Lately, Airbnb has been criticized by many travellers for becoming more and more commercialized, filled with people who only want to make a profit, lacking its soul – by losing sight of the whole social component. We are all kind of disappointed that most listings nowadays are either professional hotels, hostels, or bed and breakfasts. If we wanted to (or could afford to) stay in a hotel we would book a hotel, am I right?

When we are looking for places to stay we want to stay in local neighbourhoods, engage with locals, eat with locals, and most of all get valuable tips about the place we are at. We want to have a strong social component to our stay. This is still possible using Airbnb, you just need to follow a couple rules and it will be easy to find these real locals to stay with.

Because we need to work we do need a quiet private space and we are generally looking for a few criteria: good Wifi is an absolute must; location – is it easy to get around; is there are a supermarket close by; and are there two areas where we can sit far enough away from each other that we we aren’t disturbing each other’s calls.

So how do you find the perfect place?

1. ASK THE HOST FOR UPLOAD, DOWNLOAD SPEEDS

We learned the hard way that you should never rely on someone’s word that the internet connection is “good”. If you need the internet for work like we do. The good news is that it’s a fairly easy fix – ask your potential host to run a speed test prior to booking and get a screenshot of the results.

I always send a quick friendly message, something along the lines of “Hi XYZ, my husband and I are interested in booking your place for a month, and it’s really important we have high speed internet connection. I’d really appreciate it if you could run a quick speed test, and send me the results. Here is the link to run the test https://www.speedtest.net/.”

We need minimum 6mbps download AND upload to run video calls but depending on your requirements you may need more or less.

2. SET FILTERS

If you need the place to yourself always select ‘Entire Place’ and adjust the price settings if you don’t want to be tempted by places outside of your budget. We also add ‘Kitchen’ to the filters so we can cook our own meals.

If you are looking to stay with locals, even if you filter out all “Entire Place” you will still get a lot of hotel rooms and hostel beds in your search result.

Try adjusting the price range a little bit and also use the map to zoom out of the city centre.

Many people live in the suburbs so if you are only looking at listings in the city centre chances are high you will only find overpriced hotels.

3. BOOK WITHIN 3 OR 1 MONTHS OF YOUR STAY

When a host is creating a listing they can enable the calendar for 1-year booking, 3-month booking or 1-month booking.

The commercial listings like hotels might not have a problem accepting bookings one year in advance. However, a private person often won’t really know their plans that far in advance. Therefore, setting your option to book at 3 months or 1 month is a good way to catch the private person host – don’t book too far in advance or the real hosts might not be an available option.

4. READ REVIEWS

When you have found a booking that seems good to you the last step is to read the reviews. You want to read about how much the host interacted with the guests and how the overall atmosphere was between guest and host. That way you can make sure your host wants to talk to (and spend time with) you when you are their guest. If that’s important to you or if you just want local tips and help when something goes wrong, it’s helpful to have an open and friendly host.

And if after doing all of the above you still have trouble finding some local hosts, why not try one of the other options? Like Couchsurfing. We signed up to Couchsurfing recently but have yet to use it because of the ‘rona.

5. DISABLE INSTANT BOOKING

This is particularly important if you want to stay in a home with a local, rather than having a place to yourself.

Instant book is a setting in Airbnb that enables booking without having to request approval from the host. This is mostly done by commercial listing and less done by hosts who invite people to their homes.

People want the option and security to look over a guests’ profile and reject them if they don’t seem like a good fit. Even if they don’t plan to reject people on principle, still the option to say no just in case is reassuring.

If you only filter automatic booking postings, you may be missing out on the real local hosts.

Want to check out the Airbnb’s we’ve been staying in? We do house tours on Instagram – just click on the ‘Airbnb’ highlight.

Author

Zahn is a travel junkie born and raised on the North Shore of Auckland, New Zealand. Zahn spent two years in South Korea where she met Addison in 2018. She has visited 17 countries and is on a mission to literally work her way around the rest.

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