Have you ever booked a seemingly awesome place somewhere, only to find out later that there are a bunch of extra fees? Or maybe you arrived and there were no towels- or worse- no toilet paper?
To avoid getting stuck with unexpected surprises, make sure you ask these important questions before booking your next Airbnb (or through any other property booking site!)
What are the fees? Are there any extra fees that aren’t listed?
First of all, make sure you read the entire listing to see what fees they list. Usually, these will include a service fee, cleaning fees and taxes. These can add hundreds of dollars to a stay.
Recently, Airbnb announced that it will start offering an option to show all fees before taxes upfront in search results and the listing page. Also, you can see a full breakdown of the price, including the service fee, any discounts, and taxes before confirming the booking. (From an article in USA Today in November of 2022.)
If you are booking through another service, this is still a really important question to ask!
We once stayed at a property that gave us an option to either pay a (large) cleaning fee, or clean the place ourselves before we left. We chose to clean. Actually, we always clean up regardless! But in this case, we vacuumed, did all the laundry, and scrubbed down the sinks and tub as well.
Sometimes properties will allow pets, for an extra fee.
What is the cancellation policy?
Make sure you know ahead of time if the booking is non-refundable. The policies vary. We have stayed at some that allow a full refund up to a few days ahead. Some offer a full refund up to a certain point, then a certain percentage back the closer you get to the arrival date.
Be wary of booking non-refundable stays. You never know if someone in your family will be sick, or any other unexpected emergency will come up!
What is the WiFi like? How about cell phone service?
Some properties will say WiFi is available, and then you get to the property and it is SO. SLOW, it’s practically unusable.
If you need WiFi for work purposes on your trip, make sure it is a good enough internet connection and speed for what you need!
It’s also important to know if you are going to be somewhere with no, or limited, cell phone service. I love staying somewhere with no cell service, but it comes with it’s own risks!
Make sure to double check the property address, how to get in, and any other important information before your phone goes out of reach!
What are the house rules?
Some places will list these in the property listing, and some will have a note when you reach the destination. A lot of places will leave a “house rules” list on the refrigerator.
But it would be helpful to know ahead of time if any of those rules are going to affect your trip. For instance, a “quiet time after 9pm” rule. If you’re a rowdy bunch, this might not work for you!
Other important rules to be aware of are no-smoking rules, pet policies, camp fire rules, and maximum amount of guests allowed on the property.
Who do I contact if I need help with something?
This one is important! If you show up and your code isn’t working on the key pad for instance, you will want to be able to contact someone immediately!
Know if there is a maintenance company you need to contact for specific things. For instance, in one place we stayed, the water completely shut off. We knew who to contact, and they sent someone immediately to fix it.
What is the parking situation?
One of the most important questions to ask before booking your next Airbnb is about the parking!
Do you park directly in front of the property? Is there a garage? Do I need a key or code for it? Do I park in a parking garage? Is there a dedicated parking spot? How many cars can fit? Can you accommodate larger vehicles? Are motorcycles allowed? (We have stayed in a neighborhood where they weren’t!)
Do I have to pay to park? If so, what is the fee? We’ve stayed places that were $50 a night to park! Yikes!
We have also stayed at a property that we had to park, then walk up and down a steep gravel hill carrying all our luggage to get to the property. It was fine for us, but if you have any disabilities, or just don’t want the extra workout, that would have been good to know ahead of time!
What floor is the property on?
If you are booking a condo or apartment, sometimes the listing won’t mention what floor you will be on. Recently, we stayed at a condo, and were completely surprised to find out when we showed up, that we were on the 26th floor!
Make sure to ask if it is going to make a difference to you!
Will bad weather affect the stay?
Especially if you are staying at a mountain property, one of the questions you need to ask before booking your next Airbnb might be “What about the weather?” Snow might affect road closures, or your vehicle just may not make it up a snow-covered hill.
The last place we stayed in the mountains, the hill up to the properties was heated. If it weren’t, and it were snowy, we would never have made it up in the car we drove!
We have also seen a campground entrance in Zion National Park become a raging river during a flash flood.
Do I need to bring my own linens?
This doesn’t happen often, but it has happened, especially during the Covid times we are living in. It would really be a bummer to show up to no blankets or towels! And if you’re flying in, it would be practically impossible to pack all that!
Is the kitchen stocked?
Similarly, you might want to know what’s available in the kitchen. Are there pots and pans? Utensils? A coffee pot?
Our family has stayed on properties that have had anywhere from a fully stocked kitchen to a kitchen that didn’t even have an oven.
Especially when we travel with a lot of family, we like to cook a lot of our meals rather than going out constantly. Knowing what is in the kitchen is super important!
What other amenities are offered?
Asking about other amenities can help you pack less. Maybe they offer a crib or play pen for the baby. A lot of properties have puzzles, games, and books.
One of the lake properties we stayed at had inflatable rafts and rings. A beach property had all the sand toys the kids could possibly need. Occasionally, a property will have fishing poles, kayaks, bikes, or other recreational items for guests to use!
Some places go the extra mile and have a Keurig machine with K-cups. A glamping dome we stayed in offered extra electric blankets in case the weather got too cold.
Don’t pack things that might already be available to you!
Do you have any recommendations for dining or attractions?
This isn’t super important, but you won’t regret asking! They’re likely to know local favorites- the kind of places that aren’t the typical touristy places.
When we stayed in Kanab, Utah, we never would have known about the sand caves if we weren’t told by the property manager! And it was one of the best things we did in Utah!
I hope this list of questions to ask before booking your next Airbnb is helpful to you on your next trip! Have you ever had any surprises (good or bad) at any properties you have booked? Let us know!
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