When you are at a standard hotel and the front desk asks, one bed or two? What do you say?
It’s probably a deal-breaker unless you’re traveling with a friend that one would say “two” but let me tell you that we do now. Here are five reasons for this being one of the best decision when you’re traveling.
- If you want to be on one bed for a little enjoyment, you still have another bed you didn’t mess up. Come on, you know you thought of this one.
- The room is usually bigger when two beds are included. More room = more space for you and yours.
- You have an extra bed to throw your clothes, toiletries, and person items. This is a necessity when you shop on your trips and have nowhere to put your goods.
- You can pretend you’re in college and you’re having a sleepover. Sounds crazy but there were some nights while traveling that we opted for our own beds to stretch out in. Perhaps sometimes good for relationships? Especially when you’re with your significant other 24/7. Ever see the episode on King of Queens? It’s great to have a little personal space.
- Twice as many clean sheets and pillows! Ok, moreso for the extra pillows but when you travel out-of-the-country you realize many other destinations do not enjoy a good fluffy bed full of pillows. How can just one ever be enough?
Next time, trust us from experience, opt for two beds.
We traveled for 90 days straight without using hotels and we never had accommodations lined up more than 48 hours in advance. As a result, we saved a lot of money.
Most people assume that long- term travel is either really expensive and luxurious, or akin to living in dirty hostels eating only ramen. But there is a middle ground and it’s called Airbnb. Obviously costs will vary from city to city, and some cities (like Tokyo) are expensive if you stay too long. But on average, we spent no more than $50/night for the 3 months we traveled.
Let me be clear: you will not find pricing this low if you book nice apartments in each city without negotiating the advertised price. Most of our accommodations started between $60-$80/night, but we were almost always able to work out discounts.
I’m going to share 5 easy steps so you can get these discounts, too.
Book in the Off-Season
This one may seem like common sense since less demand translates into cheaper accommodations. But in addition to that, you will likely have what are normally “shared spaces” all to yourself.
Here’s an example: Let’s say the lowest price you can find in a particular city for an “entire home” is $120/night. It’s going to be a challenge to get that down $50, even in the off-season. So you start looking at shared spaces – apartments, not hostels. You may find a three-bedroom apartment where you rent one bedroom and share the rest of the space. However, if there are no other guests staying during that time period, you now have an apartment all to yourself, and for a fraction of the cost. And since those spaces are normally shared between guests and host, they usually have bigger, nicer common areas.
Extra tip: I usually message the host and ask them how many guests are staying when I plan on being there. We booked a place like this in Amsterdam and not only were there no other guests, but the host was out of town for work, so we had the place all to ourselves.
Use the Calendar Tool to Your Advantage
I’ve never worked for a hotel before, but I worked for rental car company and both of those industries are the exact same: the name of the game is rate and occupancy. The less occupied a hotel is, the lower the rates will be and vice-versa. If I had a car sitting in my parking lot collecting dust and somebody offered me $10/day to rent it… sold! Why? Because $10 is better than $0 every single time.
Hotels and Airbnb are no different. The only costs a host incurs is the electricity and water used during the stay. They don’t even pay the cleaning fee … you do! (More on that in tip #3.)
Also, your review is valuable to a host – positive reviews equals more guests. Any savvy host will value a good review just as much as the money itself, because it effects their brand.
The moral of the story is this: the host would rather make something than nothing. Make an offer; the worst they can do is say no. What if you had a $100/night room available, but it hadn’t been rented in 3 weeks and somebody offered you $300 for the whole week. Would you take it? I would, and so will most people, but it’s all about how you ask.
We recently took an impromptu road trip to Boulder, Colorado with a few friends. We found a perfect apartment in a great location for $80/night. I looked at the calendar and knew she was wide open for the next two weeks. I sent her a message asking if her apartment was available for 3 nights starting the next day, to which she responded yes. I waited about an hour, and then messaged her back, “Our plans have changed slightly; we are now thinking of staying for 4 nights instead of 3. Unfortunately that changes our budget per night. I’m sorry to ask, but is there any way we could work out a special rate if we stay for 4 nights instead of 3?" Wish granted! We booked 4 nights for the price of 3, dropping the nightly rate from $80 to $60. The only thing I risked was a run-in with the big bad “No Fairy,” but I was up for the challenge … are you?
