You hear both good and bad experiences from people using Airbnb but is it worth searching through the listings to find a property that will be family-friendly? If you think that might be a daunting task, our tips should help you out.
It helps to be specific with the search facilities of the Airbnb site. For starters you probably want to search by 'entire place' — otherwise you might find you end up sharing a room/rooms in a larger property. Put in the number of rooms you require and the number of people who will be travelling to match these up with available dates. Look for a family-owned apartment i.e. a place owned by people like you.
If you have a country or city in mind, it's worthwhile doing some research beforehand to find out what the neighbourhoods are like. You're unlikely to get a prime, central touristy spot and you don't want to end up in some dodgy area where you feel you can't leave your apartment. Google Street View will also give you an idea of what the surrounding area looks like.
Renting an Airbnb property might seem like a cheaper option than a hotel room but pay special attention to the prices. Some property hosts advertise a price for up to two people and you may find, when you add on the children, the price hikes up. Other charges to look out for are cleaning fees, an extra charge that ensures the property is cleaned both before and after your stay. Compare prices with similar properties in the same area to make sure you're getting a fair deal.
As well as getting a property all to yourself, rather than sharing with others, check the specifics of each room to make sure it suits your needs. Study the photos carefully, paying particular attention to safety issues. If you have young children, for example, watch out for steep staircases or copious amounts of glass. Check out all the reviews and you could even contact some people who have stayed there (connections on Airbnb are via Facebook).
Look at the host's rental history on the site as well as their profile. A good, reliable host will expect you to contact them prior to booking. It's in their interest to ensure that the people they rent their property to are reliable and legitimate. They shouldn't mind you asking questions so don't be afraid to and it's always advisable to make contact with the owners rather than jumping straight into a booking. Can they provide information about the local area, places to go? Will they be providing towels; if so how many? Is the apartment child-friendly?
Remember this is someone else's home you are considering staying in. House rules are specified on the site. Depending on the age of your children, you may want to take these into consideration before booking.
Airbnb has three types of cancellation policy: flexible, moderate and strict. Read them carefully before you make your choice. The properties are not individually verified by Airbnb nor will they be protected by ABTA so make sure you have up-to-date travel insurance.
Remember the Airbnb properties are homes and therefore will not be signposted so get clear directions. Make sure you agree with the host where you will meet them or how you will obtain the key. Give the host your flight time and arrival details prior to travel.
Airbnb properties offer an affordable alternative to hotels, allowing travellers to live as the locals do. With careful research and consideration, many families make full use of this service and find it a positive experience.
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