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How I Saved Hundreds By Booking an Airbnb Rental Last-Minute

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Airbnb Rental

Eeeek… so excited about my recent Airbnb experience! 💃

My kids had a whole week off for fall break at the beginning of October, so we decided to head back to Boise to see friends and family for several days.

Because it’s a little strange to head back and NOT stay in our old house, I looked into renting an Airbnb for a homier feel. In addition, we’re a family of five so things get a bit pricey when you’re having to rent two hotel rooms. I’m also such a fan of renting a home versus a hotel room because of the kitchen – it’s nice to know that you can save some money by not going out to eat every night!

I found lots of awesome listings that would sleep my whole family, which was surprising since I was booking last-minute. I also noticed a special offer for 20% off my stay — sweet!  This made we wonder how else I could save even more on my Airbnb reservation? You guys know I love a good deal. 😁

Here are 5 easy ways to make your money go further when booking on Airbnb (I experienced these first hand!)…


1. Look for newer listings.

Save money with collin's airbnb tips — searching newer listing on airbnb

I was really curious about why the particular listing I was interested in was priced really low compared to similar rentals in the area. After checking out the listing page, I realized this AirBnB property had zero reviews, so it was likely the homeowner was offering a low-priced stay to entice renters to book (and review). Luckily for me, I’m familiar with the Boise area, so I feel comfortable already knowing the best locations and what’s available around those areas.

That said, if you don’t already know much about your destination city, enlist the help of a friend who lives there or check your destination city’s subreddit (like this one for /Boise/) for more information. Sure, it can be kind of intimidating to not know what to expect given the lack of personal reviews, but I think of it as helping that homeowner launch their AirBnB rental with me as their first PR person in exchange for a deal! Just look for the blue “NEW” box tagged on the listing to find the no-review homes.


2. Extend the length of your stay.

Save money with collin's airbnb tips — weeklong stay discount on different airbnb properties

Many listings offer a full week discount where you get a discount off your stay (Airbnb users have seen percentages up to 30% off!) if you book for seven days or longer. If you can swing it, try to extend your 5- or 6-night stay to a full week to take advantage of the discount. My family really only needed the rental for six days, but the extra discount actually made it cheaper to book for seven days instead of six! Don’t mind me while I add an extra day to our vacation. 🙌


3. Refer someone to use AirBnB.

hand holding phone with airbnb app

If you like Airbnb and you also like your friends, refer a friend to use the home rental service. In exchange, you’ll receive $20 in AirBnB credits when they make a reservation and $75 if they list their own property on the site! They also get a piece of the action by getting a $40 credit to use themselves.

Note, this is my referral link. Thanks in advance if you choose to sign up with it.🙌


4. Be loyal to your host.

Save money with collin's airbnb tips — home keys in hand

Since I’m sure this won’t be our last trip back to Boise, if our stay goes well, I plan to build a relationship with the folks who own the Airbnb we’re staying in. Hosts are known to offer incentives, discounts, and be more flexible when they know you’re a repeat customer. It’s a mutual benefit, as my family and I will be taken extra care of during our stay, and I’ll gladly refer other friends to this listing should they need to rent a place for their family and friends!


5. Book last minute (or super far in advance).

Save money with collin's airbnb tips — Woman holding daily planner

In my case, I booked our trip less than a week away when prices were lower. Airbnb hosts drop the nightly cost when it comes down to the last minute to help their listing stand out from others. This is also a good time to practice your negotiation skills if you notice the listing you’ve had your eye on still hasn’t come down in price. Sure, the host could ignore or deny your offer, but many are willing to barter, especially if it means that their space will be occupied rather than sit empty.

Booking far in advance can also have its advantages. If you know an event near an Airbnb location will cause booking prices to jump, make your reservation early to lock in the low price.


I know that Airbnb rental costs are going to vary so much depending on where you’re going, how much space you need etc. However, to give you an idea of how much we saved, our week-long 3 bedroom/2 bath rental cost just a bit over $50 per night! Yes, really. We were so stoked, especially because similar rentals in the same area were going for TRIPLE that or more! 🙌

All in all, our little getaway to our recent stomping grounds was a blast, and I loved that we were able to keep our budget in check!


Do you use Airbnb when you travel?

Let me know in the comments!

Join The Discussion

Comments 61

  1. Kathy

    When did I fall asleep??? I thought you still lived in Boise? Are you still in Idaho?

