Airbnb Hosting Tips

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Ever since I was little, I’ve wanted to own a Bed & Breakfast, preferably in Ireland. Though I’m open to other places. And while that dream is on hold, the next best thing for me has been Airbnb. It’s what I was most excited about when we bought our first home - hosting friends and complete strangers.

Our love for hosting began as guests.

Matt and I have stayed in a cabin meets yurt in Asheville, a cozy studio apartment in France and a home with my family in New Zealand. We even used airbnb for our entire honeymoon in Germany because I wanted the real deal. I wanted to chat with locals and sip tea (or a large mug of beer) at their table.

For us, I always like to feel out our guests and gauge their level of social interaction. For some, it’s clear right when you greet them and offer a glass of water or tea, that they’d really love to hear more of your story and share some of theirs.

Like the gal who arrived all the way from California, on a four month road trip and somehow landed in our small town. The three of us sat on our porch sipping wine and swapping travel stories.

Another sweet memory involved a mom and daughter relocating to a new city, we chatted about the hardships of life and the goodness of God over oatmeal bake at my kitchen counter.

And for other guests, it’s simply a place to lay their head.

Both are wonderful!

When it comes to making the space welcoming and inviting, there is a little preparation that goes into it for me - just so I can rest easy knowing folks are comfortable and happy.

Here are the tips/suggestions for you:

(Disclaimer: we are no experts just learning as we go.)

Before the visit

  • Check in with guests the day before just to confirm when they might arrive. That way, you can either make sure to be home or leave a key. We’ve done both.

  • If we’re home, we normally give guests a quick tour - we invite them to use the kitchen and gathering spaces as if it was their own. We'll point out where pots and pans live, mugs for tea and so on. We check in and ask, "How was your trip? Is there anything you need? Water, tea, glass of wine?"

  • If we’re not home, I’ll write a short message to guests about all the above.

Bedroom

Things I make sure to include in the guest room:

  • Two fresh towels on the bed for each guest (one large and one small for the face). I like to put 2 mints on each towel.

  • A pitcher of water and glasses

  • Granola bars and napkins

  • Box of tissues

  • Basket of pamphlets and magazines of local activities

  • Mirror

  • House key

  • Welcome book (that includes)

    • Check out procedure - where should they leave their towels? Do you want the bed stripped?

    • WIFI password and network name.

    • Local attractions and activities - coffee shops, best spots for breakfast, hiking trails, vineyards etc.

    • Cab services

    • Guest Book! (My friend shared this idea and I thought it was wonderful!)

Bathroom

We have one full bath...which means we share with our guests. I know, crazy? Matt and I are used to roommates so that part doesn’t really phase us though I make sure the space is super clean with a basket of extra toiletries in case our guests forget some.

If guests are staying for multiple nights, I’ll often pull some of my “getting ready trinkets” down to our half bath downstairs.

Kitchen

I designated a little corner of our kitchen for guests that offers:

  • Coffee pot

  • Ground coffee

  • Mug (sometimes I’ll put a treat inside)

  • Bowl of teabags (variety is good like decaf and herbal teas for folks who don't drink caffeine)

  • Honey and sugar easily accessible

  • Creamer in the fridge

  • Spoon for stirring

Extra Touches

  • A homemade treat or a few chocolates

  • Essential oils in the room (I like lemon) before new guests

  • Extra Blanket

  • A few pastries or breads for breakfast -- we found most of our guests weren’t staying to eat breakfast so this is not something we typically offer. It really depends on your home and space and what you want to do!

At the end of the day, it's all about how you make people feel. Folks want a clean room but they also just want to feel welcome and cared for - something every single one of us can do, no matter the space!

Frequently Asked Questions:

Is it weird having a complete stranger sleep in your home?

Honestly, no. I feel like folks who use airbnb are all so kind and welcoming -- it’s a culture all on it’s own. Also, Airbnb does a really great job making you feel safe because you review one another - we read what other hosts have said about all our guests and guests can read reviews about us.

You only have one bathroom. How does that work?

Like I said, this doesn’t really phase us. Normally, guests will ask when we need to scoot out in the morning and we all make it work. Matt typically gets up and out much earlier than guests are even awake. And I work from home so showering and “getting ready” for the day isn’t normally necessary.

Why did you start hosting in the first place?

I recognize we are in an ideal time to do this - no babies. I’m sure it would become a little complicated in a home of our size with a few littles running around or a baby crying in the middle of the night. Although, not impossible.

And at that point, we might rent the space only when we go on a family vacation - leave the whole house to guests. That’s the great thing about this, you decide what works best for your family!

Honestly, my main reason for doing this was to welcome folks into our home and make them feel cozy. That brings me so much joy. I love being a small part of each others story. And the fact that we're able to make a small side income for things like house projects and date nights is an extra bonus.

