Whenever we travel, we love to get as close to the local experience as possible. Hotels are fine, but when traveling with kids, renting a property is a much better option. That’s why we love using Airbnb for families.
Back then, it was still a relatively new site, operating in only a few cities. Now Airbnb has grown to many countries around the world, and is used regularly by traveling families.
This post was updated on March 23, 2020.
This post may contain affiliate links. That means I may receive a small commission if you click on the link and purchase something. But don’t worry, this will not result in any extra costs to you.
What is Airbnb, and why should we even consider Airbnb for families?
Airbnb is a homesharing platform that began in 2008. Homeowners can offer their rooms, or even entire homes, for travelers to rent for short term. Accommodations range from basic rooms to luxurious villas! For families, this is a great option as many Airbnbs include kitchens to allow families to cook their own food.
In recent years, Airbnb has evolved into more than just an accommodation platform. It’s a complete booking platform too. Travelers can not only book rooms, but they can also book tours, classes, and experiences with locals.
Like many sharing economy platforms, Airbnb is a potential business opportunity for hosts. In popular tourist destinations, listing a home on Airbnb can be quite lucrative. This can bring with it positive and negative effects, as we have seen personally in cities like Venice, Italy and Ubud, Indonesia.
As avid Airbnb users, we try to be mindful of how our stay may be impacting the local economy. And as much as we can, we book properties that are owned by locals rather than foreigners.
For us as a family, the benefits of Airbnb still outweigh the cons. Airbnb has been such a great resource to use for finding family-friendly accommodations!
Tips for using Airbnb for families
With that said, staying at an Airbnb is not without its hits and misses. We’ve stayed at some sketchy places that didn’t quite live up to our expectations. But we’ve also stayed at Airbnb properties that felt incredibly luxurious to us.
For the most part, our experiences with Airbnb have been positive ones. And for those of you who are new to the Airbnb scene, here are eight tips for using Airbnb for families.
Tip #1: Really read the reviews
One of the things that makes Airbnb work so well is the reviews. They help potential renters get a sense of what the property is actually like. Try to look for common themes in the reviews.
When traveling with a family, it’s even more important that you stay at a place you feel comfortable in, so make it a habit of reading the reviews when making your decision of where to tent.
Tip #2: Accept the pictures with a grain of salt
Along the same lines as reading the reviews, make sure you look at the pictures to see what you’re getting. With that said, do keep in mind that the pictures are also meant to entice. We have stayed at places that looked great in the pictures, but turned out to be somewhat average in real life, or much smaller than we expected.
Tip #3: Try to book the entire space when using Airbnb for families
When traveling with family, having a certain level of privacy is important. This is especially important if you’re traveling with young kids. We recommend looking for rentals that allow you to book the entire place.
Booking an entire home gives you and your family a little more space. And you don’t have to worry about your baby waking up the owners at three in the morning. If you can’t get the entire place, the next best thing is a private room.
Tip #4: Try to research the neighborhoods
Always do your research before booking a rental, especially when you’re using Airbnb for families. It’s important to make sure the neighborhood you’re staying at is one that feels comfortable for your family.
If you have the address or the general neighborhood, Google street view is a great tool to use to see what the neighborhood is like. Also, use sites like Yelp to see what stores and restaurants are in the area.
Tip #5: Don’t be afraid to try something unique
There are some pretty interesting rentals out there, from houseboats to campers to treehouses. Renting through Airbnb is definitely a great opportunity for you to try out some of these unique lodging options.
Through Airbnb, we’ve stayed in a tiny house and a camper van. And we also stayed at a lighthouse! Especially if you’re traveling with kids in tow, staying at an Airbnb is a wonderful chance for them to experience something new.
Tip #6: Send a message to the owner BEFORE you book
This is probably one of the most important tips for using Airbnb for families. Before booking accommodations, I always reach out to the owners with some additional questions. I let them know upfront that I am traveling with kids.
In some cases, you may find out that a particular rental is not well suited for children. This happened when we were looking for rentals in New York, when my son was still just a baby and we would travel with the pack and play. There was an Airbnb that looked great in the pictures. But we were informed by the owner that it probably wouldn’t have much room for a crib.
In other cases, as was the case when we booked a rental in Berkeley, the owners were more accommodating to us because of our kids. They even brought us toys for our daughter and son to play with. The take home lesson here is to always communicate with the owner.
Sending a message to the host allows families to communicate with the host any specific needs they might have, and whether the property can accommodate that. And it also gives families a chance to determine how responsive the host is. So in case there is an issue with the Airbnb, families will have an idea of how the host will respond in that situation.
Tip #7: Treat the place like your own home
Remember that when you’re using Airbnb for families, you’re most likely renting someone’s home. This is not a hotel room. While the owner will more than likely be as accommodating to your needs as they can, don’t expect the same type of service as you would receive at a hotel.
Along similar lines, treating the Airbnb like your own home means taking the same type of safety precautions as you would at home. For us, that means traveling with a travel carbon monoxide detector. Like at home, these devices help us make sure that the air we breath in the Airbnb is safe.
Also, be respectful of the space that you’re renting. If you accidentally break something during your stay, let the owner know. And try to replace it if you can. Clean up after yourself, and make sure the place looks the way it did when you first got there.
Renters get rated too. So leaving a good impression with the host will help influence your ratings as a renter on Airbnb.
Tip #8: Give honest feedback
Speaking of ratings, don’t forget to review your rental after your stay. This may not directly affect your own stay, but will be helpful for future renters. If there was an issue with a part of your stay, mention it in the review. A good host will take that feedback and improve upon it for future rentals.
Be honest, but don’t be mean. Think of it as giving suggestions to the owner on how they can improve, while also telling future renters what they can expect from the property.
Making travel more memorable by using Airbnb for families
These eight tips are what we’ve learned from using Airbnb for families. Over the past ten years that we’ve been using Airbnb, we’ve found that more and more, we’ve relied on Airbnb to meet our accommodation needs rather than going with the standard hotel options.
Our experiences with Airbnb have made our travel more unique and memorable. How about making some of your own memorable Airbnb experiences.
My family and I love Airbnb, and we think you will too. If you’re thinking about using Airbnb, click here to get up to $55 off your first Airbnb rental.
Have you had experience using Airbnb on your family travels? Share your thoughts on Airbnb for families!
Don’t miss out on my latest tool, the Overseas Family Vacation Checklist. Click here to receive your free copy and subscribe to my newsletter.