12 Genius Airbnb Tips, Secrets and Hacks for First Timers

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21 genius Airbnb tips, secrets and hacks for first timers that'll save you hundreds of dollars! An amazing 5 star staying for less than half price.
Photo credit: Airbnb

Have you ever tried Airbnb?

In the last 5 years of traveling around the world, Airbnb helped us to save hundreds of dollars in accommodation alone! We stayed in a wonderful apartment in Ubud Bali, chilled out in a beautiful apartment in Cinque Terre and in a charming Trullo in Puglia, just to name a few.

Airbnb lets you stay in someone’s home, and it’s an incredible alternative to hotels. You can pick a place to stay for a night, or even rent out an apartment for an entire month if for example you are a digital nomad or you are having the holiday of your life!

More and more people are using it, but you’ve got to truly understand how to make the most of Airbnb to find the best deals.

If you are ready to:

  • do things a little bit differently
  • have an incredible holiday
  • save some of your hard-earned cash while you do it

read on for tips on booking your most terrific holiday ever!

Planning to sign up for Airbnb? You can get up to $42 credit for your first stay at an Airbnb by following this link to book your Airbnb.


Ready? Here’s everything you need to know about Airbnb.

1. Select the type of place you are looking for

There are thousands of listing on Airbnb. Make sure you narrow down your search to match your requirements. 

The 4 options are:

  • Entire home: you’ll have the place to yourself
  • Private room: you’ll have your own room and share some space like a kitchen and/or bathroom
  • Hotel room: this is quite new. Now Airbnb offers private or shared rooms in boutique hotels, hostels etc.
  • Shared room: you will stay in a shared space, like a common room

We normally prefer to rent the entire place, but if you are on a tight budget you can opt for renting out a room. You can also add more filters to your search, to select a specific number of bedrooms or things you must have.

Just click on “More Filters” to add what you need.

2. Inspect all the photos…closely

Nothing can be more revealing that the photos your host uploads. If a listing has only a couple of photos, you need to be very careful. 

Is a photo of the bathroom missing? Or you can’t see how big the bed is in the second bedroom?

The best and more professional hosts will show several photos from many angles of all the rooms, to give you a great impression of their property.

I’ve never booked a place if I wasn’t able to check pictures of the living room, kitchen, bedroom, and bathroom. And I am sure this has saved me some major headaches!

21 genius Airbnb tips, secrets and hacks for first timers that'll save you hundreds of dollars! An amazing 5 star staying for less than half price.
Photo credit: Airbnb

3. Read all the reviews…especially the bad ones!

Every time I find a beautiful Airbnb, I make sure I read all the reviews, one by one. Pay close attention especially to what people didn’t like. It can really save you from a nightmare experience.

The hosts will always tell you how wonderful their place is, and they might tend to forget things like a noisy street next to the bedroom window or low water pressure.

Listen to what others say about cleanliness, how safe the area is and any problems they encountered. I don’t really have a rule on how many reviews I want to check out for each place, but when I see over 10-15 glowing reviews I know I’m in for a great stay!

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4. Check location, description, and amenities


If you are going to a specific city for the first time, the location is super important! Airbnb will not show you the exact address of a place until you book, but it still gives you the approximate area of the listing within a couple of blocks.

Use the approximate location and check it out on Google Maps. It might be a great looking place, but what if it’s next to train tracks? Or on the verge of a sketchy looking industrial area? Or even, a little bit more of a trek to the city than you planned on? Taking 5 minutes to check the neighborhood can save you from nasty surprises.

Description and amenities

Each property will have a detailed description and a list of all amenities included in the place. I love for example when a hairdryer is included. It helps me to save space and weight in my travel bag! A very detailed and professional description shows that the owner is caring and attentive, which means you are more likely to have a great stay.

How to save money on Airbnb and book and amazing vacation
Photo credit: Airbnb

5. Save money by choosing when to go and who to go with

How long to go for

One thing I love about Airbnb is that if you are staying for over a week, you are likely to get a discount.

Sometimes discounts get applied automatically when you select a longer period of time. Another alternative is to contact the host directly and ask how many nights you have to stay to qualify for a discount.

