8 Money-Saving Airbnb Tips for Guests for Digital Nomads & Slow Travel

South Korean Hanok Airbnb Stay Jeonju

After a digital nomad who’s constantly traveling and always looking to save money (without sacrificing quality), I’ve learned these Airbnb tips, hacks, and strategies after a year of living mostly out of Airbnbs.

With these Airbnb strategy hacks for guests, I’ve managed to book an entire house in Japan for only $16/night, found a large charming guest room in the center of Kuala Lumpur for only $10/night, and secured many unique spaces my past self would be envious of! 

Plus, if you’re a spontaneous traveler and are open to staying in destinations you would never have thought of, these Airbnb travel hacks will potentially bring you unexpected local experiences. 

Without further ado, let’s get into my favorite Airbnb tips for guests for long-term travel and digital nomad life. 

1. Best Airbnb Tips for Guests With Spontaneous Taste

Yugawara japan airbnb image
Sights around Yugawara, Japan on a day trip in the area

We’re starting this Airbnb tips for guests article off strong with one of my favorite strategies – searching for random Airbnbs in random locations. 

After all, this is how I found a $16/night house in Japan near the beach and mountains in a small town I would never have thought to go to otherwise. 

This is an excellent hack for those who don’t have a set destination in mind and are open to visiting somewhere off the beaten path. 

When I was in Japan there was a week of time between Kyoto and Tokyo I had no place in mind. So I opened up the whole Japan map on Airbnb, set my price filters to below $30/night, and looked at what popped up. 

A preview of the options I looked up in Japan for a week stay (screenshot from airbnb.com)
I never considered visiting Japan’s Coast, but we’ve got options, and I’m open to exploring somewhere random (screenshot from airbnb.com)

After realizing I could access most coastal places via train, I checked out potential stays. Eventually, I landed on the $16/night house in Yugawara, a small beach town.

I had never heard of it and didn’t know what to expect; I just knew it was a house in nature, with lots of space and many great reviews. If it’s cheap and seems too good to be true, ensure there are reviews.

The social area of the house in Yugawara

Looking back, this was one of the best places I stayed in Japan. Not just for the price, but because I could go to the beach every day, cook, and see the stars – it was a true gem. I only got the experience because I was willing to go somewhere new, non-touristy, and see what was there. 

So if you don’t have a fixed location, have time to explore somewhere different, or even have a destination but are open to staying in neighborhoods outside touristy areas, you’ll often find cheaper places and open yourself up to new experiences.

2. Avoid Disaster and Check Reviews

As a digital nomad, it’s crucial I’m connected and have a space to work wherever I go. Whether it be having a desk in my room, having access to shared co-working space, or nearby cafes I can work from.  

On top of that, when I stay places, if I’m staying a week or more, I want to make sure other conditions such as host communication, transit access, and comfort are optimal. 

There’s nothing worse than arriving somewhere to stay a week and realizing you’re sharing one bathroom with ten people, the mattress is as hard as a rock, or that there’s a club next door that blasts music until 4 AM when you’re the type to be in bed at 8 PM. 

Even if a space looks nice based on the photos, read the full description and reviews, as guests may point out things that the hosts don’t mention.

I had a nightmare host in Mexico — reviews on other rooms were good, but I stayed in a new room that hadn’t been booked before. When I complained it was too hot as one of the room fans wasn’t working, I was given this dirty filter fan and was treated as an inconvenience. Luckily I sent this image among others through Airbnb and got all my money back.

There’s even a search feature in the reviews, which I usually will search “WiFi” to see if other digital nomads have stayed before to ensure I won’t have any issues with connectivity.

Other things I look out for in reviews are experiences with the hosts or noise in the area because, after all, if I stay somewhere for a week or two or even longer, I want to make sure I’ll be comfortable.

3. Use the Payment Plans when Booking Ahead of Time

If you’ve booked through Airbnb, there’s a good chance you’ve seen this option – pay part now and the rest later. 

Well, I suggest you use it, especially if you book beforehand. After all, why pay an extra $100 or whatever the other half is when you may cancel, make adjustments, or you could use that money now.

Overall, I’m not a fan of payment plans, especially when you buy a single item and then keep paying for it months later, but when booking a place using this Airbnb tip for guests, it feels more like paying a deposit and then your “rent” when the time approaches.

Keep in mind this option isn’t always available, or sometimes there’s even options to make 4 payments over time.

