Tips for Renting Apartments Overseas

tips for renting apartments overseas
Search for apartment rentals and guesthouses using Booking.com.

If you don’t like the common bathrooms of hostels, but don’t want to splurge on hotels, apartment rentals are a great way to have a local experience when you’re traveling. There are dozens of websites that each specialize in different regions and have both full apartments for short term rental and rooms in apartments.

I’ve rented apartments in a couple of different places and like having a space to myself in neighborhoods where the real people live, not just tourists. It can also be nice to cook yourself meals in a kitchen rather than constantly eating out, and to have a space to leave your stuff. And you never know what kind of cool property you’ll find. It could be a beach house, a room on a boat, a treehouse or even an igloo!

Choose the Right Website for You

There are dozens of apartment rental websites out there, each with a different territory that they’re strongest in. AirBnb and Flipkey have the most properties in North America, while sites like Wimdu, Housetrip and Roomorama are big in Europe. VRBO and HomeAway have mostly larger beach and mountain rentals, rather than individual apartments.

Beijing apartment rental
A Beijing apartment rental. Great for when a friend is sick or injured, as was our case.

Take the Safety Precautions

Each site has its own system for background checks and safety precautions, so read up before booking.

Also, do the following:

  • Check your potential host – Choose a host with many references and make sure no one has had bad experiences. You can also do a Google search of your host’s name to see if there are any red flags.
  • Check on the privacy level – Find out if it’s just the host living there, or also their significant other or roommates. Also make sure that the room has the privacy you want. I stayed in a shotgun house in New Orleans that didn’t have any doors and shared a bathroom with three other people, but it turned out fine.
  • Check on the details – Speak to your host in advance to sort out how you’re going to retrieve the keys, directions to the property and any other pertinent information.

Don’t Be Afraid to Speak Up

If you’re getting an odd vibe from the apartment owner, or they’re making requests that don’t sound right, like chipping in for groceries or having additional people stay there, say something. You shouldn’t be sharing a bedroom with the owners under any circumstances unless it’s been disclosed on the profile.

Have the website’s phone number on-hand and don’t feel obligated to stay just because you’ve paid for it. The customer services of these websites are understanding about unexpected things that come up.

St Petersburg apartment rental.
St Petersburg apartment rental.

Bring What You Need

The only downside of renting apartments instead of staying in hotels and hostels is that you may want to bring a few items that they won’t have, like locks for your bags. I also recommend bringing a reusable grocery bag, a local SIM card and phone and a small gift for your host. Apartments should come with sheets and towels for you to use during your stay, as well as kitchenware.

Written by Caroline

Caroline Eubanks is a native of Atlanta, Georgia, but has also called Charleston, South Carolina and Sydney, Australia home. After college graduation and a series of useless part-time jobs, she went to Australia for a working holiday. In that time, she worked as a bartender, bungee jumped, scuba dived, pet kangaroos, held koalas and drank hundreds of cups of tea. You can find Caroline at Caroline in the City.

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Gear We Use

Organization

Packing Cubes – Organize your luggage with the lightweight, durable and compressible Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter Compression Cubes.


Backpacks + Daypacks

Pacsafe – Since they come with extra theft-resisting features, Pacsafe bags make you a more confident traveler. We especially love this bag.

Sea to Summit – Of all the Sea to Summit products, our most recommended is the fits-in-your-palm, super packable Ultra-Sil Daypack.


Personal Care

Nalgene Toiletry Bottles – These leak-free toiletry bottles and tubs come in all sizes – even super tiny, helping minimalists pack it all without bulk.

Turkish Towels – They’re thinner than most travel towels, and they actually cover your body! We can’t get enough of Turkish towels for travel.


Clothing

Speakeasy Supply Co. – They make the awesome hidden pocket infinity scarves that are perfect for stashing secret cash, lip balms, and passports.

Anatomie – Anatomie travel pants come with luxury prices, but they offer many benefits for travelers. See our review of the famous Skyler pants.

Travel Resources

Booking Airfare

Dollar Flight Club – Get flight deal alerts for your preferred departure airport. There is both a free and premium version (recommended for more sweet deals). Members save on average $500 USD per flight!

Skyscanner – Skyscanner is our preferred site for searching flights. They offer unbiased search results and are free from hidden fees. You can also book your hotels and rental cars.


Accommodation

Airbnb – Airbnb is the best place to book out apartments around the world. Sign up using this link to get $37 USD off your first stay booking + $14 USD towards an experience booking!

Booking.com – Search for hotels, hostels, and apartments using this one resource. Use it for flights, car rentals, and airport taxis as well.

Hostelworld – For hostels, Hostelworld remains our number one source for booking stays. Choose from straight up hostels, budget hotels and bed and breakfasts.

Trusted Housesitters – Save money on travel accommodation by becoming a housesitter. Housesitters often have extra duties, like caring for pets and gardens.

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