  2. Sherry

    I have used Airbnb many times-both in the US and overseas. Always had a good experience. In addition, I have had my own Airbnb in my home for going on 2 years and love it! I get to meet so many people from all over the world and the additional income is just a blessing!

    • Collin (Mrs. HIP)

      How fun, and what a great way to earn additional income! 🙌

  3. Colorado Amy

    I’ve never used Airbnb so I’m curious, do you have to clean the place when you leave or it is like a hotel where they clean for you once you leave? Or does this depend on the place?

    • Valerie A

      Airbnb is the way to go! We used it for an entire 2 week trip to MT/SD over the summer. No cleaning had to be done but you do pay a cleaning fee.

    • Daniela

      Depends on what you negotiate ahead of time. I did a Tampa stay where the lady charged me $100 to clean but I offered to clean if she removed the fee and she agreed – I even left her the cleaning supplies I purchased. Poconos, PA location, no cleaning fee, he just asked us to remove all towels / sheets and throw them in a trash bag. We had to take our personal trash out to a dumpster. My last stay was in Cooperstown and I had to pay the $40 cleaning fee, he wouldn’t waive it. So once you reserve or send a request to book to the host, you ask about options.

    • Stickmayo

      The host cleans or has it cleaned. Generally there’s a cleaning fee associated with your booking.

    • April

      I’ve been taking care of AirBNB rentals for five years for owners that live out of state. I have met some of the most incredible people and have made lifelong friends. Even if you are asked to pay a cleaning fee, it is such a great help if you keep the place neat. I don’t mean you should clean the tubs LOL, just please treat the area with the same respect you would would want someone to treat your home. Often, during the busy season, I will have another guest coming three hours after you leave. Thanks for your help! Come see us in Lexington, TN!

  4. Maddy

    You don’t have to clean it as we will already be charged with cleaning fee during booking the place.However, it is always good to leave the place clean just by keeping utensils and bedsheets at their respective places and towels in laundry.

  5. Lexie

    We booked a beach trip last minute a month ago and got an awesome deal and the beach was steps away from our condo. I love the kitchen because you save so much money cooking your own meals!

    • Collin (Mrs. HIP)

      Yes, I agree – having a kitchen with all the utensils and cookware you need ROCKS! 😃

  6. Daniela

    Hotel vs AirBnb (or HomeAway), AirBnb always wins. And not just because of the kitchen – the price is almost always better for the amount of space you get. It is very expensive to get a hotel with a closed door bedroom. Homes almost always have one or two. Plus you get another living space with the living room. Parking is super expensive at major city hotels. AirBnb usually includes a garage or a spot to park. I have stayed at locations in Seattle, Upstate NY, Canada, Puerto Rico, etc and I have never been disappointed. Once or twice the host wasn’t home and made me wait but they were so apologetic afterwards, one guy even brought us some pizza that night. They want their good reviews from you so they will bend over backwards to make you happy, so future residents will rent. These days most homes have a passcode to get in so hosts appearing late isn’t an issue. You get the code ahead of time and can check yourself in.

    • Aleshia Jones

      I went through VRBO and I didn’t have to wait on a host. They left the key in a box with a passcode. I never even saw the host. It was super easy. Does this site make you stay with a host or meet with one? Weird.

  7. Denise

    How cool! I love it sure beats the prices of the expensive hotels. I am having a hard time finding a nice hotel under 150…crazy

  8. Dana

    I have used Airbnb many times and love it! We have had so many great experiences. I usually go for the ones with a lot of reviews. Only had one bad experience in San Diego, but it doesn’t outweigh the good.

  9. Aleshia Jones

    I used a different rental website years ago. We went to San Antonio as a group and we rented a 5 bedroom house, 3 baths. We had private parking and a backyard. We stayed for 5 days for 800$ and split it 3 ways.
    There was more than enough room. We went out to eat once or twice but the rest of the time we cooked at the home. It was such a great process. Worth it if you are needing more than one hotel room or travel as a group.

    • Aleshia Jones

      Oh and this was at the busiest time of the year, summer.

    • Aleshia Jones

      VRBO was the name of the site I used!

    • Collin (Mrs. HIP)

      That’s awesome! Thanks so much for sharing your experience!

  10. april

    we tried it for the first time this summer and we were so disappointed. It had five stars and rave reviews so I thought it was worth a shot. the house was listed as family friendly. Our one year old nearly knocked the sliding barn door off the track, twice. It could have fallen on her. She could open a closet that led to the water heater. there were breakable items in reach and she could open doors to cleaning supplies. there were spiders absolutely everywhere. I would kill them and new ones would take their place. my five year old was freaked out by them. It was like we never got the chance to relax because we were always making sure the kids weren’t messing with things. we even cut our trip short because it felt nothing like a vacation. if you have really young kids, I’d stick to hotels.

