Here’s How I Save Big When Booking an Airbnb Rental!

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More Tips

Read my personal tips for scoring a cheap Airbnb and other Airbnb rental tips!

airbnb cabin view

Renting an Airbnb can be a money-saving way to travel, especially if you have kids!

I was slow to jump on the short-term rental trend, but over the last year and a half since COVID-19 started, my family has stayed in three separate Airbnb rentals instead of opting for hotels when traveling. I can honestly say that each stay has been amazing, and we’ve been super happy with our experiences!

Moving forward, I will definitely be researching Airbnb options more often. So far we have enjoyed two fun weekend getaways and a weeklong family trip.

Important Note: This is not a sponsored post and I paid for my stays each time. I am hoping that sharing my personal experience can be helpful and also FUN to read about!

woman at an airbnb cabin

Not only has it been a great way to socially distance and stay away from crowds, but the accommodations have been very comfortable, and for sure money-saving compared to renting multiple hotel rooms for the family. Fitting all of us in a small hotel room is sometimes not very relaxing, and spending time in a home is so much better!

pool table in airbnb

As an example, we booked an entire 3 bedroom cozy cabin last minute through Airbnb in Prescott, AZ over this previous Labor Day weekend. Not only did it have beautiful mountain views, but it was less than the cost of two local motel rooms. Having comfy couches, multiple bathrooms, and room to relax is such a great perk when traveling with kids.

cabin with dog at airbnb

At this beautiful cabin, we were able to bring our dogs, which meant we saved money by not having to board them or pay a pet sitter. I loved that it had plenty of space, and a full basement with pool table, media room, and karaoke which my teens enjoyed. 😄

We were able to grill steaks on their beautiful deck and cook a bunch of meals in the fully-stocked kitchen which was also money-saving compared to dining out for every meal.

drinking coffee outside

I especially loved waking up to enjoy my coffee outside while watching the deer from the backyard. 🌅 It was incredibly relaxing, and I know staying at a local motel would not have been as special.

I also have been super impressed with each Airbnb host and how responsive they usually are if we have questions. I am one to read each and every review of other Airbnb travelers to ensure the risk of being surprised is low.

colorado condo airbnb rental

Last summer we stayed an entire week at this brand new condo in the town of Silverthorne, Colorado for a great mountain vacation in Summit County for the family. The balcony was faced toward Blue River and my son went fly fishing each day, which was just steps away from the rental.

It was an awesome experience to fall asleep to river sounds each night, and another fun getaway thanks to Airbnb!

cabin airbnb

To help you save next time you book an Airbnb rental, here are some easy ways to make your money go further!

1. Look for newer Airbnb rental listings.

searching newer listing on airbnb

Collin loves Airbnb also, and has had great luck booking new listings to save money! Here’s her advice: 

“When I was searching for a cheap Airbnb rental in the Boise area to visit family, 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 that the homeowner was offering a lower price stay to entice renters to book (and add great reviews).

Luckily for me, I’m very familiar with the Boise area, so I felt comfortable booking this home with no reviews.

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.” – Collin

2. Extend the length of your stay.

laptop showing weeklong stay discount on different airbnb rental properties

Many listings offer an extra discount when you stay a full week — 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.

One time, 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. 🙌

Jennifer on our team has also experienced discounts when renting out an Airbnb for longer. While most people aren’t looking for a rental as long as her and her family, here’s what she had to say:

“We used a great Airbnb last year for 6 weeks because we were in the middle of a major move. It was cheaper to take a longer reservation than try to break it up into smaller reservations. We also used Airbnb another time for 2 weeks when we went to Arizona for a wedding. We noticed that it was the same thing — the longer you stayed, the cheaper it was.

Plus, the house was huge so we shared it with other family members and split the cost. Both Airbnbs were way cheaper than staying in a hotel and I love that you have a kitchen and other amenities of a home.” – Jennifer 

3. Don’t be afraid to barter.

woman working in pajamas on the computer

If you have a specific budget in mind, you can send a message to the contact for that particular listing and just ask if they can lower their rate. If they’re open to lowering the price for your stay, they can send you a special offer! Your new special price that they send to your inbox should contain all the dates for your stay, and any additional fees such as cleaning fees, pet fees, or any other fees you’ve agreed upon.

