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I’ve been travelling since I was two years old. My family and I would take annual family vacations around Chinese New Year (because a lot of places are closed, and we all have time off). I remember vacationing with my family, and we would always stay in hotels. And the hotels are great! I love all the facilities and how beautiful the hotels are. Most of all, I didn’t have to make my bed! And for some reason, I had a huge fascination with the ice machine. Ha!
While I love to stay in hotels (because and fond childhood memories), I don’t have the budget to pay for it. Since leaving my corporate life, I’ve been travelling more and for extended periods. This means I have to be frugal in terms of how I spend money. And since accommodation is a big part of any traveller’s budget, I had to find ways to stretch my budget.
One of the best ways to save money is to book Airbnb accommodations.
Why Airbnb is an Excellent Accommodation Choice
By now you must have heard of Airbnb (even my parents know what it is and I consider them living under a rock most of the time).
Founded in 2008, Airbnb is a company that has millions of accommodation listings worldwide spanning over 191 countries. There are options to rent a shared room, private room, entire apartment, a whole villa, an RV, a houseboat, a treehouse, etc.
The best part about living in Airbnb accommodation is to live like a local. Typically, you live in someone’s home which is part of a residential neighbourhood. And you have access to all the facilities of a home like a living room and kitchen.
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How to Save Money by Booking Airbnb Accommodation
I’ve stayed in 25+ Airbnb accommodations in Taiwan, Japan, Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand, Italy, Vienna, Slovakia, Hungary, and Canada in the past two years. And I plan to stay in many more Airbnb accommodations in the future because it does save me a lot of money. Here are some of my best tips to save money by booking Airbnb:
1. Airbnb is more affordable than hotels
While you can book different types of accommodations like a shared room (cheapest), a private room (cheaper), or an entire place (most expensive but still very affordable), Airbnb accommodation prices are much more affordable than hotels. There are Airbnb accommodations that are very expensive, but you are also getting a lot more for your money.
Generally speaking, if you compare the quality of stay between an Airbnb accommodation to a hotel equivalent, the Airbnb option is much more affordable.
2. Book early to secure the price and accommodation of your choice
There are perks in planning ahead when it comes to booking Airbnb accommodation. As soon as you know your travel dates, start researching! You will find lower prices and more choices if you are booking in advance. There’s no right or wrong timing, but if you take advantage of booking early, you will have more options for what you want to spend.
3. Check the actual cost per night
When you search Airbnb, you will see a default cost per night for the accommodation. Sometimes, the price fluctuates due to specific reasons. For example, accommodation can cost more on the weekends, long weekends, and public holidays. And accommodation can cost more if there is a popular event in the city.
Some Airbnb hosts will use dynamic pricing to reflect the supply and demand while others do not. So check different listings for the most competitive price.
4. Be flexible when you travel
Similar to the point above, if you have the flexibility to go during low season or the weekday, take advantage of the dynamic pricing in which you can stay at an Airbnb accommodation for a lower rate.
5. Check cleaning fee
The cleaning fee is a one-time fee that the host includes to cover the cost of cleaning their space. The price is set by the host. I’ve seen the cleaning fee as low as $20 and also upwards of $80. One time I booked an Airbnb apartment and thought the rate per night was acceptable. But when I saw the breakdown of the entire cost, the cleaning fee was exorbitant!
Therefore, when you book your Airbnb accommodation, make sure to double-check all the costs before you hit the “book” button.
6. Access to a kitchen
Having your kitchen while travelling is great! You can save additional money by making a simple breakfast and potentially every meal in between. As much as eating out is fun and is part of the travelling experience, if you have to cut back on cost and manage your budget a bit better, cooking is an effective way to lower your budget. Shop at a local supermarket or farmer’s market for the freshest ingredients and cook something delicious in your kitchen. Your wallet and health will thank you!
7. Access to other amenities
Some Airbnb accommodation will have access to a swimming pool, a gym or anything else your hosts offer. Some hosts might even have bike rentals as part of the rental agreement where you can truly roam around the city like a local.
Check the description of the individual listings to see what the host offer. You might save some money from getting a gym membership and bike rental!
8. Other perks and recommendations from your Airbnb host
Sometimes there are awesome perks by staying at an Airbnb accommodation. Some hosts will stock up your accommodation with water, drinks, and snacks as a welcome gift to you. One time, I received a bottle of wine from my Airbnb host in Italy. How lovely!
