How to Save Money & Have Great Experiences with Airbnb


Feeding alpacas from our porch. Watching the sun set over a private lakefront. Eating breakfast in a rocking chair on a porch overlooking a beautiful garden, listening to the birds and the sheep. These are all experiences we had with Airbnb. 

Together we've used Airbnb a total of 14 times in 6 different countries. There have been some destinations where the supply of rooms is so low that it doesn't make sense for us to choose Airbnb over something like a motel. However, generally speaking, Airbnb can offer more space and amenities for less - and provide some interesting experiences as a great bonus. 

If you haven't yet signed up for Airbnb, use our invitation link and we both get travel credits. Win-win! Hooray!

Things You May Not Know About Airbnb Listings

Many are actually established B&Bs or guesthouses

If this is the case (you can probably tell by the pictures, the name, and if there are multiple listings in the same property) you can sometimes find reviews elsewhere online if there are not many on Airbnb. Some of our best experiences were Airbnb bookings at B&Bs that we would not have found otherwise. These range from a self-contained unit attached to a house on a farm, to completely separate cottages on a property near the home of the host. 

The price range you search for may not be the total you end up with

When you search for a price range, the cost is the per day cost which does not include the service fee or cleaning fee. So if your max price is $50 per day, you could end up with a property that is $50 per day + fees, which will average out to more than $50 per day in the end. Just something to be aware of if you are on a strict budget. I tend to set the max lower than I need to at the start of searching. 

Many properties offer free cancellation up to 1 day before arrival

Check out the Cancellation Policy section of a listing, and see the policy page for definitions of each. Of course, many are "strict" as well!

You can search without dates

If your dates are flexible (or you're just exploring an area for funsies), searching without dates will help you find something more suitable and perhaps more unique! On each listing you can then see what days they have available and which are booked already.

Weekly & Monthly Discounts

Many properties offer weekly and monthly discounts, and you will not see this reflected in the price unless you have selected dates that range at least a week. Additionally, the prices do change based on the season/demand, so if you are just searching around to be inspired - search for dates that are as close as possible to when you are planning to  travel in order to get the most accurate price estimate for your trip.

What to Look For in Your Next Airbnb


Generally, I don't book a place that has less than 10 reviews or less than 4.5 stars. The star ratings are based on: accuracy, communication, cleanliness, location, check in and value. The location and value stars are the ones that seem more objective to me and therefore I don't mind if they don't have top grades on those. Some people want to be in the heart of the action in a city and would consider a short metro ride away to not be a good location, for example. Close to the airport is usually not a reason I stay somewhere, but that could be a big seller for someone else. 

Read the reviews! You're asked to write a review within 14 days of leaving your Airbnb, and the host writes a review for you as well. Both are really important for the community. In the reviews you can really get a feel for the hosts: did they help someone book a bus ticket, cook an amazing breakfast, rent out a bike or let the guests feed the alpacas? That stuff shows up in the reviews, as it is not always listed as a feature. Additionally, it adds context to the negative ratings. Look for things like: apartment was not thoroughly cleaned, there are many many steps up to this apartment, or it is above a noisy bar. 

Features that are not always free at hotels

Parking, wi-fi, laundry and breakfast are all things you can filter your search on. However, read the description to find out the host also provides things like: bike or kayak rentals (or for free), bus passes, a dog you can hang out with. Especially if you have a car to park or need to do laundry - Airbnb is worth exploring to keep your costs down. 

Keep in mind that it is likely there are some unadvertised perks as well. We've gotten complimentary snacks and cakes, used our hosts' personal washing machine and drying line, had access to walk across the farmland and of course, recommendations on where to eat locally. 

Your deal-breakers

Not all spaces have a TV or air conditioning, so don't assume they will especially if those are must haves for you! Other things to look out for are pets, shared bathrooms, and the distance to the nearest public transportation. An obvious filter to make use of is also the Room Type: entire home/apt, private room, or shared room. A place may seem like a great deal until you realize it's actually just a hostel.  

Host personality

Each host has their own profile which is helpful in the case that a property doesn't have enough reviews for your liking, as the hosts often have multiple properties. On their profile page you can see reviews and all of their properties, and get to know their personality. 

In the description of the property there is also an "interaction with guests" section. Here is where many hosts say something like "I will be available for questions but work during the day" or "My husband and I love to chat with travelers over a drink if you would like". We've never found a host to be too pushy or trying to chat us up all the time, but the hosts with the most personality tend to be the ones that go above and beyond to make your stay an amazing experience.

Top Airbnb Experiences IN NZ

Tranquil Artists' Retreat @ Akaroa

Host: Di

Le Cornu Farms @ Taumarunui

Host: Rosemary 


Ideal Retreat @ Lake Okareka

Host: Carol



Finally, one of my favorite features of Airbnb: Airbnb Picks. Search listings from categories like "It Yurts So Good" and "Castles". Enjoy!

And don't forget to use our link to get travel credits!