1. Know what you are looking for
There is a lot on offer on Airbnb. The first things that you have to ask yourself are the same basic questions that you would ask when looking for any other type of accommodation:
- Do you want a room to yourself, a whole flat to yourself, or can you share?
- Do you want extra services? Wifi, towels, breakfast,…
- What facilities do you need? Lounge, kitchen,…
- Can you live in a house with pets?
- Do you need parking?
Make a list of what you want from your Airbnb stay so you can start narrowing down your search and avoid letdowns.
2. Check out the reviews
Now that you know what you want and have selected a few rooms, check the reviews. Unlike many other review websites, Airbnb only allows actual customers – people who have booked and stayed at the property – to review the rooms. This helps a lot in building trust knowing that those reviews come from actual users. Also, learn to take extreme reviews with a pinch of salt: one that sounds too good to be true or too bad usually means they have something to hide. For example, some hosts can get their mates to book and leave a glorious review.
3. Contact your host before booking
Ok, so that host seems to match your criteria perfectly and has great reviews. You are ready to book. But wait! Before that, you should contact your host. Firstly, because it is the polite way to behave, but also because you may have some extra questions. What about asking about the check-in and check-out hours and the public transport access to the place? Use this to also determine whether you get “good vibes” from this host.
4. Make friends with your host
Now we get to the good part. You are in the place ready to enjoy yourself. New Zealanders are famousfor their friendliness and hospitality, so dive in and make friends with them. You are not in a faceless hotel, you are living with a local- just the experience you were looking for, right? Use this to your advantage!Your host probably knows all the best cafe, hikes and things to do around. It’s one of the 5 Ways to Stay with Locals in New Zealand.
5. Don’t be put off by a bad experience
Not that it’s very likely to happen, but if something goes wrong or you have a bad experience, don’t let this stop you from using Airbnb again. Remember, Airbnb is still relatively new so is a long way until being perfect. When it becomes more mainstream, and the number of properties listed grows, something else is bound to pique your interest.
6. Have basic manners
Again, somebody just opened their home to you for a pretty cheap price. Basically, don’t act like a d*ck. Feet off the table, hands off their food, ass off their towels, etc. Unless you have been told “help yourself”, assume that it is theirs and use yours.
7. Remember, Airbnb is a mixed bag
You will find a bit of everything on Airbnb: private hosts, student flats, commercial hostels, hotels, etc.It is up to you to research each host so you get what you want out of your stay. Check out the “Accuracy” star rating on Airbnb, which helps you know if a listing is misleading or not.
8. Reassure your family
Airbnb is pretty safe. If you need reasons to reassure mum and dad (or yourself for that matter) here are a few ones:
- Hosts and guests have to submit a copy of their ID to join the platform.
- Every payment is handled by Airbnb so there is no cash exchange with the host.
- Hosts are rated by almost all their guests so you are never going in “blind”.
- Airbnb has a 24/7 support service.
9. Check all the charges
Almost every listing comes with a few extra charges, should it be cleaning fees, wifi, etc. Keep an eye out for security deposits to be paid for most places where the host will not be there during your stay. Not that this should deter you away from using Airbnb, but they’re worth noting when planning and budgeting for the next leg of your trip.
10. Use that price slider!
Ok, it’s an obvious one, this is such an amazing feature that most people totally skip. When looking for an Airbnb room in a city, slide the price slider all the way to your maximum budget. That way you only get the places that you can afford. That’s a huge time-saver! (Plus it helps you stick to your budget). Remember, most Airbnb hosts charge only a small extra fee for the second person.
More useful information about budget accommodation in New Zealand
To check out the Airbnb opportunities in each New Zealand city, take a look at our City Accommodation Guides.