5 Ways to Save Money When Staying at an AirBnB

I’m three weeks into a three month AirBnB stint in Costa Rica. My wife and I are loving it. While traveling, we’ve learned a few tricks for saving money when staying at an AirBnB – some from good experiences, others from bad.

So, if you’re planning an AirBnB stay – and saving money is important – consider these five strategies.

1. Travel during the off season

If you aren’t in school and don’t have kids that are in school, then avoid traveling during popular holidays. Instead, take your vacations when no one else is able to – and you’ll save a substantial amount of money on your AirBnB stay and any activities you do throughout your vacation.

My wife and I ended up in Costa Rica during the summer, which you would think is a mistake, but it actually works out well! See, it’s the rainy season here so tourists are fewer (as many of the tourists here are older retirees from the States and Canada). However, so far “rainy” has simply meant about two hours of rain every other day – with much of it occurring at night. Of course, this may change later on in the summer.

Not only were we able to rent our house for less, but we are also able to save 10-20% on tourist activities because these companies are scrambling to keep busy during the slow season.

2. Stay at places that are easily accessible

If you’re goal is to save money, and you don’t have a car with you, then one of the last things you want to do is reserve an AirBnB that’s 30 miles out in the country! After all, you’ll either be stuck with nothing to do, or paying an astronomical amount for rentals or taxis.

There were a few awesome rentals that we saw while looking around Costa Rica’s AirBnB options. However, some of them were 30 minutes outside of a town – meaning we would have to pay $1500/month for some sort of rental (not good).

So we chose an option that was closer to town. Although we still have to walk about 15 minutes up a rather steep hill, it’s definitely doable without a vehicle. I certainly wouldn’t want to be further away, but where we are isn’t bad.

3. Don’t rent more house than you need

AirBnB allows you to rent anything from a bunk in a shared room, to an entire house. Depending on your needs, budget, introversion/extroversion, etc., you’ll know what type of rental will be right for you.

However, remember that when you’re traveling, even if for a few months, you don’t always need as much as you do when you’re at home.

Although my wife and I found a well-priced place that is very comfortable, we’ve looked at one of the studios we considered and realized that we probably would have been happy there – and it would have cost us a couple hundred less.

So you want to stay somewhere nice (which means you need to look at reviews from previous tenants), but there is no need to rent more house than you need – especially if your goal is to save money.

4. Consider what amenities are included with your stay

Some AirBnB rentals include breakfast, other’s don’t. Some people may have bikes or kayaks you can borrow, other’s certainly won’t. Finally, some full-house rentals charge a flat rate, while others will charge you extra if you have more than two people staying there.

There are all things to take into consideration when deciding on a place to stay. If a unit costs $5 more a day, but serves breakfast and has bikes available for your use, it may well be worth it.

Our place in Costa Rica does have a pool, which is a great perk. It also has wifi, which is absolutely necessary for me to be able to work. However, we didn’t realize until we got here that we would have to pay an extra $15 per person if other people come to stay in our two bedroom house.

Being aware of these extra amenities can save you a lot of hassle and money when discovered ahead of time.

5. Ask for a lower rate

Finally, it never hurts to ask – especially when it comes to the rate of your AirBnB stay. Remember, these aren’t big businesses with established rules. AirBnB rentals are individuals trying to make a few extra bucks and perhaps meet some new people.

If you seem like respectful and put-together travelers, and if there is no one else currently lined up to rent the place, the owner will be more than likely to negotiate the rate! Especially if you’re staying for an extended period.

We were able to rent a unit that costs $130/night for $840/month – just by asking! Considering electricity and internet cost about $200/month (and are included), that’s really a great deal.

To get a great rate, simply send the owner a message (preferably contact several owners). Say that you really like their house and were wondering if they would be willing to let you stay there for $XX a night/week/month. Tell them who you are, why you are going to be there, and share any positive reviews if you have them from any previous stays.

Although you may not be able to knock 50% off the asking price, it’s certainly possible that you could save 10-20% – especially if it’s a last minute booking.

Closing thoughts…

Staying at AirBnB is an awesome experience – and it can be far more “hotel” or “VRBO” than “Couchsurfing” if you want it to be. Yes, there are some dorm rooms available, but there are also gorgeous mansions.

If your plan is to save money while traveling, consider the five tips above. And start by getting your $20 sign up bonus here. Once you do save a few bucks by implementing these tips, come back and let the rest of us know how it went!

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Rob is enthusiastic about everything related to money and investing. A financial analyst and instructor, he enjoys using what he’s learned from 10 years of studying business and money to help others achieve financial stability. He founded Money Nomad in 2014!

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  1. Great tips, Rob! We’ve used VRBO successfully a couple of times, but plan to check into Airbnb next time as well. We always read the reviews and, though they haven’t always been accurate (we had bats in one place), our last rental was fantastic – a 3 bedroom house, fully equipped and NICE for less than the price of a hotel.

    1. VRBO is also a great service. I’ve used them in the past as well. And reviews are important! lol. I’ve heard some horror stories (although I haven’t experienced any terrible ones myself yet.

      Thanks for stopping by!

    1. Booking 2 months before you go – that’s a great tip. Not only are hosts more open to negotiating, but it gives you time to find the best deals – someone else hasn’t already picked them up. Thanks for stopping by!

  2. I did Dubai for a month using AirBnB. Compared to a hotel, I saved a fortune. It was small but I got exactly what I needed, lived in a normal place like a local, and had a great time.

    1. That’s awesome! I’m sure it would save you a fortune in Dubai. And I feel like that would be a great place to experience like a local. You’ll have to write about that experience sometime (if you haven’t already).

  3. Great Tips. I like the tip where you consider what amenities are included with your stay, because I think amenities can rack up if you don’t plan accordingly,

    1. You’re absolutely right! If you can save a few bucks with a free breakfast, etc., it will save a lot of money over time.

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