    • Aleshia Jones

      I went through VRBO and absolutely loved it. You have to remember that these homes are tailored for anyone not just specific people. We didn’t spend much time in the home, so I did not stress. I find it more stressing having to try and keep my young kids quiet as not to disturb people below or above us. Trying to get everyone sshuffld down to breakfast by a certain time and sharing that space. We traveled as a group. 4 adult and 4 kids and did just fine. The kids ranged from newborn to 7. We stayed 5 days and it was the best and most comfortable way to travel. We saved tons of money and got to cook at the home. I am sure if I had asked upon arrival for safety measure like child locks they would have obliged. They did have baby gates provided for the stairs and they were so nice. We had one issue and they quickly took care of it.

    • Angie

      Kid friendly and baby proof are two very different things.

  11. animity

    We use airbnb and booking.com a ton. We don’t stay at hotels anymore because of the easy access of parking, kitchen and just overall more comfortable. A whole apartment or house compared to just a room.

  12. CJ

    I’ve used vrbo & Airbnb for years but they’ve both now added a service fee for the renter which I find annoying when the owner is already paying them. My preference is to book directly with the owner when possible. Sometimes you can search using info from vrbo/Airbnb & find the owners own rental site or fb page. I get them charging the owner some type of fee since they’re benefiting in theory by reaching a larger audience & getting more rentals but so don’t want to pay an additional fee to vrbo/airbnb as the renter also.

    • Daniela

      Ooooh I would never do that. Not only is your money not protected if the location is fake but you personally are not protected. Who knows what you are walking into. Might be better to search for locations that waive service fees. Homeaway has a lot of locations. Just thinking of all the crimes associated with Craigslist, brrr.

  13. Danielle

    We have used it twice, and we will continue to use it. Our first time was in Cleveland, and I have to say, the experience made out trip better. I am a West Coast Girl, so I didn’t take into account you can visit multiple states in 1 day. I only planned things around Cleveland and Cincinnati, and we had a bunch of free time available. We booked our stay for 8 days, received a 30 % discount, and that allowed us wiggle room in our itinerary if we wanted to spend the night elsewhere and not worry about having to pack all of our luggage. On top of that, Our hosts gave us an extra room for free so my son and I could have separate rooms. Our hosts made our trip even more exciting by recommending so many local places to visit, and when they said that Niagara Falls was only a 4 hour drive, we had to visit. I have always wanted to visit Niagara Falls, but I never dreamed I would actually do it.
    Our last experience was near Los Angeles, we stayed at an Urban Farm for a couple days while visiting Universal Studios. OMG, it was an experience my son will never forget, and way cheaper than a Hotel anywhere near Universal, plus more room than a hotel, and we stayed in an RV.
    We are hooked on AirBnb.

    • Collin (Mrs. HIP)

      Oh how awesome!! I love that you had such great experiences, and it does make such a difference when the host goes above and beyond! 😍

  14. Lana

    Our last stay was horrible and I have not decided if I want to risk it again. In spite f 5 stars the place was very dirty and had roaches. Gross. And it was expensive. The owner hounded me for weeks to leave a review which I did not want to do since all the other reviews were so good. Last month an owner in our area was convicted of hidden cameras in the bathroom of his rental. That just creeps me out.

    • Karen

      I hope you complained to AirBnb, they should know the host is badgering their guests for high review scores.

    • Collin (Mrs. HIP)

      OH my… so sorry! 😩

  15. Shannon

    Does anyone know of a good one in Austin tx area? More southish. We always do hotels because my kids are obsessed with the “free” breakfast even though they only eat cereal and yogurt 😑. Now I’d like to try out Airbnb!!

  16. shirley

    We used to rent from Airbnb a lot but they added a policy a few months ago that we need to give them a copy of our driver license or passport. We do not like sharing our personal information so we are done with Airbnb.

