Airbnb has a lot of checks in its favor. Listings on the platform are usually affordable, with nightly rates averaging far below the price points of similarly-located hotels. Hosts are typically polite, warm, and helpful; more than willing to provide some advice on where to find good food or a nice afternoon out. But most of all, Airbnb prides itself on providing a local experience, rather than a hotel-trapped vacation. As a traveler myself, I can say that I much prefer using the platform to hunting down a free room in a concrete hotel – though I always take care to screen potential rooms and hosts before I put money towards a stay. Unlike with established hotels, those who use Airbnb to find lodging don’t have a quality or service guarantee. A bad listing can ruin a trip, so make sure that you follow these tips beforehand to ensure that your listing measures up to your expectations.


Message the Host Beforehand

Always try to set up a dialogue with the host beforehand, even if you only ask simple questions about nearby dining options. How the host responds to your inquiries will give you a sense of how open and helpful they will be during your stay, and whether they will be willing to fix problems that might arise during your stay. These pre-stay conversations will also help you weed out shady hosts. Pro tip: if a host asks you to move onto a third-party site to pay, drop them!


Assess the Listing

Look through each picture carefully. Are the rooms clean and neat? Do you see stray possessions scattered through the unit? Odds are good that hosts who don’t take the care to clean up before photographing their property won’t bother to thoroughly clean after each guest leaves. If the pictures check out, look at the neighborhood! Type the address into Google Street View to assess the neighborhood and are you’ll be staying in – this is a great way to determine whether you’ll need a rental vehicle or not. Then, read through the review. Is the neighborhood noisy? Is the host nice? All of these factors should play into your final decision.


Read the Fine Print

The last thing you want on a trip with your family and pet poodle is to find out the place you paid upfront for doesn’t allow dogs. Read through the house rules ahead of time! These will give you insights into host-guest expectations and knowledge of what is (or isn’t) included in the rental fee.


Always Have Potential Solutions

Airbnb is known for its above-and-beyond customer service team, but it’s always better to bring them solutions to implement rather than problems to solve. When you have an issue that demands help beyond what the host can provide (i.e., a widespread Internet outage) come up with a basic solution and pitch it to the service team. If all goes well, they can implement it for you in no time – rather than leaving you hanging while they put your search for a solution on the back burner.