airbnb booking guide

How to book on Airbnb: a step by step guide

In TRAVEL HACKS by Isabella BiavaLeave a Comment

In this guide, I will walk you through the Airbnb platform and help you understand how to make a booking on Airbnb

Grab your coupon for your first booking! (Only for Airbnb first-timers)
If you haven’t created an Airbnb account yet, you can use this coupon to register and get your discount (I will get one too :).

Continue reading if you want to learn how to use the platform in a smart way.

As you probably should know by now I am an Airbnb great fan and although sometimes I love to stay in nice hotels as well, living in a beautiful home is more suitable for the way I love to travel.

As a digital nomad, I need to make sure I have a working space, a good internet connection and tranquillity.

Also, I love being independent, having the option to cook my own meals, and the freedom to go back and forth my temporary home without strangers (aka receptionist, bellmen, etc…) watching my movements. Not that I do anything illegal or shameful, but I just like privacy.

Also staying in an Airbnb makes me feel like a local in my home, instead of a tourist, and more connected with the place I am visiting.

Of course sometimes I love to stay in beautiful and luxury hotels for small trips and going to fancy restaurants. But not for long stays.

After so many Airbnbs booked, there are a few tips I want to share with you. It may be obvious for some of you but not so much for those who are not familiar with the platform.

How to register to the Airbnb platform

Download the Airbnb App on your phone or open the Airbnb site on your desktop.

Registering with your details – this is an important step and identity verification process

I usually register with my email, I feel it’s safer than Facebook.

You need ti insert:

  • Your birth date
  • Your most used email, where you wish to receive the notifications
  • Your password. Make sure it’s strong and difficult to find out.
  • Also, you MUST tick off the box at the bottom if you DO NOT WANT to receive marketing messages from Airbnb.

Click on the red button: “agree and continue” and you will be taken to another window where you basically need to confirm that you are a good gal!

The next steps are optional, you are required to add a picture of yourself and a phone number but you can skip them for later.

I would suggest that you do upload your photo and phone number for two simple reasons:

  1. Through the Airbnb platform, you connect with real people and their homes and they are entitled to refuse to accept you in their property if they don’t like you for any reason. So the more information about yourself you share the easier is to connect and bond, which is basically one of the values on which Airbnb was created (besides making money of course)
  2. Once you have your booking confirmed you can connect with the homeowner via mobile where they share their exact location. Very important.

Lastly, you will receive an automatic email with a link where you must confirm that it’s really your email.

Once you click on the link you will be taken to a landing page where you are asked again to confirm your mobile. You can do it then or skip it for later. Then you are all set and you can start exploring.

Before moving forward though, you should take some time to update your profile for the reason I mentioned above, so that the homeowners know who they are going to host in their property.

Click on the icon on the top right corner and then select “Account” on the drop down menu.

You will see this screen and you will need to click on each one of the boxes and fill out the missing information. The main one is PAYMENTS because if you don’t include your credit card details you won’t be able to make a reservation.

Just FYI, when you make a reservation on Airbnb you will need to pay upfront, the entire amount, unless stated otherwise. For stay longer than 1 month you can pay later for the second month quote.

How to find your perfect place on Airbnb

Now that you are registered you need to start searching for your place.

  • Start with including the location, by town or region, the narrower is the geographical area the better.
  • Then use the filters to narrow further down the search. The search results are not always accurate, though.
  • Use the map if you want your place to be in a precise location but you don’t know what’s it called.
  • Select whether you want the entire apartment or a room
  • Select the cost range.
  • Select the check-in and check-out dates so that Airbnb will show you only the apartments available for that specific period and you save time in your search.

As you can see in the map below you can click on the price that is more convenient for you in the location you wish to stay. You will land on another page with the booking details and decide if it’s a good fit for you. Otherwise you can try with another one until you find THE one! 😉

How to make a booking on Airbnb

  • Once you have narrowed down the search check the pictures, see how you feel about the place.
  • Make sure you check all the details
  • Read the reviews (I will talk about it more later on in this article)
  • I always contact the host before booking even when it’s an automatic booking, because I want to make sure some about specific details that are important to me.
  • Check out the cancellation policy before making any payments.
  • Continue to read this post for the best practices.
  • When you are completely sure about the place, the price, the location, and everything else, and you feel that you are ready to book click on “book now” and you will be directed to the payment page. You should have already included your credit card or PayPal details and your payment should go through immediately unless the homeowner required to review and confirm your booking before accepting it. Some do so.
  • Now you are all set!