    • Shirley Yeo

      LOVE IT!! We took a year off last year on an EdVenture (Educational Advenure) and travelled the US and Canada all last year staying in
      50+ AirBnb’s! My husband did travel nursing and I homeschooled our two 13 year olds. We had a blast and would HIGHLY recommend it! We have now started our own AirBnb in the Seattle area! 🙂

  17. Tp

    https://abnb.me/e/1kU5ekSHSQ

    I love using Airbnb I have three kids and hotel room isn’t exactly accommodating
    Renting a house gives you the space that you need and the privacy that you’re used to.
    We always use this company and it’s great

  18. Denise

    Sounds like in most cases you are sharing a living space with owner and possibly other renters so it doesn’t seem very private. I have never stayed in a bed and breakfast. Could take some getting use to

    • Tara

      Not always- You have the option to search by ‘Entire Home’, ‘Private Room’, or ‘Shared Room’, so it’s really whatever you prefer / what budget you’re operating on. And they typically let you know how the “setup” is, so for instance sometimes you’re in someone’s guest house, but they’re available in the main house, of sometimes it’s an entire apartment to yourself and they’re not even in town. Likewise, they tell you how the check in will go- so they might meet you and let you in and be available for any questions/issues or, as previously stated, they might not even be there and there might just be a lockbox or something. There’s a lot of variety. I’ve always had great experiences with mine.

  19. Jess

    I’ve tried Airbnb last month and it was a terrible experience. First no where on the listing did it say that it was on top of a gentleman’s club and it was super dirty. We ended up renting a hotel room.

  20. Allyson

    I recently went on a trip and discovered a company called Turo. It’s basically an Airbnb for car rentals. It was great! I was a bit hesitant but saved hundreds.

  21. Stacey

    Unfortunately I also had a bad experience with Airbnb – booked two rooms for Waco about a month ahead, then three days before our trip the homeowner canceled the reservation (it was probably a legitimate reason – illness) but she didn’t give us any recommendations or referrals. Booked another Airbnb that same day, and the next day that homeowner also canceled, saying she couldn’t get the room cleaned for the person staying the next night! Note to homeowners – don’t show your home as available if it’s not! Had to end up booking at a hotel for almost double the cost of the Airbnb – pretty disappointed in them!

  22. Esther

    There is a Airbnb 20 minutes from my house. Didn’t know it was there. It’s an old farm. It sleeps 20. My high school friends and I skipped our 25th high school reunion and are having a “Families sleepover” next week. Five bedrooms and a large bunk room for the kids. I can’t wait!

  23. Anna

    Love seeing all the comments about airbnb. I am too nervous to try something like that out because I still haven’t even tried uber! We have been staying at the same hotels in 3 different cities. I like knowing what to expect each time. We found an Embassy Suites in our city 12 miles from where we live that is newly renovated with saltwater pool that is not too expensive. If I got to know an airbnb owner and saw the house first then I might consider it one day.

  24. kahila

    I love all the comments… I’m currently looking at airbnb for our family vacation to hawaii.. it’s sooo many options!

    • Luz

      Nice! Husband and I worked our way around the Big Island last year, staying in 8 different Airbnbs in 10 days. It was fantastic! So convenient to stay all the way around the island instead of being stuck at one spot (e.g. Kona) for a “home-base.” Barely had to waste any time in the car getting to our new destination each day. Really got to experience the local flavor- staying in residential areas, meeting/hanging out with locals, etc. Totally different experience from staying in a hotel or resort. Richer, more colorful and exciting, in my opinion. We stayed at a macadamia nut farm where we walked goats on a leash, a sweet ocean side cottage with plush bedding and WiFi, a yurt in the jungle with an outdoor shower and tree swing, a $45 room 10 minutes from Volcano National Park entrance, and a little, modern condo just across from the airport on our last night, just to name a few! Hawaii is an awesome place to use Airbnb! We’ve stayed all over the states and some international. Always an adventure 🙂 Have fun!

  25. Becky

    I love VRBO instead. We have a cabin in Arkansas and we put it on VRBO and Trip Advisor. If you are ever in Mena, Arkansas look us up. It is the Glass House Retreat.

  26. Michael

    I’ve used AirBnb several times. More often than not, it is a better deal than local hotels. More often leaves room for not always which is true. For example, I recently was in Santa Barbara and it was relatively a last minute trip. I always compare hotels and Airbnb deals and take into account amenities, resort fees, and especially… PARKING FEES. Sometimes if you do the math hotels actually work out to a better deal. On this trip going the Orbitz route and using a 15% off promo code (they always have some code), I was able to stay much closer to the city for less, in a much nicer space than any I found on AirBnb,

    The takeaway? Don’t always assume AirBnb is a better deal. Especially with the added fees some people tack onto their AirBnb listings. I’ve seen some pretty ridiculous cleaning fees for example. But I can honestly say I’ve NEVER had a bad AirBnb experience, and this staying in multiple cities and states.

