Chances are someone (or several someones) you know has booked an Airbnb rental. And if you haven't jumped on the bandwagon yet, we're guessing you're at least intrigued by the community-sourced hospitality company.
And with good reason: to date, more than 60 million guests have booked one of Airbnb's 2+ million listings — apartments, castles, villas, yurts, lighthouses and more — in more than 34,000 cities and 190 countries. Even the skeptics among us have to admit Airbnb has earned an impressive crowd of fans.
So let's say you're thinking of giving Airbnb a go this year. How do you start narrowing the gazillion options into real possibilities?
Travel destinations and accommodations are subjective choices, of course, but we'll give you a head start by letting you in on some intel:
(1) preferred destinations of millions of Airbnb renters, and
(2) unconventional listings that might just strike your fancy and thirst for adventure (or art, or nature, or culture — whatever floats your boat).
Top 16 Trending Neighborhoods in 2016
Earlier this year, Airbnb analyzed the travel patterns of 40+ million Airbnb travelers and identified the following hot spots. (Percentages denote the growth of guests staying in these neighborhoods from 2014 to 2015.)
- Chūō-ku in Osaka, Japan — 7000% growth
- Banglampoo in Bangkok, Thailand — 1230% growth
- Brickfields, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia — 1200% growth
- Capucins in Bordeaux, France — 960% growth
- Koukaki in Athens, Greece — 800% growth
- Triana in Seville, Spain — 770% growth
- Hammerbrook in Hamburg, Germany — 415% growth
- Kaneohe on Oahu, U.S. — 320% growth
- Meireles in Fortaleza, Brazil — 285% growth
- Roma Sur in Mexico City, Mexico — 275% growth
- Oak Lawn in Dallas, US — 260% growth
- Poncey-Highland in Atlanta, GA — 240% growth
- District VII in Budapest, Hungary — 145% growth
- The Bukit Peninsula, Bali — 130% growth
- Richmond in Melbourne, Australia — 126% growth
- Constitución in Buenos Aires, Argentina — 125% growth
Common threads among these neighborhoods are art, food, outdoor experiences and shopping.
If you're itching to know more, you can read about each of these destinations in this comprehensive report.
Once you've selected your destination, it's time to consider the type of accommodation you want. An apartment? A house? Want to share space with a landlord, or have the whole place to yourself?
The options don't stop there. You'd be surprised by the variety of experiences available to you, from castles to yurts, windmills to tree houses, horse ranches to fairytale cottages, and even homes of famous authors (for reals).
You can view a rich menu of accommodation categories here.
As with anything that's new and unconventional, many travelers wonder about the safety aspect of booking an Airbnb rental. (Frankly, any sort of travel should bring about safety concerns.)
While there's no jerk-free or fool-proof safety mechanism, Airbnb tries to alleviate customers' apprehensions by verifying hosts' IDs (meaning they are who they say they are) and providing 24/7 customer service to troubleshoot any mishaps. But the acid test of a trustworthy, considerate Airbnb host? Reviews from past guests.
It's important to note, however, that even the most considerate host can't protect you from potential accidents (like a tree falling on someone — which really happened). It's why Airbnb urges customers to sign up for traveler's insurance in case of an injury or emergency during a trip.
Travel insurance is relatively affordable, Airbnb points out, and can cover ER stays to physical therapy- even terrorism and natural disasters, in some cases.
You can review what's covered in our Atlas Premium insurance here.
A rundown of Airbnb's safety tips:
- Pay and communicate with hosts on Airbnb. Decline any requests to take the transaction outside of the Airbnb platform.
- Sign up for traveler's insurance.
- Check for travel warnings and advisories.
- Make copies of documents and keep them safe.
Look for hosts with a strong reputation: check for verified phone numbers, connected social networks, references, and guest reviews.
Airbnb or no Airbnb, increase your chances of having a smooth, safe visit wherever you go by making safety precautions a can't-miss travel essential, right alongside your sunscreen, passport, and selfie stick.