My recent trip to Cuba was the perfect time to try Airbnb for the first time. Well, I thought I really didn't have a choice. We used "For the Support of the Cuban People" as our reason for travel on our visas, so as I understood we were supposed to use Airbnb and patronize small local restaurants and businesses. I'm still not sure if that's completely true, nevertheless, it was the perfect time to try it out and we had a blast. Here are a few tips if you'r a little shy about trying it out.
#1 Sign up and create your profile.
It sounds easy enough. Open an account on Airbnb and start your profile. Even if you don't book right away, you can start to make lists of potential places you want to stay. That will save you time with your research. Of course, you'll add all the required stuff like your name, email and phone number, but also make sure you add a good accurate picture, and write yourself a little bio. I heard about some of the horror stories about certain listings discriminating against people of color. My motto is: give em full disclosure. I put a clear picture of my smiling brown face and natural hair up there. No surprises. That way if a host has a problem, they can have it before I travel, not when I arrive. I can just move on to the next host who's willing. Don't start none, won't be none. (For the record, I did not have any problem. We had a great experience with the owner and the hosts. Total sweethearts that treated us like family.)
Click here to sign up and use my code to get $40 off your first Airbnb booking.
#2 Take the time to verify your info.
Complete the trust and verification process. Verify your phone number and email. Put up a government ID. Don't be scared. It does exactly what it says.. it builds trust. Your information is not shared with anyone, only Airbnb. You want to look like a person who's serious, about renting and not get overlooked.
#3 Research for your life, chile!
I mentioned in my trip post: "Welcome to Havana! Day 1" , I go ham when it comes to travel research and planning. I read so many reviews and had a list of 14 potential spots. You might not be quite as crazy as I am, but I do recommend you research a little and read the reviews. You will find very pertinent information there. Like, maybe the apartment is s a 5 flight walk up, or there's no air conditioning in some of the rooms. Both were deal breakers for me. Also, pay attention to what you're requesting. Where do you want to stay, how many actual beds are included, are there any extra fees? For example, I did NOT want to stay with a family. I wanted us to have the apartment to ourselves. There are many options on Airbnb. Use the search engine filters wisely and when in doubt, ask questions. We ended up with great hosts that were 5 blocks away. They were close enough to help if needed, but gave us total privacy. If you don't research or ask questions, you can end up with something you do not want.
#4 Communicate with the Owner
I reached out to the Owner and asked some questions about a few details that I was unclear about. I found that my host was very quick to respond and super helpful with information about his place, taxi costs from airport, info on the surrounding area and the hosts that would be greeting us. I guess that's part of the reason for his "Super Host" status on Airbnb. Interacting a little with the owner gave me a feel for his personality and vice versa. He then "approved" our stay and gave us an invitation to book, while holding our dates for 24 hours. Communication reduces surprises, which I hate when traveling. Planning is key!
#5 Be a Good Guest
It might sound like a no-brainer, but don't be a jerk. Keep the place clean and treat it like it's your own. Be upfront about arrival and departure times. Our Airbnb was being rented within a couple of hours after we checked out. So not leaving on time would have been inconvenient to the hosts and the incoming guests, Delays and things happen, so just be upfront with your host. Remember, at the end of your stay you'll be asked to review your host, but you'll get reviewed as well. As a newbie to Airbnb you need positive reviews under your belt too. Be honest and fair with your reviews. If there's something that you'd like to privately comment to the owner, use the private review for that. You both benefit from a positive experience.
Have an open mind! Plan and research, but also go with the flow a little. Get out there and try something new.
Love Life. Live Abundantly XO