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Lesson 2: How to Use Airbnb

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How to use Airbnb

Need to find a cheap place to stay in an expensive city? Want to spend the night in a treehouse, an Italian villa, or a clock tower? Now you can do all of this, thanks to Airbnb.

Airbnb.com allows you to find and rent vacation homes across the world. The big difference between Airbnb and a traditional hotel is that anyone can sign up to list their home on the service. This means you can find a variety of unique living spaces you couldn’t find in a typical hotel. Airbnb accommodates every type of traveler, from the budget conscious to the luxurious and adventurous.

In order to book a room on Airbnb, you will need three things:

  • Airbnb account
  • Credit card
  • Destination

You must be 18 years old or older to use Airbnb.

Getting started with Airbnb

Go to Airbnb.com and click Sign Up in the top-right corner. You can sign up using Facebook, Google, or your email address.

Because Airbnb is an active and welcoming community, we highly recommend adding your photo and other personal information to your profile. To fill out your profile, hover over the Profile icon in the upper-right corner and select Edit Profile.

A basic profile will contain a picture, your phone number, location, and a fun personal description. You can also share other information, like what languages you speak and your emergency contacts. Don't worry, your phone number will only be shared with your host after you book your stay.

Searching for a home

Let’s say you and a friend want to visit London Sept. 23-30 and you need a place to stay. On the main Airbnb page, enter your destination, dates, and the number of guests, then click Search.

Here are your search results, with available properties on the left and a map of London on the right.

When you hover your cursor over one of the pictures, that property’s location will be highlighted on the map so you can get an idea of where it sits in the greater London area.

Using filters

At first, Airbnb gives you a random sampling of different homes around your destination, so let’s focus by applying search filters.

Room type: Some hosts offer an entire home, while others only offer a room. Click an option to only see properties of that type.

Price adjustment: Let’s say you're on a budget and only want to spend a certain amount per night. Click and drag the right circle on the Price range line until it hits your desired amount. Airbnb will update automatically.

Other filtering options: Here, you can search for homes that only have specific amenities, such as wireless Internet or air conditioning. You can even search for hosts who speak a specific language or live in a certain neighborhood.

To filter your search results, click Filters.

Click an item to only see properties with that particular option. You can choose as many filters as you’d like. Once you're finished, click Apply filters near the bottom.

Reviewing the details

Once you click an interesting home, you’ll find a summary of its offerings, including a detailed description of the space, amenities, and pricing.

Click the top image to see more pictures of the home.

Because Airbnb is a community of users, the best way to confirm a home’s quality and safety is to check the reviews section at the bottom of the page. These reviews are completed by guests who have stayed there. The more five-star ratings a home has, the better. Read through this section to make sure previous guests were satisfied with their stay. Be sure to read these reviews carefully.

Always review the entire summary of the home before you book to make sure it will meet your needs. If you have questions, contact the host by clicking Contact host in the About this listing or Your host sections.

Booking a home

After you’ve confirmed that the home meets your standards, you can book it by clicking the red button on the right. This button will read either Book or Request to Book.

Book: Your booking will immediately be confirmed after you enter your credit card information on the subsequent page.

Request to Book: The host of the home will need to approve your request before a reservation can be confirmed. It can take up to 24 hours for a host to approve your request. Hosts reserve the right to deny your request to stay at their home.

Enter your credit card information to finalize your request. Keep in mind that the host cannot access your credit card info in any way. Airbnb will handle the entire transaction, allowing your host to focus on making your stay as comfortable as possible.

Once your host confirms your booking, you will be sent a confirmation email, including the street address of the home and the owners' contact information.

Your safety

Airbnb promotes a community of safety and trust. However, problems can still occur, so you should be prepared just in case.

  • Have a backup place to stay in case you have to suddenly leave your Airbnb home, such as a nearby hotel.
  • If you’re traveling in a foreign country, learn how to contact emergency personnel.
  • If your personal safety is threatened, call the police immediately.
  • Listen to your gut. If something doesn’t feel right about the host or the home, you may want to leave.

Overall, Airbnb’s safety record is incredibly high. Remember to read all of the reviews for the home you’re staying in and to chat with your host before you arrive.

Airbnb etiquette

As an Airbnb user, you’re part of a global community. Because of this, you’ll need to remember proper etiquette when staying at an Airbnb property.

  • Let your host know exactly when you plan to arrive at the property. If you’re going to be late, contact the host.
  • Respect the space. Someone else lives where you’re visiting, so treat it with care.
  • If there is a problem, tell the host. If this doesn’t solve the problem, contact Airbnb directly.
  • Leave a review of the property, and your host will review you too. This is great for building trust within the Airbnb community.

Airbnb is a powerful site that can lead you to affordable rentals and one-of-a-kind properties. With so many unique homes all around the world, there's no telling what new experience you may discover.

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