Furthermore, some hosts might even give recommendations on what you should do in their city. From popular tourist attractions to little spots only locals know about, they might share it in a booklet or an ebook format. This type of information is invaluable! Not even the tour companies can provide such information. And now you are getting it for free!
9. Sharing accommodation with others
You will save more money when you share accommodation with others. If you are travelling as a couple or in a group, Airbnb is one of the best options because you are splitting the cost while living in the same place and sharing experiences together.
However, as a solo female traveller, I usually stay in a private room or an apartment by myself. If I needed to cut down my budget further, I wouldn’t mind sharing it with someone else. If you know another fellow solo traveller, sharing a space is an excellent idea for saving some money.
10. Additional discount for a long-term stay
Some Airbnb hosts will offer a weekly or monthly discount if you stay longer. The rate is specific to each listing. This might be a bonus for those of us who like to slow travel (like me). I usually stay in a city from few weeks to few months. And I rather stay in Airbnb accommodations a week at a time, especially to take advantage of the weekly discount.
If you like to slow travel, this might be worthwhile for you. Check the individual listing to see if a weekly and monthly discount is available.
11. Be aware of cancellation policy (for short-term and long-term stay)
You should always be mindful of the cancellation policy of all your Airbnb bookings.
Generally, the different types of cancellation policies do not affect how I book. I only reserve an accommodation base on the price and availability.
But if you are unsure of your travel plans, book an Airbnb accommodation with a flexible cancellation policy. So if you have to cancel, you will get all your money back minus some fee. Check the specific cancellation policy for more details.
And if you have to book a long-term stay (i.e. more than 28 days), the cancellation policy automatically defaults to long-term, meaning if you cancel your reservation, you are required to pay the host 30 days following the cancellation date or up to the end date of the original booking.
Typically, I do not cancel any of my bookings. But there was an odd time that I had to cancel. Initially, I booked an apartment for the month (i.e. 30 days), and I thought the cancellation policy is flexible. When I decided I was going to leave the country a bit early and wanted to change my booking, it was only then I realized the flexible cancellation is switched to the long-term because I booked it for more than 28 days. It means I couldn’t get my money back. Lesson learned.
When you book a long-term stay, be confident that you will stay and not cancel the booking.
12. Negotiate with your host for last-minute stay and long-term stay
Negotiating the price with your Airbnb host is possible. On a specific listing, instead of clicking the “book” button, scroll down and click the “contact host” button. In the next screen, you can enter the dates you required, and your message. This is where you introduce yourself and ask if the host is willing to negotiate the price. When the host replies, he/she will tell you if the accommodation is available and at what cost. The host may even lower the price so you can either accept the new amount or find other accommodation.
It all depends on how you communicate with the host and for what reasons you are requesting a lower price. It might also be helpful if you emphasize that you are a great tenant and you have excellent reviews from previous Airbnb hosts.
This scenario works well when you book a last-minute accommodation because the host would most likely rent it to you for a lower price than leaving it empty.
And if you are staying long-term, the host might offer the place to you at a lower price. It does not hurt to ask.
13. Get $35 off when you sign up for the first time
Airbnb has a great referral program. When you invite friends, and they sign up, they will get a discount on their first rental, and you will get a referral bonus as well.
If you are not part of Airbnb yet, please use this code to claim your $35 Airbnb discount. You will receive $35 credit when you book first Airbnb accommodation over $75 (before fees and taxes). And because this is part of Airbnb’s referral program, I get $20 credit as well. It is a win-win situation!
14. Get referral credit when you refer to someone else
After you sign up with Airbnb, you can start referring the program to other people. It is possible to earn up to $5,000 in travel credit (expire one year from the date of issue).
All you have to do is log into the Airbnb website, click on your profile photo at the top right corner, and click “invite friends.” Next, either enter an email address and click “send invites” or copy the link and share it on Facebook, to your network, etc. It’s that simple!
15. Earn one Qantas point per AU$1 spent on Airbnb
This is only applicable to those who collect Qantas points. You can earn one Qantas points per AU$1 by staying at Airbnb accommodation. Make sure you book your Airbnb accommodation through their direct portal.
16. Earn one Delta SkyMiles per $1USD spent on Airbnb
This is only applicable to those who collect Delta SkyMiles. You can earn one Delta SkyMiles per dollar spent on Airbnb stays worldwide when booked through their direct portal.
I hope you find this blog post useful! I’m a huge fan of Airbnb! And if you like this post, please share it and pin it!