After a few requests, I'm finally getting around to this blog post! Rob and I use Airbnb a lot when we travel, and I've had some questions about how we pick the right place for us.
I totally understand that staying in a stranger's house can feel totally weird, especially if you're used to staying in hotels, but I've found that a few things help me feel really comfortable with it, and a lot of the time I actually prefer an Airbnb to a hotel. But that was not always the case--our first Airbnb experience was not a good one, and it ended with me driving from Asheville back to Charlotte in the middle of the night. There was nothing wrong with the property we chose, and looking back I know that it all went to hell because of my personal preferences. So keep that in mind when you're traveling--what makes you feel at home? How far outside your comfort zone are you willing to go?
- Use a Superhost. This is the easiest way to know that you're going to stay at a great place hosted by a great person with a lot of experience and good reviews. We picked one for our condo in Miami in February and we could really tell the difference.
- Plan ahead. We kind of forgot about our Asheville trip until the last minute so our options for places to stay were limited, and we ended up in what was quite literally a cabin in the woods. No one was there to greet us and we were 20 minutes from town. We also arrived at night so it was already dark and I had just sort of lost my bearings. If you know me at all then you know that none of that is within my comfort zone.
- Speaking of which, keep your comfort zone in mind when searching. Do you want a place to yourself or would you rather rent a room from someone who will probably be home? Surprisingly enough I've found that I prefer to either rent a room or maybe a guest house and have the hosts actually on the property. But if you feel weird about sleeping under the same roof as a stranger, then you probably want to rent the whole house/apartment.
- Pick a place that's conveniently located. Pretty simple advice, but it can be hard to pick a neighborhood when you're visiting a really big city. Our San Francisco trip last summer was kind of difficult because we wanted to go everywhere. We ended up staying near The Castro District so we could walk around there, and then we Ubered everywhere else before staying with a friend in Japantown for a few more days after we checked out of the Airbnb. It worked out pretty well.
- Use Google to check out the area. The location might be good but you want to make sure you like the neighborhood's vibe, especially if you're Instagram-obsessed like I am (embarrasing but true). Google Street View is really helpful for this, and make sure to check out the map and make sure there are some things around the Airbnb--coffee shops, dinner spots, maybe a little market--it's up to you to decide what's important to you but we always love having a few options nearby that we can walk to.
Some of my favorite places we've stayed (I can update this list after future trips):
- Scenic Neighborhood Garden Cottage in Santa Rosa
- The Loft in Downtown Healdsburg (seriously one of the most gorgeous apartments I've ever been in)
Let me know if you have any questions! I absolutely love reader requests so if there's a post you'd like to see me write, you know where to find me!