Airbnb Guide For First-Timers

Airbnb is an online platform where people (hosts) can rent out their house, or a room in their home to travelers. There are also Airbnb experiences that allow hosts to share homes between themselves and where hosts can plan things for their guests to do at a destination. Here is an Airbnb guide for guests.

How to use Airbnb work

 The first thing you must do when you are considering an Airbnb for your next vacation is to sign up and create an Airbnb profile. This information will be used by the hosts when they are finalizing your stay. People can also use this information to assess whether or not they want to stay in your home, if you are considering renting it out to guests.

Once you have your profile completed, you can begin to search for an Airbnb. Thankfully, there are multiple filters that you can use, so this will be much easier than you think.


The main filter options you have include:


  • Price Range
  • Location
  • Number of Bedrooms
  • Type of Property – Whether shared or private room or shared or private home
  • Types of Amenities that are Offered

You can even look at all the search results on a map, so you can have that vacation house on the beach you have always wanted or that location near all the popular attractions.

It is best to read the entire description of the properties you are considering for your Airbnb stay. This will ensure you know exactly what is included and what you may be missing out on during your visit. There should also be many different photographs for you to look at for each Airbnb you are considering. If there are very few pictures, you may want to message the host for additional photos or move on to the next option.

If you have any questions about the Airbnb, you can also message the host about those. If you don’t and know that this is the Airbnb you want to stay at, you can click on the Book It button and enter your payment details.

Airbnb Payment Methods

Airbnb accepts a few different payment options, but some of them are dependent on where you live. Payment options that are available worldwide include any type of major credit card, as well as pre-paid credit cards. Most debit cards can be processed using the credit option too. Other payment options, that are location dependent, include Apple Pay, Google Pay, and PayPal. If you are staying at an Airbnb in Brazil, China, India, Italy, Germany, or the Netherlands, you can check with Airbnb to see what other payment options are available to you. No matter which payment option you choose, you must understand that you will be paying for your Airbnb prior to your arrival. The money will be taken out of your account immediately instead of when you arrive to check in.


Before you make your reservation and provide payment, it is always an excellent idea to check out the cancellation policy of your potential Airbnb. Some hosts are more lenient than others when it comes to cancellations, while a few will not give you your money back unless you cancel well in advance.


This is a good time to check to see if you will be responsible for any extra charges before or after your stay. A few hosts will require a security deposit just in case there is any damage to the property during your visit. Others will require a cleaning fee at the end. There are not many times when you will receive a refund for your Airbnb rental. That is why you must take the time to do your research prior to booking a stay. However, there are times when everything looks amazing and you make the leap, only to find out things are not as they appeared upon your arrival.


Here are a few reasons when you might manage to get a refund from Airbnb:


  • An amenity that was promised to you within the pictures and listing is not there when you arrive.
  • The number of bathrooms or bedrooms doesn’t match the listing.
  • There wasn’t enough clean towels and bedding for the number of people on the reservation.
  • An animal was on the property and you were not aware of it prior to your arrival.
  • The Airbnb is unsafe, not clean, or is hazardous in any way.


Airbnb likes it if you can resolve these issues with the host. However, if you cannot, Airbnb welcomes you to contact them directly.

If you do not qualify for a refund, you can at least leave an honest review about the property and host on the Airbnb website.

Airbnb tips for guests

Read all of the reviews

Make sure you read all the reviews past the first page. Some don’t have reviews, but I took the time to read all of the reviews, so I knew what to expect. I even read the translation of reviews in other languages. If the property doesn’t have reviews, book at your own risk.

Check the amenity list

You can even confirm again with the host to be sure. The property I stayed in has washer listed but the washer did not work. The property also listed 2 beds, but it was actually a bed and a futon.

Understand the check-in/check-out time

Ask questions if you need to divert from those times before you book. Some hosts may not allow late check out/early check-in or some may charge a fee. Work it out before booking because it’s not like a hotel where you can change the day of your arrival.

Pay attention to the payment and cancellation policy.

When you book an Airbnb, you pay instantly. Cancellation varies per host. Read up on the different levels from flexible to super strict.

Download the Airbnb app so that you can communicate with your host as you travel.

This is especially key when traveling internationally and you need to communicate with the host. You can also look at other ways to communicate while abroad with your host. Most have the whats app but the Airbnb app should be sufficient. For safety and tracking purposes, it’s best to communicate in the app.

Look up the best route and mode of transportation before arrival.

This is especially important for international travel. Check to see if the host has suggestions or transportation options. Our host in Havana arranged for a taxi to pick us up.

Check out the guidebooks for travel tips for different cities.

Airbnb has guidebooks for various cities and provides you with things to do per destination.

Fill out your profile in its entirety and complete the verification verified tasks.

This will help hosts get to know you better and increase the chances of acceptance of your booking. As I mentioned earlier, I had a struggle with booking an Airbnb in my hometown. I’ve never booked an Airbnb in the states.

Review the response time and rate of the host to get a good sense of their communication.

When you’re traveling or have questions before booking, it is always nice to have someone that will be responsive.

Always Alert the Host to Issues that Come Up

You should always let your host know if an issue comes up while you are staying at their property. This will allow them the chance to fix it while you are there, instead of reading about it in your review once you are back home. Most Airbnb hosts will do everything they can to ensure the happiness of their guests, because they depend on the income. Plus, they love sharing their home with people from around the world!

My Experience with Airbnb

My first attempt at Airbnb was an interesting one. I signed up and attempted to try a local Atlanta property for a staycation. Most responses included something along the lines of “not available” for one night or to people without reviews (history). I was a little turned off by the responses and became discouraged when I read about incidents where hosts discriminated against travelers. I decided to give Airbnb another chance during my international trip to Italy. Using an Airbnb in Rome was significantly cheaper than hotels in Rome. The hotels were $250+a night for a decent and well-located room and I managed to get an amazing Airbnb for much less. I found an Airbnb property close to the Colosseum that was within my price range. Plus, I also received a discount for my first stay by using a referral promotion of $25 off (current promotion is now $35 off). The total for 2 nights came to $251.



Guide to Airbnb
Our street in Rome

Here are a few photos from the property I stayed at in Rome. It was perfect for our needs (2 people) and right across from the Colosseum. Some of the photos are directly from the Airbnb website. I arrived late at night and it rained the whole time, so I was not able to capture great pics.


airbnb guide

airbnb guide

airbnb guide rome
One full bed

The host, Valenita, was very friendly and very patient. I enjoyed my stay and the set up was a perfect base for us to explore Rome.  Here’s what I learned during my first stay that you can use to help you book an Airbnb. I felt safe during my Airbnb stay. Since my Airbnb stay in Italy, I’ve stayed in Airbnbs in both Paris and Havana.

I am definitely more open to AirBnb now. It saved us a ton of money in Rome and Cuba and I felt right at home. Check out more tips of Rome and Cuba! I hope you found this guide to Airbnb helpful!

What are some tips you would give to AirBnb first timers? Comment below!


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Airbnb Guide For First-Timers

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