The Art & Science of Airbnb: Tips From a Full-time Remote (and Nomadic) Employee
May 19, 2022
Working remotely doesn’t always come with the liberty of working from anywhere. Many employers require you to stay in the same time zone, or be within a certain radius of the office (or an airport). Thankfully, I’ve found a forward-thinking company that is completely unbothered by where I’m working, as long as my productivity isn’t suffering.
You see, my life partner and I live a fairly nomadic lifestyle and we’re on the road about every other week. As the one who books the majority of our travel accommodations, I’ve become privy to the ins and outs of Airbnb and want to share some of the secrets I’ve learned. Because if you’re going to successfully travel while working, it’s important to set some criteria.
How I Search on Airbnb
I always filter the listing results by the following.
I’ll let this slide every once in a while if it’s a new listing with zero reviews, but is owned by an experienced host with other highly-reviewed listings. I like to have a sense of what we’re getting ourselves into — I don’t like to deal with nosy Nancy showing up at our place sporadically to say “hi”, or dismissive Darrell who won’t respond when the water heater goes out.
Checking off ‘Entire place to yourself’ and ‘hotel room’
If you don’t have the entire space to yourself, you risk interruptions and distractions by whoever else is on the property.
Toggling on ‘Free parking’
Always note the parking situation before booking or contact the host to ask. Unexpected parking nuances I’ve discovered (a little too late) include:
- Paying for an expensive parking garage that is several blocks from your Airbnb
- First come, first serve parking that doesn’t always guarantee a space
Adjusting nightly price range
This one is self-explanatory, but important. I usually adjust the nightly price to be slightly lower than our budget because there are always cleaning and service fees to consider.
Little Details That Make a Big Difference
There are a handful of other little things I look for in the listing’s description and amenities that don’t always fall within AirBnb’s search criteria.
- Does it have a window and/or free-standing A/C unit? Because no. I have yet to encounter one of these that isn’t: difficult to regulate, loud, and roars every time it kicks on and off throughout the night. If you want a good night’s sleep and peaceful Zoom calls, I’d steer clear of these.
- Does it have a dedicated workspace? Check the photos for the desk situation.
- Is the bed at least a Queen or King? Specifically, if you’re traveling with a partner. Otherwise, you can disregard. But I do always ‘search’ the listing reviews for the keyword ‘bed’ to see if the masses have noted comfort (or not).
- Is there vanity countertop space in the bathroom? Not mandatory, but helpful so you can unpack a little and feel more at home. Again, especially important if you’re sharing the space with a life partner.
- Is it self check-in? Essential if you’d rather avoid talking to hosts, or will be arriving after hours.
- Animals on-site? Big plus. We’ll prioritize staying in someone’s guesthouse if they have animals hanging around the property. One of my favorite stays was on an urban farm in Missouri where I had my morning coffee with Lewis and Clark, the farm’s two goats.
Airbnb Red Flags
Dating isn’t the only thing you have to keep an eye out for red flags. I’ve found a few sure-fire things I like to avoid
- Uncanny photography
- Overexposed, mega bright, and airy looking
- Uses a fisheye lens to make the rooms look bigger
- Listing contains mostly close-up decor photos of lamps, etc.
- All caps in the description
- No reviews (unless it’s a new listing for a superhost who has other verified properties)
- Really strict cancellation policies (life happens, keep things flexible)
- Low nightly rate, but colossal cleaning/service fees
And lastly, I’d like to leave you with an AirBnb search tool for when you’re feeling adventurous. The filters are fun to play with, and you’ll find some really out-of-the-box AirBnb’s like this literal potato house.