Look at the Extra Fees
When you click on the Airbnb rate, notice that although the total may say $70/night, the host is only collecting $50/night. The additional $20/night comes in the form of cleaning fees, city taxes, and an Airbnb service fee. One very easy way to save money is by asking the host if you can do your own cleaning (and therefore have the cleaning fee removed). This is a lot easier to pull off when your reviews note cleanliness as a guest. (More on that in tip #5). Cleaning fees vary from place to place but on average are 10-20% of the nightly rate, so getting this fee removed will in turn save you 10-20% on the booking. Assuming you can handle the responsibility of cleaning up after yourself, this is the easiest way to save money.
Another way to save money is avoiding the Airbnb fee altogether. The host may be reluctant to book outside of Aribnb because they want the review and because they don’t want to get in trouble. The obvious solution is to book the first night through Airbnb, ensuring everyone gets paid and has an opportunity to earn a review, and then negotiating the remainder of the stay in cash. This is a win-win for everyone: Airbnb gets a service fee, each party gets a review, the guest saves money, and the host earns the same amount they would through Airbnb.
Ask for a Special Price for Multiple Days
I mentioned this in #2 but I have more to touch on here. The more days you stay, the better nightly rate you should receive. We already know that one of the only costs an Airbnb host incurs is paying to clean the space before and after your stay. It will cost them the same amount of money to have the room cleaned whether you stay for 2 nights or 6 nights. Maybe if you stay as long as 20 days some deeper cleaning will be required, but generally what we are talking about here is changing sheets, replacing towels, and a routine once-over.
Assuming the host enjoys your company and isn’t counting down the minutes until you check out, they want you to stay as long as possible. Why? Because occupancy equals revenue, and by now they trust you and feel comfortable with you being there. Again, it’s all about how you ask, but you can say things like, “We may be extending our trip an extra couple of days, is there a weekly rate?” You may not even want to stay the whole week, but that’s not the point. The point is to open the dialogue and test the waters. The hardest part is getting the courage to ask, and the biggest risk is maybe an awkward situation or 2, but everything is easy after that.
Leverage Your Reviews
I’ve mentioned how valuable reviews are to hosts. Now it’s time to talk about how valuable your reviews are as guests. Every time you book a stay on Airbnb, you will provide a review for the host and they will provide a review for you. We are 27/27 for perfect 5/5 reviews noting that we are clean, easy to communicate with, personable, and responsible – all the good stuff you would want a host to know about you. And it’s much more credible coming from strangers than yourself. I’m sure there are some horror stories out there of guests breaking things, being overly needy, or just being filthy. Carrying a flawless review record is going to open doors for you and give you leverage, leading to cost savings among other benefits.
One such benefit is that you are much more likely to get last minute arrangements. Take our experience in Ireland, when a host said, “I wasn’t planning on having anybody this weekend because I had some painting to do but you guys seem laid back so as long as you don’t mind me painting the hallway, you are welcome to stay”.
Besides scoring more last minute arrangements, you will also get chosen first when multiple people are inquiring about the same place. This comes into play a lot during peak travel times when many places are already booked.
Lastly, and most importantly, it will help you get better deals. Negotiating is all about creating value, and you have a lot more negotiating power when you bring the value of being a friendly, easygoing, clean guest. Put yourself in the host’s shoes … is it worth it to earn an extra $10/night if that means dealing with 5x more stress and/or crazy demands and problems from a nightmare guest threatening to leave a bad review if you don’t refund their money (happens all the time … hosts love telling these stories to us!)? Or would you be ok earning slightly less but having the peace of mind that you won’t have to deal with any nonsense? Nine times out of ten, the host will prioritize ease of transaction over more income.
Build your brand the way you want to be perceived, and leverage it to your advantage when negotiating rates.