    • Hello Michael,

      Do you mind sharing the Orbitz code?

  27. Denise

    We use VRBO almost 100% now for vacations. What I like is that I can look at reviews for the exact room I am staying in. I only book places that have multiple CURRENT reviews. I also ask a lot of questions. We travel to Hawaii quite often and VRBO has been our go to. We prefer condo’s and all of Hawaii you pay an additional fee to the hotel for cleaning on top of your stay. For instance I was looking just recently at a 2 bed 2 bath condo and on top of the price quoted – there was an additional $250 paid to the hotel not included in the booking. This is pretty normal in Hawaii. I just booked a last minute trip for Jan to hawaii and I got a 2 bed 1 bath condo for $100 oer night – 45 outstanding reviews, the owner was promt to get back to me – and I am highly confident we will be happy with our choice. We also used VRBO in May for Maui and actually bypassed VRBO and worked direct with the owner – no issues at all and saved on the fees. All our Hawaii vacays (and we will have gone 3x’s in 13 months) we have found it most economical to book our airfare, car (Costco), and VRBO lodging separately

  28. Kc

    Do you happen to have the Orbitz code? Thank in advance.

  29. jennifer

    Our family tried Airbnb a few years ago while visiting Vancouver, Canada. The pictures and reviews online looked great. However, once we got there and went to go to sleep, we had this odd feeling that all the sheets were dirty, as in – not previously washed from the previous guests. I was so grossed out that I first slept on top of the blankets with a rolled up T shirt as a pillow. Then, I was so disgusted by the bed, I slept with my children on the pull out futon in the living room since it looked less used. The owner feigned unbelief and actually got mad at us for taking some clean sheets from the linen closet saying that they were his personal sheets. Later, after the vacation, he emailed us and accused us of taking a plate and a footstool from his place. As if we would travel across the country with a plate and a footstool! We haven’t tried Aribnb again.

    • Ericka

      I had a similar experience on VRBO in Maui. The owner accused us of breaking the shower curtain, which fell on us and for “bleaching” out the towels. Weird! Why would we bleach the towels? So we were charged $200. I feel scammed.
      Other than that we have had only positive experiences with Airbnb all over Europe.

  30. cham4me

    Did you stay in Cooperstown in TN? If so I own property in that town.

  31. JJ

    I LOVE AirBnb. Just like hotels-some are better than others.

  32. Laura

    We have used HomeAway and Airbnb. I tend to find homes cheaper on Airbnb. I have also used it to find the home owner/management and went to their websites to search for homes. If you do that, do your research on them. I saved a little on my fee for next March on my home in SW Florida(right on the beach) but they gave me a code for a rental car with their corporate number and I saved $$$.
    We also check the calendar for the home the day before we fly. If it isn’t rented out, we have asked to check in early as we take early morning flights. This can give you an extra afternoon on the beach. 🙂

  33. dawne

    We see a lot of concerts in Tampa and always do an Airbnb so we don’t have to do the 2 hour drive home after. We will be staying with one of our Airbnb girls for the third time next month. We are staying twice in one week for concerts in the area and will actually be going together to the 2nd concert because she also has tickets. You just have to pay attention to the extra fees and comments and the check out the areas if you are not familiar. We have stayed in quite a few over the past two years and we’ve only had one home that wasn’t up to par even though she had hundreds of good reviews, so maybe we just got her on a bad weekend, but we won’t go back to that one.

  34. Penny

    I just used 2 AirBnb’s in Omaha and Lincoln last weekend. It was fabulous. We had 6 people, and would have needed 2-3 hotel rooms. This was so much cheaper and much much more relaxing.

  35. Josie

    I just started hosting in May! We have a Carriage House (apartment above our garage). Our renter was moving, so we decided to give it a whirl! It’s been a great way for me to make some extra money as a stay at home mom. I do all the cleaning myself while my daughter is off at school! Majority of our guests leave the place super clean. We’ve met some really great people doing it and we are making more money doing this than by renting it out!

  36. snowyangel2000

    We are a air bnb host aswell in SD, its worked out great! I love reading our guest book of where people have visited from. We dont charge a cleaning fee, guests have been great at leaving it clean ( ofcourse bedding is washed after every visit, etc?). We even leave fleece braided dog toys for every pup that stays. 🙂

  37. Renee

    I have always wanted to do AIRBNB but have been skeptical because of safety reasons. Seems like everyone on here has utilized AIRBNB with positive results. I appreciate your thoughts.

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