Travel Tips

The Complete Beginners Guide to Airbnb

Updated July 5, 2022

guide to airbnb

When you’re traveling and need a place to stay…

If you haven’t heard of Airbnb or used it yet, you may be in the minority. To date 160 million guests around the globe have used the home sharing service!

An online booking service where hosts post their home, flat or treehouse, it’s become a popular alternative to traditional hotels. Currently there are 3,000,000 lodging listings in 65,000 cities and 191 countries (Wikipedia).

I’ve used Airbnb multiple times and can’t imagine what it would be like not to have that as an option. When you just don’t fancy a hotel and want to stay somewhere that feels homey, Airbnb is the answer.

Beginners Guide to Airbnb as a Host or Guest

If You Want to Host an Airbnb

If you’re a frequent traveler and leave your home empty while you’re on the road, consider renting it out to cover some of your expenses.

  1. To become a host of a property on Airbnb, start by creating a profile with a photo and a brief description of who you are and what you do on Next, you’ll create listing of your room, home, flat, yurt or Airstream trailer for example by uploading photos (the more professional the better) and creating a listing.
  2. Once your listing is created, potential guests can view your property, ask you questions and book a stay on the Airbnb website.
  3. You create a calendar of availability and set your own rates. You can also manually block out dates (if you’re using the property for example). You can vary your rates by season, offer discounts for weekly or monthly rentals and offer special rates if you choose.
  4. Airbnb collects a fee of 3% of each booking before fees and taxes. Once you accept a reservation (see exceptions here) Airbnb collects the booking amount in full from the guest and holds it until 24 hours before your guest checks in, then releases it to you.
  5. If you require a security deposit, it is charged and held by Airbnb until you release your guest from any liability (within 14 days)
  6. As a host, you’ll be responsible for maintaining your listing online, your rental property, taxes, insurance, utilities and furnishings. In other words, you’ll be offering a fully furnished turn key guest rental. Cleaning is expected before and after each rental of course. You can charge a cleaning fee if you choose too. Expect to either check in your guests yourself or appoint someone to act on your behalf.

Pros and Cons to being an Airbnb host:

Pros – It’s possible to realize upwards of $20K profit on a two bedroom listing per year. Even if you don’t become a high earner, you can easily offset your own travel expenses while out of town by renting your home.

Cons – It takes time and energy to actively manage your listing to net the most profit. A host also has to stay on top of local ordinances pertaining to short term rentals as well as be aware of any tax repercussions. The potential for your property to be damaged by guests is real.

airbnb guide

If You Want to be an Airbnb Guest

Before you start planning your next trip , go ahead and create a profile for yourself on Airbnb with a photo and brief bio. Just as you’ll be checking out hosts ratings, they’ll also be looking at your profile to see if you’ll be a trustworthy guest.

  1. Search the Airbnb site to view potential rentals at your destinations.
  2. Options range from sharing a room within a host home to renting an entire home for your own use.
  3. Most hosts have a minimum rental period set, for example 2 or 3 days. You can also request a stay of up to 28 days on the site. If you need to stay longer communicate that to your host and they can adjust the calendar and pricing for you if they are amenable.
  4. Once you find several properties you like, message the host with any questions or requests you may have. The hosts’ responses will often give you an idea of what type of host they’ll be! If you’ve decided on a property, it’s available and the pricing is what you’re looking for, then go ahead and request a reservation (or use Instant Booking if it’s available). Once the host accepts your request, your credit card may be charged in full by Airbnb (see here for exceptions). You can also opt to split the charge on some reservations.
  5. Before you book, pay attention to the hosts cancellation policy. It can be Flexible, Moderate or Strict. This will determine how much, if any, of your upfront payment will be refunded if you need to cancel for any reason.
  6. In addition to your room cost, Airbnb charges guests a service charge of 6-12%. Hosts can also charge an additional cleaning fee.

Because of new travel restrictions, some of Airbnb’s policies for guests and hosts have changed. Read all the booking conditions before you finalize your request.

Pros and Cons to being an Airbnb Guest:

Pros – Staying in a home vs a hotel allows you to immerse yourself in local culture. Having kitchen facilities allows you to shop locally if you want and cook your favorite foods without having to eat every meal in restaurants, which is convenient and cost saving.

Your average nightly rate will usually be lower than a comparable hotel room.

Cons – The responsibility is on you to select a property and host that’s a good match. Not all hosts are created equal, some are definitely more hands on than others. Look for hosts who have the Super Host designation to get the cream of the crop. Hotel amenities such as concierge, cleaning, fitness rooms and pools are unlikely. Use the search function to drill down on must have amenities.

Advantages of Staying in an Airbnb

Research your destinations and see what you can find in your budget and preferred location.  I’ve really enjoyed being able to rent a whole flat especially when I’m traveling alone. I prefer being in a residential neighborhood and having a kitchen to make meals. I eat what and when I want!

Staying in a short term Airbnb rental is perfect if you’re relocating, traveling on an extended trip or visiting grandkids or family. Why not think about for the next family reunion? It’s one of the few ways you all can stay together and feel at home at the same time.

My 6 month guide to living in England has my favorite short term vacation rental options!






About Author

With over 30 years in a creative role in advertising and publishing, and a lifetime of journeys between the US and UK, I've created Hipoverfifty for you. I hope my journey and perspective will guide you on yours.