While this technique isn’t always guaranteed, the worst that will happen is that they say no. Plus, you’re not breaking any of Airbnb’s terms and conditions just for asking.

“I did this last year without even knowing it to score a cheap Airbnb rental! I was searching for Airbnbs around the beach we were planning to vacation at and found the perfect house! I had messaged the homeowner about possibly getting a discount since we were planning to stay longer than a week and luckily she was thrilled to agree and sent us a special offer! It only took me sending one message to save on two nights of vacation! Woohoo!” – Sara

4. Be loyal to your host.

yale door lock

Be an excellent guest and try to build a relationship with the folks who own the Airbnb you’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!

Emily from my team also has had a great experience using this trick. Here’s what she had to say:

“I highly recommend developing a relationship with the host. A group of my friends and I stay at the same place during a popular weekend in the ski town south of me. Since we’ve stayed in contact with the Airbnb host and have left positive reviews, they always give our group priority for booking, which is great because it’s always such a busy weekend and locations fill up quickly!

The hosts have even opened up other areas of the house to use additional rooms at no extra cost. Plus, they keep our rate the same each year even if other properties around it have raised their prices.” – Emily 

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

acrylic calendar on the wall

Airbnb hosts tend to 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 to try and score a cheap Airbnb. 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.

6. Or don’t book with Airbnb at all!

screenshot of airbnb listing

Large hotels are starting to do more and more advertising on Airbnb. This normally gets them lots of extra traction that they normally wouldn’t see when just using their site or other sites like hotel search engine sites.

But what you might not know is that even though you found them on Airbnb, it doesn’t mean that you have to book with them. In fact, oftentimes they might even be cheaper when booking directly through the hotel since they won’t have to pay Airbnb their fee for giving them a spot on their site.

For example, I was recently browsing for an Airbnb in Philadelphia for a week-long trip and it would have been $1,043. Come to find out, Sonder is an up-and-coming chic hotel so I did some digging…

screen shot of hotel listing and pricing

When taking an extra minute to look them up on Google, I found that for the same room and the same exact dates, the cost was only $938 total! On Airbnb, they’re charging $137/night while on Sonder’s site, they’re charging $122/night. That’s a savings of $105that’s almost an entire night, FREE!  🙌  Yippee for a cheap Airbnb rental hack! 

And to make matters even sweeter, this particular hotel offers a 15% member discount, so there are even more potential savings when booking directly through them.

7. And if that doesn’t work, check Airbnb Plus.

white bedding with pillows

If all else fails, there’s always Airbnb Plus. Airbnb Plus is a selection of only the highest quality homes with hosts known for great reviews and attention to detail. While you may not score a cheap Airbnb rental per se, you’ll get more bang for your buck.

From self-check-in to all the full amenities of your own home, you’ll gain a greater sense of comfort all around. Every home is verified through in-person quality inspection to ensure quality and design. Just look for the “PLUS” badge.

game room airbnb

In closing: I love staying with Airbnb!

I know that Airbnb rental costs can drastically vary depending on where you’re going, how long you’re staying, how much space you need, and other factors, but it’s definitely something to consider when traveling or for hosting extended family. I love when a stay offers a unique experience like having fun games and things to do as a family.

All in all, Airbnb is hands down my favorite way to stay whenever I travel — the savings, convenience, and comfort can’t be beat!

lina and family at airbnb

Read about our family trip using RVshare to stay at Zion National Park!

Lina has a Bachelor's Degree from Northern Arizona University with 10 years of blogging and photography experience having work featured in, Martha Stewart, Country Living, Fox News, Buzzfeed, and HGTV.

Join The Discussion

Comments 41

  1. Jody Paul

    Thank you for the wonderful post! We like doing Airbnb also, as of late we have been enjoying the state parks, they also rent cabins for very reasonable rates. We’re in Ga and most Cabins run about 125.00 a night for two bedrooms. You just need to bring your food everything else is provided.

  2. Ellen

    I love airbnb and have probably stayed in a dozen or more. I love that even if it is only a 1 bedroom you still have some space from the kids if they can sleep on the pull out couch, plus a living room and kitchen and often a washer and dryer. My biggest complaint with airbnb is the beds arealmost always super uncomfortable 90% of the time…. I wish this wasn’t the case because they are superior to a hotel in every other way. Granted I stay in the more inexpensive range ones but still I wish they invest in some memory foam mattresses from amazon!

