How to Rent Your Home on Airbnb to Help Pay for Your Vacations

Have you ever thought about renting out your home on Airbnb while you travel?  

When we first started to wonder if we could host our home on Airbnb, we were planning a two week trip for our family of three to Europe. I had budgeted this trip well, but I was still curious how I could cut our costs more. Then it came to me, since I was renting Airbnb apartments in Paris…. Why couldn’t someone rent out my home while we were away? 

Our Story

Growing up, my mom was a flight attendant and I was able to fly for free. Having these privileges to see the world is one of the biggest blessings of my childhood. 

We traveled standby which means that you get on a flight only if there is enough space. It wasn’t the most convenient, but the point is that traveling like this gave me the opportunity to see new places at a fraction of what it costed others.

Sadly, I aged out of being able to use my mom’s travel privileges, but I didn’t loose the travel bug. I knew I needed to come up with a creative way to travel hack.

I didn’t love the idea of opening up a ton of credit cards for the welcome rewards because I knew that wasn’t a sustainable way to pay for all of my travel. I needed to think of something that I could do for the long term and a used the resources I already had in front of me. 

That’s where hosting on Airbnb entered the picture.

Reasons to Rent Out Your Personal Home

  1. You’d like to travel more, but find the costs are higher than you can manage or would like. 
  2. You have a space in an good area that could be reasonably converted for guests.
  3. You’re not able to buy a second property right now but you want to make lemonade from the lemons you already have.
  4. You’re excited by the opportunity to pay for a significant portion of your travel using rental income.
Our hosting income while we were away paid for one third of the total cost for a family of 3 to go to Europe for 2 weeks. We didn’t even have 100% occupancy during this time.

Common Questions & Our Answers

When I started to share that we were doing this, I received a lot of questions from family and friends some thought I was crazy and others wanted to know if hosting would be a good fit for them. So I wanted to share those common questions and answers with you.

Do strangers stay with you?

Nope, you don’t have to rent your space while you’re home (although there’s nothing wrong if you do). Our personal preference is to only rent our home while we are away.

How do I store my personal valuable items?

I invested in a few handle locks for our closets and stored all of our personal items in our closets. We also kept our garage door locked, so we could keep things in there. 

What about security? I don’t want strangers with my house keys because they could easily make a copy.

I felt the same way. We bought a keypad deadbolt entry lock. We were able to give a different code to our guests and then change the code when we return. If you have a garage code, that’s an option too. This also takes away the necessity for you to be there at check in and check out. 

What types of things would I need to purchase to do this?

In a following post, I will outline the few necessary items we bought to make renting our home doable. I did this on a crazy low budget too!

What would I do with all my photos on the wall?

People don’t want to feel like they are in your personal home. That’s why we take our personal photos down and store them in our locked closets. 

Can you trust people in your home?

This was a hard question for me to grapple with but the conclusion I came to was this; most people are trustworthy, clean, and very kind. I made sure to cover myself with insurance and security measures so that if I did encounter the 1% who were not good humans, then I would be covered. But so far, I’ve met really great people on Airbnb.

Is it safe when you have children?

Since we only rent while we are away, this is easy to answer. I knew that no strangers would sleep in the same house as my daughter, and that no strangers would meet her at any point. I also felt comfortable because we used a keypad system where we change the codes. We also use additional locks that our guests don’t have access to while we are home. I dive more into this topic in my “systems” post coming soon. But ultimately, I knew no guest would be able to reenter my home after check out.

How do you get your space clean enough?

Please, take my advice and hire a cleaning service to clean BEFORE your guest arrives. Cleaning yourself will not yield as good of results and it is too much work. We choose to clean ourselves after the guest leaves. Every single guest has left our home clean and we wanted to keep our overhead low. 

What are the tax benefits?

There are actually great tax benefits to being an Airbnb host! If you rent your home for less than 14 days of the year, there is a tax exemption called the masters rule, which means you don’t have to report any of your rental income for tax purposes! Tax free income? Sign me up please!

If you rent more than 14 days of the year (go you), your income must be reported. But great news! You can you can write off all qualifying business expenses for your taxes. Things like (based on occupancy) a percentage of your mortgage, rent, utilities, internet, HOA fees, & any supplies you buy. This reduces how much you are taxed, and what’s left over gets taxed at the sole proprietor rate. However, make sure to check you local tax laws or consult a tax professional if you have more questions

What about neighborhood rules?

You will need to check with your HOA, neighborhood guidelines, apartment management or landlord, but for us, we are allowed to do short term rental. 

What would I do with my food? 

You can make your own decision on this, but I didn’t want to throw away our food every time we went out of town, so I bought a $20 fridge off Facebook marketplace to keep in our garage, which we keep locked while away. There, I stored our food so the fridge was empty for our guests and I didn’t have to worry about them using our food.

What happens if there is damage to my property or someone got hurt?

Airbnb has got your covered with host protection insurance. This means that “all Airbnb hosts have the protection of liability insurance of up to $1 million USD to protect against third party claims for personal injury or property damage”. This would come in handy for those very unlikely scenarios we make up in our heads.

On top of this, you need to check with your homeowners insurance company. Many already have damage and personal injury coverage. However, my company had a specific rental insurance add on that covered damage, injury, and theft up to $25k. For my own peace of mind, I added this to my homeowners insurance which was an additional $5 per month. 

What about theft?

I purchased supplemental rental insurance to add to my homeowners insurance to cover this scenario.

How much work would this realistically take?

There is a learning curve. The first time we rented our home, we didn’t want to hire a cleaner, so we tried to do the work ourselves, the preparation took a full day of our time on top of coming up with a system and buying items. This was not sustainable. Today, we can get our home ready in 2-3 hours because we have a system!  

Is it worth it?

For us it 100% is. Just in the past year, we have added roughly $3,500 extra dollars to our travel budget only hosting when we were already going to be out of town. Hosting on Airbnb is one of the things that has made traveling possible for our family. It’s the sustainable and resourceful option I was looking for.

Paris, 2018

Is Hosting on Airbnb Right For You? 

If you are creative, willing to put in some extra time at the beginning to come up with a system that works, then hosting on Airbnb can easily double your travel budget this year!

Sign up for free by clicking any of the links on this blog post. FYI, if you use one of these links Airbnb will give you a $10 bonus after your first guest checks out and you have the ability to send me direct messages with any hosting questions you have! 

Conclusion

There are a lot of ways you can choose to host on Airbnb. If you choose to host your personal home while away like us, it’s a unique situation which requires some planning. That’s why in the following articles I’m going to outline everything we did to make a system that doesn’t take up your whole life and works, what to buy, and hosting tips.

Follow along to get the inside scoop of what I’ve discovered along the way.

Happy Hosting!

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