Tips for Choosing an Airbnb for Your Family

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Sarah Fischer
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Since we started traveling full-time nearly 6 months ago we have been staying exclusively in Airbnbs. Prior to that we stayed in them often over the last several years when we would vacation. Over time we’ve fine-tuned how we select an airbnb for our family. Here are our best tips and recommendations:

  1. Research the country/city/area you want to travel to. Find out where the most family-friendly places are.
  2. Add your dates and number of guests. If your travel dates are flexible then leave them out of course, but putting in the dates and number of guests can help narrow down the places that can accommodate your family. (Sometimes we fudge a bit on this in our initial search because most airbnbs charge incrementally more for each additional person you add — more on this below.)
  3. Filter the results of your location search based on what your family needs. For us that always includes 2+ bedrooms, 1+ bathroom, a kitchen, wifi, free parking and laundry facilities on the premises. A pool is a big bonus, but we never filter for that, but you certainly can!
  4. Use the map view to quickly toggle between different airbnbs to see the cover photo and the nightly price for each place. Sometimes this helps give you a sense of what a ‘good price’ for an area is and also helps you identify nicer or more run-down areas.
  5. Save all the places you are interested in for a certain location. If you are deciding between two or more different cities make separate saved lists for them. Unsave places as you rule them out. If you have dates already set for your search then airbnb will notify you in your saved list if the places you have saved are not longer available.
  6. Look for places that include a discount for staying for certain lengths of time — i.e. 5–20% for staying for a week, or several weeks, or even a month. We’ve seen up to a 40% discount for staying longer.
  7. Message the hosts of places you are considering about anything specific your family needs. For us that usually includes: Do you have fast, reliable wifi? Does your place have a crib/pack n play for our baby? How near is a grocery store? And last, what is the best possible offer you can make us for this longer-term stay? Or would you be willing to let our kids stay for free? These last two can be uncomfortable to ask, but we’ve found that most hosts are willing to make you a special offer and if they’re not its not a big deal when they say, “sorry, the price reflected is the lowest rate we can offer — or there is already a discount applied for this length of stay, etc.”
  8. If you’ve put in your dates, the number of guests and filters, and you’re not liking your options try widening your search. Decide what is most important to you — do you HAVE to be in that location? Do you HAVE to have laundry or a kitchen or separate bedrooms? Do you need wifi or can you get by without? Eliminate the filters you can live without. If you have kids, like us, you can try lowering the number of guests in your search — for example, we’ve found some places that say they can accommodate 4 people, but when we have our guest count set to 5 we don’t see those places in our search results. But since one of our kids is a baby its easy to leave her out of the initial count and check with the host if it’s ok for your family to stay anyway.
  9. Be flexible, and as much as possible, don’t overthink it. If you really want to stay in a certain place book sooner than later because if you snooze, you lose.
  10. Be open-minded and adaptable. When you get to the place you booked try to focus on what it DOES have instead of what it doesn’t have. You’ll quickly find that you actually CAN live with some of the conveniences that you once thought you needed. Finding places for our things and unpacking right away help us get settled in and treat each place like your own home. Pick up and clean up after yourself just like you would in your own home and you’ll really feel like you’re “at home” instead of just living in someone else’s space temporarily.

Want to know where we've stayed?

St. George, Utah

Pheonix, Arizona

Oceanside, California

San Mateo, California

Oakland, California

Siesta Key, Florida

Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

Isla Culebrita, Puerto Rico

Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico

Punta Leona, Costa Rica

Makaha, Oahu Hawaii

Maui Bay, Fiji

Lake Tarawera (Rotorua), North Island New Zealand

Cardrona, (Queenstown) South Island, New Zealand

St. Kilda (Melbourne), Australia

Golden Beach (Sunshine Coast), Australia

Toucheng, (Yilan) Taiwan

Hualien, Taiwan

Have you stayed in an Airbnb? Have you rented your home or property on Airbnb? Have you had good experiences? 

We'd love to hear your thoughts!

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