5 tips for finding the best Airbnb

5 tips for your next airbnb stay

Full disclosure: I’m an Airbnb addict. I’m one of those people who logs on just to see the places I could visit. I have 9 semi-organized wishlists, with over 300 possible rentals. I talk about it constantly to all of my friends.

Although Airbnb is definitely more mainstream these days, I am always surprised by the number of people who haven’t yet given it a chance. Hopefully these tips will be helpful for your next trip and maybe give you that extra push you need to try it out if you haven’t yet!

Airbnb rental in Stockholm, Sweden
Our rental in Stockholm, Sweden (lovely place, but definitely a 20 min walk to the metro, not 10!)

1. Stay at a place with 10+ reviews

Especially for newbies, I recommend filtering by number of reviews for your first few stays. Airbnb isn’t exactly juried, so it’s good to have the support of the community behind your first several picks, until you become more confident in your choosing ability. Whenever possible, I still prefer to stay at a place with ample reviews!

2. Take ratings seriously

Those little yellow stars? They matter. Each listing has an overall rating for things like “Location” and “Cleanliness”–and, in my opinion, these two are the most important. I like to think of it like when you ask your boyfriend how many beers he drank and he says 2. You know he really means 6. Same thing here, in reverse. Only 4 stars? Expect a 2. Things go downhill much more easily than uphill. Play it safe and demand 5 stars–it’s very possible!

Airbnb rental in Warwick, NY - Pioneer Farm
Our midsummer escape to a place with a pool in Warwick, NY

3. Pay attention to photos

In a similar vein, I put a lot of weight in a listing’s photos. If a host cares enough to have immaculate photos, plus they have good ratings and reviews, chances are they care about continuing upkeep in general. Some red flags? Places that don’t look lived in at all. Interestingly, I try to stay away from super sparse places, or hosts with multiple listings. Those signal a host who is doing this in bulk for money making, rather than a genuine host who cares about the place they’re putting online because they actually live there. (Plus, you might not get great tips and tricks for exploring the ‘hood if the person doesn’t even reside there!)

4. Be realistic in your searches

And I mean whatever is realistic for you! So far, I’ve done Airbnb mostly in cities where it is quite popular–like Hudson, NY, Paris, Lisbon, Stockholm, Copenhagen. It’s important to figure out the amount you’d like to spend per night prior to beginning your hunt to narrow down what is feasible. In Copenhagen and Stockholm, I filtered below $150 for an entire home, and found plenty of options in very central areas. The search function can be a little funky, so you may not find all the best fitting options if you’re not really honest with yourself. Plus, remember–one of the perks of this type of travel is more bang for your buck–so try to make sure you achieve that!

Airbnb rental in Copenhagen, Denmark
Our huge spacious apartment in a hip neighborhood in Copenhagen, Denmark

5. Don’t limit your location

I almost never research the best location to stay in prior to looking at my Airbnb options. With such an active community like this, I prefer to see what the other guests have to say about the location of the listings. One of the fun things about apartment rentals is being able to somewhat assimilate into the community, and see a different part of the city. Don’t be afraid to stay a little bit away from tourist-central if transportation is easy and the ‘hood is unique! Disclaimer: Much like the ratings call out, don’t trust the host’s estimate of the “walking distance” to major landmarks. Whenever someone says “10 minutes” they really mean at least 20. Think about the beers, man.

Airbnb rental in Lisbon, Portugal
Our homey kitchen in a huge apartment in Lisbon, Portugal

Hope that helps! Would love to hear about your travels and favorite Airbnb stays. (And if you’re so inclined, check out my wishlists here!)

(p.s. this is an entirely non-sponsored post, I’m just that obsessed)

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here and now: time at home

autumn in new york city, central park, fall foliage

Sometime between the end of summer and the winter holidays comes a lull that calls for staying home, nesting, and prepping for a new school year (even if actual school years are long gone). I try to stave off my need to escape by planning new restaurants to go to and revisiting old neighborhoods. Last month, we took advantage of one of the last nice days to check out the fall foliage in Central Park.

Continue reading “here and now: time at home”

weekend escape: Wave Hill

wave hill in new york city, the bronx, fall foliage, autumn

Where: Wave Hill in the Bronx, NY

When: October

With: Husband

Eat: bring a picnic to eat on the grounds (the cafe food was pretty good but not a must)

Sometimes the urge to get outta town can’t immediately be filled with a train ride or a plane flight, so I have a collection of “local escapes” to choose from on those days. Most of them came from reading TimeOut NY and tabbing the corners to remember… lo and behold, 9 years after moving to NYC, I haven’t done the best job at hitting all the spots. I decided this weekend to finally check one off the list.

wave hill in new york city, the bronx, fall foliage, autumn

Continue reading “weekend escape: Wave Hill”

the nomad

Where are you from?

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This didn’t used to be such a complicated question, but I feel hesitant when I try to answer these days. Some people say where you’re “from” isn’t where you lived the longest, or live now, but where you were born, or where you went to high school. For me, most of these key points happened in different places. I was born and lived for the longest time (so far!) in California. I went to high school in Florida and still visit my parents there often. I moved to NYC for college and have been living here ever since (coming up on 9 years!). So I’ve started feeling more like a nomad, with homes and shallow-to-deeper roots in a handful of places.

That might be why one of my favorite hobbies now is traveling–and travel is something I define loosely. It can be a 2-week long honeymoon trip to Italy, or a barely 2-hour drive to a little known town in upstate New York for an overnight stay. Whatever it is, I treat it like an adventure, an escape, and opportunity to see and learn about a new place–and about myself. I love exploring AirBnb for cool abodes and finding inspiration on Pinterest or Instagram. Most of my travel destinations begin as a non-specific NEED to go to a random-seeming place and I generally have little agenda besides a restaurant or a flea market to start.

I’m hoping you’ll enjoy the ride–and share your own adventures with me, too!

OK, let’s go for it.