A few discounts we got in the past:

  • Long stay discounts: this discount is available in some places if you are staying for 7 days or longer.
  • Monthly discount: when you stay at least a month.
  • Early bird discount: some hosts offer a discount on stays that are booked 60 days or more in advance.

When to go

Another great tip is to look for gaps in the calendar. You might be able to book a lower rate by choosing dates that aren’t in high demand. Check the calendar for available dates and look for openings. If you are flexible with your dates, you could book Monday to Thursday and contact the host to get a discount. It’s much harder for hosts to fill up their places during the week, so they might be prepared to offer you a sweet deal.

Same goes for off-season bookings: taking a trip outside the peak can be a great way to save money and get a much cheaper rate.

Who to go with

If the place you pick has multiple rooms, why don’t you ask friends or family members if they fancy a holiday together? You can split the cost and share your space with someone you actually know and like.

Planning a holiday together can save you money and let you stay in wonderful places. How about a villa in Portugal with a swimming pool? Sign me up! I really don’t mind sharing it with my mother-in-law!

Note: Make sure you select the right number of occupants when you book as this can this affect your rate!

21 genius Airbnb tips, secrets and hacks for first timers that'll save you hundreds of dollars! An amazing 5 star staying for less than half price.
Photo credit: Airbnb

6. Search for listings with no reviews

If you’re feeling adventurous, you can possibly save some money.

Remember, even the highest rated host started at zero, so no reviews doesn’t automatically mean it’s a bad deal. Be sure to talk to your host a lot and do your own due diligence, if you pick this route. Ask them why they have no reviews, and what discount they are willing to offer if you are happy to test them out and leave an honest review.

Admittedly, this Airbnb tip is a bit riskier than others, but if you’re cautious with your reservation you can end up with a great deal.

7. Watch out for extra fees

When you see a daily price on Airbnb, this might not include everything else that you’ll need to pay for. To find out the final price of your stay make sure you select the dates of your stay and check out the total, for the breakdown of your fees.

Some fees to watch out for:

  • Cleaning fee: this is a one-time fee charged by the host to cover the cost of cleaning their space.
  • Service fee: this is the Airbnb fee. It ranges from 5% to 15%, and it’s calculated by using several factors including the length of your stay and the price of the listing.
  • Extra guest fees: this is a fee set by the host, charged above a certain number of guests.
  • Occupancy taxes and fees: this includes any other fees like local taxes and other fees.

Airbnb tips: what out for extra fees

8. Interact with the host

Communicating with the host is a great way to get a better deal, and make the most out of your experience. As soon as you see a listing you would like to book do this:

Ask questions about the listing and see how responsive they are

We all know there’s 24-hour service at a hotel if something goes wrong, but that’s not always the case with Airbnb. Send your potential hosts a message. If it takes them days to come back to you, run away. If a pipe burst or something’s not as promised, you don’t want to spend your vacation trying to reach them.

The best hosts I’ve come across, normally come back within 24 hours. Some even come back within an hour or two!

Negotiate your price

Just send a message to your potential host before booking, and ask nicely if there is any way you can get a discount. This has worked for us on more than one occasion! Especially if you are booking a longer stay.

21 genius Airbnb tips, secrets and hacks for first timers that'll save you hundreds of dollars! An amazing 5 star staying for less than half price.
Photo credit: Airbnb

Always tell your host at what time you are planning to arrive

Most Airbnb places have set check in and check out times, like hotels. But some hosts can be more strict than others. If you are traveling from far away, you might arrive late at night. This isn’t normally an issue in a hotel. But can be more difficult to arrange with Airbnb. 

Make sure to give your host an idea of your arrival time, to check if they can accommodate.

Another great tip is to ask if you can check in sooner. If they don’t have any guests staying there the night before, you might end up being able to enjoy a few extra hours in your Airbnb.

Ask your host for advice

They’re locals, so they’re likely to know the areas in town that won’t make the tourist guides. Don’t be shy about asking what they find attractive in their area, or what they would avoid. It’s always great to get insider advice, especially if you’ve never visited that location before.

I love asking our hosts for food recommendations. We’ve discovered some incredible local restaurants by doing this, that we wouldn’t have tried otherwise.

9. Find a place with a kitchen

Being able to drink your morning cup of coffee in relative peace, without having to go get dressed to go to the breakfast buffet, is a plus.

