No doubt you’re beyond excited about your trip to this fantastic continent full of amazing culture, food and sights. Whether you are a seasoned traveller or this is your first time abroad, this local guide shows you what to look for when booking an AirBNB in Europe with tips and tricks for families, couples, groups and singles to help save money and have a pleasant trip so you arrive refreshed and ready to make the most of your time at each destination.
The days of hosteling around Europe are gone people, you will be surprised to know that with a bit of research an AirBNB is often the same or only a couple of euros more a night and I’m not talking about a private room, this is for a whole apartment / house / castle.
Airbnb or a similar hosting service is the go to place. By staying in an actual local persons house you are going to feel much more connected to the neighbourhood compared to some plain, sterile hotel room. Most importantly, you are also no longer a tourist, by stepping into an Airbnb you automatically become a traveller; someone who appreciates a home and its connection to the city you’re staying in.
Read on for a surprising list of essentials you need to make your stay the absolute best it can be!
10 – Location / Price: The location versus price ratio is true of any type of accommodation you choose so I’m not going to discuss this in detail, just be sure that if you are arriving via train or plane that public transport or your accommodation is less than a 15 minute walk away. This will help save money on taxis or Uber so you have more to spend on beer. Also, don’t underestimate how hard carrying a backpack around with you can be, you might think a carry on bag with the bare essentials is fine but after walking with it for a few weeks you will realise it gets a lot heavier than you think.
9 – Netflix: Having a Smart Tv or way to access Netflix or your preferred streaming service without using your devices will help you settle into your accommodation and feel more at home. If the weather turns bad, you fall sick or you just need a few hours to rest, don’t underestimate how important a streaming service can be.
8 – WiFi Access: Now this one is slightly more important, especially if you don’t have a cell phone with global roaming and data enabled. It is so convenient having WiFi in your space to download maps and book your flight for the next destination without having to run across to Starbucks or McDonalds for some free wifi. Note: Make sure your WiFi network is accessed with a password and is not an open and insecure network, that is a surefire way for someone to access your personal information such as bank details and that is bound to cause some serious problems.
7 – Toiletries: If you travel light like us, that is the essentials in a backpack only. You will certainly appreciate not having to buy carry on luggage approved shampoo, body wash etc. at every destination. Check ahead to make sure your lodging provides the essential toiletries and towels you need and enjoy the extra savings.
6 – A Comfortable Couch: This one surprised me, if someone had said “Make sure you book a place with a couch it’s essential” I would have laughed to myself thinking, why would I need a couch? I’m going to be exploring all day and night all I need is a bed. Haha, well after travelling non-stop for a year and a half I can absolutely say without question that no, you don’t spend every single minute running around. You need a place to sit and relax with a cup of tea only if it’s for an hour or a rainy afternoon, it really helps you settle in and feel welcome in the home which brings me to the next essential:
5 – Tea Kettle: Being Australian I couldn’t believe how many places we stayed in that didn’t have a tea kettle. What we would consider a basic essential back home was a rare commodity in many of the places we stayed in. Look in the pictures and see if the kitchen has one, if you’re unsure ask. There is nothing worse than having to boil water in a greasy used saucepan that you’re going to scald yourself on for a simple cup of tea. Most hosts are very accommodating, one in Seville even purchased a tea kettle for our stay. We were so thankful and of course it will benefit all the future guests that stay as well.
4 – Washing Machine: Oh boy, when you return back home you will probably be about ready to wrap your arms around that miserable white good sitting in your laundry. This one is hard to pass up, at the moment you are probably very carefree thing “Nah, I’ll just buy more t-shirts or wash my undies in the sink its fine”. Yeah, no, that is not going to happen when you’re somewhere in Spain and it’s a hundred degrees and you can’t find or understand the 30 minute walk to the nearest laundromat only to realise that when you finally get there all the machines are already taken and you don’t have the correct change for powder etc.
As a general rule, we planned to stay in a place with a washing machine once every 10 day stay or so. We weren’t fastidiously clean, we wore the same undies, shirts, socks when we needed too. Nothing is more convenient when you are exhausted after arriving into a new city, to throw a load on and sit back on the couch with a cold beer. Don’t expect anywhere to have a dryer – that’s like finding hens teeth. Buy a 20 pack of those liquid washing capsules so you can fit them in your carry on luggage and never have to worry about asking the supermarket assistant in whatever language what washing powder is called again! Now on to the top 3 essentials
3 – Kitchen: A kitchen is an absolute essential if you are using Airbnb to travel around Europe. It does not have to be overly functional and equiped but obviously that would be a huge plus. As long as you have a couple of pots and pans you can save some serious cash and feel a little less homesick and yes, of course you’re going to be eating out a heap, that is the main reason we loved exploring Europe to begin with but trust me, there’s going to come a point when all you want if a simple meal you can prep at home whether its breakfast, lunch or a lazy dinner.
2 – A Good Shower: Now this one cannot being underestimated, of course you’re not expecting a resort style rain shower if you pay $50 a night for accommodation, however if this is you’re first trip to Europe be warned that the standards and quality you can expect vary so wildly its unbelievable. My tip is read the listing thoroughly, if the owner has a good shower system they are likely to brag about that as a feature; that is how unreliable hot water services are here. Then scroll through and search through reviews and look for comments good or bad, hopefully there will be enough to help inform your decision. Lastly, scroll through the photos and see what you’re dealing with. If you Airbnb your way around the continent expect to encounter at least one or two stinkers, that is Ok and you can handle that but once you’ve had a few bad experience it starts to get old, essentially it pays to use shower quality as a deciding factor in your accommodation choices. That brings us to the number 1 essential…
1 – Self Check-In: The number one and possibly unexpected essential if you haven’t used a service like Airbnb before is Self Check-In. This was an absolute essential for us. Ensuring that you can enter the property without needing the host to meet you in person, whether this meant finding a lockbox and having the code messaged to us or using a smart lock system, it is infinitely more convenient. There is nothing worse than waiting for a host and if you are travelling without cellular data and having to rely on network access to stay up to day this just amplifies the problem. The same is true for you, the guest, if your train gets delayed or you get lost you are probably gong to get off on the wrong foot with the host. The growing number of outsourced Airbnb listings also makes dealing with a host or concierge frustrating. I will always remember when we flew into London, it was raining and freezing cold and the host which I later found out was concierge had agreed on what time to meet them. We arrived at the property and no one was there, I called through two different call centres and no one knew anything about my reservation. I then called again and the reply was “Sorry, no one is coming.” This all happened within an hour or us arriving so it wasn’t the best start to a holiday. Needless to say the company got a fiercely truthful review of what I thought of their service. In the end they ended up giving us instructions for a nearby lockbox anyway, ugh… not a good start to any vacation.
Trust me, it’s much more hassle free to avoid having to meet anyone in person. Just look for self check-in options and stick to them. Most hosts will send you detailed photos and instructions on how to access the keys or lock so you can’t possibly stuff it up.
Bonus Essential – A Place With Style: This is a nice little bonus if you have been spending months on the road in acceptable but not exquisite digs. Obviously, the location and price is going to be paramount, along with the tips above, but whether it’s an apartment in Malaga that overlooks the ocean or a farmhouse in the French country side with a fireplace and library, you will really appreciate spending a few extra euros on a premium essential. You will leave feeling fresher and a bit more like a local going about their business in town rather than a tourist passing through. Enjoy relaxing and feeling stress free as you wander around whenever you happen to find yourself at the moment!