Airbnb is a fantastic way to travel affordably, get a taste of the local culture, and still have all the comfortable amenities of home. Millions of tourists use Airbnb for short-term visits, but the service can also be a great resource if you’re planning to stay in another region for several months. There are hundreds of thousands of hosts in over 190 countries around the world, and plenty of them offer monthly apartment rentals—some even offer discounts for long-term guests!

But with all the options available, there are bound to be a few accommodations that are less than satisfactory. Some Airbnb users have shared horror stories ranging from unsanitary and disgusting conditions to hosts sneakily going through their guests’ belongings. Although these poor experiences are rather uncommon, you can use this guide to make sure you find the best apartments possible while traveling abroad.

Finding long-term rentals

Airbnb has monthly apartment rentals available in over 65,000 cities, but the site makes it incredibly easy to narrow down your options. Simply type in the city you’d like to stay in, filter by the number of days you’d like to stay, and it will automatically adjust the prices to show you the monthly rates of different accommodations. From there, you can filter results by price, required items (like Wi-fi), number of rooms, pet-friendly apartments, and more.

Airbnb also has a useful map feature that shows you the layout of the city and how close the apartment is to local attractions. This can help you avoid paying more than you expected in transportation fees, and you’ll be able to enjoy the local restaurants and entertainment rather than the overpriced “tourist traps” near hotels. Getting to know more about the culture and the locals is easy when you’re staying in the same community!

If you have fairly strict preferences for your apartment rentals, you’ll definitely want to start looking for a place to stay ahead of time to guarantee accommodation. James Cave, the creator of Portugalist, also recommends planning your trips during the off-season, if possible. You will likely be given a discount, or you may be able to negotiate a reduced price when tourism is low.

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Signs of a great host

New York Times best-selling author and travel expert, Matt Kepnes, is a pro when it comes to finding sustainable and budget-friendly accommodations. Kepnes writes on his blog that he has never had a bad experience with an apartment rental or host on any of his frequent international trips. He recommends using the following criteria to “weed out bad listings”:

  • Check if their calendar is up-to-date. Some hosts don’t edit their calendars, so listings might appear to be available when they’re actually already booked. Kepnes says he usually skips over any hosts that haven’t updated their calendar in over a month.
  • Review their response rates. Airbnb shows how often and how quickly hosts reply to messages from potential guests. If they’re active users, their response rate should be high.
  • See if they’re verified. Hosts become verified on Airbnb by providing additional information to confirm their ID. Since Airbnb has some background information about the host, the listings tend to be legitimate and trustworthy.
  • Look at their photos. A listing with plenty of high-quality, verified photos is the ideal thing to look out for. A “verified” photo means that a guest has stayed there and confirmed that the place truly looks like it does in the pictures. If the listing doesn’t have many pictures, the host might be exaggerating how great the apartment is.
  • Skim the reviews. If other guests had positive experiences, you can be pretty confident that you will as well.
  • Check if they have numerous listings. Sometimes, property managers rent several apartments and then repost them on sites like Airbnb. Kepnes writes that, “I try to avoid these places because they are usually not as nice as other apartments and lack the personal touch that comes when hosts rent out their own apartments.”

Final words of advice

When you’re traveling on a budget, it can be difficult to stay connected to your loved ones back home. Mobile providers charge expensive fees and roaming charges for international calls, and service isn’t very reliable. Instead of putting up overpriced phone bills, you can travel in confidence with BNESIM!

BNESIM created the best international data SIM card that gives travel enthusiasts the freedom to have high-speed internet, international calling, and texting at affordable rates. Users can customize their plans to match their budget, and the credits on the card will never expire. With reliable coverage in over 170 countries, you can travel the world and still remain close to the people who matter the most.