considering properties with five-star ratings and at least 20 reviews, although it can depend on the area. Look at all properties — not just the ones you like — to get an idea of the typical travel experience.

Research the neighborhood

You know where you’ll be the happiest. Use the travel map view to find listings so you can see just how close it is to your favorite spots like the beach or city center. Airbnb offers city guides, but branch out to other travel sites to get the most well-rounded information on your destination.

Know what you like

You can save lots of money on food if you stay in space with a kitchen. If a kitchen is really important to you, make sure you check the photos so you know it’s the right fit. When booking for bed space, check out the photos and read the reviews.

Check the cancellation policy

Cancellation policies vary by host so check the requirement before you book, or be prepared to commit.

  • Flexible: Full refund one day prior to arrival
  • Moderate: Full refund five days prior to arrival
  • Strict: 50% refund until one week prior to arrival

Always ask questions

Most hosts are more than happy to answer questions — even if you’re asking about discounts! Look for discounts if you’re staying longer than a week. If your travel dates are quickly approaching and a property is still available, ask for a cheaper price. You don’t know the answer unless you ask!

Go the extra mile

If you’re new to Airbnb, write a nice note when making a reservation. Tell the host that you’re new to the process, explain why you are traveling, and ask if there is anything they need from you before booking the listing.

Read more: 7 lessons I learned as an Airbnb host

If you run into any major issues with a host or property, the Airbnb emergency phone number is 1-855-424-7262.

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Sally McDonald About the author:
Sally is the newsletter editor for Clark Howard brands. She enjoys great travel deals, minimal living and saving big bucks. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia, with her husband.
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