We left on our French adventure a month ago, and have to say, travelling as a family has changed! Every other trip we’ve been on, we’ve usually visited family, booked a resort or a beach house using a local agent or website.
After listing our own beach house on Airbnb last year and working as a host, we decided to put travelling with Airbnb to the test. On our app, is an easy way to switch from hosting to travelling and I do find the search function works really well.
In fact, we chose our new town in France based on the Airbnb map…saw lots of places around this little town…zeroed in and found beautiful descriptions of the town and region, that sounded exactly like what we were looking for.
After we packed up our home in Melbourne into one big container (to be stored for 2 years), we booked an apartment 2 minutes away for a few nights, until we were ready to leave. Having stayed in hotels with kids, we knew that the only way to get a decent sleep was to have at least 2 rooms. We’re able to put the baby down, followed by the older boys without having to turn out all the lights and play ‘sleep time’ at 7:30pm!
The other advantage is being able to cook and eat in, because eating out at every meal is costly. Add 3 boys in and 1 super fussy one and your budget is blown. Weetbix in the morning, pasta for dinner keeps them very happy and the wallet happy too.
The next Airbnb apartment we stayed in was when we arrived in Paris. We found a really fun, 2 bedroom apartment in Montmartre that was decorated like a circus, so much fun for the kids. The tuk-tuk in the dining room kept our 2 year old busy as he sat for hours in the drivers seat. A huge help for this jet lagged crew! The owner was so so helpful with a list of suggested places to eat, shop, buy our bread and how to get to the Metro easily. These personal touches help make the stays more enjoyable and give you a locals perspective, which is really nice.
We were ready to travel to Salies-de-Bearn in the far south-west of France and hit the road for the 8 hour journey after a few lovely days in Paris.
Here’s where our first major trip challenge came in. I’d booked a home that sounded good, but wondered why the pictures where a bit strange and not very good quality on Airbnb. But the owner assured me the configuration of the rooms was hard to explain and the option of staying for 1 month, before committing to it long-term, was ideal.
On our arrival, we realised the house was not going to work and the 3rd bedroom was in fact the living room and wasn’t going to be suitable for our 2 year old. There were a lot of other things that were wrong with the house and we were in urgent need of another home. I jumped on Airbnb and found something else the next morning, booked and moved the next day. Very lucky considering it was high season and we needed something for a month. We lucked in.
After sending a refund request to Airbnb, they assessed the situation, looked at photos I’d supplied and provided a full refund. Had it been left with the owner to decide, we surely wouldn’t have received the refund which was an expense we just couldn’t afford. Another Airbnb tick from us.
So 3 great Airbnb properties so far and today we move on to a beach property on the coast before we travel through Spain to visit Rob’s English family. We know it will be hot in Spain in August, so we booked apartments with pools, something the boys are looking forward to! I remember a pool being a criteria when my mum use to book us into hotels on summer holidays and it always being a highlight.
So here are a few tips if you plan on booking something like Airbnb (there are lots of other options many of which you can now find through search engines like Trip Advisor).
- Make sure the photos are good and they clearly list how the bedrooms are configured. The most important part is sleeping!
- Have a little list of your mandatories and make sure they have them. Things such as wifi, parking, towels/linens are all things to look for that vary from place to place.
- If you’re travelling with a family, and plan to do some cooking in, look at the description of the kitchen. The apartment we’re in now, doesn’t have an oven which I’d just assumed would be here. Not a major thing but worth checking.
- Check the location well and what transportation exists around the accommodation. Ideally, you don’t want to have to drive everywhere (at least we don’t like to) so see how far it is to shops, restaurants or local attractions.
- Read quite a few other listings to see how they compare and if someone hasn’t take the effort to clearly describe their home and provide clear photos, it’s likely an indication of what the home will be like.
- Read the reviews! If there are not many, look a little closer. If there are lots, make sure they are positive and sound as if what they are describing, is what you are after.
This post is not sponsored by Airbnb so is our genuine opinion and not endorsed by Airbnb.
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