    • Jody Paul

      I agree with that.

    • Lina D (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      Yes and I actually bring my own pillow to these which helps! LOL Great point!

  3. Tana

    I love AirBnB! We are in one right now with a beautiful view of the Pacific Ocean! 🐾❤️

    • Lina D (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      ohhh awesome! Enjoy! <3

  4. Susie

    I’ve been using vacation rentals for decades, at first with just our kids, then added the granny, now we’ve grown to daughter in laws and grandkids of our own. It is by far the cheapest way for families to travel. Not only is there room for everyone to have their own space, many rentals come with added amenities and cooking meals is much cheaper than eating out. There are a couple of things I’ve learned over the years that I would like to share. First, not all properties are managed by the owners. If a company is listed instead of the owners name, booking directly through that company saves paying double fees. Second, new properties without any reviews are cheaper, but, if it’s a new build, make sure it’s actually completely finished and ready for renters. I rented a property on the beach 6 months before the trip date and received notification 2 days prior to check in that the property wasn’t ready. The listing showed a completed home fully furnished. That was a holiday week and it was difficult to replace it with a equal property. Now I check google earth to make sure the general area on the map doesn’t have any construction.

    • Lina D (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      That is all excellent advice! Thanks so much for sharing!

  5. Sherry

    My husband and I vacationed in Portugal for 6 weeks BC (before covid). We traveled from Lisbon and throughout the algarve region and even a little of Spain. We stayed in BNBs exclusively except for 3 nights. We cooked our meals and ate in restaurants sparingly. With plane tickets and everything the cost was around $5000. We got back in October and Covid reared its ugly head in December. I highly recommend BNBs.

    • Lina D (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      Wow that is awesome! Thanks for sharing Sherry!

  6. KimNell

    Another opinion: I’m not a fan because I’m a little skeeved out not knowing if they clean with the same protocols a hotel does (aside from Covid). Is it just me? I do check them out regularly as a lodging option but find that once you add in the cleaning fees, etc. it’s more than a hotel with a pool and other amenities. I don’t have a crowd of people though, just three.

    • Mz Teacher

      I agree as it is only two people on my trips and often find hotels to be a better option. I personally don’t want to cook while on vacation so the kitchen amenities are not a factor for me. I can book hotel with fridge and microwave and that’s all I will need or use. Part of my vacation is trying the various local restaurants so I prefer eating out. I only stock drinks and fruit in fridge and microwave for leftovers.

    • live2save

      Hotels only clean visually as guests only think if it looks clean then it’s disinfected/sanitized/safe, if it looks dirty then it’s dirty. I would have to guess that many AirBnB hosts hire out cleaning services from people who clean for a living.

      • ShunShynes

        Hotels are not clean as well as you think they are, they may not even change the bed linen. I stayed at on and walked in and the cleaning person had picked up a used bath towel that we placed on the floor and was wiping a glass that was in the bathroom and put the paper over (the paper they place over the glasses). I have never used any of their drinking glasses, cups or ice buckets. I also know for a fact they do not change or clean a lot of the bedding and towels.

    • Kat

      I agree that cleaning is a mixed bag with Airbnb’s. The majority I’ve stayed in have been good. But I had a nightmare of a situation last year where the bed had been peed in (not by me) and the host blamed me in my review even though I was the one that brought it to her attention. Airbnb was less than helpful at resolving all of it.

  7. Stacey

    Airbnb host here with 300+ reviews. This list is 💯 % accurate! I would also add that Ibotta offers around 3% cash back (changes occasionally) when purchasing a gift card to Airbnb. Add it to your Airbnb account, and it will automatically apply on your booking.

    • Lina D (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      Oh that is a great tip! Thanks for sharing!

  8. Dora

    To save more money, next time you stay find out if the host has a book direct website. You’ll save the Airbnb booking fee that way. Many people who host their homes on Airbnb also have their own website.

    • Lina D (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      YES! That is great advice. I will be checking that.