Having the ability to skip high-priced restaurants and cook a meal on your own? A total benefit to your wallet, especially if you are going to travel for a long period of time.

As much as Dan and I love eating out and experience the local cuisine, we also have great fun shopping at local supermarkets and experiment with new ingredients. Having a small kitchen can give you the extra flexibility you won’t find in a hotel room.

Photo credit: Airbnb

10. Be a great guest

On Airbnb, guests receive reviews too!

This is a great way to ensure that hosts are renting their homes to trustworthy people. If you get a bad review from a host, it might be difficult for you to book with Airbnb again. Every other host will be able to see what your previous hosts thought about you, which will affect your possible future rentals.

Treat your host house as your own, be respectful of the rules and be polite!

Leave the apartment or the room in good conditions, clean up after yourself and check with the host what the check out procedures are when you check in.

Make sure you leave a great impression! Good reviews will also make it easier to get discounts in the future because hosts will know you are a reliable guest.

Photo credit: Airbnb

11. Problems? Ask Airbnb for a refund within 24 hours!

If there is a major issue with the place you booked, the photos weren’t accurate or the place is dirty and untidy, contact Airbnb immediately. Airbnb withholds the payment to the host for 24 hours after check-in to give the guest time to check the property. If you need to be moved to another Airbnb because you can’t find a solution with the host, an Airbnb representative will help you to find alternative accommodation or give you a full refund.

It will be much easier to process a refund, if you contact Airbnb immediately, and certainly within the first 24 hours.

12. Share the love

Last but not least, especially if you want to know how to save money on Airbnb!

Become an unofficial Airbnb spokesperson, and they’ll pay you. Really! You can send referral links to your friends, and if they use that link to sign up and reserve a spot, you’ll earn a little credit to your own account.

This little Airbnb hack can help you to travel at a discounted rate, depending on how many friends you refer.

Everything else you need to know about Airbnb

What does Airbnb stand for?

Air bed-and-breakfast. Not as catchy as Airbnb!

In 2007 founders Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia decided to make some extra money by renting out a few air mattress in their living room while offering breakfast too, during a local design conference in San Francisco. They noticed all the hotel rooms near the conference were sold out and they quickly put up a website called “Air Bed and Breakfast” advertising their space and sold out pretty quickly. 

The idea of Airbnb was born! How incredible is that? The company is now worth $31 billion and it started from someone sleeping on an air mattress!

Find out the best Airbnb tips to save money on your next trip
Photo credit: Airbnb

How to Sign up to Airbnb for the first time and create an awesome profile

Go to Aibnb.com and click sign up. You can either use your email or Facebook to create an account.

Before you can start your first booking, you’ll have to complete your profile. This includes your full legal name, email address, confirmed phone number, an introduction about yourself, sign an agreement to follow the rules of the rental you choose and input your payment information.

Remember: Airbnb isn’t a hotel so a reservation isn’t promised. As you’ll be staying in someone’s home, it’s up to the hosts to decide whether to accept your reservation, so it will pay off to spend time cultivating a trustworthy profile.

When you create your profile, make sure you verify it by uploading one of your IDs (many hosts on Airbnb will only rent to travelers with a ‘verified ID’ so don’t skip this step).  Select a good profile picture, and write a spectacular description of yourself and why you’ll be a great guest. You want to be likable and honest to make a good impression!

Planning to sign up for Airbnb? You can get up to $42 travel credit for your first stay at an Airbnb by following this link to book your Airbnb.

Sign up for Airbnb and save money with these tips
Photo credit: Airbnb

Ready for your next holiday using Airbnb?

Follow these Airbnb tips and hacks and you’ll have an incredible time, and have a safe, enjoyable and cheaper holiday!

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  1. Warren Footz says:

    Is it better to book early, or wait until closer to travel date to see if other places open up? and is it appropriate to contact previous hosts to see f they may open up dates as well?
    lots of good info on here..have already used some, but now have more…thanx

    1. Hi Warren,
      In my experience, it’s better to book early. The closer you get to the date (especially in busy seasons, the least you’ll find). If dates are booked, it’s unlikely that they’ll open up more later on.
      I hope this helps 🙂