What You Need to Know BEFORE Getting to Your Airbnb (in Europe)
Airbnb is more and more becoming the accommodation of choice for all types of travelers – young professionals and couples, solo travelers and even older travelers. Airbnb’s low cost (compared to hotels) coupled with the convenience of having access to a kitchen, etc. is ideal for most travelers. However, since you rent a room or apartment from an independent member of Airbnb, when you arrive at your destination, there isn’t a bellhop or 24 hour service desk. Instead, you are often left looking for what appears to be an inexistent address in a foreign city. Here’s what you need to know and anticipate for before “arriving” at your Airbnb in Europe. And you can read part 2 here.
First off, message your host at least 5 full business days before your arrival. This way, you are sure to get an answer from them.
Check in and confirm all the essentials
Confirm the address. Let your host know HOW you will be arriving (via airport, train, bus) and ask them the best way to arrive at the apartment. Since the host usually lives at the apartment (or at least in the city), they are the best person to ask which method is the cheapest and time-effective way to arrive and to get around. Of course, make sure this option works for you.
What does the front door look like?
Via Google maps, visit the apartment to anticipate what the front door will look like. I’m not kidding – when I arrived in Barcelona, I was looking for my address (number 16) without any luck. When I finally asked a storeowner for help, he pointed out a building that didn’t actually have any number on it. It would have been almost impossible to find alone, even more so late at night if everything was closed and he had not been there to help me! This is just one example of why it’s important to know what the front door looks like.
Which apartment do they live at? Which apartment number will you need to ring at?
Unlike in Canada and the US, most Europeans live in an apartment. Of course, the apartments are charming and large but since there are many, you will need to know which apartment you are staying in. This way, when you arrive at the address, you won’t be stuck ringing all of the numbers, hoping to find your host or at least, someone who knows them too (yep, I’ve done this).
You might need a flashlight
Seriously – so make sure your phone is charged to use the flashlight or actually bring a mini flashlight. The apartment entrance does NOT always have a light on – so it is pitch black. You will need a flashlight to walk up (or down) to your apartment door daily OR until you finally find the light switch.
Ask questions (Don’t be shy!)
Asking questions will probably save you more time, money and energy than any amount of independent research you could do – even more than reading this blog post;-). By this, I mean ask your host all the questions you have. Upon arrival in the new city, if you are not sure about something or want to make sure you’re going in the right direction (or anything else!), just ask the people around you. People are very helpful – I even had a lady guide me to the right metro train when I got on the wrong line, stay with me the whole trip and even help me carry my luggage! Imagine if I’d been to scared to ask for any help – I’d probably have missed my train and missed a lovely opportunity of experiencing kindness in a foreign country.
Your turn – what accomodation do you opt for when you travel?
Have you ever booked through Airbnb?