When traveling abroad (or really anywhere), one of the first things you need to decide is where to stay. Your options typically include a hotel, Airbnb, hostel, or bed-n-breakfast. Nine times out of ten, Graham and I prefer to stay in an Airbnb when traveling.
The only time we choose not to stay in an Airbnb is if we can’t find any that seem nice at a good price, and in that case we’ll choose the classic hotel option. We love the hotels we’ve stayed at because they are nice, safe, comfortable, affordable, and have friendly staff. For the same reasons and more, however, we LOVE our stays at Airbnbs.
Choosing the Right Airbnb
Here is our criteria for finding the best Airbnb in the city we are visiting:
- Price. You can create a filter when searching airbnb.com and we rule out any that are above what we are willing to pay. Keep in mind that the price listed will jump up quite a bit when cleaning fees and taxes are included.
- Location. Depending on the city you go to and the transportation you use, this is KEY. You don’t want to plan to walk everywhere and be an hour away from everything. Most cities have a “city center” and we aim to be near that.
- Reviews. Pictures can be deceiving, so always read the reviews from others who have actually been in the space to see what they say about the amenities, as well as the ease of working with the host. We want to stay somewhere that has had many reviews as well, so we can trust the consistency seen in the ratings.
- Amenities. Before kids, and especially now with our son, we always want a private room WITH a private restroom. It isn’t always clear on the site if the restroom is shared, but we prefer this so we will message the host to confirm.
If you will have a car while traveling, every Airbnb we have stayed at has a good spot on site or close by to park the car. The host will communicate that once you confirm the booking and notify them that you’ll have a car.
Second, getting access to the Airbnb is always unique, as some hosts won’t be available when you arrive. We’ve been given codes to doors, been directed to a nearby restaurant to request the key, or just knocked/buzzed in to the door if someone is home. While it is often times different, it is always an easy process.
Also, while we request our own room and bathroom, we love sharing the kitchen so we can converse with the host while we eat. They typically provide breakfast, sometimes a freshly cooked meal and other times fruit and cereal or something you can make on your own.
Lastly, there hasn’t been an issue with communicating with the host when staying in countries where English isn’t the first spoken language. Whether it be France, Germany, Spain, or Austria, we have been able to easily communicate in English. Airbnb hosts know that they will accommodate Americans, and many are raised to know English anyway, so don’t worry about having to know the local lingo to stay there.
Places We’ve Stayed in an Airbnb
- Edinburgh, Scotland
- London, England
- Paris, France
- Galway, Ireland
- Cork, Ireland
- Dublin, Ireland
- Barcelona, Spain
- Augsburg, Germany
- Ulm, Germany
- Innsbrook, Austria
- Austin, Texas
Why We Love Airbnb Most
What puts Airbnb above other housing options is that you get to chat with a true local and see how they live. We have gathered that many people become Airbnb hosts because they love their city and enjoy sharing it with tourists. Graham and I love to ask the host where we should go out to eat, what areas we should walk around, and what sites we can’t miss and we can be fairly confident that they aren’t incentivized to mention places but rather are telling us what they truly love and want us to experience. We have totally changed our day plans before based on a morning conversation over breakfast with our host, and we were so glad we did. Some are more talkative than others, but learning their personalities is part of the experience! We also love to see the genuine outfitting and decor of their home- something you will miss in a generic hotel.
If you want thorough exposure to the culture of a new city, you can’t go wrong staying in an Airbnb. We have left some cities impressed by the home and the host, and other times we’ve left laughing at how intriguing the whole experience was; but in both cases we have been SO glad we chose to stay in the Airbnb. Let us know about your experiences with Airbnb, both in the states and abroad!!
One thing to note: we stayed in a few of those Airbnbs mentioned above with our 10 month old son. You can request a pack-n-play and many will set it up for you! Not all will have one but it is worth asking. All hotels should have a pack-n-play/crib if you need one.