Making money while you travel — sounds like a dream come true right?
Annnddd if you haven’t checked out our How to Make Money While You Travel 101, it is definitely worth a read HERE.
With the rise of vacation rentals, there’s an easy way to utilize that empty house of yours and make money on your next trip. But turning your home into an Airbnb takes a lot more than adding a listing online with a few pictures. From basic amenities to how to store your valuables, here are a few key things to consider when preparing the home for Airbnb guests.
Make Sure It’s Safe
First things first — you want a safe experience for your guests. Critically examine your home with safety in mind. Are there exposed wires or loose steps?
When we were prepping our home for our first Airbnb guests during our month long stay in Italy (see how we did it all for 1k here!), there were definitely a handle of things we just lived with and didn’t think about, but knew needed to be fixed (i.e. that hole in the bathroom wall that we never fixed, or those pesky closet doors that posed a risk for little fingers)
Take stock of all the potential hazards and fix them before you begin advertising your home. Make sure there are working smoke alarms, carbon monoxide detectors, and fire extinguishers. Add a small first-aid kit somewhere in your home and of course, leave your phone number or email address for guests to reach you in case there are questions or problems.
Lock Away Your Valuables
The most important part of inviting guests into your home is safeguarding your personal items. There are two parts to this — the first is to screen potential guests. The second is to remove your valuables completely.
This includes jewelry, family photos, legal papers, fine china, firearms, and other items important to you. If you don’t want to remove them from your property completely, decide on accessible areas for your guests. You can keep basements, rooms, cupboards, and closets off-limits to keep as storage while you have guests. I know so many Airbnb’s we have visited have that one closet that is locked shut….that you wonder what might just be in there, but is effective nontheless.
We are pretty avid minimalist, so we really don’t have much to lock away when we have guests…and typically we are taking our camera and laptops with us. But we do keep a small lockbox, for other valuables we don’t want accessible to guests.
(Also just for your peace of mind- worst case scenario if something did happen, Airbnb’s Host Protection is BOMB.)
Keep It Simple
Minimalism is key here — guests don’t want to live among your belongings. We push our clothes to the back of the closet, remove our kids artwork on the fridge, put out personal tolietries in a basket under the sink…you get the picture.
Don’t feel like you need to completely strip you home to a stark hotel room, but definitely clear the clutter and remove those super personal, red flashing light “someone lives here!”, items.
Lock in a Competitive Price
Airbnb only acts as a way to make money while you travel if you actually book guests! Do research on comparable listings to get an idea of rates and lock in your competitive pricing. Update your calendar regularly and consider adding a discount for extended stays since it’s easier to manage fewer people coming and going.
We actually use the AirBnb smart pricing feature and it has worked great for us! It automatically adjusts the price based on the time of year, demand etc….we have never not had a booking for a time we opened up our calendar.
In addition to a comprehensive description, make sure your photographs are well-lit and plentiful. Consider hiring a professional photographer for this portion. We actually contacted our realtor and she had her photographer take our images for us for only $100! Well, worth the upfront cost given the thousands we’ve made off our empty house while traveling…it really does make a difference.
Don’t Forget the Amenities
Make sure there is a comfortable bed, good pillows, and high-quality sheets. It’s helpful to provide extra pillows and blankets. Make sure there are clean hand towels and bath towels.
Mu number one thought when we first considered listitng our house on Airbnb while we traveled was- “but they aren’t going to sleep in our sheets right??”
Have an extra sets of towels, bed linens, and pillow protectors for your guests aside from the one your family normally uses. You may also want to consider a separate mattress topper and pillows for an extra level of sanitation for your home. We stash our personal linens in closets while we are gone, and have our house keeper but them back on at the exit cleaning before we return!
Leave Written Out Rules
Have written instructions on how to connect to the internet, how to use the TV, and operate other major appliances like the AC, heater, or security systems…as well as all those weird quirks about your house that only you know:)
Outline expectations for parking, trash removal, and checkout for guests. Make sure to state any house rules as well. For example:
- Can your guests have parties?
- Is smoking allowed? If yes, specify where.
- May your guests play loud music after 10 pm?
- If you allow pets, provide specific pet rules.
- Do you have sensistive plumbing?
We always schedule our house cleaner to come the morning the guests are checking in and the day they check out. AirBnb allows you to set a custom cleaning fee in your listing, so we opted to have that fee cover both the initial and final cleaning.
So we do all the straightening up, and then we leave the actual wiping down, vacuuming, mopping etc to the house keeper…we tried to do it all ourselves once, and trust us, THIS is the way to go. Makes leaving a breeze!
It’s always a bit of a mad dash to prep our house for guests, on top of all the work to get ready for a trip…but it is 100% worth it when we get that deposit in our account that essentially just paid for our trip! (Not the mention coming home to a sparkling clean house!)
Ultimately, to prepare your home for Airbnb guests means to prepare to become a great Airbnb host. This boils down to one factor — a great guest experience. There are so many great places to stay on Airbnb, so to set yourself apart, be friendly and responsive without being obtrusive. By improving the guest experience you’ll build relationships, get returning guests, and earn amazing reviews — in addition to earning that extra cash!