  9. ShunShynes

    Thanks Lina for your post, I’ve been using Airbnb’s for about 3 years now and love them. I tend to go with the ones that have superhost listed beside them or the badge those are great ones. As Lina stated, look at the reviews or ask friends/family who may live in an area you are not familiar with a location. Also when staying at airbnb’s I take my own sheets/pillowcases and if I am driving to the destination I take pillows as well. I truly prefer the Airbnb’s over hotels more space

    • Lina D (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      Thanks for sharing that! Yes great idea to look for a super host. It’s neat to see the unique ones you can stay at. I agree with the pillow. I am that person who takes my pillow everywhere LOL It beats having a stiff neck!

  10. Savvy Mom

    Thanks for all the information on AirBNB. We’ve yet to try it out as we have a time share that we use or trade out to go other places. I do find having the extra space and a kitchen is very handy as a family of 4. On a side note, I love the glass calendar in the picture. May I ask where did you get it?

  11. Paula

    Does anyone have recommendations for 8 nights stay in Hawaii around January 2021? We have 4 people and a car, so something with free parking and 2 bedrooms.

    • Amanda

      We stayed at Paradise Bay a d loved it!

  12. B

    I don’t like how some properties are charging $175 for cleaning and $ 200 administrative fees on top of the rental taxes and the pet fee. We wanted to book a condo for a week at jersey shore for next summer. It was multiple listings w hefty fees.

  13. Suellen Matos

    OMG, Luna your daughter looks so much like you and your son like your husband! I’m sure you hear that a lot. You have a lovely family and even though we love booking with Airbnb I learned a lot!

    • Lina D (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      Oh thanks so much for the sweet comment! I am so glad!

  14. Laura

    I like to buy Airbnb gift cards on Raise while going through Rakuten (Ebates) to save even more money. Sometimes they even send extra % off emails which helps lower the cost even more!

  15. Alison

    Hi! Does anyone use or also check VRBO? Why just Airbnb?

    • Beth

      Great question! Was wondering the same thing also. I use both.

    • Susie

      Airbnb is just the newer thing where Vrbo is the older one. People tend to gravitate to the newer, more trendy thing. If you check both, you’ll find most rentals listed on both sites.

  16. siena95

    With all the added fees per listing night, airbnb and vrbo have become very expensive. This summer I found a nicely restored Victorian home in Iowa, we stayed 8 nights. I found it on airbnb. I contacted host directly and offered to pay her direct to avoid all the fees. She accepted.

  17. Tracey

    We’ve stayed in so many AirBnB’s over the years; most have been great; love having the extra room when the whole family is along too. One thing I really love is having a washer and dryer for longer trips as hotels don’t usually have these. (Not a laundromat fan.) My DH and I just got back from a 9 day trip to CA to visit some National Parks and the Pacific Coast Highway. We stayed in six different places; only one was a hotel. We booked a couple of nights in the middle of the trip at an AirBnB with a washer/dryer so we were able to pack less. I brought some detergent pods as some places don’t provide supplies; was great to have clean clothes! Two of the places we stayed were on raisin farms and we were able to talk with one owner about the process (and sample freshly dried raisins). Another owner wasn’t home but called and told us where we could pick some fresh pomegranates and grapes on his farm. So fun to be able to find neat places like that!

    • Lina D (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      Wow how unique and fun! I love that Tracey! Sounds like a great time. 🤗💕 Thanks for sharing!

  18. Sarah

    If you have a discover card, Airbnb gift cards are available on the reward store with a 20% bonus!

    • Lina D (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      Wow great tip! Thanks!

  19. Crystal

    Great info! I love airbnbs over hotels.

    • Lina D (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      Great! Thanks Crystal!

  20. Kelly

    Ive been staying at Airbnbs for years but have become increasingly annoyed at the amount of work that some hosts ask, i.e. washing sheets and towels, emptying all the trash, sweep the floors. Sometimes it’s no big deal sometimes it’s alot.
    Another issue Ive become more aware of is the housing crisis. So many people can’t buy homes because of demand. I try to avoid AIRBNB in more populated areas where i know that people are really struggling to find housing. Alot of times AIRBNB investors own several homes in several states and can pay cash for homes for more than they are worth. This is driving up home costs for families like my own who are trying to buy their first home.

    • Lina D (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      Oh interesting, ya I haven’t thought of that. All three times our stays have been in a family’s vacation home or cabin but I can see a big city would be different.
      Ya some check out rules are very specific, that annoys my husband too…Ha I’ve never had to wash sheets though!

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