young couple on vacationAre you planning your next vacation? If you’re looking for an affordable travel option, I may have a great solution for you. Peer-to-peer rental websites, like Airbnb, are the latest rage when it comes to traveling the world on a small budget. Although Airbnb offers the largest peer-to-peer marketplace, other similar rental companies include HomeAway, FlipKey and VRBO.

If you don’t know how the rental process works, potential hosts list their homes or property profiles to rent on one of these websites and travelers can browse property details, photos, amenities and location for a prospective rental. With the click of a button, you can communicate with the property owner to ask questions about the rental prior to booking. This lodging option has grown popular in the past few years because the listings offer unique, personal and short-term accommodations similar to a comfy bed and breakfast for a fraction of the cost.

How much can you actually save booking through peer rental sites versus a traditional hotel? According to Priceonomics.com, on average, Airbnb stays in the U.S. cost about 21% less to rent an entire apartment and about 49% less for a single room rental. For example, an average-priced hotel room in New York City costs about $245 per night while a New York Airbnb rental costs about $180 per night. So there’s definitely an opportunity to save money with peer rental websites.

Things to Keep in Mind

Traveling the world is one of the best ways to have amazing experiences and peer rentals help make traveling easier for less money. However, there are a few things to keep in mind before you book a trip. First, be clear about what you’re looking for in your ideal rental. Think about what section of a city you’d like to stay in and which amenities you’ll need to be comfortable.

Here’s a short list of questions to consider before booking:

  • How long is your visit?
  • Do you need a flexible check-in time?
  • Do you need access to nearby tourist attractions?
  • Do other people live in the rental?
  • What is your rental budget?
  • How many travelers are staying?
  • How much space will you need?
  • What details matter most to you?

Although most peer rental sites have protections built into rental experience, be sure to verify the details of the property before booking. For instance, Airbnb doesn’t screen property owners on their site; however, the owners whose profiles say “verified ID” have been vetted and have provided their identification to the company. Be sure you have carefully reviewed the property photos to ensure it fits your preferences.

Travelers who use these websites report that their experiences broadly differ from one host to another. For example, some hosts may provide local maps, cook meals, serve as tour guides, refer you to local services and go out of their way to ensure that you have an amazing stay at their property. Others may provide an experience much less accommodating. So if it is your first time with a host, be open and flexible since you don’t know what to expect.

Always contact the host prior to booking even if you don’t have any questions. Evaluate how reactive and helpful the host is with their response. Bottom line, your communications with the host should help build confidence in your decision to rent from them.

Read Rental Reviews

Look for a property that has at least a few reviews. Reviews can only be left by past renters, so the reviews are legitimate, and hopefully, valuable. The reviews should help you develop your trust in the potential host, especially because some reviews contain photos taken by past renters. Past reviews may also be a source of tips or hints prior to your stay.

Peer rental sites have literally hundreds of thousands of listings around the world. So use the reviews as a tool to help you narrow your options down. And after your visit, provide an honest review of your host and property that may help other travelers.

Lastly, enjoy your upcoming trip! The whole point of traveling is to relax or enjoy a little adventure. Peer rentals are there to provide pleasant and unique lodging when you travel. Hopefully this affordable option enhances your next adventure! If you need some advice before renting a vacation property, check out these tips. If you need some inspiration for vacation ideas, check out this blog, Weekend Vacation Ideas Near You.”

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