Live in a tourist hot spot? Fancy a free holiday? Airbnb your gaff and get going!

by Mags Nixon
We live in a popular surf village in Devon where during the Summer holidays a huge percentage of local families upsticks and rent out their houses to holidaymakers.  We’ve now joined their ranks and have successfully let out our house now a handful of times.
 
Last Summer we were booked out with guests for 5 weeks back to back which funded our 5-week European family road trip. Not to be sniffed at! It’s not up everyone’s street but for families who want to travel or save it’s definitely worth the effort. Here’s why:-
 

1.  Get your holidays paid for

Renting out your entire house can fund your family holiday somewhere else. Simple. What more needs to be said….

 

2. Clear out and feel cathartic

If you’re going to Airbnb you need to seriously de-clutter. The biggest stumbling block for most is the daunting task of what to do with “your stuff”. Lets face it most of us are hoarders and with kids in the mix, there’s a surplus of tat to wade through to get your house ship shape and ready.

 

Overwhelmed? Where do you start?

 

Instead of seeing this as a disqualifier before the starting line, view it as a positive – go through everything and chuck what you haven’t worn in over a year, what the kids have grown out of & tackle piled up of out-of-date paperwork. Take it slowly and sort one drawer a day. Since Airbnb’ing we’ve pared our life down to essentials and maybe just a token fraction of junk(!) It genuinely feels AMAZING! Of course, the next time we rent the house, we have a load of ‘new stuff’ to sift through again, but renting out on a semi-regular basis keeps us up to date with unwanted tat.

TIP: pack your personal stuff clearly labelled into large clear storage boxes & stack in the loft. I remove almost none of our bookcase, only my favorite kitchen utensils and keep the kids’s non-favourite toys/games available for guests in a toy box.

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3. Pay off your mortgage

Some families we’ve met rent out their houses and rather than heading off to foreign climes, pay off chunks of their mortgage instead (a much more sensible option!). By continuing their day-to-day routine but from a local campsite or by parking their campervan on a friend’s land/drive, they make hefty savings, enough for some to be mortgage free in just 10 years!
 

4. Airbnb rates are lower than Agent’s fees

Although Airbnb % rates have increased recently, their commission is still a fraction compared to holiday letting agents who typically charge between 17-20%. If you’re even only a teeney bit internet savvy, you can set up an airbnb profile with ease, take control of your own property & save yourself a wad of cash.
 
We were, naturally, slightly nervous the first time we rented our house out, so we signed with a very well known holiday-lettings agent. Never again! Paying 17% commission I expected a seamless service assuming I could turn off from the house back home whilst we spent 9 weeks travelling Australia & NZ.  Annoyingly I ended up having to contact both the Agent and the housekeeper several times whilst away. I was appalled by their service & immediately on return managed to extract ourselves from their 12 month contract. I registered with Airbnb and we’ve never looked back.
 
Tip: Often Agents require you to be a member of Visit England (National Tourism Agency) who give you a star rating, insisting you meet particular criteria eg: bedside tables on both sides of the bed, a dressing table or a electric shaver plug in the bathroom. None of these details may actually deter guests, but did add considerably to our outgoings first time round. Forget all of this with Airbnb – you get to describe your place as is, warts and all. Prospective guests can then decide whether its for them of not, and, if the dressing table is a deal breaker, then they can go elsewhere.
 

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 Do you live in a tourist hot spot? Pack up your camper and ship out for the Summer holidays
 
 

5. Airbnb is a doddle to use

Airbnb is now the powerhouse of guest accommodation worldwide and is probably the single largest platform for accommodation bookings globally. 90% of our bookings are now through Airbnb. Their system is unbelievably easy. The most crucial key factor is uploading good photos and keeping description accurate. Be clear with what you do and don’t offer. If people know what they’re going to get & the house is clean, well then it’s a good review in the bag. Think of it like eBay, be specific and leave feedback.
 
 
TIP: become Airbnb verified – it involves sending a copy of passport ID to Airbnb (not made public) and takes less than 10 minutes. Guests look for verification and reviews before booking.

 

Preparing for Airbnb guests as well as getting your family ready for the off, can take a lot of organizing. PLAN WELL AHEAD & start your de-clutter well in advance.  We then blank out then entire 7 days before guests arrive (and you depart) for packing our holiday kit and cleaning the property.

Certainly renting out the family home isn’t for the faint hearted. But for those with the wanderlust and a family in tow, it could be, as with us, a brilliant way to see the world without breaking the bank.

www.airbnb.co.uk

 

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