travel

Everything you need to know about being an Airbnb host, from someone who's done it.

Family holidays are expensive. There’s no way around it.

First of all, you have to pay to get wherever it is you’re going. You’ve also got to find somewhere to stay, feed the family, and then comes the most expensive part: keep everyone entertained.

Some Aussies have found renting out their home is an effective way to cover some of the costs — but how easy is it really?

Vanessa Wilton-Whittaker and her husband David Whittaker live in Manly with their four kids and are frequent users of Airbnb.

Vanessa and David on holiday. Source: Supplied

For those who don't know (probably not many of you), Airbnb is a popular home-sharing service that operates in more than 190 countries.

The couple has used it to find affordable accommodation in San Francisco, Portland, Prague and even Tasmania, but only decided to become hosts themselves for the first time last summer.

"We were planning to go on a holiday anyway and our house would have been empty," Vanessa told Mamamia.

"It seemed like a good idea to have some income to spend on our holiday from renting out our house in a prime tourist area."

Vanessa has used Airbnb for for years, but decided to rent out her home for the first time last summer. Image: Supplied

According to Airbnb, there are thousands of dollars to be made from offering your house up over the holidays.

Yet for many families, that doesn't seem like a realistic possibility.

And, in fact, around 42 per cent of all Australians just leave their homes empty when they holiday, the company says.

Vanessa says renting out her home wasn't quite as lucrative they thought it might be, but it did give the family some extra cash to splash on their holiday.

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Watch: If you do go on holidays, try not to pick up any of these bad habits. (Post continues after video.)

They used the money to take the kids scuba diving and hired a mini bus capable of transporting four teenagers and their surfboards.

"We’re not really doing it to make money," she said.

So, what was actually involved?

Basically, the house has to be left the way you would leave a hotel — and getting a messy family home up to a hotelier's standard certainly involves a bit of work.

Hence, for Vanessa at least, it's only really practical as a once-a-year undertaking.

The family used the extra cash to pay for scuba lessons. Source: Supplied

 "It does take a bit of effort. You do need to clear away all your personal belongings," she said, adding that it was a good opportunity to "spring clean" her home.

"I made sure it was the standard of a hotel, like a hotel with lots of bedrooms and living rooms all interlocked and all together, but a hotel nonetheless."

Is it safe?

One of the positive aspects of Airbnb is that it offers insurance to hosts and holidaymakers and, by side-stepping a real estate agent, you can choose you have staying in your home.

Vanessa and David rented their house to family from Hong Kong who came with a baby, a four-year-old and a mother-in-law, who left the place in immaculate condition.

"I could see on their profiles who they were. I wasn’t relying just on a real estate agent letting in whoever," she explained.

Inside their Manly home. Source: Supplied

 "The house was virtually the way we left it."

Vanessa admitted Airbnb may not be for everyone and the whole thing involved a fair amount of forward planning and elbow grease.

"I think if you offer a quality place then you get quality tenants and you will have less issues," she advised.

Have you tried Airbnb? What was your experience like?

Featured image: Supplied

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