4. Get “Refunds” on Non-Refundable Stays

This is one of my favorite Airbnb hacks for guests and I wish I knew how to use it sooner. 

Have you ever seen a non-refundable booking that’s just perfect, but you’re afraid to commit? After all, what if your dates change, or you get there and then realize you need to leave sooner than planned?

This happened to me in Taipei – where single rooms are expensive.

I found a decent spot for a budget price, with a work desk in a great location. But, it was non-refundable, and although I knew the date I would fly into Taipei, I wasn’t sure how long I wanted to stay.

I booked it for a week regardless and knew that if I wanted to adjust the dates, I could request to change them. 

Funny enough, I booked for September 5th – 12th and then realized I flew into Taipei on the 6th. 

No problem – I submitted a date change, and the host approved it. 

Ultimately, it’s up to the host to approve date changes, and you can’t cancel the booking entirely. However, you can still get a refund on nights you remove from your stay.

To sum it up, if you know the dates you’ll stay somewhere non-refundable, book the space (maybe for an extra day or two than expected), and you can remove nights or shift dates later.

You can even make changes while staying there, but make the changes earlier than later as there’s a point where changes will no longer be allowed. 

Making an adjustment to my stay on October 2nd, showing the refund I’d get for the night I don’t stay (screenshot from airbnb.com)

5. Stay Longer for Cheaper Rates

This one is more obvious, but the longer you book a stay on Airbnb, the more discount you can get on a stay, as hosts can set weekly and monthly discounts. You can even message the host to see if a further discount is available if the current one offered isn’t much. 

While this is one of the Airbnb tips for guests that’s excellent for saving money, if you intend to stay longer than a month in a city, I suggest using the Airbnb as a landing space and then seeking other renting options because while a monthly discount on Airbnb can seem like a deal, renting direct is usually cheaper. 

6. Check Booking.com (or other booking platforms) for hostels

One mistake I’ve made was becoming too dependent on Airbnb. It’s great for houses and rooms, but if you’re looking for a hostel space, booking through a platform like booking.com can not only be cheaper but offer better cancellation options.

If you decide a hostel is a better option, whether it be due to high travel costs or you want to socialize more while solo traveling, any hostel you find on Airbnb, check for it on another booking platform to compare.

I use booking.com quite often for hostels and even get discounts there, making it more affordable than Airbnb at times. 

7. Search ahead of time (& book with free cancellation)

Sometimes, I envy people who have no idea where they’ll be staying the next week or even the next day. I think I’m spontaneous, but this is another level I could never mentally handle. I need to know I’ll have an affordable space to stay in that fits my needs, and it’s not easy to find that last minute.  

I’ve found places that are absolute gems because only because I booked waaaay ahead of time. Like a month or two ahead of time. 

But I also make sure spaces like these have free cancellation because you never know what may change during that time.

While I did share my Airbnb hack for being able to change dates on non-refundable stays, if I can find free cancellation, I’ll always go with that unless I find an absolute gem and am sure my plans won’t change (or maybe I’m already familiar with where I’m going) meaning I can be pretty confident in booking something I can’t cancel. 

8. Create Favorites Lists

There’s nothing quite like the dopamine hit of browsing potential Airbnb stays. But to make sure I’m not just browsing in vain, I’ll create a “favorites” list so I can add potential stays to a list  I can access later.

Aside from having a list of all the best spots, creating a list ahead of time can give you an idea of how quickly listings are going.

Say I create a list of places for a two-week stay two months ahead of my intended visit. As the time comes closer, I can check my list; if any listings are no longer available, they’ll be shown as unavailable. This is a great way to know if you should book before the others are gone or if you can wait it out.

Airbnb screenshot
Some of my Hanoi favorites now unavailable (screenshot from airbnb.com)

Use These Airbnb Tips and Hacks for Guests Your Next Booking!

I’ve been living out of Airbnbs for almost a year and have learned how to make the best out of what’s out there. As a digital nomad, these Airbnb hacks and tips for guests have helped me save money and book spaces that are great for working from without sacrificing my comfort. 

So if you’re on a similar trajectory, whether a digital nomad or a slow traveler looking to live in places for more extended periods, these Airbnb tricks for guests have got you covered – so go on out and find some Airbnb gems people will envy you for! 

For more insider tips on budgeting as a digital nomad, check out some of our other stuff here!

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