Tuesday, November 29, 2016

TRAVEL TIP: Top 5 Advice when booking Airbnb for the First Time

Living at a local home in Japan can be very convenient and fun. But if you have never tried Airbnb before, I have 5 essential advice for booking Airbnb from my experience living in an Airbnb home throughout different cities of Japan:
  1. Pick a convenient location near bus or train station
  2. Avoid extra fees 
  3. Confirm amenity and facility from photos
  4. Picking good reviews + good rating
  5. Make sure the home has Heating/Air-Conditioning!
I break down each advice in great details below: 

1. PICK (& CONFIRM) A CONVENIENT LOCATION

Airbnb has a map system , you can easily find places with convenient transportation nearby. Once you are  
  • In busy city like Tokyo or Osaka, taking the train is the most convenient, easiest, quickest way to get around. In smaller towns/cities, bus might be the main transportation.
  • If you are planning a road trip that requires "Shinkansen" or Japanese bullet train, perhaps renting a place near a Shinkansen station is best for you. 
  • **If you bought or plan to buy a JR Pass, make sure you are nearby a "JR station!" (there are different train and subway companies across Japan) 
    • How to find JR stations? 
      • When looking at Airbnb map, you can easily locate JR stations by the color of train lines that intersect with it. 
      • For example, the map below shows a train station that has multiple JR and non-JR train lines. (JR lines are represented in colored lines in both gray and white. On the other hand, non-JR train lines are represented by simply gray lines.) A place near this station (Shinjuku Station) will be very convenient!

    2. AVOID EXTRA FEES

    The cost is usually more than the daily rate. There's hidden fees such as cleaning fee, sometimes cost a little extra for weekends, and additional fees for extra people. Sometimes, direct deposit is required as well. Here's a few tips to minimize those costs. 
    • I usually avoid direct deposit to make payments as simple as possible. (Example A below asks for $464. Example B doesn't require any direct deposit.)
    • It is reasonable to pay for cleaning fee, but it shouldn't too ridiculously high like $60 to clean a single room. Cleaning fee also depends on whether it is a shared home, entire house, small studio/large home, etc. 
    • Typically, you get charged more for bringing additional guest(s). If you get lucky, you can find some that doesn't charge anything. The cost could be the same if it's just yourself or bringing 3 extra people with you. (See Example B below) 
      Example A

      Example B
      3. CONFIRM AMENITY AND FACILITY FROM PHOTOS
      It is also important to make sure they have everything you need up to standard. Here's a list that you should pay more attention to when checking photos:
      • Living condition and cleanness
      • Judge and confirm the size of home: They might say it could "fit" 4 people, but seriously, it might only fits 2. Consider the amount of space your luggage will take too.  
      • Bathroom: Whether or not shower, sink, and toilet are all in the same room, seeing multiple photos to get a better idea about the current condition of bathroom. (Comparing to standard American size bathroom, some Japanese bathrooms could be smaller than you think...)
      • Pocket Wifi: Trust me, Google Map or any online instant messenger will be very useful when you are exploring the city! Even though they say the home includes "wireless internet" (under "Amenity"), the only way to make sure they have a pocket wifi is to look through their photos and/or reviews! The device looks like the one below. (comes in different colors of course :D) 
        pocket wifi device

        Nice place for 1-2 people

        4. GOOD REVIEWS & RATING

        You don't want to be the guinea pig here. While spending all those money on a lovely trip, don't leave room for yourself to end up at a place where you don't want to be. Take some time to read and learn about the recent condition of the place and other perspectives from previous guests who rented the same spot before. 
        • Review Rating: Avoid all places with low ratings. If it has a high rating but only with a few reviews, it might also be a red flag. Sometimes host will ask their friends to write good reviews about their place regardless of their place's quality.
        • Number of Reviews: The more, the better. I would say 40+ is a good amount. (Below example has 101 reviews) See if multiple people have the same issue about this place (ex. bugs, broken heater), or the same compliment. (ex. only 5 minute walk to train station, quick response from host) 

          5. HEATING AND AIR-CONDITIONING

          Weather in Japan can get extremely cold or hot (+ humid). In Tokyo, it can get up to 35 ℃/95 ℉ + super humid and as low as 5 ℃/41 ℉ in winter time. It will be painful to live under a condition without heating/cooling.

          Please make sure the home has heating/air conditioning depending on your travel season. Simply check the weather at: https://weather.com/



          107 comments:

          1. I've never stayed in an airbnb before even though I've been really wanting to try one. Tokyo is my ultimate dream destination, so this is really helpful for whenever that dream of mine comes true. I didn't know that Tokyo could get extremely cold or humid either, so that's helpful. Very informative post! :)

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          2. Very good point about the HVAC. I would have never thought to check.

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          3. Thanks for the public transportation tips.

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          4. Thanks for the advice! I wouldn't have considered AirBnB before.

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          5. This comment has been removed by the author.

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          6. Great advice! It's definitely important to look into their reviews and check whether they've cancelled on anyone at the last minute before. My sister once booked an AirBnB and right before she was set to head out on her trip, the person cancelled and tried to up the price during that time period. She had to scramble to find a new place, which was very stressful and expensive.

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          7. Thank you for your advice! I wish i could use them in the near future~^^

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          8. Thank you for your advice! I wish i could use them in the near future~^^

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          9. This will really come in handy, thanks for the tips!

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          10. Also, be prepared for the lack of insulation in Japanese housing (outside of Hokkaido). Single-pane windows, no insulation...it's great for earthquake safety and getting a nice summer breeze, but it can get super cold in winter.

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          11. Very helpful article! I love it!

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          12. wow, this is definitely informative! :)

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          13. Not long ago Airbnb began to promote itself more intensely in my country. I was very interested and these advice helped me a lot! Thanks :)

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          14. Having a section on halal Japanese food outlets and food stalls would be of interest to me, thank you.

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          15. i have been to rome, venice, switzerland, paris and kyoto japan and booked our stay thru airbnb. it was easy and reliable, the places are safe, comfortable and clean, just the way we like it!

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          16. great article! I appreciate the tips!

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          17. Bookmarked, thank you!!! I have always been a little daunted at the prospect of booking an Air B'n'B but I know it is a great option and I would be more confident to try it now :)

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          18. Even when you are posting to have a better experience in Japan I think it will apply worldwide, great advises, thanks!

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          19. very good tips i need them if i get the chance to travel thankyou

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          20. wow this really2 helps me a lot. thank you so much.

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          21. Very helpful information. Wish i can go there one day...thank you

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          22. Nice tips! They're very helpful. Thanks :)

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          23. I've been looking into Airbnb and I knew to stay near transportation, but the rest of these tips are so helpful. I feel more prepared after reading this, thank you!

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          31. Really good tips! I use AirBNB extensively while travelling and that A/C tip is priceless.

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