How do you know if Airbnb safe?
I've been asked these questions many times by people who haven't tried the delight that is Airbnb, and my answer is YES - you can trust Airbnb. However, just like anything else, a little research & information will go a long way.
Personally, I'm an Airbnb fangirl - we use them all the time, and have had nothing but WONDERFUL experiences!
From my own experience, Airbnb is very trustworthy, for a few reasons.
The person hosting (them) & the person BEING hosted (you) both leave reviews. This can be inclusive of anything - I usually mention that the photos were exactly like the space, or if it was even better in person, if the host was good at communicating, if check-in was easy, and if it was clean & comfortable.
Read reviews and see what other people have said! And if you're not totally comfortable, pick a place that has MANY good reviews! As with everything, one bad apple can spoil the bunch, but they're pretty easy to sift through when everyone else is leaving rave reviews.
Airbnb Verified Photos
Many of the Airbnb room photos are 'verified', which means it was taken by their photographers. It's an extra level of reassurance knowing that an Airbnb staff photographer took these photos, rather than the person listing their home shooting only the good angles! We've all been to the hotel that looks wonderful in photos but is dumpy in person, and the verified photographs take the guess work out.
Verified photos will say so beneath the explanation (like the photo on the left). It will be absent if it's not verified (like on the right).
All money is exchanged through Airbnb. You don't have to give a random stranger your credit card, which is ALWAYS comforting. (This processing is part of the Airbnb fee you'll notice mentioned). One note on this; depending on where you're staying, please keep in mind there might be a random cash charge (which should be mentioned in their 'blurb' on their posting), but it's not the norm. Airbnb rooms all over Italy had a type of tax (a tourist/housing tax), of $3 per person, per night. If you're uncertain of a random tax, check other listings in that area. Italy, for example, had it on every single one - no matter what. Just be practical. If it sounds fishy, it might be, just do a little extra research.
That being said, here are some things I would look for in a potential place to stay!
If you're feeling unsure about being in a stranger's home, choose "entire home" in your selection. There's no need to worry about awkward conversations in the hallway or a shared bathroom.
Some "private room" listings have a completely separate entrance, bathroom, the works - they're just attached to the house (such as a basement or mother-in-law suite). If you're unsure, message your host!
You can always message hosts and ask how far they are from the airport, shopping, restaurants, etc. Many will have that listed in the notes about the property, but if it's not there - just ask. Airbnb gives you a green bubble of "approximate" location, but you can ask the host for cross streets or a landmark to give you a better idea of where they're at.
Keep in mind paying a little more for a better location can save you money on taxi fare & car rental.
When we used Airbnb in Italy, our hit list was washing machines, wi-fi & heat! Each place lists what they have, so check it out and make sure it meets your needs. Free wi-fi is pretty standard, but make sure it's listed. Some have cable, some don't.
If you are renting a car, make sure there is a place for you to park or easy street parking nearby. This is one way we've found Airbnb to be an INCREDIBLE deal. Wi-fi & parking at a hotel can be anywhere from $10-$50 per day EACH. Staying a long weekend can add hundreds of dollars on top of expensive nightly room rates.
Airbnb has a great section on their website on how to prepare yourself as a guest. This can answer some other questions you might have if you're still feeling unsure! If you would like to ask me any questions, or feel there's something I missed in this post, send me an email. I'd be happy to help!
Also, if you're a first-timer and are looking for some Airbnb credit, look no further! If you use my link, we will both get $25 towards travel. It's really win-win.
I LOVE Airbnb! Do you? Have you used it before?