Interested in being a host? Head on over here.

Have a question I didn't answer above? Comment below! Also, if you're an airbnb host what's the experience been like for you? I'd love to know.

the space we create

It seems we have to carve out the space, write it in pen in our new planner from Target. The one we anxiously checked the mail for everyday and almost feels too pretty to write in. We have to tell our spouses before we get out of bed, even after pressing snooze twice, “Hey I’m writing at 7am. I won’t be available after that time.”

Because maybe if I make it out of bed and in front of my screen, the guilt will subside. The guilt when I sit down to write and realize the dishwasher needs emptying and the sink is overflowing. When I realize there are random odds and ends to eat - that could somehow form a lunch if he really tried. And so I hear him scrambling to get his lunch made and feel, you know, guilty (even though he's capable, so capable).

I feel guilt when he eats his eggs alone, after I stole some from the pan.

I feel guilt when I ask him for more coffee, that he made, while I sit on the gray couch by the Christmas tree (we still haven’t taken ours down. another thing, right?).

So it seems much of my hesitation with writing doesn’t have to do with writing at all - it’s about guilt and feeling like I should be doing all the thousand other things than fueling a passion.

And goodness, we don’t even have babies yet. Mamas how do you do it?

I used to think writing was like building a house. Even though I have no idea how you actually build a house - a girl can imagine, right? I used to think each word was like a pretty brick or slab of foundation, gradually growing vertically, until you have something people can walk inside and press their hands against. Normally, you’d wait until it’s structurally okay before inviting folks in, because then it’s safe. You wouldn’t want it to collapse or anything.

So different from writing.

With writing, that lot sits empty for a while as you survey the land. You might walk around the block, observe the neighborhood, say good morning to the little old lady on her front stoop, shop at the local convenience store for a pack of gum, before getting back to the lot to do any groundwork or bricklaying. And then all of a sudden an idea hits, a big bag of bricks and tools and nails tumble to the ground. Though they don’t entirely connect, so you’re stacking them slowly but have to keep running out to the store for more supplies. And sometimes you start over, completely, you’ll build a wall or roof and it will be demolished, maybe used for later. Maybe not.

And despite all of that, you have to invite people in. Because that’s what writing is all about - inviting people in to your messy, broken, beautiful heart.

We have to be brave enough to let people in when the foundation isn’t set and the walls aren’t up - you still have to show people what you’re making because while it might look unkempt, that is holy ground you’re walking on. It’s vital for the story. And it might not feel safe to enter, it might feel terrifying and shaky and hard to sit back down and keep typing but you have to do it. We have to do it. If we ever want our story to come to life, if we ever want the words on our heart to live long after we’re gone, we have to do this - over and over again.

And so I’m here writing, without much sense of which way is up or down. Despite wanting a fresh, new look for this space and not being tech savvy enough to figure it out. Despite being unsure of what I want the essence of this space to be other than what it's always been - a retreat for the heart. I have no clue where the words will take me. But I persevere, I sit down long enough to create.

I offer in the becoming. I welcome people in like I would a home that isn't finished yet.

I carve out the space to write even when chores and my own inner critic taunt me. I’m beginning to wonder if it’s really about time, a lack thereof and rather a problem with I how I use it and fill a day.

Do we simply let the dishes be while we hone our craft? Do we say no to things we really shouldn't be filling our schedule with?  Do we take off the superhero cape and stop being all the things to all the people?

Lately, I’ve been making decisions through a filter. 2017 is my year to simplify - simplify my stuff and my schedule. I’m a “yes” person. I like to help. And while I know there will be things we just have to do, commitments we have to make - I’ve decided to try and make most choices through a simple filter: Does this draw me closer to God? Does this help me go deeper with the precious few? Does this support my love for writing and hospitality?

And what I’m finding is that these three, simple questions apply to so many things. So really, it hasn’t felt limiting, it many ways it feels like I am widening my reach without running ragged. It feels a lot like freedom. But it also feels scary as I swim into uncharted waters and say no to things I might really enjoy.

Sometimes, the writing process feels romantic - candle lit, hot cup of tea, essential oils diffusing, and quiet home. And most often, it feels a lot like right now, greasy hair, coffee that is now lukewarm, pajamas (okay, I changed from last night's yoga pants to yesterday's yoga pants) and a mascara smudged face. If only you could see this.

But this, in my tired eyes and messy hair, is offering what I have as best I’ve got.

And that’s all we can give most days.

So here’s my offering, my pouring out, my laying of bricks. It’s yours to take and walk inside and press your hands against. While it might be messy, I hope you feel welcome and necessary. I hope you know you’re enough and that I’m really glad you’re here.

This space already feels more cozy with you in it.