How to book an Airbnb: best practices

There are a few things that you must consider if you want to make sure everything go smoothly with your booking.

This is the most important section of the post. Read on.

Make sure you know what you are booking

Let me explain.

Not all homeowners are very familiar with the interface and it can happen to find contradicting information, especially on the kind of accommodation. Example: entire home vs a room? or is the bathroom en-suite? In doubt, always contact the host before booking if you feel something is not clear, in order to avoid unpleasant surprises.

Read the reviews from the previous guests, always.

Always, always, always read what the previous guests wrote about the place, but also take it with a grain of salt. First of all, our points of view are different, and second, things can change in time and the place can improve.

Normally it does.

For example, if there is a bad review on a mal-functioning WIFI and it’s dated 2018, you might want to make sure you read more recent reviews and what they say about the connection. If you don’t find anything, or you are not sure, ask the owner.

Check the total price and the breakdown

The price advertised when you see the list of properties displayed is not accurate. Airbnb would add their commission and taxes on top of the room fare basis that is decided by the owner, plus cleaning fees.

Consider booking for 7 days or 1 month

If you are looking for a deal, or a special discount, consider booking long term stays. 7 days normally attracts a 10% discount. For a 1-month stay, you can get up to a 35% discount, depending on the destination. An Airbnb in Tulum for example would offer nothing more than a 10% discount for a 1-month booking in high season. It’s probably better in the summer.

Or…

Ask for a deal

It’s the homeowners who make the price and has the power to change it as they please. So if you love an apartment and it’s a little off budget, it doesn’t cost to ask the owner for a discount. They might agree with lowering the price. It happened to me several times. It’s a win win situation all the time and the worst thing that can happen is that they say no.

Read all the details of the listing

Very important! Read everything that is included in the apartment, or the room. Is the kitchen available to use? a/c? wifi? if there are details that are for you basic and are not listed, ask the owner.

Read the cancellation policy

Cancellation policies might be tricky. Normally you have 48 hours from when you make the booking to cancel and get all your money back. Other than that it’s up to the homeowners. But it’s not always like that.

Always check the cancellation policy of the house you want to book, before making any payment.

I had to cancel twice, once was in Santiago de Chile because of the turmoils and the other was in Cabo San Lucas because of the COVID-19 and I wrote directly to the homeowners and they canceled the trip without penalty.

I received a full refund. But it’s not always the case.

There are a lot of good people in this world. 🙂

In doubt, always contact the host before booking

I always do that, because I want to make sure the place is in a quiet area and the wifi is working properly. I always found honest owners.

Another couple of things to remember

Trying to exchange personal contact details with the host

Everybody wants to do it so that you can book directly and avoid paying the commission. However keep in mind that if you book through Airbnb you are in some way protected, both you as a customer and the owner, in case any of you is disappointed by the service. You can ask for a refund and the owner can ask for damages. I am not sure how efficient is the customer service in these cases but it’s something you can hold on too. If you go directly there is nowhere you can find justice.

Also if you try to share your email address, telephone number or website or social media account Airbnb automatically hides it.

Both your phone numbers and the home address are shared once the booking is completed only.

Is Airbnb safe?

Look, this is a very difficult question to answer with accurate details.

I have stayed in many Airbnbs while traveling alone, especially in Mexico and Ecuador, Perù and I felt safe every time. I always had amazing experiences and met beautiful people.

But that doesn’t mean that it’s always the case. This is why it’s very important that you read the past reviews before making up your mind.

Compare prices

Sometimes the very same property is also listed in other platforms, especially booking.com which is my other favorite platform to book my stay.

Find apartments in Booking.com
Look for villas: Booking.com


Check out my Airbnb Guides

The complete guide to the top 11 Airbnb in Maui
The top 11 Airbnb in Antigua
The coolest Airbnb in Tulum

The complete travel planning guide (downloadable file included)


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